Started in on 1Corinthians this morning. I’ve read the letter before. I know what’s coming. That this body of believers had its “issues,” is kind of an understatement. That there was a bit of dysfunction in the family becomes evident pretty quickly. If any group of Christians could hang a sign outside their meeting place which said, “Work in Progress,” this is the group. And so, maybe it’s because I know Paul’s about to start working through a laundry list of problems infecting the church at Corinth that a word in his introduction jumps off the page. Despite their failings and their faults, when all was said and done, Paul was confident they would be guiltless.
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in Him in all speech and all knowledge–even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you–so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1Corinthians 1:4-9 ESV)
General statement . . . we don’t deal well with guilt. Without a way to resolve guilt, it seems to me we have but a couple of options. One is to have it crush us. We own our failure . . . we acknowledge our sin . . . we’re honest about our propensity to do that which we don’t want to do and to not do that which we want to do . . . but we can’t make up for our wrong-doing. We can’t fix ourselves. We can’t make the wrong right. And so our transgression hangs over our head. A constant accusation which fills our minds and burdens our hearts. With no way to deal with the guilt we know we have, it will crush us.
The other alternative, it seems to me, is to refuse guilt at the door. Not because we’ve done nothing wrong, but because we refuse to admit that anything is wrong. We declare guilt as being bad, and therefore redefine anything that causes guilt to be right. We harden ourselves to that which our consciences know to be contrary to righteousness because we will not acknowledge our guilt. And we won’t acknowledge it, because we don’t know what to do with it.
But what if there was a way to deal with guilt? Not refuse it . . . yet not have it crush us? What if another paid the price for our transgressions? What if the righteousness of another was credited to our account . . . despite our fleshly failings? What if God determined to begin a work in us — initiated by faith — a work that He promises to finish (Php. 1:6)? A work to conform us into the image of the Holy Son of God? A work possible because all of our sins — everything for which we should justifiably be declared guilty, past, present, and future — is covered by the blood of the sacrifice of the risen Lamb of God?
Paul thanked God for the grace given, in Christ Jesus, to the believers at Corinth . . . despite knowing their issues. The evidence of His powerful working in their midst was clear . . . even though they had problems. He had no doubt they had been called into the fellowship of God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, even though their dysfunction reared its ugly head repeatedly. But in all this, He knew that God would sustain them to the end, until the coming of Christ. And in that day, they would be presented guiltless.
Guiltless not because they had lived perfect lives . . . not because they had never blown it . . . not because there were never any consequences for their sin . . . but because “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1John 1:7). Not because there was no reason to feel guilt or be declared guilty, but because He took the charge upon Himself and dealt with the guilt — by His wounds we are healed (Isa 53:5). And when we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1John 1:9) . . . and deal with the guilt . . . thus able to present us guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Guiltless. All because of abundant grace . . . all for His eternal glory.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless stand before the throne. ~ Cornerstone, Hillsong