Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: What the blood of animals shed in the Temple could never do, God has done for His people through the sacrifice of His Son on our behalf. Receive the perfect sacrifice that sets us free and cleanses us before His presence.

His Gift To The Guilty

Hebrews 10:1-18

Guilt is an interesting word. It is the opposite of innocence and according to the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary it means, "the fact of having committed a breach of conduct especially violating law and involving a penalty; the state of one who has committed an offense especially consciously; a feeling of culpability for offenses." Outside of the dictionary, several Christian leaders have offered their own definition of "guilt." Famous for his radio show and many books, Dr. James Dobson, defines guilt by saying - "Guilt is a message of disapproval from the conscience which says in effect, ’you should be ashamed of yourself.’" (Dr. Dobson Talks About Guilt, p. 4). The famous Christian psychologists, Paul Meier and Frank Minirth say "Guilt is anger toward yourself." (Happiness is a Choice, p. 69).

Not so well known for his radio show or his Christian publications, but the subject of every school boy and school girl’s English Lit Class, William Shakespeare, once wrote,

My conscience hath a thousand several tongues. And every tongue brings in a several tale. And every tale condemns me for a villain. (Richard III)

William Shakespeare, though he lived in what many of us would describe as a pristine and unspoiled age, had such an incredible grip on the effects of guilt upon our lives when guilt is dismissed or not dealt with in an appropriate and godly way.

In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, we see how Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth, suffer because of their insistence on dealing with their guilt and shame in their own way. For those of you who are like me and are much more familiar with Sports Illustrated or the comic section of today’s newspaper than Shakespeare, let me give you the Cliff Notes version of the destruction that came upon Macbeth and his wife because of their sin and guilt.

In the Shakespearian tragedy, Macbeth is really a noble figure in the beginning of the story. As time progresses Macbeth develops a hunger for power and prominence, but there is only one problem that stands in his way, King Duncan. For Macbeth to realize his dream and satisfy his thirst for power, Duncan must be deposed of as king.

Macbeth’s wife, Lady Macbeth, comes up with a plan to kill the king and make way for her husband to become the big man on campus, king of the country. Macbeth is unsure at first. He is fearful and not convinced that murdering Duncan is the right thing to do. Macbeth and his friend, Banquo, seek out the advice of three counselors who are much like the false prophets of the Old Testament who tell the people whatever they want to hear. They tell Macbeth that he deserves the throne and that he will soon become king. The seed of wicked ambition began to grow in Macbeth’s heart. Macbeth should have recognized the bad advice for what it was, but instead he began to be obsessed with the thoughts of power. Rather than rejecting their advice, Macbeth finds his mind constantly dwelling on their evil suggestions.

At the same time that Macbeth is obsessing on thoughts of power and killing the king, his wife is busy calling upon the powers of darkness so that she and her husband can pull off the devilish deed they have planned.

As soon as the murders are committed Lady Macbeth and her husband are overwhelmed with guilt for what they have done. Because they don’t deal with their guilt in the right way, they dive even deeper into the darkness and commit more murders. At one point Lady Macbeth mocks her husband’s guilty feelings by saying that he is sick in the head. Instead of recognizing her husband’s need for forgiveness she says, "You do unbend your noble strength to think so brainsickly of things. Go get some water and wash this filthy witness from your hand." All of the water in all the world wouldn’t wash away the guilt Macbeth felt in his heart. Pontius Pilot had tried washing his hands of his responsibility for the death of Jesus years earlier, but instead of leading to his cleansing it led to his insanity.

Macbeth is on the way to possessing all the power he ever wanted, but he is now powerless over his own mind. He starts having problems sleeping. He has tormenting nightmares and begins hearing voices. His wife can’t sleep because of the guilt upon her heart. She begins to feel desperate because she doesn’t think her husband is adequately covering his tracks or hiding his feelings in front of others. Lady Macbeth begins going into trances and recreating the murders while walking in her sleep.

There is no other way to describe what is going on in the Macbeth household - everyone is losing their mind. The sin within is rotting away their soul. What happened to this "noble" man? Quite simply put, he sinned and refused to repent with a broken heart before God for what he had done. The best that Macbeth can do to help deal with his guilt, because he refuses to go to God, is to wash his hands over and over again. Both he and his wife incessantly wash their hands to try and cleanse themselves from their sin, but there is only One who can wash our sin whiter than snow my friend. Macbeth, tormented by his guilt, cries out to his idols and asks, "Will all Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clear from my hand?"

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