Saturday, January 10, 2009

Guilty before God

A man walked into a restaraunt in Farmington one day and placed his order. I don't remember what he ordered to eat, but I'll probably never forget his demand that they bring him two alkaseltzers and a glass of water before his meal, and two more afterward. Either he had a serious heartburn problem, or he thougt the food was going to be awful. I think if I were the cook, I'd feel insulted. If I thought the food would be that bad, I'd not eat there.

While that is the most extreme case I've ever seen, There are a great many people who live expecting everything they eat to cause heartburn. As a result they carry packages of Tums or a similar product with them, or they take Prilosec every day.

While unpleasant, heart burn itself is not a serious problem. It is a signal that something is wrong. One of the most common causes of heatrburn, and the easiest to fix is over eating or drinking. The stomach is unable to contain and process all the food and some is pushed back into the esophogus, where the stomach acid begins to burn the lining. If this occurs often, the valve at the top of the stomach may be damaged, allowing leakage more often, a condition known as acid reflux. Ulcers, stomach cancers and parasites can also cause heartburn.

The use of antacids or Prilosec work by neutralizing part of the stomach acid or lessening the amount. This tends to stop the pain, but does nothing for the underlying cause. Left untreated, ulcers, cancer, acid reflux, and parasites continue to get worse until they become serious problems. The over eating causes obesity and leads to other serious health problems, including diabetes and heart contitions.

Because the antacids and Prilosec ease the pain, people assume the problem is gone and do not act on the symptom, allowing the problem to grow. In addition, they tend to become habituted to the problem and accept it as normal. Thus they advise everyone around to try their particular remedy.

Like heartburn, feelings of guilt are an indicator of a more serious problem. Unless the underlying problem is corrected, efforts to aleve the guilt will only be temporary. Romans 3:19 explains it thus. "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may be guilty before God." The purpose of the law was to cause awareness of guilt, by making us aware of our sin.

Romans 5:12 tells us, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." Death, both physical and spiritual is the result of sin. We all die because all have sinned. After physical death, comes judgement for ones life. "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement."(Hebrews 9:27)

This judgement is described in Revelation 20:11-15. "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

And the sea gave up the dead which were in it ; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

Guilt is a warning of our sin. It causes a great deal of discomfort, but it is not the main problem, and unless the sin is dealt with, the guilt will return. Even worse, we will not only die physically, but spiritually as well. This is not ceasing to exist, but rather an eternal state of dying, without completing the process. The best example is of a burn victim, living day after day in agony, but not dying or recovering. Death is infinitely preferable. Matthew tells us that death is unattainable for those who are there.

I John 1:9-10 advises, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." God not only forgives, but takes away the sin. There is no longer guilt for past sin. Jesus died for our sin, and "For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. " (Hebrews 10:14)

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:" (Romans 5:1). The guilt is gone, and so is the effect of sin. "For Gos so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the through him might be saved.

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:16-18)

Confessing our sin and believing in him removes the guilt, and eliminates the underlying cause of the guilt. There is an old saying that there is nothing harder to live with than a guilty conscience. Is preserving our pride worth living with a guilty conscience and then spending eternity in Hell?