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Friday, March 25, 2011

Prophesies of a Messiah Duly Validated

I have heard all my life that Jesus saves us from our sins.  We can be “washed in the blood of the lamb” and be made “free from our sins.”  I would like to discuss this in relation to man’s recognition of sin.  When man recognizes that he has sinned, he feels guilty.  The condition of guilt derives from man’s initial blindness, his moral nature, his need for honesty and integrity, and his need to think well of himself.  Man has great difficulty in forgiving himself for being an asshole—for being morally blind and stupid.  He becomes haunted by his sins and filled with the shame of a wet dog.  One option is to deny that he is guilty and go back to sinning with bravado.  This may work for some, but for most it is not an option.  They are too honest with themselves for that.  Yet they understand that the condition of shame is not healthy both internally and externally.

How is it that Jesus sets us free?  An eternal figure—the son of God—died for all current and succeeding generations.  The understanding that he is eternal and the sins he died for are perpetual make it applicable to me personally millennia after his crucifixion.  In a real sense the kinds of sins that haunt everyone living today are exactly the types that nailed him to the cross.  He died because of my sin.  Yet he forgave the ones who tortured him for “they know not what they do.”  In other words, they were blind to their sins.  If someone blind bumps into you, it is difficult and pointless to blame them.  And blindness cannot be corrected simply by willing it.  Remedy depends on sin becoming apparent first to the sinner.  It becomes apparent by grace (or being convicted of one’s sins, or less religiously expressed, by the mystery of perception).

Once sin is perceived it causes consternation and grieving because of the inherent human drive for self-respect and a coincident human need for honesty and integrity.  The grieving is relieved because we know that Christ forgave us for our blindness and the consequent actions.  Because we were blind, we may be held accountable in a court of law for our actions, but in God’s eyes because we were blind we are forgiven the instant we become cognizant of our guilt and acknowledge/confess to it God—owning up to it in the moment of grace.  (Unlike the sinner who does not acknowledge/confess his condition,  but sins even more through bravado;  who seeks to justify himself through denial and escalation of dishonesty and infraction rather than repentance and forgiveness—justification sought through self-righteousness rather than righteousness.  This denial is at base phony for it springs initially from the recognition of personal sin.  Such a person will be discretely miserable because his need for candor and integrity to himself and others will not be met.  He will become shallow, a hollow man who others will grow to distrust.  To deny Christ and God’s provision for forgiveness and redemption at this point and consistently thereafter is to be continually trapped by sin and dishonesty and thus to be eternally damned to self-doubt and loathing.)

Faith in Christ amounts to faith that he has the capacity to forgive us through his eternal nature and standing as our ultimate victim—He is among many things a symbol, and therefore has for humans the efficacious power of a symbol to be sufficient.  As Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34 NIV).  Why do we need to be forgiven in the first place?  It is necessitated by shame which is the result of basic honesty and integrity in considering our sins of thoughts and deeds.  Shame is not a guilt trip created by God, but a condition deeply tied to the nature of man (including his tendency for blindness) and his need for integrity and honesty—his moral nature.  Since its origin is so derived, we need to sadly rejoice in its existence, for without this need in the first place shame would not exist.  The tendency for human blindness combined with his inherent needs (his moral nature, his need for honesty and integrity, and his need to think well of himself) makes God’s provision of forgiveness inevitable assuming (or indeed proving) a loving God.  Prophesies of a Messiah are validated by the inherent nature of God and man.  That Jesus was indeed the Messiah is substantially validated by millennia of efficacious salvation.

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