Gospel Enemy #2: Persistent Guilt (pgs 56-58)
"Whether the voice of your conscience is extremely loud or barely audible, remember that you don't have to be a scandalous sinner to suffer from persistent guilt. So we should ask and answer the following questions carefully and regularly in order to identify the influence of this gospel enemy:
- Are you painfully preoccupied with a particular habitual sin?
- Are you discouraged or depressed by your failure to measure up?
- Do you frequently experience anxiety that something is about to go wrong?
- Does it appear God can use others but not you?
- Is there something in your past you just can't seem to get over?
- Do you fear that your past will come back to haunt you?
- Do your difficult circumstances seem like God's judgment for your sin?
- Do you steer clear of intimate relationships or small-group discussions?
- When you sin, do you get a vague sense that somehow there'll be a price to pay?
- Do you seldom think of the cross?
For persistent guilt, we must go to the first bookend. Only the life and death of Christ offers a legitimate path to freedom from a guilty conscience--legitimate because it was a real, lived-in-the-flesh, finished righteousness, applied to us forever. It was an obedience "to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8), where "Christ...offered Himself without blemish to God, [to] purify our conscience" (Hebrews 9:14). What makes it legitimate for us is that He did it in our place as our substitute.....................From the moment we're united to Christ by faith in the gospel, in God's own eyes we're permanently clothed in the righteousness of Christ."