4:2 But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
As we've mentioned before 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg. Born and raised in religion Martin began studying the Bible that was supposed to be the foundation of all he had been taught and now as a young priest was teaching others. As he began to read he soon discovered some major contradictions. Foremost was the issue of guilt and shame.
Martin felt guilt and shame. He knew he was far from perfect. Some today are so tortured by guilt and shame that they want to cast off the entire idea of sin. They want to believe sin is a human construct and if we get rid of the entire idea the guilt and shame will be gone with it. It's not quite that simple. When we do things that hurt other people you can refuse to call it sin or even refuse to define it as wrong but the guilt and shame will still come.
When Martin was a young priest in Germany his church had solutions for guilt and shame. You confessed your actions to a priest and he gave you a list of things to do to pay. Guilt and shame were to be paid away. It was a lucrative system for the Church but Martin was a priest and it was doing nothing to absolve him of his own guilt so how could it help anyone else?
In fact religion had become so corrupt in Martin's time that people were paying in advance so they could commit the sins they wanted supposedly guilt free. They called these payments indulgences. Pay up then indulge.
Martin wasn't sure what was right or true but he knew something was way off so he began to read the Word. In it he found an entirely different Story. Guilt and shame were not to be paid for, the actions that caused them were to be forgiven. In fact they already were. Martin and the entire religious system he was part of were trying to pay for sins that were already forgiven. The solution was forgiveness, not cash and just like that Martin was free and in a fairly short period of time the entire religious system was turned upside down.
What made the difference? A true reading of the Story rather than the deceitful mishandled version taught by the Church.
Already in Corinth this deceitful version was in play. By continuing to punish a man who was already forgiven, the church was subtly teaching that guilt and shame have no solution and once you convince a person they are under the burden of shame it's only one more step to devise a system whereby that shame is used to control them. Have you seen or visited the massive Cathedrals of Europe? Fear, guilt, and shame paid for them. It's a lucrative business. However where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. It's past time we stop mishandling the Word and deceiving people in all it's shame laden forms. Jesus died once for all to show His love for us and His willingness to forgive far exceeds our guilt and shame. Let it go...