Imprisoned by Guilt and Shame

27 Jan

This mornings’ sermon on Luke 6:1-11 was about Jesus, the Pharisees, and the Law.  In this passage Jesus establishes that He is King and that the Sabbath points to him.  “If you’re with me then you are resting.  My disciples are ‘Sabbathing’ all the time.”  Jesus unseats the Pharisees from their position of creating and upholding the law.

Our pastor recounted a story in which he experienced the unbending, harshness of the law.  It reminded me of a time I experienced the law.  I was 17 and was arrested for shoplifting.  I was taken to the county jail, fingerprinted, my mug shot was taken, and put in a jail cell.  It was embarrassing.  I had broken the law, and as a 17 year-old I was experiencing the reality of paying for my crimes.

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Consequences ensued at home, but overall, my parents allowed me to move forward.  I had already moved past my crime and was beginning to redeem my life.  I told friends about what happened (so that they didn’t find out on their own and decide to de-friend me) and my identity changed in no one’s eyes. They didn’t see me by this singular sin.

Then came my court appearance.  I plead guilty, because I was.  I remember the scoffing I received from one woman there with her daughter.  “At least you aren’t like that young lady.”

Years passed and my arrest was brought up at a family gathering.  A loved one told me I should be ashamed of what I had done.  It burned.  I was a new creature in Christ and it hurt terribly to be characterized by a sin I had committed 10 years ago.  We hammered this out and put it behind us once and for all.

As I was reminiscing about my run-in with the law, I thought of how I am not defined by this one act of disobedient rebellion in which I was caught.  I am not defined by my sin.  If you are in Christ, you are not defined by your sin.  Others may shame you because of your sin—especially if it involves the heavy hand of the law—but that was nailed to the cross.

If someone confesses sin to you—if your children confess sin—how do you handle it?  Do you shame them?  Do you discipline them for something for which they need to be free?  Or do you let them know, however yucky their sin is, you are there for them and that Jesus died for it?

George, our pastor, laid out Two Uses of the Law.

  • Use 1.  Identify sin, accuse of sin, convict of sin, judge sin, establish guilt, generate shame, experience suffering, slave and imprision.
  • Use 2.   Identify sin, accuse of sin, convict of sin, judge sin, establish guilt, generate shame, experience suffering, point to Jesus, realize his forgiveness, dwell in His lawfulness.

What a relief it is to not be enslaved and imprisoned but to dwell in Jesus!

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