The Conveyor Belt of Guilt

The picture that you see is an X-ray of a unnamed 36 year old Norwegian man who passed out and curled up into a fetal position on a baggage claim belt at a very busy Rome airport in August 2012, and inadvertently received this full body scan in the process.

He had arrived at the international terminal with a backpack and a can of beer in his hand and when he went to check in for his flight he found nobody on duty at the airline desk. So, he jumped over the counter and went to sleep.

Eventually, the belt began to move and took the man for a ride. It is believed he traveled for 15 minutes before his body was spotted by shocked officials in an X-ray image on their screens.

Officials say it was difficult to wake up the snoozing traveler, who was still clutching his beer as he went through the scanner and traveled 164 feet on it before anyone noticed.

If you have any kind of sense of humor this is quite the story to tell around the office.

But as I heard about this story I immediately began to think of how we are laying in a fetal position on a conveyor belt of  another kind. Did you know that when a certain people suffer extreme trauma or distress, they resort to a fetal position. It seems this is a natural reaction of the brain and the body to protect itself  and when they are no longer able to cope-the mind just shuts down for a time. Drug addicts during withdrawal or even people suffering from extreme anxiety resort to a fetal position.

This is the dangerous conveyor belt of guilt and misguided self examination on which some believers in Jesus have been crippled and traumatized by the wrong view of God and sin.

Paul says this, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Cor. 7:10NIV 1984).

There is a godly sorrow. There is a worldly sorrow. There is a sorrow that results in repentance and salvation. There is a sorrow that results in death.

There is a healthy repentance and there is a toxic regret and remorse. Repentance is a special grace, a gift of tears, a result of seeing our sin in light of the Cross. Where sin abounds grace abounds even more. The gospel offers God to the ungodly and forgiveness to the unforgiven. Repentance is a God-kind of change. Your thinking changes and the direction of your life changes as a result. You were moving away from God and His love brings you back home.  It is the gift that God gives when He releases the human will from the confinement and chains of sin and enables a person to turn to Christ for salvation.  That is repentance after a godly manner. It is a change only God can bring about.

Many Christians due to bad teaching have a caricatured view of God, a distorted view of sin and a toxic view of obedience. They actually should repent of their thinking when it comes to who God is! That is the deepest repentance one can have. They way you see God must be through the scriptures especially in light of the finished work of the Cross and New Covenant. God loves you and it is not his will you walk about in sorrow all the time.  He has forgiven you and offers a clear conscience to you and complete open access to him and his gifts.

You do not have to live in regret and call yourself a sinner all the time. Do you think that pleases God? Walking around all day thinking how unworthy and undeserving you are? It does not please God at all  that you are going around and around on this conveyor belt with the baggage of guilt. God is not hostile to you, nor does he treat you like a stranger. You are a warmly welcomed, dearly loved child of your Heavenly Father.

All this is real change is it not. It is a changed life, with a changed heart and a changed destiny.

Sadly, some Christians are dominated by a guilty conscience and consciousness. They attempt to earn forgiveness and acceptance with God by saying, “I am sorry” over and over again confessing their sin as if they were an legal accountant and there is always simmering in their heart a sense of guilt and hurt because they think God will reject them when they fail. It seeks to make such an account of sin that it must name each individual sin specifically to satisfy their conscience and God. But can one confess sin perfectly? We always leave some sin out. We cannot even do this  correctly. I get exhausted just thinking about the way I used to confess sin. This so called form of repentance is “worldly”  it is spiritually suicidal  not Christ-centered nor founded on the biblical fact that God offers forgiveness at the point of failure and mercy when we crash and burn. He gives beauty in exchange for ashes. He takes off your dense heavy overcoat of sorrow and replaces it with the light linen fabric of joy! All you need do is ask and he has answered “forgiven” before the words are on your lips.

Some of the oldest “Christian” churches in their tradition are nothing more than a mill for legalism. The conveyor belt of guilt is incorporated in their rituals. They are taught to ask for God’ mercy over and over again as if by mere words and repetitive chanting God will hear them. Ever wonder why legalistic people are so mean? Because people who feel unloved get angry. Oh that they knew they were loved by God!

We may criticize the Roman Catholics for their sacrament of penance or Eastern Orthodox for their view of Penthos but we have our Protestant penance we call it revivalism. We think by our efforts we will bring the church back to life do we not? There is only one problem- we end up looking like we are trying to kill the people who are alive. We are attempting to satisfy God and please God by our own efforts and there is no need to do that. God is at rest and reposes on the work of Christ his perfect Son on the cross. He calls us to lean with all our soul on the cross and what Jesus did for us.

The sad truth is there are so many Christians who are alive but they are wrapped in a shroud of guilt, they are camouflaged in the legalistic uniforms of remorse and joyless living that must be unwrapped by the teaching of God’s generous grace. God is rich in mercy and he has thrown open the door to his throne room of grace! He has already shown it powerfully in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the Son of God. Yet there are people who say they are saved and born again who never find any relief or rest in their hearts and they live in a fog of uncertainty about where they stand with God. It is a mindset that is hard to break and only understanding God’s generous grace can unravel the slavery of guilt fear and anxiety.

Don’t allow your guilt and disobedience to overshadow God’s grace! Repent!  You have become nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that you have been cleansed from your past sins  (see 2 Peter 1:9). You do not need to morbidly and constantly confess in the name of spirituality or godliness.  Your sin consciousness is working in reverse cornering you in sin and your attempts to keep the law is reinforcing sins grip over-making you feel dead. Like the shocked officials who found this man on the conveyor belt, may this article find those who are in the fetal position of guilt and wake you up out of this stupor of  remorse and regret!  Christ has given you a new life, a new heart and a new spirit.  It is time to move ahead.  God wants us to build on what he has started in us by grace! We mature spiritually not by riding in a helpless fetal position of the conveyor belt of keeping religious rules but by actively maturing and growing in the fruit of the Spirit.

© 2012 Soul Health Care Ministries. If you use this article tell people about us and where you found it. Don’t plagiarize.

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Leaving Charnel House!

“Can these bones…live?”

I know what you are thinking-what in the world is Charnel House?

A charnel house is a vault or building where human skeletal remains are stored. From what I understand, in church graveyards while digging fresh graves, they deposited bones of other corpses that are unearthed and I imagine they would have to match them (sad to say I think they probably did not) because the church property back in those times was considered holy ground. I think this is a metaphor for many ministries and churches today.

I am leaving the Charnel House mentality, today, now.

I am done with digging up the sins of people who are forgiven and saved forever and tell them they can still lose their souls. I am weary with misconstruing true repentance with snotty and slobbering protestant penance that does not change anything, like embracing Jesus Christ the Lord of glory does. All of our preaching, programs and activities these days seem nothing more than morbid ritual digging up of bones and burying them again.

I refuse to pronounce curses on people who are blessed by preaching a warped twisted “gospel” that makes a toxic mixture and law and grace. I will not beat down people who are loved by God and crush them in the name of repentance and holiness. Those who are healed should not be wounded and battered. We have only produced the opposite effect, Christians who act like disconnected bones from their living Savior.

Ezekiel presents the problem clearly, “Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life.” (Ezek. 13:22). That is the wrong message and wrong targeted audience! Instead of connecting people with God we take the bones of their problems and keep relocating them to the seminars of the latest expert in human behavior, or we hide them under failing traditions until we know what to do with them next rather than exercising the gospel’s power and leading them into new life.

Do you ever wonder why God asked Ezekiel if the dry bones in that valley could live? I think God has been asking every preacher that same question since!

“Can these bones live?”  Minister, pastor how would you answer the Lord?

Why ask me?  What can I do about it? My seminary professor never told me about this.

I am a burnout already, why do you have to put me under such pressure, to ask such a question?

This is not my ministry, Lord.

OK Lord, what is punch line to this seemingly bad joke?

Shouldn’t I check with my organization first before I have any problems with bones?

God, do you even raise the dead anymore? I thought that stopped with the close of the canon.

Preacher, “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?” (Acts 26:8).

Then somehow thinking too much, instead of leaving things to God, many preachers feel they must get the bones sanitized, organized and unified. Many preachers from that point on search for a human way to do something that only Deity can do.

You see if you see bones as anything other than dead dry bones there is a problem. If you see them as a bones belonging to a certain political party, or denominational bones, or bones of a certain nationality, if you see them old bones,  young bones,  bones of a certain gender, you will end up with a Charnel House and a bones ministry. Stop studying statistics on bones and immerse your heart in the power of the gospel message.

It is a sad gruesome scene watching the pastoral grave diggers try to organize the bones by leadership seminars, or disinfect those nasty bones by preaching God’s law and tradition or move bones around here and there in the name of unity. They have gone to bone seminars and have been taught to plant a beautiful garden around the bones or bought fireworks, flashing lights and video to make some noise that sounds like life.  They think bones like music (even though they don’t really do much) and they provide wi-fi and coffee ’cause bones like technology and caffeine. They make sure the church building looks beautiful and wow that mausoleum sure looks nice. They think all this will put some meat on those bones.  They even think the bones look more alive after a while.

The prophet Ezekiel was one of the smartest men I know. He left God to answer the question.

“Oh Lord God only you can answer a question like that!”

So God tells Ezekiel to prophesy which means nothing more that to preach the message that GOD gave him. Hear that preacher? Can you handle that Pastor? God tells him to speak to the bones and then talk to the Holy Spirit. Instead of bones he ends up with a huge army of beautiful, healed strong warriors.

Glory to God! What a novel idea! You see God is in the resurrection business, “For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised.” (1 Cor 15:16). Raising the dead is based on the fact that Christ rose from the dead! If God does not raise the dead then Christ did not rise. We know he did -so we know they will! Preach the scripture. Talk to the Holy Spirit. Preach the risen Jesus, who is the resurrection and the life and the Holy Spirit will testify of him to human hearts and then you see LIFE, LIFE everywhere!

Only Christ and his voice that raises the dead.  Speak with his voice and the sheep will hear. We must preach Christ, undiluted grace and truth with words that come from him who is from the resurrection and the life! He says, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” (Mt 10:8). God calls us to resurrect dry bones not relocate them.

“Can these bones live?”  “Well, can THEY?” Not how, not may, but can they? It is a simple question about ability or possibility. It is not about permission or purpose or reason. It is not about manner or method. It is a simple question about ability.

Do bones have the ability? Does the preacher have the ability? Does God have the ability? God gives the ability to the preacher to prophesy his Word and the bones are given the ability by the Word and Spirit to come back to life.

Christ is the only resurrection and the only life. There is no other. People can only get life from Christ. He is the Prince of Life (Acts 3:15). People need not look to any other resource. He is the original and all others are failed imitations. The Lord Jesus Christ is the perfect Savior.  We do not need to market, “how to get up out of the grave” techniques; we do not need to sell tickets to the next Sunday bone shaking show, for as scripture says clearly, “In him was life.” (John 1:4). In Christ is life! All the gods of all other religions are all fake and don’t deserve our attention or time, neither do these fake methods you are wasting your time, money and energy on. We do not need to look anywhere or to anyone else!

Jesus is life personified. He is life itself. He is reality! He promises abundant life or “a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10NLT).  Once a believer has been resurrected spiritually, they will never die. “Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.” (1 Pet. 1:23NLT). Jesus says once again, “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die!” (11:26). When Christ saves he saves for a lifetime and for eternity.

It’s time for me to leave Charnel House, have fun with those bones, but guys but I believe in the power of the gospel alone. God tells us that, “we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead” (2 Cor 1:9). It is time to leave the methods of men, human ability and listen to Jesus who says, “What gives life is God’s Spirit; human power is of no use at all. The words I have spoken to you bring God’s life-giving Spirit.” (John 6:63GNT).

© 2012 Soul Health Care Ministries. If you use this article tell people about us and where you found it. Don’t plagiarize.