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What Do I Do With My Guilt?

Sermon Series:

Mitchell Leach
Mitchell Leach

Community Pastor

Peace Church

Main Passage:
Isaiah 53:4-6


Well, good morning Peace Church. If you would grab your Bibles, we are going to be in Isaiah 53 verses 4 through 6. But before we get into that and to give you time to open, I want to introduce myself for those of you who haven't met me. My name is Mitchell Leach and I am the community pastor here on staff, which means I get to oversee our community groups, which is our small group ministry, and our communication team and process. I have a family. I have been married since 2015 to my wife Elizabeth. We have three kids, Levi who's seven, Shepard who's four, and our daughter Sower. She will turn three in four days.

It has been an amazing privilege to be on staff at Peace Church. Peace Church, I've been on staff at a few other churches, but Peace Church really is something special. I think you guys know that if you guys go to the 9:30, so you know, you've seen what's been happening in the 9:30 service. There's something moving here, right? Even just the parking lot, what a blessing that it's a nightmare for all of us, right? God's doing something, and I just want to say thank you for allowing me to be one of the pastors here on staff. With that, let's jump into our text. That's long enough, I'm sure you guys have found it there.

Isaiah 53:4-6

4 Surely he has borne our griefs

and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his wounds we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have turned—every one—to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

Let's pray.

Father, we thank you for your word. We thank you that you are a good God who sent his son to take our place. God, I pray that we would worship as a response to your word. God, I pray that you would soften our hearts to hear your gospel and it would transform us. God, we love you and we love to do your will, so help us do that. In your name we pray, amen.

We are gonna ask a question today, a question of this text and a question of ourselves, and it is this, what can I do with my guilt?

What can I do with my guilt?

This is a universal question. Every person on the face of the earth has asked this question because guilt is a universal feeling. We are great at not dealing with our guilt, though. Even though this is a universal problem, we're great at working around it. Primarily in three ways. First is denying it. And this is maybe the more academic or the clinical or secular clinical approach to guilt. It says deny it, not outright, but it uses, secular therapy will use fancy words like, you need to find self-acceptance or find better ways to practice self-talk. What that really means is, you're not wrong.

The feelings you have are wrong. Don't feel guilty about something you've done, which is just a fancy way of denying our guilt. The second is to distract. Right? To distract. And this is probably the most popular one, right? If you're familiar with the term doom scrolling, it's the idea of scrolling through Instagram or TikTok to the point where you're, you yourself are just tired and you're finding no more pleasure in it.

I think it's a great microcosm for our desire to distract ourselves from our feelings. It's not just social media. It can be through popularity, it can be through success in your career, through money, through a plethora of different things. We love to distract ourselves from our guilt. The last, it's probably the most dangerous, but it's to become numb, right, to use substances or experiences to chemically alter our mind, to just become numb from our situation. This is dangerous. If you've ever dealt with that, or if you know someone who has, you know how hard this can be. And when you look at these three categories, when you look at the ways that we try to avoid our feelings of guilt, the way that the world tells us that we can avoid our feelings of guilt. You see that they're not enough. They're not adequate, right? They're just temporary. They're disposable, really. They don't last.

When we realize this, we have to ask ourselves the question, where can we run? Can we run to scripture? Does this Bible, does this old book contain the answers? Can we trust it to answer life's hardest questions? And the good news is we can.

The Bible has answers for us. And the answer we will find is more hopeful than you could ever imagine. And yet, it will be more painful than you want to admit. So what do we do with our guilt? The Bible gives us an answer, and the answer is this.

It's our main idea for today. God had to treat Jesus like us to treat us like Jesus. God had to treat Jesus like us to treat us like Jesus. We see three points in our message. Where does guilt come from? What can we do with our guilt?

And what was done for our guilt? So let's jump into that first one. Where does guilt come from? Let's look at verse six again. All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned everyone to his own way and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

If you look at this passage, this is just a small section of what's called the fourth servant song in Isaiah. It's a song all about Jesus, right? In fact, when Jesus died and the apostles were trying to figure out what had happened, they went back to this passage to understand what happened on the cross. It's important for us to understand it. I wish I could go so much longer, but this little section shows us what is going on on the cross. We see our sin even through this passage.

The longer passage, I'm gonna put it up on the screen, you don't need to read it, it's too small a font, I understand that, but just look at the yellow words, okay? We see synonyms for sin all throughout this passage because our guilt comes from our sin. And maybe you don't like that idea of sin. Maybe you think it's archaic, it's old-fashioned as a society, we've moved past it.

Or maybe you're just sitting here thinking, sin isn't a fun topic to think about. If you're a little bit squeamish about it, it's okay. Let's think about sin in terms of our guilt. We'll still get to the same answer, but I'm giving you an out right here. Because guilt is a natural reaction to something that's gone wrong in us, right? Guilt is to our soul what pain is to our body, right? If I go out and I'm barefoot, I step on glass. My body won't let me go any further. It tells me that there's something sharp there, it's painful, right?

If I go any further, it's gonna cause me more pain. I cannot go any further. The same is true for our soul. Guilt shows us that if we were to continue into that practice or continue into whatever we've done any further, that we are gonna do more harm to our soul.

We need this guilt in our life to show us and to avoid dangerous, dangerous things. We are actually really good at justifying the small things in our life, right? The little things that we can explain away, right? If you snap at your wife, it's not your fault. It's because you had a hard day at work and your kids were crazy and your wife maybe was a little bit snippy with you. Not my wife, but you know otherwise I'm sure.

But all of a sudden it's not my fault anymore. It is, I'm just, what happened was it's a product of my environment. Or if you cheat on your homework, if you're a student, it's not your fault. You stayed up late, your best friend had a life crisis and you had to stay up texting her, or all the guys could hop on the game, hop on online, and you played all night. How many times do you get to do that? And so you copy the notes the next morning and, you know, it's not wrong, but all of a sudden you're justifying something that is objectively wrong. Or maybe you lie to a friend because the truth would have hurt too much.

The truth is, if we discount all the things we can explain away, there are things in our lives that we cannot justify. Right now, I want you to think about the worst thing that you've done. And for most of us, we can immediately think about it. It immediately comes to our mind. It's the thing that causes us anxiety, right?

It's the thing we hope that there's no mind readers in here, because if someone found out what we had done, it would crush us. And for most of us, that one thing, somebody knows about. Somebody else knows about because it's probably against somebody else. Those are the things that usually crush us the most. But for some of us in here, the one thing that we've done, nobody will know about, and you'll actually go to the grave with it. And yet, you still feel guilt. And this is actually a really good apologetic, or a really good proof for the existence of God. Because we know deep down, those of us who are gonna take our one thing to the grave.

If there wasn't a God, we shouldn't feel guilt. Yet we do, because we know deep down in our DNA, in our soul, we know that God will come and give ultimate justice against wrong. We fear and we have guilt because we know that there is a God who's coming one day. To try to explain away, to try to avoid our guilt is damaging for us. Because when we make our sin small, we make the cross small.

So we need to see what can we do with our guilt.

This is our second point.

What can we do with our guilt? So thinking about our one thing again, what can we do with it? Right, we can't just forget it, it's too big. We can't explain it away, we can't distract ourselves enough for it.

There aren't enough substances, there isn't enough experiences, there aren't enough whatever, disposable ways to chase after or to avoid our guilt, there aren't enough of those to really, truly get rid of our guilt.

So maybe, maybe you try to fix it, right? That seems like the next logical step. So you try to swing from one extreme to the other. Maybe for you, and I hope that this isn't for you, but maybe for you, your one thing is that you've cheated on your spouse. And so you go from one extreme, right, doing something that was damaging to your relationship, to being the greatest spouse you can be, right? Having only eyes, eyes only for your spouse, and you never lust, in fact, you turn completely away from it, and that would be a beautiful story of repentance, right? We would love to hear those types of stories by the power of the Spirit bringing us to hate our sin. The truth is, the truth is, flipping to that extreme doesn't undo what we've done. And I don't say that because I want to condemn anyone in here. I don't want anyone to feel like they are beyond forgiveness. I want us to see that there is nothing within us, no amount of good works within us to make what we've done come undone. We don't have that power. Imagine another example might be if you've committed murder, right? And then you become a fireman who is literally pulling hundreds of people, saving hundreds of lives out of burning buildings.

That's beautiful, that's wonderful. Yet it doesn't resurrect the person who's murdered. So what do we do here in this moment? we've realized that we don't have the ability to do anything about our guilt. It reminds me of a situation with my son a few weeks ago. He had broken his Lightning McQueen toy and he brought it to me and he said, Dad, I don't know what to do with this. Can you fix it? I think in some regard we need to get to that point. We need to get to the point where we go to God and say, God, I've done something. I have this guilt. I have this thing in front of me, and I don't know what to do with it anymore.

I don't have the agency to even understand how to fix it. God, all I know is it's broken. That's a beautiful place for us to be as Christians. We need to see that we can do nothing more than put metaphorical fig leaves on our guilt. Right? That's what Adam and Eve did in the garden when they sinned.

They took fig leaves, they sewed them together to hide their sin and their shame. But the thing about fig leaves is they're temporary. They're disposable. They don't last. They don't work. That's why some of us are chasing endless amounts of money, chasing endless amounts of success, chasing whatever it is, because there's never enough of it to truly get the feeling away that we've done something wrong.

We see that we can do nothing about our sin and about our guilt. No amount of hard work can do anything that will make us feel at peace. We don't have the answer within us. We need someone who can show us what to do with our guilt. And that's our third point. What was done for our guilt?

In the Old Testament, God set up a sacrificial system, a system to help Israel deal with their guilt. A priest would lay his hands on a goat and he would confess the sins of the people, confess the guilt of the people, and the goat would be slaughtered.

17th century pastor and theologian John Owen says this, "'Why would people kill good and useful animals and offer them to God except to acknowledge their own worthiness of death and need for a substitute to receive punishment in their place? And the good news is that this isn't just an Old Testament thing, that we have an answer and it is prophesied in the Old Testament.

Let's look at verses four and five. It says, Surely he has bore our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we esteem him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities.

Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Jesus, the Messiah, the prophesied Messiah, rightfully took our place on the cross. This is the gospel. This is the good news of the gospel. This is what causes us to worship, right?

Jesus died for my sins. We know this to be true. And yet, if I was to ask you, by what cosmic agent or how does this actually work? How does Jesus's death on the cross, how does that actually forgive our sins? Now that's a harder question, but it's so important. It's at the root of the gospel. It's so important for us to understand, and as we understand it, it will cause us to worship even more.

It's a beautiful, beautiful theology. We see that Jesus has to make an atonement for my sins. And you're thinking, man, this is Memorial Day, could you please stay away from big words, but I'm gonna break this down for us. Okay? Atonement really just means at one meant right to be at one again Right being brought back into a right relationship and that's what we need because when we sin our sin demands an eternal and infinite punishment from God because God is infinite and eternal. It's not the kind of crime we commit, right? Because it almost feels unjust that we would serve an eternal punishment for a momentary thing, right? One little lie sends us to hell forever.

Why in the world does that seem just? Because it's not the kind of crime we commit, but it's who we commit the crime against, right? Imagine I go to a junkyard and I take a key and I scratch a car there. Nobody's going to care. But if I go to a dealership and I scratch a brand new F-150, they're going to call the cops.

I'm going to have a fine to pay. But if I scratch a million-dollar Ferrari, not only are they going to call the cops, but I'm probably going to end up in jail. All three, the same action, and yet the punishment increases each time with the value of the car. And the same is true for our sin against God. That God is infinite, He's infinitely righteous, and our sin provokes God's perfect wrath. So maybe you're sitting here thinking, okay, He talked about sin first, and now He's talking about wrath.

I hate the idea of God being a God of wrath. And I wanna push back in two ways. First, I would say we need to understand our Bible a little bit better because God being provoked to wrath is both in the Old and New Testament, and it's a wonderful thing.

And second, I think we actually do like this idea of wrath. Think about your favorite superhero. Think about Batman, right? When he gets provoked to wrath against the Joker, it's a great thing, right? Because the Joker's doing evil. It's one of the parts of Batman that we like, that he fights against evil. See, it's not a problem with God that we have. It's not that God being a God of wrath makes him somehow lesser. Our problem is that we understand that we are the ones who are evil. We're the ones who deserve God's wrath, right? And so then it makes it our problem. And that's why we don't like God being a God of wrath. It's actually a beautiful thing. And this is why Paul talks about wrath when he talks about our salvation. This is probably from one of the most important paragraphs in all of scripture, but it says this. This is Paul in Romans 3 saying, Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood to be received by faith, this was to show his righteousness.

Propitiation, for some of you, is a word that you've never heard or never used before, and it's okay, it's not a word that we really used in English very much, but it was used a ton in ancient Greece and ancient Roman culture. It means this, propitiation means to satisfy the wrath of a God. Right, so let's just read it right back into that text. Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a way to satisfy his wrath, by his blood, to be received by faith, this was to show God's righteousness. Jesus goes to the cross to bear the wrath of God. This is what happens on the cross, right? When we're talking about by what agent can we be forgiven, it is because Jesus goes to the cross and bears the wrath that we should have gotten on the cross, right? Verse 10 says this, yet it was the will of the Lord, it was the will of the Father to crush him, to crush Jesus. He has put him to grief when his soul makes an offering for guilt.

The Father pours out his wrath on Jesus. If you missed Pastor Ryan's message on April 28th. You missed, well, you missed two things. First, it was my ordination, but it's okay, I forgive you. And then second is, it was his message on hell. It was a great message, and if you missed it, please go back and watch it or listen to it.

I'm going to talk about hell just a little bit here, but Ryan really flushed it out. Pastor Ryan really flushed it out well. Hell, in a literal sense, is God pouring out His wrath against evil and against sin. This is what Jesus receives on the cross. Jesus receives hell, our punishment, on the cross, and this is why He screams out on the cross, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

It's because in this moment, all of the hell that you and I deserved is poured out onto Jesus He's getting exactly what we should have gotten The father for the first time in history turns his face away from his son It's the greatest injustice in the history of the world See the truth is we need a God who can stand in our place, who can make atonement between us and God.

We need God himself to bear the wrath of God for us. And this is exactly what happens on the cross, and this is why our main idea is God had to treat Jesus like us to treat us like Jesus. God had to treat Jesus like us to treat us like Jesus. Jesus must take our place. He must bear the wrath of God. He must be our substitute. He must trade places with us.

Jesus was declared guilty because on the cross, it was as if the Father was looking at us. It was as if the Father was looking at me. So why does this matter to us? Why does this matter to you and I? It's because it answers our question, what can we do with our guilt?

We understand that Jesus going to the cross paid it all. Jesus paid it all. We're about to sing that song in a little bit. Jesus takes all of our wrath, he takes all of our guilt, he takes all of our shame on the cross. And therefore, there's no more left for you.

There's no more left for me. When Jesus dies, right before Jesus dies, he announces, it is finished. And when he's saying that, what he's saying is, I have satisfied the wrath of my Father. Verse 11 says this, out of the anguish of his soul shall he see and be satisfied. By his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

The beauty of the gospel is not just that Jesus takes our sin, that our sin gets transferred to Him. The beauty is that His righteousness gets given to us. We are counted as righteous. We now get to be seen as His Son. When on the cross, His Son was seen as us. In eternity, we will be.

And from now on, we get to be seen as his son. So the answer to the question, what can I do with my guilt? We can do nothing but believe that Jesus went to the cross to bear our guilt, who was declared guilty on the cross and paid our price for our sin. And this leads us into our application.

I've just got two points of application. The first being, let substitution invade your life. John Stott has this quote on sin, and I'm gonna paraphrase it, but he says, sin is substitution.

Sin is substituting ourselves in God's place. Salvation is God substituting himself in ours. This idea of letting substitution invade your life is so broad.

There are so many practical ways that this could happen. From as small as letting your sibling have the front seat. I don't know if any of you guys were like me as a kid, but I mean, it was like full on like hip checks. I mean, it looks like hockey with me and my brother trying to fight over a shotgun.

Anybody else in there with me? Okay, just me, that's good. But it can be as silly as that, right? Letting your sibling have the better spot to as grand as charity, right? Not the charity that this guy is trying to scam you guys all from, from Pastor Ryan, or pretending to be Pastor Ryan. I'm talking about true charity, right? Giving people what honestly they don't deserve, right? Because charity doesn't make sense. Why should I give my resources or my time to someone who doesn't have their own resources, right? And most of the time those people have made decisions to disqualify themselves from those resources. Why does it make sense that I would do that? It's because because we are all charity cases. Anyone who calls themselves a Christian is a charity case, right? The gospel calls us to be poor in spirit, not middle class in spirit. Middle class in spirit is working for everything that you get.

And if we work for everything, if we get everything that we've worked for, we get separation from God. If it wasn't for Jesus getting what we deserved, we would have no hope. Charity will always be a marker of the true Christian and the true church, because it is exactly what we see on the cross. God had to treat Jesus like us to treat us like Jesus so be willing to put yourself in someone else's place. The second application point is identify as the pardoned and not as the guilty. Peace

Church, we have to stop identifying. We have to stop trying to earn it. I get that that's what we've always been told, to work hard, but in this case, working hard doesn't lead us anywhere. We already learned this with our guilt that we cannot do anything. No amount of good works gets us away from our guilt and no amount of good works gets us closer to God. Right, and this is the good news of the gospel is that it's not on us. Right, if someone asks, why are you a Christian? We can't answer in the first person. We can't answer, well, because I did this, or because I was baptized, or because I was raised in a Christian home, or I went to Christian school, or whatever it may be. We have to answer, it's because He, because He took my place, because He went to the cross instead of me.

That's the beauty of the gospel.

There's a story of a farmer and a carpenter, two friends. The farmer is someone who understands the idea of this substitutionary love, this substitutionary sacrifice. But his friend, the carpenter, struggles to feel good enough. And so the farmer asks his friend to build him a gate, a gate for one of his fences. The thing about gates is they have to be perfect. They cannot go too long or they'll hit the post, they can't be too short or they won't latch. If it's unlevel, it'll be impossible to go over the top or if it's unlevel the other way it'll just hit the ground and it'll go nowhere. So the carpenter builds him this gate and it is perfect and the farmer comes out and looks at it he says it's perfect, it's great, thank you for building this. But now that you're done, can I take one of the extra 4x4s that you have laying around and can I screw it where one of the hinges are? And the carpenter says, no, you can't. If you add anything to it, you'll actually take away from it.

And the farmer turns to the carpenter and says, exactly. If you add anything to it, you're actually taking away from it. If we add anything to our salvation, it's like we're trying to say, thank you, Jesus, for going 99% of the way, but really, the 1% that you couldn't do, I've got now. I know, really, when you said it was finished, you were just kidding. No, when Jesus said it is finished, he meant it. He has paid it all. Identify as the pardoned, not as the guilty, not that we have to earn anything anymore. To add anything to our salvation is to take away from it. So what can we do with our guilt? The answer, we found, is nothing. Jesus has already dealt with it. Jesus was condemned as guilty, so that way we can live a guilt-free life. Not that we should go on sinning, but we can know that our guilt and shame is paid for. Jesus died in my place as my substitute, so now I can be seen as his son.

This is great news.

God had to treat Jesus like us to treat us like Jesus.

In a moment, we're gonna celebrate this by taking communion together as a body, as a family. We will participate in this, and this is more than simply remembering what happened on the cross, but it is an active way that we get to experience God's grace again. So as we get ready for this, as we get ready for this and our closing song, I hope that you would respond in worship knowing that you were paid for in full, that Jesus paid it all for you.

Let's pray.

Father God, we thank you for your love. We thank you that you sent your Son to take our place. God, thank you that we do not have to be seen as guilty anymore, but we can be seen as your son. God, I pray for anyone in here who's hearing this for the first time, that they would not leave today without responding to this. And I pray for us as Christians that we wouldn't leave today without being transformed in our heart by this good news, this good news that we need to hear every day. God we

love you. It's in your name we pray, Amen.

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