This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
Tonight we’re going to make two proclamations. The first is a lengthy one, it’s a prayer from Ephesians 1, a prayer that Paul prayed for the church. And we pray it regularly for ourselves. The reason I’ve chosen it is that Paul prays for a spirit of wisdom and revelation. I have come to understand that without a spirit of wisdom and revelation there are many, many things in the Bible that we will never properly understand. We are dependent on the Holy Spirit. We are going to make this declaration because tonight we are acknowledging to the Lord we need here a spirit of wisdom and revelation to show us things we could never apprehend by our natural reasoning. Then we’re going to make a short one. Ephesians 1:17 to the end of the chapter. We’ll begin with this is our prayer and then go into it.
This is our prayer:
“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to us a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. The eyes of our understanding being enlightened that we may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
Amen. Now, the next one is from 1Corinthians 6, I think it’s verse 11. And as you may have noticed, when the Bible says you, we make it we because we’re saying this applies to us, this is what we do. And this is particularly for the message that I’m planning to bring tonight.
“But we are washed, but we are sanctified, but we are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
I think it will be good if you were all to say that after us. Don’t try to say it with us, we’ll say it phrase by phrase.
“But we are washed, but we are sanctified, but we are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
And the word but there is because of all the things we were before that happened. And, the list is horrible, you couldn’t find a more unpleasant list of bad things and bad people. And they applied to us. But, let’s say it again.
“But we are washed, but we are sanctified, but we are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
Now I’m going to begin with recapitulation. And this is going to test me because I didn’t bring my previous outline so I’ve got to see if I can remember it.
Those of you who’ve been here will remember that we really started off from the statement that by one sacrifice God has perfected forever us who are being sanctified. There’s a perfect tense there, what God has done is perfect. Jesus, as He died on the cross, said, “It is perfect,” one of the most powerful words in the Greek language. I sometimes say it is completely complete, it is perfectly perfect. Nothing needs to be added and nothing could ever be taken away from what Jesus accomplished by His sacrifice on the cross.
But the second verb is in what we call in English the continuing present tense, it’s not complete. By one sacrifice He has perfected forever us who are being sanctified. We are gradually appropriating all that Jesus has already obtained for us through His death on the cross.
And then I quoted from Isaiah 53:6:
“The Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
I suggested that iniquity could be understood “rebellion with all evil consequence.” They all came on Jesus on the cross. And, an exchange took place. All the evil due to us came upon Jesus that all the good due to Jesus might be offered to us. That’s very simple. It can become elaborate but you need to lay hold of that one basic, simple principle to start with.
I went through nine different aspects of the exchange. Again I want to emphasize this is not exhaustive, you could find more. But I’m going to try to do it right and if I get it wrong you who’ve made notes and listened, you can correct me. So we’re going to do the left hand for the bad things, the right hand for the good things. Now if you can, you can go with the left hand as well as the right but don’t confuse me, that’s all. So we begin with:
Jesus was punished that we might be forgiven.
Jesus was wounded that we might be healed.
Jesus was made sin with our sinfulness that we might be made righteous with His righteousness.
Jesus died our death that we might share His life.
Jesus endured our curse that we might receive the blessing.
Jesus endured our poverty that we might share His abundance.
Jesus bore our shame that we might share His glory.
Jesus endured our rejection that we might have His acceptance.
And, our old man was executed in Him that the new man might come to life in us.
Tonight I propose to deal with what I would call some of the emotional healings that are provided through the cross. And I’m going to deal with three terrible wounds that humanity has suffered: guilt, shame and rejection. We’re going to deal with what I call inner wounds. It’s really a fairly new field of ministry. Forty years ago people didn’t acknowledge they had inner wounds, preachers didn’t deal with it. In the Pentecostal movement in those days, and I was part of is, it wasn’t theology, it was tradition but it was this: You get saved, baptized in water, baptized in the Holy Spirit, speak in tongues and you have no more problems! There’s just one difficulty, it isn’t true!
A friend of mine who’s a preacher was once asked, “What is the evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit?” He replied, “Trouble.” And I mean, I’ve pastored Pentecostal people, I know it isn’t true! Furthermore, I’ve been one. It wasn’t true of me and it isn’t true of many Pentecostals. In fact, only when you’re baptized in the Holy Spirit do you really begin to understand your problems.
So, I want to begin tonight by reading from Matthew 9:36, which is part of the ministry of Jesus. And God seemed to impress upon me that this verse described how Jesus today sees the people of London. It says:
“But when He saw the multitudes He was moved with compassion for them.”
The Greek word that’s translated “moved with compassion” is an amazingly powerful word. If I can say it without offending you, it refers to the guts, this area. And it means there was a powerful reaction in this part of Jesus in His compassion. Compassion is not something nice and pretty, it’s something powerful. And, in a way, rather frightening because when you get involved in compassion you can’t stand back any longer and just observe, you are motivated to move in and do something. And that’s how it was with Jesus. He was moved with compassion because they, the people, were weary—or another reading says harassed—and scattered like sheep having no shepherd. And I’ve kind of in my mental—not vision but just a mental glimpse, I’ve seen people weary, harried, frustrated, perplexed, fearful, anxious, not really knowing what’s going to happen next, concerned about the daily needs, concerned about relationships in families, and burdened down, carrying invisible burdens that make many people stoop and take the sparkle out of the eyes of people. I had that impression that London is full of such people, and some of them are here tonight.
I got this deeply moving sense that Jesus really wants to help. He doesn’t just want to stand there and be a detached observer, He wants to get involved. But He wants to get involved through people like us because immediately after that the next verse says:
“Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful but the laborers are few.’”
If ever that statement is true it’s true today. All around the earth the harvest is amazingly plentiful. Just to consider Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, the harvest is so abundant that you can’t conceive of it. But, the laborers are few. Pitifully few. And that is a reproach on us the people of God.
And then He says:
“Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
And the next thing He did—that’s in the next chapter but the chapter breaks are put in many centuries after the text—He sent out His twelve apostles. In other words, He acted on his own revelation.
So, I want to speak about three of the wounds that people carry.
I was basically privileged in my birth and upbringing. I was born into a military family, my father was a colonel, my uncle was a brigadier, my grandfather was a general. I was educated at two of the top institutions at Britain, Eton College and Cambridge University. Academically I was always successful, God gifted me with that kind of mind. Now, when it comes to dealing with things like repairing cars or making electricity work, I am at the bottom of the list. But my solution is to find people who know and get them to do it! My wife is quite a genius in a way with some practical jobs. All right, I can see somebody identifies with that!
My first wife, too, was, as a matter of fact. I’ve always been blessed with a practical wife. When it comes to putting in a nail or a screw or making the electric connection work, they always seem to know what to do. But in other areas they’re theoretical. I was like a fish in water, I could just swim with no effort. And, that’s what it takes basically, or, what it used to take, to be successful academically. Probably things have changed a bit. I mean, in neither Oxford or Cambridge could you get a degree until you knew Latin before World War II. The whole culture of the upper echelon of Britain was totally permeated by the classics, Greek and Latin, which has had a very harmful effect in many ways, especially on the spiritual life. I mean, at Eton you were expected to be a Christian but it was much more important that you should be a gentleman. And sometimes you can be a Christian and a gentleman.
So we’re going to deal first of all with the wound of guilt. Let me just give you a few glimpses of what guilt may be. I’ve learned this very recently by experience and observation. I’ve learned that there’s a difference between sin and guilt. I didn’t understand that. But if you want to look in Isaiah 53:10, it says—now this is the New King James but it could be more accurate. It says in the middle of the verse:
“...when you make His soul an offering for sin He shall see His seed.”
And I’ve spoke about that, that Jesus was made the sin offering. And it is true but it’s not what it says there. And if you look in the NIV, and I think the NASB and most of the other modern translations, the word is not sin, it is guilt. Is that right? Who has an NIV here? Is that right? I never really thought much about the difference but because of something that happened recently with Ruth and me, I suddenly got the understanding that guilt is not the same as sin. Sin, in a sense, is objective. Guilt is subjective. Guilt is what happens inside you as a result of your sin.
You never really have total peace or have peace for long because you’re suddenly conscious of guilt. In many cases you’re a victim of your past. Something happened that you’d rather not remember that you don’t even want to think about but you can’t forget it. And often it’s a failure in your past. You fail to do the right thing, you fail to help somebody, you fail to provide for your own child or care for your husband or your wife. You see today perhaps a delinquent child and you know I’m partly responsible for that, I could have treated that child differently but I didn’t. Perhaps because I was selfish and self-centered or perhaps just because I was ignorant and insensitive.
I look back at the nine girls that my first wife and I became responsible for through adoption. Of course, I was the last person to be made responsible for nine girls, except that God just does things His way because I was an only child, I never had any brothers or sisters. I was educated in male boarding institutions from the age of nine till the age of twenty-five. I mean, girls to me were a remote, inexplicable kind of people. I mean, I had girlfriends but that’s different! You can have a girlfriend without ever really getting to know how women think. And how many of you would agree that women think differently from men? Is that right? If you haven’t learned that, you’ve got a hard lesson ahead!
So, here I am, I’m married and the day I get married I’ve got eight adopted daughters: six of them Jewish, one a Palestinian Arab and one English. And I mean, I didn’t know how to be a father to those girls. I protected them, I think probably I helped to save their lives but dealing with them, I look back and I am often embarrassed when I think how lacking I was in sensitivity to their real needs and their real problems.
But, I’m not guilty because God has shown me there’s a remedy for guilt. But many people haven’t found that remedy.
Also, very often you come from a religious background which specializes in making you feel guilty. I mean, I was brought up in the Anglican church. And I thank God for all the good things in the Anglican church but every Sunday morning unfailingly about 11:00 o’clock we said, “Pardon us miserable offenders.” My boyish conclusion was if all religion can do is make me an offender, I can be an offender without religion and much less miserable. I’m revised, I can say that prayer today with a totally different attitude but lots of you, your background maybe Catholic or Lutheran, Anglican or Methodist. Much of the teaching and the emphasis in the church was on “we’re guilty.” As a matter of fact, my idea of religion in those boyhood days was it’s designed to make you feel guilty.
And so, I would walk out the church on Sunday morning feeling faintly guilty and think that’s what religion is supposed to do. But, it didn’t last more than an hour or two and I shrugged it off. But nevertheless, that background can have a profound effect on the way you think about yourself. You may be habituated to accepting guilt and there’ll have to be a radical change in you before you can be clear of that.
Another way that guilt affects us is through our parents. Many times a mother will use guilt to motivate her child to do something. If you want to be a good girl, you’ve got to do this. And, if you don’t do this, you’re a bad girl.
There was a book written in the sixties which if you don’t know the Jewish people you probably wouldn’t appreciate it. It’s called How To Be A Jewish Mother. One of the chapters was “How to Get Your Son to Play His Violin in Public Using No Other Motivation But Guilt.” I mean, that is a common parental motivation. But we don’t realize the harm we’re doing to our children that way.
Not only that, but guilt is Satan’s main weapon against Christians. Personally, I don’t believe the Holy Spirit ever makes us feel guilty. He convicts us of sin but that’s totally different. When you’re convicted of sin the Holy Spirit says you did that, you told a lie, you were angry, you were jealous, whatever, you need to repent and change. And once you repent and change it’s over, there’s no more guilt. But Satan uses guilt and guilt is never ending, it’s never finished. Perhaps I didn’t do enough, maybe I would have said more, maybe I shouldn’t have done that. And it could go on and on forever. And, it’s not the Holy Spirit, it’s Satan.
Let’s look in Revelation 12:10. I believe this is still in the future in its final outworking, that’s my understanding. We won’t go into that. But the principle is there.
“Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come. For the accuser of our brethren who accused them before our God day and night has been cast out.’”
It’s angels who are saying that. But when it says “our brethren” they’re referring to the believers on earth. So, Satan is the accuser of the believers. And apparently he accuses us in the presence of God day and night.
Now, why does he accuse us? What does he want us to feel in one word? Guilty, that’s right. That’s his supreme weapon against Christians. It’s guilt. Because, as long as you feel guilty you’re not really capable of doing the devil much harm. You’ve got a fifth column inside you that frustrates all your attempts to live effectively for Jesus.
Now, what’s the remedy for guilt? Verse 11 tells us:
“They overcame him...”
Who is they? That’s us, the believers on earth. Who is him? Satan. Would you notice that we are in direct conflict with Satan? Some people will tell you Satan has no access to believers. That just isn’t true. Satan goes to prayer meetings if he can. We are involved in a direct, personal conflict with Satan. We don’t have any options. But, we can win, that’s the important thing.
“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”
Let’s take the second part of that first, “they did not love their lives to the death.” What does that mean? I understand it means it’s more important for us to do the will of God than to stay alive. If we have the choice, we’ll accept death rather than disobedience.
I smile when I hear Christians sing a song about Christian soldiers, which there are plenty of, because I was called up into the British Army in 1940. When I joined up they never gave me a little certificate that said you’ll never get killed. Every soldier accepted the fact that he could easily get killed. And that’s true of Christian soldiers, too. There’s no guarantee you won’t be killed. In fact, there’s a high possibility that you may in certain places. If you’re born a Muslim and you confess faith in Christ, it will be the first duty of your family to put you to death. And, they do it many times. So what do you choose? You’re a teenage daughter and you come to believe in Jesus and your father is holding a knife to your throat and he says, “Deny Jesus or die.” Which do you do? Well, a lot have chosen to die. And that happens here in Britain. It’s covered up but it happens. Much more in Muslim nations. That’s just one example.
So, they did not love their lives to the death means in one word commitment. Whether I live or whether I die, that’s not important. What’s important is I do the will of God.
And, it’s only committed believers that scare Satan. He’s not afraid of uncommitted Christians who use religious language but don’t back it up. They’re no problem to him. The ones who really threaten him are the committed ones who do not love their lives to the death.
Now, they have the potential to overcome Satan. How? By the blood of the Lamb, that’s Jesus, the Lamb of God, and by the word of their testimony. Let me just say in parentheses two main themes of the book of Revelation are the wild beast and the Lamb. And in the Greek language they’re very parallel in form so it brings out—And the wild beast, the antichrist, is mentioned thirty-five times. And the Lamb is mentioned twenty-eight times. So one major theme of Revelation is either the wild beast or the Lamb, which will we choose, whom will we follow? If you’re going to follow the Lamb you have to live like a lamb.
Now, how do they overcome? By the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. I interpret this to mean this, we overcome Satan when we testify personally to what the word of God says the blood of Jesus does for us. Therefore, your testimony is an essential part of your victory. Satan is not afraid of Christians who have no testimony. They’re unarmed, they’re defenseless. I’m going to say that again because I want you to absorb it. We overcome Satan when we testify personally to what the word of God says the blood of Jesus does for us. That’s how we overcome him, by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.
Now, in order to do that you have to know what the word says about the blood, because you can’t testify to it if you don’t know it. I’m going to list about six things that the Bible says about the blood of Jesus. I’ll just go through them and maybe we’ll do them.
Ephesians 1:7 says:
“In Him [that’s Jesus Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace.”
So, through the blood of Jesus we have redemption, we are redeemed. To redeem means to buy back, to ransom. We were exposed in Satan’s slave market for sale as slaves, as has been the practice in many nations over the past century. In the Roman Empire when a person was for sale as a slave he was stood on a block and a spear was fastened to a post behind him stretched out over his head. And so, to be sold as a slave was said to be sold under a spear. Paul says we are sold under sin. In other words, the spear that’s thrust out over us is our sin. We are exposed for sale as slaves in Satan’s slave market. And a person who is sold as a slave has no choice as to what that person will do. A woman might be chosen to be a cook or she might be chosen to be a prostitute. But, she wouldn’t have any say in it. And that’s how it is with slavery. So, we may be the respectable kind of slaves but we cannot point a finger at the less respectable because they didn’t have the choice and we didn’t have the choice. They are no worse than we are and we are no better than they. We’re all slaves.
But the good news is one day Jesus walked into the slave market and He said, “I’ll buy that one.” And then when He buys us He releases us, we’re no longer slaves. And you know what He pays? He pays His precious blood. We are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. We have redemption through His blood. And Psalm 107:2 says:
“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so whom He has redeemed out of the hand of the enemy.”
So, if you are redeemed you ought to say so. That’s what makes your redemption effective. It’s the word of your testimony. Let’s try and say it. Don’t say it if you don’t believe it. I’ll give you the example and then we’ll say it together.
“Through the blood of Jesus I am redeemed out of the hand of the devil.”
Can you make that testimony? All right, you say it with me.
“Through the blood of Jesus I am redeemed out of the hand of the devil.”
Praise God! I think we could afford to say thank you.
1John 1:7 says:
“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
What’s the operation of the blood there? Cleansing from sin. But notice that that begins with an if. It’s conditional on meeting certain conditions.
Having grown up for years among Pentecostals I have to say that Pentecostals make a fetish out of the blood. They say, “I plead the blood, I plead the blood, I plead the blood, I plead the blood.” That may be perfectly all right, it depends on whether you have the right to plead the blood. But the right is conditional. If we walk in the light, that’s the condition. The first result is we have fellowship one with another. So if we’re not walking in the light and we’re out of fellowship, it doesn’t work. But if we walk in the light and if we have fellowship, then the blood of Jesus continually cleanses us from all sin. All the tenses in that verse are present continuous tense. If we continually walk in the light we continually have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus continually cleanses us from all sin. But don’t leave out the if. If you’re not walking in the light you cannot claim those promises. I’ve told people this, the blood doesn’t cleanse in the dark.
So, we’ll make our proclamation but we’ll do it this way. I’ll do it first so you get to know it, I’m not going to lead you into something that you don’t know what you’re going to say.
“Because I am walking in the light I am in fellowship and the blood of Jesus continually cleanses me from all sin.”
You with me? All right. I don’t remember what I said but I’ll try! You can say it after me.
“Because I am walking in the light I am in fellowship and the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is cleansing me now and continually from all sin.”
Anybody here know Swahili? (Spoke in Swahili) That’s a special Swahili tense we don’t have but it means it really works all the time. The blood of Jesus is continually cleansing me from all sin.
All right, we’re going on. Romans 5:9:
“Much more then, having been now justified by His blood we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”
So what does the blood do for us there? It justifies us. That word justify is a very exciting word. I’ll give you about five different things that it means. It means that you’ve been on trial for a crime and you’ve been acquitted, found not guilty, reckoned righteous, made righteous. And then the final explanation is “just-as-if-I’d” never sinned. Why? Because I’ve been made righteous with whose righteousness? The righteousness of Jesus Christ. He never sinned, He doesn’t have a guilty conscience. And you don’t need to have a guilty conscience either because His righteousness has been imputed to you.
All right, let’s try and say this. It’s an effort to remember it but I think I can do it. Say it after me, not with me.
“Through the blood of Jesus I am acquitted, not guilty, reckoned righteous, made righteous, “just-as-if-I’d” never sinned.”
Do you believe that? All right. Okay. That’s really the answer to guilt. If you really believe that and affirm it and meet the conditions, you have no more problem with guilt. And there is no other remedy.
Let’s turn to Hebrews 13:12:
“Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.”
So what does the blood of Jesus do? It sanctifies. That’s another theological word which doesn’t mean much to some people but it means to make holy. To sanctify is to make holy. And to be holy is to be set apart to God, separated from sin. That’s not the whole of holiness but it’s far enough—So, my testimony is:
“Through the blood of Jesus I am sanctified, made holy, set apart to God, separated from all sin.”
All right, do you want to say that? Say it after me.
“Through the blood of Jesus I am sanctified, made holy, set apart to God, separated from all sin. Thank you, Lord.”
See, it’s very simple in a way, but to maintain that confession takes a lot of guts. You know what the word guts means? They call it intestinal fortitude. I believe you can get to heaven without theology but I’m not sure you can get there without guts.
So, we come to Ephesians 2:13. We need to read 12 to get the full impact. This is addressed to Gentile believers like me. Ephesians 2:12:
“At that time you were without the Messiah, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”
What an awful condition, without hope and without God. And that’s where we all were.
You know, there’s some wonderful “buts” in the Bible. Go through and check them out.
“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God...”
And so on. And here we have another but.
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ.”
What does the blood of Christ do? It brings us nearer to God. In our lost and sinful condition we were separated from God by a vast chasm which we had no means to cross. But the blood of Jesus made a way across that chasm into the presence of God. So, what do we say about that?
“Through the blood of Jesus I have made nearer to God.”
It’s very simple but very profound. Do you want to say that?
“Through the blood of Jesus I have been made nearer to God.”
All right, one more, which is closely related in Hebrews 10:19–22.
“Therefore, brethren, having boldness [or confidence] to enter the holiest...”
That’s the most sacred place in the universe, the place of God’s holy immediate presence.
“...having boldness to enter the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us through the veil, that is, his flesh, and having a high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
So, what do we have through the blood of Jesus there? We have boldness to enter into the holiest, into the immediate presence of God through the blood of Jesus. Let’s say that.
“Through the blood of Jesus I have boldness to enter the holiest into the immediate presence of God.”
All right. Now, that’s how we overcome Satan. That’s how we deal with the problem of guilt. It’s by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony.
I’ve been through that with you here but it will not really permanently help you unless you get all those scriptures into your own heart and mind. And remember, when you need them is in a dark hour when no one else is around.
Let me just summarize and I’ll go on.
Through the blood of Jesus we are redeemed out of the hand of the devil.
The blood of Jesus continually cleanses us now and forever from all sin.
Through the blood of Jesus we are justified, acquitted, not guilty, reckoned righteous, made righteous, “just-as-if-I’d” never sinned.
This is so vivid for me, I can never pass it by because I can always see in my mind’s eye a court scene. Here’s this person, you could say it’s me or you, on trial for a crime which carries a mandatory death penalty. We’re waiting for the verdict. And in our hearts we know we did it. And when the jury comes out they announce the verdict, not guilty. Amen! If you really believe that you have to get excited. You’re permitted to get excited. Let’s stand to our feet for a little while and praise the Lord.
Now, I’d like to go on. Before you sit down, turn to somebody close to you and say, “I’m not guilty.”
All right, you may sit down again. Well, three we didn’t repeat, we’ll just do them.
Through the blood of Jesus we are sanctified, made holy, set apart to God.
Ephesians 2:13, through the blood of Jesus we who once were far off have been brought nearer to God.
And Hebrews 10:19 and following, through the blood of Jesus we have confidence to enter into the holiest of all.
All right. I hope you’re feeling better.
Now, that is God’s remedy for guilt, it’s a total remedy. It leaves no room for guilt if we take the entire remedy and meet the conditions. But as I said before, just hearing me preach it once will not settle the issues finally. You have to get it into your own heart and mind so that on a dark night when you’re left all alone you still say not guilty.
Now we want to deal with shame, the second of the three emotional wounds. It’s hard for me exactly to describe shame but it’s a sense somehow I’m not really fit to meet people and look them in the face. Very often a person who’s suffering from shame will without realizing it avert his or her eyes or lower them because “I’m not just worthy to look you in the face.” Shame is debilitating, it keeps us from functioning as healthy human beings.
Let me suggest to you just two possible ways that shame comes, there are others. But, by public humiliation. And quite often it happens in a school setting. Ruth and I were together with a young Jewish man who met Jesus as his Messiah. But he has still a number of hangups. We were speaking with him and I detected this sense of shame in him. We began to question him and it turned out that in the high school where he was educated, at the end of the year the headmaster had singled him out, out of all the other pupils, as the one who failed to pass the exams and would have to do another year in the same class. And this was announced publicly. And from then on he was never exactly the person he ought to have been. There was this sense of shame which he would cover up, as people do, by being very aggressive and very active, and trying to prove that he was as good as the rest and probably better.
If you have to prove that you’re as good as other people, there’s something wrong with you. And, it’s not God’s solution.
The other very common cause of shame which I mention, I’m not going to go into detail, is in people who have been sexually abused in childhood. And that is distressingly common in our contemporary culture. And very often a person who’s been through that will not be free ever to speak about it or to tell any other person about it. And very often it’s parents or grandparents or other family members who were responsible. Such a person is in a continual tension between the attitude that that person ought to have towards parents and the realization of what the parent or other person actually has done. And people can go through life with that tension unresolved.
Now, I am not a psychologist and I am not going to go into a lot of psychological details. But, I am confident just on the basis of statistics that we have people here tonight who have that problem. And maybe you’ve struggled with it over the years and you’ve never felt free to have counseling or even prayer because it’s a sort of shameful secret that you cannot open up. Well, there is one person you can open it up to and that’s the Lord. And you know what I want to tell you? We never embarrass the Lord by what we tell Him. He is not embarrass-able. You can tell Him the worst about yourself and at the end of it all He says, “I knew it all along and I still love you.”
I’ve met people who wouldn’t confess a sin because they were afraid that God might know! I tell you, it’s silly, God knows already and He still loves you. So, you might as well get it off your chest.
Now, the remedy is Jesus. We’ll just look in Hebrews 12:2, it’s part of the exchange. It says:
“Looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame...”
He was well aware of the shame but it didn’t matter to Him because He had a purpose.
I have been informed by a friend who did some research that one of the primary motives of execution by crucifixion was to shame the person, to humiliate the person. And the person who was thus exposed naked on the cross, people walked by and they said all sorts of derogatory remarks, they ridiculed. Sometimes they did insulting things to him which I am not free to describe. But it was part of the purpose of crucifixion, was to expose that person to the maximum degree of shame. And that’s what happened to Jesus.
It’s described in the prophet Isaiah several times. I don’t know whether you realize the New Testament is very objective about the sufferings of Jesus. It simply says “they crucified him.” It doesn’t go into any details. It doesn’t reveal any of His subjective reactions. But, in the Old Testament in the book of Psalms and through the prophets there are many intimate revelations of what happened inside Jesus at this time. And we read just a few from Isaiah. Isaiah 50:6, this is a preview of Jesus. It says:
“I gave my back to those who struck me...”
Remember, He gave His back. He didn’t have to. He could have refused, He could have consumed them with a word. But, He gave His back. He didn’t struggle, He didn’t resist, He gave.
“...and my cheeks to those who plucked out the beard. I did not hide my face from shame and spitting.”
He was exposed to shame. They spat on Him. That’s shameful.
“Just as many were astonished at you...”
I think a better word would be appalled and I imagine that’s possibly used in modern translations.
“Just as many were appalled at you so his visage, his countenance, was marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.”
What that actually means is He lost the appearance of a human being. I think that’s brought out in the New American Standard. So terrible and disfiguring were His sufferings that He didn’t look like a human being.
And then in Isaiah 53:3 it says:
“He is despised and rejected by men, a man of pains and acquainted with sickness, and we hid, as it were, our faces from him. He was despised and we did not esteem him.”
That means, I understand, that we were ashamed to look at him, we just couldn’t bear to see what had happened to Him.
But, the outcome is described in Isaiah 61:7. There are different ways of translating this verse but they all amount to the same thing. Isaiah 61:7:
“Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion.”
Rather than confusion I would say embarrassment. So, instead of shame and embarrassment you will have honor and joy. Why? Because of the exchange that took place at the cross. Jesus endured our shame that we might share His glory.
And then we’ll deal with the third kind of emotional suffering, rejection. I’ve come to believe that this is the greatest, the most painful wound that any human being can endure. It’s the wound of rejection. I, by the mercy of God, had to learn this mainly by thinking myself into other people’s experiences because I really didn’t have the experience myself. I may have had in a mild degree sometimes at school but basically I was an only child, I was favored by my parents, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. I really didn’t know what rejection was. And when I met people I couldn’t understand them. What’s wrong with them? But God gave me patience to seek it out and to think it through and to begin to identify with people. So I have been able, by the grace of God, to be able to help many people to recover from the wound of rejection.
How do you describe rejection. There are different ways. It’s like always being on the outside looking in. You can see others there, they’re having a good time, they’re enjoying life, they have friendships, but I don’t. I don’t know why, I just can’t get in there. You may be rejected just as a member of a family, you may be the member of the family that’s rejected. Who knows why?
Let me tell you, one possible reason is because the devil has some foreknowledge and he knows that God wants to use you and he struck his blow first. And so, the fact that the devil has made you a victim in a way is a kind of compliment because it means he’s afraid of what you can become in Christ. So don’t be discouraged.
My experience is some people who’ve been lowest end up highest. I think the Bible says that. Everyone that humbles himself will be exalted.
Rejection says others can but I can’t. I think I experienced that in a mild degree, I’ll describe it whenever it will be, Saturday evening. I don’t belong. I’d love to be part of the crowd but I can’t get in there. There’s some invisible barrier that shuts me off. It’s rejection, it’s spiritual.
What are the causes of rejection? They are manifold but in my opinion undoubtedly the greatest single cause of rejection is rejection by parents. And many parents are guilty of rejection without even knowing it because as I understand it, a baby is born into the world craving one thing more than anything else, which is love, that’s right. More than food, more than clothing, love. And, forgive me mothers if I say this, the primary love that a child needs is the love of a father. That’s what gives total security. And it’s not enough that a father loves his child, that love has to be openly expressed in a way that the child understands.
Now, I know my father loved me but I’m sorry to say he never really knew how to express it. We grew up in the old school—the old school tie, stiff upper lip and keep the flag flying. I grieve when I think of some of the military personnel I knew and how they were inhibited and shut up in themselves because of that tradition, that culture. But there are many other cultures that inhibit people, too.
However, rejection by a mother is also terrible. I’ve discovered that a mother can reject her baby before the baby is born. I had the experience in the United States one time of ministering deliverance to many people and I often ministered deliverance to people who needed relief from rejection. I noticed that they seemed to be particularly in a certain age group. And so I did a little mental calculation, when were they born? The answer was around about 1930—this was in the United States. Well, if you talk to any American who has any memory whatever, when you say 1929 there’s one thing they’ll say, The Great Depression. If you don’t know Americans you don’t know what a wound that left on the American people. They’re still afraid of it today. I discovered that many of the people who suffered from rejection were born at that period. I concluded that their mothers said, “I’ve got three mouths to feed, I don’t have enough money and now I’ve got another baby coming. I wish it wasn’t coming.” That’s all you have to do, your baby will be born with a spirit of rejection.
Then there’s the obvious rejection that’s implied in divorce, which is fearfully common today. And very few people go through a divorce without some experience of rejection, at least one partner—and often both. And that’s wounding. Got an NIV anybody? Thank you. It’ll be doubly blessed from now on! I do this because there’s a verse in the NIV which brings this out. It’s in Isaiah 54:6:
“The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit, a wife who married young only to be rejected, says your God.”
Thank you for the loan of the Bible. So, the Lord understands. But it isn’t only the woman that suffers rejection, I know men who carry a continuing wound of rejection because they were rejected by their wives.
All right. I probably said enough for you to be able to identify your problem. There may be many other reasons. Rejection by your peers at school. Somehow you’re different. Maybe you’re cross-eyed or you have a club foot, or something much less conspicuous than that. And the rest of your peers just treat you as a speckled bird. You know what they say in the Bible about a speckled bird? All the other birds turn on it, it’s different. But all you have to be is different. With humanity the way it is, people are disturbed by somebody who’s different. They don’t know how to identify with you so they reject you.
And again, it could be a compliment. They may reject you because you’re so much superior to them!
Now, we’ve just got to come to the remedy. Again it’s Jesus on the cross. We’ll give you just a few scriptures. Isaiah 53:3. Notice how many times we go to Isaiah 53? All right. First and foremost He was rejected by men and it says here in verse 3:
“He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and we hid, as it were, our faces from Him. He was despised and we did not esteem Him.”
Have you ever had the experience of walking up to a group of people and they all stop talking at once? You know what they were talking about, don’t you! But Jesus went through it, He was rejected by His own people.
“He came to His own and His own received Him not.”
That’s terribly hard. Shall I tell you something about Jesus that I’ve learned? He’s been suffering that rejection for nearly two thousand years. And He is longing for the day when He’ll be reconciled with His own brothers and sisters. So, He’s endured it.
But that was not the worst, the worst rejection, as I’ve said, I believe is to be rejected by a father. And that was the ultimate rejection that Jesus endured on the cross. It comes out in Matthew 27:45–46:
“Now from the sixth hour [which was twelve noon] until the ninth hour [three p.m.] there was darkness over all the land. And about ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”
I can understand my own people forsaking me, my own disciples forsaking me. But God, why you?
It’s interesting that those words are in Aramaic which was the common language of the people of Jesus in that day. I have a little theory I’ll share with you. I think it’s an established medical fact that when people are close to death they tend to revert to their childhood language. They’ll speak the language they learned first. And I think that was true of Jesus. In His last hour of agony He began to speak the language He heard first from His mother and father, Aramaic. But at any rate, He was forsaken by God His Father. The ultimate wound.
Why was He forsaken? Because He was identified with our rebellion and God in His righteousness could not compromise with rebellion, even in the person of Jesus.
I’ve told people if anybody could commend sin to God the Father, it would have been Jesus. If Jesus could not do it, believe me, you and I cannot do it. There is no sin that we can make acceptable to God.
And then it says in verses 50 and 51 of Matthew 27:
“Jesus, when He’d cried out again with a loud voice, yielded up His spirit.”
He died of a broken heart. He didn’t die as a result of crucifixion, He could have lived much longer, several more hours. What broke His heart in one word? Rejection, that’s right. The ultimate wound.
What was the result?
“Behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”
The veil that separated sinful man from a holy God was torn in two. And the way was open for men to come into fellowship with God. The rejection of Jesus purchased our acceptance. And this is stated in one beautiful passage in Ephesians 1:3–6:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love.”
What a destiny, to be holy and without blame before God in love. You could never achieve that by your religious efforts, could you. There’s only one way, by the grace of God.
“Having predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good treasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.”
Because He was rejected we have been accepted. Other translations translate that differently but the word is a very powerful word. It’s the same word that was used by the angel Gabriel when he greeted the virgin Mary and said, “Hail, you who are highly favored.” So, we are highly favored. I tell people continually God has no second class children. If you are a child of God you are highly favored. The favor that He bears to Jesus is for you.
Ruth and I had a very fine Christian young woman working for us a few years ago, a very dedicated Christian. And she said to me once, “I would really like to do something to have God’s favor.” In other words, to do something to earn God’s favor. I said to her, “Listen, you’ll never have more favor from God than you have through being in Christ.” There’s nothing you could ever do all your life that would make you so acceptable to God as being in Christ. Because, the favor He has for Christ He has for you. No less.
And one final passage in John 17, the last two verses of John 17. This is, in a sense, the final utterance of Jesus to His disciples before He suffered. I believe these two verses are really, if we can see it, the climax of the whole purpose of the gospel. It’s part of the prayer that He prayed. And these are the words:
“O righteous Father, the world has not known you. But I have known you, and these disciples have known that you sent me. I have declared to them your name...”
What was the name? What was the name that Jesus revealed? Father, that’s right. They already knew the name Jehovah, they’d known it for fourteen centuries. The name He came to reveal was Father. You find very few uses of Father as a title of God in the Old Testament. There are just a few. The only person who could fully reveal the Father was the Son, that’s right. So He had to come to reveal the Father. And six times in this prayer Jesus addresses God as Father. Then He says at the end:
“I have declared to them your name and will declare it...”
I’ll keep on declaring it. Now listen to this:
“...that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
I’ll say that again.
“...that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
Now, I understand this to mean that we may be loved with exactly the same love that God has for Jesus because Jesus is in us. And so, we are as dear to God as Jesus Himself.
And then it says “and I in them.” And I understand that to mean that Jesus in us can love God just as Jesus loved Him. In other words, the ultimate purpose of the gospel is this love relationship with God by which God loves us in exactly the same way as He loved Jesus, and we love God in exactly the same way as Jesus loves Him. That is the purpose, that’s the end purpose. And don’t stop short of it, don’t end up with religion and churchgoing and a set of rules. Because, that’s not what Jesus came to bring. He came to bring us into a relationship with the Father. When we have that relationship the rules will take care of themselves. But without the relationship you can have all the rules you like and people won’t keep them because they can’t.
So, the purpose of the gospel is to bring us into the family of God, to bring us into a relationship with God as Father, which is the same relationship that Jesus has. And, to enable us to love God with the same love with which Jesus loved Him. You can’t ask more. It’s unimaginable, it’s past our human minds to conceive what it entails. But, it’s there. It’s the gold, it’s the ultimate purpose. Everything else, in a sense, is secondary.
In 1Timothy 1:5 Paul says:
“The goal of our instruction is love.”
I wish we’d all remember that, especially those of us who are preachers and ministers. What are we seeking to produce? Not religion, not church membership, not doctrine, but love. And if we don’t produce that Paul goes on to say we’re wasting our time. We might as well close down.
So, that’s the remedy for rejection, is to know that you’re a child of God, that God is your Father. I know some of you have unhappy memories of human fathers. Unfortunately, that’s true today in many cases. God intended every father to be a kind of demonstration of what God would be but the fathers have failed. But you have a heavenly Father who loves you, who understands you, who thinks the best of you, who plans the best for you, who will never abandon you, never misunderstand you, never take sides against you.
Anybody who turns that offer down is a fool. To reject the gospel is the stupidest thing that anybody could ever do. I hope there’s nobody here this evening who’s doing that. But if you are here, you can change, you can repent. I’m not going to deal with you individually, I’m just telling you it’s possible to be changed.
Let me just perhaps recapitulate what I said. I think the three deepest, most painful wounds that we bear are guilt, shame and rejection. And God has provided healing for all three wounds through the one sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. I want to tell you as a child of God you’re not rejected, you’re not unimportant, you’re not insignificant, you’re not second class. You are a member of the best family in the universe.
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