Jesus, frees those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death. Hebrews 2:15
Adam said, “I heard You in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” (Genesis 3:10) The word ‘hid’ means to withdraw. The people whom God created to be in a relationship with Him committed sin in the Garden and the guilt from their sin urged them to withdraw from Him by hiding. Has the guilt from your sin ever caused you to withdraw from God? Their guilt also prompted them to sew fig leaves together to construct loincloths to ‘cover’ themselves. The word loincloth means, ‘girdle, apron, and armor’. It comes from a word meaning, “to gird on (as a belt, armor) — be able to put on, be afraid, appointed, restrain, on every side.” (Strongs)
I find the definition curious regarding the portion, ‘being afraid’. I am sure we can imagine putting on a covering as a means of self-protection but can we also picture that self-protection driven by an element of fear? Did Adam and Eve ‘put on’ the loincloth because guilt’s resourcefulness also levied the toll of fear? It created for them an apprehension regarding their relational, loving God who desired to walk with them in the Garden. They had always been naked, yet they felt no prior guilt (Genesis 2:15). Yet when God came to walk with them in the cool of the evening, following the meal of the prohibited fruit, sin caused them to become afraid (Genesis 3:7).
The Hebrews verse above which tells us that Jesus frees those held in slavery by the fear of death has me pondering. I wonder if it is true that the ultimate reason we fear death is because we will be required to give God an account of our life. If we have an unrepentant heart on any issue which causes us to ‘cover’ unconfessed sin by this world’s mechanisms, does that lead to a fear of death because we must account as to why we allowed our heart to not be completely repentant?
We call guilt a failure to do what we should have done. The bad feelings that often accompany guilt we call a bad conscience. As a noun, guilt is defined as ‘the fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime.’ As a verb, guilt involves making ‘someone feel guilty, especially in order to induce them to do something.’ (dictionary.com) I type this as loudly as I can, let us NO LONGER manipulate someone to do what we want them to do, manipulating with the tool of guilt.
When we are ‘guilty’ of wrongdoings we can examine it this way:
- We are justly chargeable with a particular fault or error
- We are conscious of or affected by a feeling or guilt
Here is how the Word addresses guilt. Romans 3:23-24 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” The glory of the gospel is that the One before whom we are guilty has replaced our guilt with justification (number one) by redemption in Jesus. We may have been justly charged with sin but in Christ Jesus, we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and redeemed from the fault or error!
When we are conscience-stricken (number two) we are feeling very bad or guilty because of something we have done. God’s kindness towards us is intended to lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4) and repentance will remove our guilt. Our conscience should be subordinate to the Word of God (1 John 3:20). As Martin Luther once proclaimed, My conscience has been taken captive by the Word of God.
It is not a matter of coming up with a solution that this age deems will ease our conscience or that we hope will be true because it is not just a problem of how to feel better, but how to be right with God. We will not endlessly ease our conscience with the resourcefulness of guilt by utilizing our tireless intellect, or by physical distractions, or by religious works. Our conscience must be taken captive by the Word of God.
We must lead a repentant lifestyle and allow God full access to our mind and heart in order to deal with the issue of guilt. Unchecked guilt will drive us to forfeit fullness in every area of our lives because of the sting of embarrassment, regret, and loss. Our question is no longer why, why, why?? But our powerful proclamation, Come Lord Jesus! Come into my past, present, and future. I welcome you!
Thank you, Lord, that you alone remove our guilt. The power of Christ in me proclaims I have no guilt in this life and will have no fear of death! Thank you, Lord, that by removing my guilt I have a clean conscience (Hebrews 9:14, 10:22), peace with You (Isaiah 53:5, Romans 5:1, Colossians 1:19-20), access into Your presence (Romans 5:1-2, Ephesians 2:18), joy (Psalms 32:1-11, Romans 5:1-2), hope (Romans 5:1-2), a desire to worship You (Psalms 51:14-15), and a desire to serve You (Isaiah 6:6-8, John 21:15-20). In the resounding name of JESUS, I proclaim these truths and say, Yes!
In His grace,