Skip to comments.[Chapter 4] Restoring the Soul: Jesus, Forgiveness and You
Posted on 02/01/2011 12:42:51 PM PST by wmfights
Marilyn Monroe said, In Hollywood, they give you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.
To illustrate Christ's power to break destructive relationships, I shall tell the story of a woman who was guilty of numerous illicit bonds but was brought to emotional and spiritual wholeness. Women are sensitive and often feel the pain of immorality more deeply than men. The fact that she was given a new identity and inner peace should be an encouragement to all who are haunted by a sexual past.
Jesus does two things. First, He forgives her, but second, He also restores her. He gives her dignity back to her. He knows that without dignity a person will return to his former lifestlye; as long as we condemn ourselves and see ourselves as worthless, we will act worthless. Like one woman said, I acted like the scum I believed myself to be
Her story is recorded in Luke 7:36-50.
Simon was a Pharisee who threw a feast for Christ because he wanted to check out this miracle worker for himself. In those days, uninvited guests were welcome to attend as long as they sat along the wall of the room and did not expect to be seated at the table. Evidently, this feast was well-publicized and perhaps a number of uninvited guests stopped by. Among these was a woman who is described as a sinner.
Since all people are sinners, it is clear that Luke wants us to understand that this woman was a sinner of a special sort, namely, an immoral woman. Almost certainly she was a prostitute, a woman who was known to have many alien bonds.
In the presence of Christ this woman, awash with shame, experienced God's cleansing. She heard Christ say, Your faith has saved you, go in peace (v. 50). She did in a few moments what it takes some people months to do. She was ready to put her past behind her.
Notice her attitude.
First, she was honest. She had no desire for hypocrisy or pretense. She had the reputation of being a sinner and evidently deserved it. She didnt have to say anything; she knew that coming to the house of a self-righteous Pharisee would elicit derision and scorn. To her, this did not matter because she overcame her natural inclination to hide in her shame. Her desire to meet Christ was more powerful than her desire to avoid public scorn. The insults that she experienced on the streets were nothing in comparison to the moral derision she would get from this arrogant bigot and his friends. Yet there she was.
The grace of God does not enter closed doors but works only when deception gives way to honest exposure and humble admission of sin. Most people caught in sexual sin deny it, only admitting to what has been uncovered. This desire to hide allows the root of sin to remain intact.
We are only as sick as our darkest secrets.
She Faced Her Pain
We must commend her for willingly confronting her feelings. She wept, she wept profusely. Her tears ran down her cheeks and fell onto Christ's feet. The present tense of the verbs indicates that she kept on weeping, kept on anointing His feet, kept on wiping His feet with her hair. Her tears proved that she was willing to face her pain; she faced the hurts buried in her sordid past.
Why did she weep? We cannot know, but we can surmise the reasons. First, think of the men who betrayed her! The broken promises, the assurances of protection and love. Then after they used her, she was tossed aside like the peelings of an orange. She was stripped of her sense of value and self-worth.
She could have taken all of these feelings and stuffed them deep within her soul, unwilling to face the pain of the past. Then she would have become a tough woman, defiant and angry. She could have told herself I will handle my pain, and manage my life quite well on my own. I will not let my feelings get to me, no matter the cost!
Or she could have simply pursued continuous compulsive relationships to deaden the pain of an empty life. She could have continued to flit from one relationship to another, unwilling to admit the fruitlessness of her search for meaning.
If she had been a modern woman, she could have turned to alcohol and drugs; she could have numbed her emptiness and pain so that she could have defiantly managed her life.
I do not mean to imply that we cannot be forgiven unless we weep; nor do I want to imply that her tears paid for her misdeeds. But sexual sin almost always involves deep pain that is pushed into the bottom of the soul. God has given us tear ducts as a release for our hurt. Through a willingness to confront our pain we are slowly healed.
Tears are often a barometer of the soul.
She Accepted Christs Forgiveness
Third, she accepted Christ's affirmation of forgiveness. Christ used the occasion to give Simeon a lesson in forgiveness. Christ taught that the degree of our love depends on the degree of our forgiveness. Obviously, this woman did not need forgiveness more than Simon! She saw her sin and this Pharisee saw her sin, but he could not see his own! His self-righteousness stood in the way of his forgiveness. As a result he was also unable to love.
Right in the presence of this self-righteous, judgmental bigot, Christ declares this woman forgiven! Perhaps for the first time in years someone actually spoke to her in kindness; someone gave her the dignity of letting those around her know that she was special to God. What blessed words, You are forgiven!
Must you live with remorse? No, for remorse is simply repentance made out of sight of Christ. Standing before Him, the conscience is cleaned and the guilt is transferred to the crucified Christ.
Praise God for His forgiveness regardless of your past! Accept a clear conscience and the cleansing that is your right as a child of God. Rather than repeatedly confessing your sin, affirm the fact that you have been forgiven (Psalm 32:1,2).
Fourth, she had faith. Christ said of her, Your faith has saved you; go in peace (7:50). Her tears did not save her, nor the loving act of pouring expensive perfume on Christ's feet. Her good deeds did not bring the salvation of God to her soul. Faith, and faith alone in Christ's forgiveness and salvation wiped her sins away.
She Accepted The Gift of Peace
Yes, this woman left with peace She left with her dignity in tact. Often we are confused at this point. Did this mean she was now more valuable as a person? No, it is just that her self-perception changed. We often confuse value and performance.
Let us suppose I were to take a fifty dollar bill, drop it on the floor and stomp on it. Let us suppose that I were to throw it in the mud and trample on it: would you accept it from me? Yes, you would. The dirt does not lessen its value. We like clean bills rather than dirty ones but their value is the same.
If you could talk to the dirty fifty dollar bill, it would say, Please dont use me; please dont put me in your pocket; please dont pull me out in a restaurant, or above all, dont put me in an offering plate with all of those clean bills brought by good Christians. It would want to live alone, though it has as much value as the other bills.
We bring ourselves to Jesus, he cleans the grime so that we no longer want to run and hide; we have shamed shame yes, He cleans us and puts us back into circulation with other bills and we never think of ourselves quite the same again.
Third, accept the power of the Holy Spirit who is given to believers. Through faith receive His strength, which is given to bring emotional wholeness to any needy heart. The destructive memories of the past must be replaced by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22,23).
Charles Wesley understood that many people whose sin has been cancelled by God still come under its power. But he assures us: He breaks the power of cancelled sin He sets the prisoner free His blood can make the foulest clean His blood availed for me
Thousands of people, plagued by a sexual past are walking in freedom today, thanks to the power of Christ's blood. The fact of what happened in the past can never be changed, but the power of that past can be diminished.
Reminds me of the Tenth Avenue North song, “You Are More”. If you haven’t heard it, check it out on YouTube. It is an amazing song with an amazing message. I cry each time I hear it.