If They Go To Christ

Those who come to Christ, need not be afraid of God’s wrath for their sins; for God’s honor will not suffer by their escaping punishment and being made happy.  The wounded soul is sensible that he has affronted the majesty of God, and looks upon God as a vindicator of his honor; as a jealous God that will not be mocked, an infinitely great God that will not bear to be affronted, that will not suffer his authority and majesty to be trampled on, that will not bear that his kindness should be abused.  A view of God in this light terrifies awakened souls.  They think how exceedingly they have sinned, how they have sinned against light, against frequent and long-continued calls and warnings; and how they have slighted mercy, and been guilty of turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, taking encouragement from God’s mercy to go on in sin against him; and they fear that God is so affronted at the contempt and slight which they have cast upon him, that he, being careful of his honor, will never forgive them, but will punish them.  But if they go to Christ, the honor of God’s majesty and authority will not be in the least hurt by their being freed and made happy.  For what Christ has done has repaired God’s honor to the full.  It is a greater honor to God’s authority and majesty, that, rather than it should be wronged, so glorious a person would suffer what the law required.  It is surely a wonderful display of the honor of God’s majesty, to see an infinite and eternal person dying for its being wronged.  And then Christ by his obedience, by that obedience which he undertook for our sakes, has honored God abundantly more than the sins of any of us have dishonored him, how many soever, and how great soever.  How great an honor is it to God’s law that so great a person is willing to submit to it, and to obey it!  God hates our sins, but not more than he delights in Christ’s obedience which he performed on account.  This is a sweet savor to him, a savor of rest.  God is abundantly compensated, he desires no more; Christ’s righteousness is of infinite worthiness and merit.

Jonathan Edwards, Sermons of, “Safety, Fullness, and Sweet Refreshment in Christ,” 24-25.

Thoughts and Wrestlings on Sin and Guilt, Law and Grace

I am wrestling with the proper balance of sin and grace as a believer.  I have been made aware of myself very recently that I seem pained over the weight of my sin – somewhat puritanically – quite often, which this respected person mentioned was a good thing – that is, it is good to know the weight of sin, to know the displeasure that it brings our Father, and yet if the balm of Christ’s person and work in the Gospel be not quickly applied to it, the residue of such weight produces unnecessary guilt, indeed, phantom guilt, for in Christ the guilt of sin has been removed – and we know that such a statement as this must also be balanced, for it may be interpreted that we may then sin all the more freely seeing that there is no guilt to be felt, but this would be to misunderstand the work of Christ in the Gospel and the issue at hand.  It is good to know my sin and to know that God will not tolerate it and does not desire that I persist in it; but it is better to know that when I sin, the sin itself does not increase or decrease my acceptance with God, and for that matter, neither does my righteousness.  My acceptance with God is Christ, and Christ’s acceptance is a perfect acceptance; this acceptance with God has been granted to me by faith in Christ, such that none of my doings or non-doings effect that acceptance either positively or negatively – I am always accepted in the Beloved, Jesus Christ.  However, the Gospel does something with the heart in relation to the law; for the soul being not under the law anymore, and thus not living under the condemnation of it because of a real and true guilt before God, now embraces the law under grace as the very things that it loves and delights to do, for I now know that in all things God is working to make me like Jesus, who was and is and will always be the perfectly obedient Son, and God is looking for obedient sons, and one of the glories of believing in Christ is that we have been imputed His perfect obedience in principle, the reality of which is an increasing obedience to God and His Word in practice.  In Christ, then, we are free from the guilt of our sin, free from the just condemnation of the sin of the unbeliever, and for this reason, free to live in love with God, free to live in love with His law, free to delight in obedience, for in such living and loving we are being conformed and reflecting Christ.  As a disobedient son or daughter is no less a son or daughter with respect to their father when they disobey or obey, so the Christians status and relationship to the Father in heaven is fixed in eternity because it is fixed in Christ, seated at the right hand of the Father.  Thus, guilt and condemnation removed, our Father nonetheless desires His children to be like Him, to reflect His image, which is the predestined purpose of all who believe in Christ, that we should be conformed to His image.  The reality, then, that there is no guilt in sin (though there must be godly sorrow and repentance and faith Christward), does not detract from holy living, but rather is the freedom necessary to love God and others and obedience (holiness) unto Him.  It is a delightful meditation to think upon the reality that the Bible teaches here – the guilt of sin has been removed and we are fully accepted by God the Father in God the Son. Practically, then, my doing or non-doing does not affect my standing with God when that standing is in the Son.  I am under grace – I have received freely what I did not in any way in any possible world deserve.  I do think we must daily apply the Gospel of Christ to our condition.  Sin is not acceptable for those who have been saved to be like Christ, holy.  But such sin should not in any way lock us down, knock us out of the game of life, cause us to think that God is more angry with us when we do or don’t do this or that.  Gracelessness combined with the reality of law reveals sin, brings guilt, pierces with condemnation, creates fear, enslaves us to this life.  I often act under this contrary position to that which I have in Christ.  Christ invites the weary to come unto Him and find rest – what rest? – rest from the works of the law, rest from incessant attempts at approval and acceptance with God and other people, rest from the un-enjoyment of God, rest from guilt, and soon, rest from the presence of sin.  In the rest one finds through faith in Christ, there we are strengthened, even when we sin, for we know that our familial relationship with the Father is not one of an unstable standing but of delightful holiness.  In Christ, guilt should not dominate us for the guilt that dominates is non-existent in Christ; we are free from the chains of the law, free from the guilt of the sin that we recognize by the law, to – by grace – love and delight in Christ-like obedience to it, to God our Father.  When we play the part of the prodigal, the Father is always ready to receive us with celebration – not because He takes sin lightly, but because we are His children; and His reception of us as children is based upon the obedience of the One, Jesus Christ.  In a world that seeks to do everything guilt-free – like eating chocolate, or more perversely, watching pornography – the irony is that they always indulge in acts that are flooded with the reality of guilt, while rejecting the one means given by which guilt could be removed – faith and sonship in Christ.  And as a son, though I am not free from repentance and holiness (rather freed for true repentance and holiness), I am free from guilt in Christ unto rest in His full acceptance.  God help me to daily apply the Gospel of Christ to my sin that I might live in the joy and peace of adopted sonship and its benefits – a love for holiness, a full acceptance with my Father, an eternal life flowing from the Gospel that lifts my head from the pit of guilt and sets my affections on rest, free and full, a reality fixed for me in Christ my Lord.  Father help me, your son in Christ, to consider this more, and to flesh it out for my own good and your glory.  Thank you for such a consideration, a reality that I pray consumes me to the praise of Christ.