Feeling Guilty? :: By Dan Payne

Feeling guilty? How do you even know you are saved? What’s the matter? Haven’t you become perfect yet? What are you waiting for? Get with the program like the rest of us Pharasites!

Obviously the charge written above is “tongue in cheek.” No one is perfect, not even one single believer. Even the dedicated and humble servant apostle Paul admitted that he was a sinner. He was concerned that he may become disqualified from the reward of service in Christ’s millennial kingdom due to sin.

That’s why he exclaimed, “But I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27). Make no mistake, sin is a very serious matter and the choice lies with you. While Jesus was teaching on earth before His crucifixion, He was laying out the case for how dire the situation was and is, absent of His atoning sacrifice for all sin. What man has not felt shame when reading, “But I say unto you, that whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

Many times Jesus made the case that sin was worthy of death and no one escapes being a sinner, even according to their own righteousness.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27).

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

“Jesus replied, I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:34).

However, Jesus shed His perfect blood at Calvary so that you no longer have to serve sin. You only have to believe in your heart to be set free from sin and become a slave of God and of righteousness.

“But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life” (Romans 6:17, 22).

In conjunction with Matthew 5:28, Romans 6:17 confirms that you have a choice to make in your heart when it comes to sin vs. obedience. We all have a choice between sinning against God and obeying His commandments. If God were to make that choice for you He would certainly never choose sin. Remember the statement Paul made to the Corinthians where he exclaimed that he made his flesh his slave? He was practicing what he preached to the Romans. What doctrine or commandment did the Romans obey? They obeyed the commandment to believe and to love:

“And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment” (1 John 3:23).

Jesus also taught the fundamental doctrine of the two conflicting natures of man: The flesh vs. the spirit:

“Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).

It is difficult for us to understand why we can sometimes still sin. The apostle Paul laid out his struggles between the flesh and the spirit in Romans chapter 7. Remember the parable of the wheat and the tares?

“So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them” (Matthew 13:27-29).

The servants noticed “tares” not wheat. Jesus knew that some of the wheat would mistakenly be uprooted from the field since it looked just like the tares. Years later the apostle John, one of the original members of Christ’s audience when He put forth the parable of the wheat and tares, further explained how the children of God and the children of the devil are made known:

“In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10).

In this verse, John is providing a way for us to tell the difference between a believer and an apostate. John is alluding to the fact that it can sometimes be difficult for us to tell the difference between true Christians and false Christians. We can use the last part of verse 10 to reverse engineer the first part: namely that John does not mention sin as a way to tell true and apostate Christians apart. He mentions only righteousness and love as the way to tell the two groups apart since both groups are capable of sin.

That is why the owner told the reapers to wait, not only because young weeds can and do resemble young wheat, but because sometimes real wheat can become withered and resemble a weed. True believers will display habitual righteousness and habitual love. False Christians will display habitual unrighteousness and habitual hatred, especially hatred toward genuine believers.

John agrees with James, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26). Although you may still sin through your flesh, if you are born again the Spirit will continuously encourage you to bear fruit unto righteousness and to love your fellow believers.

“Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:22-23).

“For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us” (1 John 3:20, 24).

Remember what His commandments are, they are listed above in 1 John 3:23: To believe in Jesus and to love His children. You can KNOW that you are saved if you do these things.

Replace your guilt with confidence.