GRACE BIBLE CHURCH
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
From the week ending 03/30/03
The Angelic Conflict
After studying the definition of guilt and how to discern true Holy Spirit conviction from false guilt sponsored by the kingdom of darkness, we have now begun Point 3 in our study of the Doctrine of Guilt.
Point 3: The Causes of False Guilt. It is who we are, not what we do, that produces guilt. Regardless of how we have failed, Bible doctrine in our soul and understanding grace will protect us from condemnation.
ROM 7:23-24 But I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
Guilt is devastating when we do not respond with divine viewpoint. The conversations we have with others can have a very powerful effect, PRO 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” We must also guard against comparing ourselves with others, 2CO 10:12, “For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.”
In the account of Martha and her sister Mary in Luk 10, it was Martha who had the practical temperament and who was occupying herself with the housework, but it was Mary who had a taste for things of the Spirit and who sat at the feet of Jesus to listen to Him.
LUK 10:38-42 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a certain village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. And she had a sister called Mary, who moreover was listening to the Lord’s word, seated at His feet. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him, and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
We must not give in to anyone who is being used to manipulate us into situations that will take us away from Bible doctrine and grace.
There are numerous causes for guilt and condemnation, such as these 12 factors which we have begun studying:
1. Many parents use guilt as a method of disciplining and correcting their children, EPH 6:4.
2. Satan accuses God’s people to try to make them feel guilty, REV 12:10.
3. Sin can make a person feel so guilty that they hide from God and separate, GEN 3:7-10.
4. Being too concerned about what others might say produces guilt, JOH 12:42-43.
5. Receiving something you did not earn or deserve produces guilt. We can even become double-minded if we adopt the “elder brother syndrome” (LUK 15:21-30) against ourselves when we receive unmerited favor.
7. People experience guilt due to their feelings of inadequacy or some type of inferiority complex. We must remember that adequacy in any area of life only comes through God’s power, 2Co 2:14-16, 3:4-6.
9. It is possible to experience guilt not only from the evil that we do, but also from the good that we neglect to do,JAM 4:17.
10. Lack of doctrinal knowledge causes guilt, as seen in HOS 4:1-6. The false gospel causes a curse, guilt, and shame, GAL 1:6-9. Cults and other false teachers use guilt to manipulate and control their congregations. People who are weighed down by a guilty conscience are easy targets for false teachers, 2TI 3:1-6.
11. Survivor guilt, which Paul addresses in Rom 9:1-3, includes feeling bad because you have a better life than someone else. People who survive a serious accident or disaster, in which others were killed or injured, very often feel guilt because they are better off than the others, and we see King David facing this in 2SA 18:33. People who are victims of abuse often feel guilt and shame for these terrible actions over which they had no control.
12. Perfectionism causes guilt by seeking and striving to meet strict standards and expectations from yourself and others (always thinking, “I should,” “I shouldn’t,” etc.). The Jewish ruler speaking to our Lord in Luk 18:18-24 is an example of what happens to those who place perfect standards on themselves, and then realize they can not fulfill them.
Luk 18:18-24 And a certain ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor your father and mother.'” And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” [As we know, no one except our Lord could ever keep the Law perfectly.] And when Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess, and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad; for he was extremely rich.
In many cases, people will be used to put us under condemnation so that we will not follow the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and no one ever came under more attacks from guilt and condemnation than our Lord Jesus Christ during the incarnation.
LUK 2:46-49 And it came about that after three days they found Him [the Lord Jesus Christ at age 12] in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them, and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. And when they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?”
The Lord discerned that this was illegitimate guilt directed toward Him to produce condemnation. The conviction He had from His heavenly Father was greater than the condemnation directed toward Him from His earthly mother. It was more important to Jesus to pay attention to His conviction from God rather than the condemnation from man. Although we can perhaps understand how His mother felt, it is important that we evaluate this for what it is-illegitimate guilt based on human viewpoint.
Just as we saw earlier in Luk 10, there will always be the Martha’s, criticizing the Mary’s for laying aside the details of life in order to hear the Word of God. This is the manifestation of false guilt from satanic accusations aimed at condemning us, whereas the Holy Spirit’s conviction states that we must be concerned with our Father’s business. The believer must become secure and confident in his relationship with God.
The only guilt the believer should ever experience is the conviction that comes from God the Holy Spirit. True guilt from above is actually conviction, and will always offer us freedom and a way of recovery, but never condemnation. Satan’s policy is to lead us on a guilt trip, so that when godly conviction comes into play, the believer will be confused as to which is conviction and which is condemnation.
1CO 2:14-16 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ [Bible doctrine].
GAL 4:6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
We must be very careful that we do not set ourselves up as the final judge in the lives of others. That is the position of Christ alone. These are the natural-minded who have fallen into the satanic trap of Gen 3, thinking that they know good and evil. The natural-minded man does not possess the ability to pass judgment, yet he does so anyway, and ends up making an evaluation with few facts and no discernment! As the Lord said to Job, they need to condemn others so that they may appear more righteous.
JOB 40:8 “Will you really annul My judgment? Will you condemn Me that you may be justified?”
Spiritual self-sustainment and proper discernment can only come through learning, believing, and using Bible doctrine on a daily basis. Guilt is a problem that very few have ever solved.
Point 4: The Results of Succumbing to False Guilt. Insecurity, inferiority, and emotional breakdown in the soul can all be traced to a subtle form of guilt. Guilt separates! Guilt only weakens us and tears us down.
The believer must understand two basic doctrines-the doctrine of justification (we are declared “not guilty” and perfectly righteous) and the doctrine of eternal security (our salvation is eternally secure and can never be lost). Our relationship with the Lord can never be changed, but our fellowship with Him can be hindered by guilt.
ROM 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
When a believer lacks confidence in the spiritual realm, satanic accusations will interfere and interrupt the believer’s spiritual progress. Suddenly the believer “feels” rejected by the Lord.
EPH 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
There are many who believe that God is angry at them for something that they have done. However, God’s relationship with us is not based upon what we do; His relationship with us is based on what Jesus Christ accomplished on the Cross.
It is not our own instability that matters; it is the perfect faithfulness and immutability of our God.
MAL 3:6 “For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob [thieves and deceivers], are not consumed.”
Guilt produces fear and shame, and causes us to hide from the very One that can give us victory over our guilt, as it did to Adam and the Woman in GEN 3:7-10. The real problem believers face is not sin, but what to do with the guilt that arises from sin. Guilt takes us from grace orientation to works orientation, and very often leads us into religion, which is nothing more than man trying to please God by what man does. Our Lord knows what is in man, and He will not accept anything our flesh can do.
JOH 2:23-25 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, beholding His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man for He Himself knew what was in man.
Under religion, you will find yourself on a subtle works program, trying to please everyone around you, when the opinions of others should not matter to us, LUK 6:26, 1PE 4:14. Under grace, you will discover the blessings of ACT 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
In Mat 26 we see a failure in Peter’s life that could have caused him tremendous guilt.
MAT 26:32-35,69-75 But Peter answered and said to Him, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a cock crows, you shall deny Me three times.” Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” All the disciples said the same thing too. Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a certain servant-girl came to him and said, “You too were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.” And when he had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.” And a little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Surely you too are one of them; for the way you talk gives you away.” Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know the man!” And immediately a cock crowed. And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a cock crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
We are all continually under the threat of some “cock’s crow” that will cause us embarrassment. You can get a lot more out of most people when they are under guilt and manipulation than when they are under freedom and grace. The religious works program continues to separate the believer from God experientially because God can not accept our human good, PSA 39:5b, ISA 64:6, ROM 8:8. When faced with guilt, an excellent principle to remember is 1SA 15:22, “To obey is better than sacrifice.” God is not after some form of penance or restitution on our part; what He desires is for us to understand and live by grace (ROM 8:1), and “be anxious for nothing” (PHI 4:6). Guilt will only separate us from the gifts God has for us.
For a more detailed study, order last week’s tapes, 1856 to 1858.