Not long ago I heard a message about dealing with guilt. The gist of it was that if as a Christian you confess your sins and are still overwhelmed with condemnation, you need to, well, confess harder. I grieved as I sat through the service. In fact, I fumed. I hoped against hope that the preacher would urge guilt-ridden saints to seek refuge in Christ. I practically tried to send the preacher telepathic messages: “Get to 1 John 2:1-2. Direct the shamed to the Savior who absorbed and exhausted God’s wrath on their behalf.” We never got there, which is tragic, for there is no hope for us as long as we look to our own confession as though it were propitiatory. Listen to Spurgeon on this point:
“We should look to Christ, and look to Christ alone as the propitiation for our sins and take care that our faith be simple, and fixed solely on His precious blood. A very common mistake is to look to our sense of need as being at least in some degree a propitiation for sin. Repentance is an absolute duty, and a Christian grace—a grace without which there can he no salvation. But there has been a strong temptation upon many minds to make repentance a preparation for Christ, and to regard a sense of need as being a kind of wedding garment in which they may approach the Savior. How many read that promise, ‘Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest,’ and they fondly imagine that if they could be more weary and more heavily laden then they would have rest. Whereas, being weary and heavy laden gives no man rest. It is coming to Christ that gives him rest; it is not the being weary and the being heavy laden. And I have known some ministers who preach what is called a deep experience and law work, and preach very rightly too, because many of the people of God have to endure this; but I think they lead the people into error, for the people imagine that this law work, this deep experience has something to do with the propitiation of their sins. Now, my hearers, the sins of God’s people are taken away by the blood of Christ, and not by any repentance of their own. I have already guarded my statement, and now I will make it as bold as possible. I say that repentance of sin doth in no wise contribute to the removal of that sin meritoriously. I say that our sense of need doth not take away our guilt, nor help to take it away; but the blood, the blood, the blood alone, pure and unmixed, hath for ever washed the people of God, and made them whiter than snow. So, poor heart, if thy soul be as hard as a nether millstone, if thy conscience seem to thyself to be seared by long habits of sin, if you cannot force tears from your eyes, and scarce can get a groan from your heart, yet you are groaning today because you cannot groan, weeping because you cannot weep, and sorrowing because you cannot sorrow. Hear thou, then, this gospel message, God the Father hath set Christ forth to be thy propitiation; not thy tender conscience, not thy groans, not thy sense of need, not thy law work, not thy deep experience. He is enough without any of these; have faith in his blood, and thou art saved.”
Excellent. Read the whole thing here.
The balm of the guilty conscience is not more intense confession, but Christ. There is no better text for those overcome with guilt than 1 John 2:1-2, where Christ is set forth as both our Advocate and our Propitiation. Christ is the only hope of the condemned, as expressed in the final stanza of this hymn (text / pdf / octavo / mp3), which I hope will be helpful:
I run to Christ when plagued by shame
And find my one defense.
“I bore God’s wrath,” He pleads my case—
My Advocate and Friend.
Filed under: Churchworksmedia.com, Devotional Thoughts, Grief, Justification, Legalism, Spurgeon, The Gospel | Tagged: Churchworksmedia.com, Condemnation, Confession, Guilt, I Run to Christ, Modern Hymns, propitiation, Spurgeon |