My eighth post on topics ranging from holidays to the glory of a woman’s hair (and a man’s if it looks good!) to the pregnant girl who sat in front of me in senior English class.
Proving that not everything a preacher says in his sermon is quickly forgotten, I remember something my pastor said 15 years ago about remorse. He said that we can be repentant without feeling so. Definitely one of those things that make you go hmmmm. What Pastor William Lee was saying was that you can acknowledge intellectually your sin without feeling it in your heart.
However, I’m not sure how successful your repentance would be if the gravity of your sin doesn’t sink in to your heart. Of course, repentance is an action, not just a feeling. Repenting involves turning from one thing to something else.
(Repenting of my devotion to the D-Backs has been easier than I thought. Their abysmal win-loss record and their atrocious bullpen has made it easy on me. I’ve abandoned my allegiance for mere apathy. The Reds are garnering my attention these days. Although, while I sort of rooted for the pennant chasers when we saw them host the D-Backs last week, I regressed to my prior loyalty.)
Running on Empty
At some point the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet realized her sin intellectually.
I don’t know if she heard Jesus speak before. She’d heard other preachers before, I’m sure; rabbis and their followers were everywhere in Jerusalem. But the way Jesus preached was different. She’d known already what she’d been doing was wrong. She’d heard the rules. She’d felt the scorn of the religious leaders. More than anything she knew the drought in her own heart.
Maybe she was there the day Jesus stood up and cried out,
If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” —John 7:37-38 ESV
Her heart was as dry as the surrounding desert. She’d searched for refreshment but every promising oasis was merely a mirage. She’d drank her fill of sex, which only left her parched. She craved the living water, and that living water washed away her filth, cleansed her from the inside out.
Hedonism, the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness any way possible, doesn’t satisfy. Neither does religion, which is like stagnant water. Religion convicted her of her hedonistic lifestyle, providing her with ample guilt to keep her devoted her entire life—and empty. But the reality and the emotion of guilt must lead somewhere other than religious exercises. So she brought her guilt to Jesus, and he overturned the verdict and began the process of eradicating her burden of guilt.
See, one of our enemy’s greatest tactics is to remind us of our guilt. And I think he tried to use the condemning stares of the Pharisees to persuade the woman. But she ignored their glares and worshiped her Savior devotedly.
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. —Psalm 42:5-6 NIV
At times we have to remind our enemy and religious people and even ourselves that if we have given our sin to Jesus then we are no longer guilty. Guilt is an intellectual acknowledgment, but we have to tell ourselves what to feel. Depending on how long we’ve wallowed in our sin, like a pig in mud (see the Prodigal Son), it may take time for the Holy Spirit to relieve our feelings of guilt.
As ours can be, I think the woman’s tears were a blend of joyous emotion and struggle with memories of her past sin, a beautiful mixture that Jesus lovingly received
How does our enemy try to convince us of our guilt? Even more, how does our enemy try to get us to ignore our guilt, to think we’ve made proper recompense when perhaps we haven’t?
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