Enemy Behind the Lines- GuiltJuly 4, 2009
Last words. These are most likely two of the most chilling words for most of us. In that one moment, we have the choice of a lifetime to make. What would you say? Who would you say it to? What would you leave behind for those whom you love?
I would like for us to explore one last word in particular: Telos.
So what does Telos mean? “It is finished.” It is a translation of the Greek word tetelestai, the perfect indicative passive tense of the word telos. The most interesting fact is that telos means to end; to bring to completion; to bring to a conclusion; to complete; to accomplish; to fulfill or to finish.
28 After this Jesus, knowing that all things are now finished, that the scripture might be accomplished, saith, I thirst.29 There was set there a vessel full of vinegar: so they put a sponge full of the vinegar upon hyssop, and brought it to his mouth.30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up his spirit. John 19: 28-30
In our series on the Enemy Behind the Lines, we have explored a number of enemies to our personal walk with Christ. These enemies behind the line refer to those sometimes silent, stealthy that can undermine the efforts made in our daily walk with Christ. One such enemy is that of guilt. It would be fair to say every human being suffers from some aspect of guilt.
Guilt is the emotion of remorse that we use to judge and berate ourselves when we perceive ourselves of doing something wrong. It takes various forms and can affect everything from our sleep, appetite, work, and relationships. Guilt is personally something I have struggled with in my faith walk for as long as I can remember.
There is a difference in conviction from Christ and guilt. Godly grief or conviction generally draws us closer to Christ. Most of the time, when I feel convicted over a particular event or behavior, the Holy Spirit is convicting me on the need for confession and repentance. Guilt or regret usually has me wanting to hide myself from Christ, embarrassed and unwilling at times to go before the throne.
Guilt is a great weapon for Satan to use and it remains “hidden” due to its wide acceptance by the world as an acceptable feeling for those sins we have committed in our lives. In its basic sense, guilt is merely a misappropriation of the origin of grace.
Telos describes the true nature of Christ’s sacrifice. The grace every true Christian enjoys flows from the sacrifice of Christ and not by any actions of our own. Guilt can be the result of not fully understanding grace and the redemption provided under the blood of the new covenant.
Personally, I have struggled with guilt that has functioned much like an anchor to my daily faith walk. Rather than approaching the throne of God, I have often allowed guilt to keep me from looking into the eyes of my savior. I had a misguided understanding of the difference between guilt and conviction, so being unable to distinguish between the two, I would often pray for forgiveness that had already been given, just not received. In recent months, I have been able to fully understand one key verse:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
The most interesting fact is that telos means to end; to bring to completion; to bring to a conclusion; to complete; to accomplish; to fulfill or to finish. Other translations include definitions referring to a debt being paid. What was brought to completion on the cross? What debt was paid?
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” (Ephesians 1:7)
Conviction brings to your conscience those sins you need to confess to Christ and repent of. Guilt reminds you of sins Christ has already forgiven. Conviction allows you to reach for the wounded hand of Christ and his redemptive love, whereas guilt prevents you from looking into the eyes of the one who saved you.
If you find yourself fighting a battle with guilt, just know you are not alone. Most Christians, if they were to be honest, struggle with guilt. It is one of the enemies we rarely realize we are fighting. It is one serving more like a double-agent than an all out enemy. Yet all in all, it is one of the deadliest. Join us as we continue to discuss possible meanings of Christ’s last words on the cross. What does Telos mean for you?
If you liked this post, you might want to check out the others in this series:
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About the Writer:
Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.
As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses. This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.