Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Guilt, Shame, Fear – Uses of the Law: The Law Defines Sin (4)

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Guilt, Shame, Fear

Uses of the Law: The Law Defines Sin (4)

John 16:8

“And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…”

We know that sin is lawlessness; thus, the Law of God is a reliable means for helping us to understand what is and is not sin. Further, the work of the Law has been written on the hearts of all people, and their consciences bear witness to this, accusing or excusing, even the lost, on the basis of how they act.

Add to this the work of the Spirit of God, and we have even more reason to believe that the Law of God can function today as a reliable means for deciding questions of right and wrong.

Jesus said it is part of the work of the Holy Spirit to convict the world—not just the believer, but the world. The Spirit of God has been poured out in the world, and He brings with Him a burden for teaching the Law of God (Ezek. 36:26, 27). The Spirit of God also strives with men (Gen. 6:3)—wooing and confronting and appealing to them, like a shepherd prodding his sheep, even though they kick against His goads. God loves even His enemies, and He has sent His Spirit to convict them of sin. He uses His Law to do this.

Now the affections associated with conviction are guilt, shame, and fear. The conscience accuses one who is guilty, and, when that accusation is received, it engenders a feeling of guilt. Guilt left unaddressed, encrusted by still more evil works, can lead to shame, to a sense of unworthiness for any good thing at all. Guilt and shame can bring the fear of judgment, which takes in all those who do not know the Lord the form of the fear of death (Heb. 2:15).

We must not draw back from inciting such affections in those for whom they are appropriate. In our day it is not considered polite to make people feel bad, or to hurt their feelings. But this is precisely what people must experience if they are ever going to face up to their rebellion and give themselves to Jesus. The Law of God will bring guilt, shame, and fear to people, especially if they are exposed to it over and over again, but we must always be careful to speak the truth of the Law in love, lest those who are convicted by it make us, rather than it, the source of their discomfort.

The Law of God defines sin, and sinful people, exposed in its light, will experience affections appropriate to their shameful and wicked behavior.

For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the life of faith, get The Ground for Christian Ethics by going to www.ailbe.org and click on our Bookstore, then Church Issues.

In the Gates is a devotional series on the Law of God by Rev. T.M. Moore, editor of the Worldview Church. He serves as dean of the Centurions Program of the Wilberforce Forum and principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He is the author or editor of twenty books, and has contributed chapters to four others. His essays, reviews, articles, papers, and poetry have appeared in dozens of national and international journals, and on a wide range of websites. His most recent books are The Ailbe Psalter and The Ground for Christian Ethics (Waxed Tablet).

Scripture quotations in this article are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, (c) copyright 2001, 2007 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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