Do you think that Jesus’ death was not sufficient to pay for all your sins? Have you been taught that you can maintain your salvation through your own good works? The result of thinking that way is that you can never get rid of the guilt of your sin or the guilt of not doing enough good works to achieve salvation. You have succumbed to the “Manipulation by Guilt” infection that is deadly to anyone who catches it. This is post #7 in our Healthy Living series from Colossians. In this article, we will see how to conquer the “Manipulation by Guilt” infection and stay spiritually healthy in an unhealthy world.
Listen to this post as a similar podcast from our Healthy Living Bible Study of Colossians and Philemon:
Through the years, I have met several women who had been freed from the brainwashing associated with various cults claiming to be Christian. From a Christian perspective, a cult is a religious group that denies one or more of the fundamentals of biblical truth. When you read through history, it seems that women are more drawn to religious cults than men. Cult leaders are usually charismatic and persuasive, inviting women to follow them. A cult may promise to satisfy your heart needs through community and a sense of controlled boundaries. Women like community and a controlled environment. But cult leaders then control an individual’s associations, deliberately withhold or distort information, discourage critical thinking, and manipulate their followers through fear, guilt, and indoctrination.
The two most common false teachings of cults claiming to be Christian are these:
- Jesus was not God.
- Salvation is not by faith alone.
Therefore, Jesus’ death was not sufficient to pay for all your sins, and you can only achieve salvation through your own good works. The result is that you can never get rid of the guilt of your sin or the guilt of not doing enough good works to achieve salvation. This is the “Manipulation by Guilt” infection that is deadly to anyone who catches it.
What makes a woman susceptible to the “Manipulation by Guilt” infection?
What makes a woman susceptible to this infection? In 2 Timothy, Paul described how influential fakers like cult leaders get susceptible women to follow them.
They [influential fakers] are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. (Colossians 3:6-7)
Notice what makes women especially susceptible to infection. First, they are loaded down with guilt from their sins. Add to that their constant search for the latest new thing to satisfy the restlessness in their hearts. They embrace and are easily manipulated by whatever flashy teachings come along rather than going to the source of established truth. The result is that these women become victims of false teachers and often become false teachers themselves. Women started many present-day cults. The modern spiritualism movements, such as goddess worship and mysticism, are saturated with prominent women.
The church leaders at Colosse were dealing with this same issue. Some members of their congregation were being taken captive by the same two issues. Paul responded in Colossians chapter 1 with the strongest statement of the absolute supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ found in the entire New Testament. He also taught clearly in Colossians that Christ’s death on the cross was totally sufficient to pay for your sins and provide the salvation you desire. When you stay firmly rooted in who Christ is and what He finished on the cross for you, you can conquer the manipulation by guilt infection.
Christ’s finished work on the cross
As a direct result of Christ’s finished work on the cross, our relationship with God is changed because of our faith in Jesus Christ. It is much more than having our sins forgiven and going to heaven when we die. So it takes more than one word to describe what Jesus’s death on the cross accomplished for us. In fact, it takes 6 terms, and these are sometimes called the “words of the cross.” Paul used these words or referred to them in Colossians. These are truths we can know and claim to conquer any infection, especially the “Manipulation by Guilt” infection.
Word of the Cross #1 is PROPITIATION. God is no longer angry at your sin.
We don’t use the word propitiation (sounds like initiation) very much, but it basically means to be appeased, to be satisfied. In Colossians 3:6, Paul described God’s response to all evil and sin as His wrath. Don’t think that God’s anger at sin is like ours, only bigger. His wrath is not a fit of temper. It is His decision to preserve His creation by destroying whatever would destroy it. Picture how you attack germs in your home with gusto so your family will not get sick.
God hates sin. It incurs His anger at sin. You can probably recall a time when you incurred the anger of someone you love and needed to make some kind of restitution to “appease” their anger. That person is now satisfied because restitution has been made. The relationship can be restored. That is what God did for us.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. (Romans 3:23-25, ESV)
God presented Christ as a propitiation for our sins. Out of His love for us, God took action. God’s holy wrath against all sin is fully satisfied by Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross. Because of that, God is able to extend mercy to every believer in Christ.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! (Romans 5:9)
There is no longer any sacrifice that anyone can ever do to satisfy God’s wrath against sin apart from what Christ has already done. Picture an empty altar—never again used. It’s done, finished! Because you have trusted Christ and are now found in Christ, you can know and live with confidence that God is satisfied…no longer angry at your sin—ever!
Word of the Cross #2 is RECONCILIATION. Your relationship with God is restored…no longer broken.
As Romans 3:23 describes, all people have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Before Christ came, we were alienated from God. We had a broken relationship. Some kind of reconciliation needed to be done. We could not do it on our part—no matter how many good works we did. There was always that chasm created by sin between us and God.
BUT GOD did something about that! I love those two words in the Bible, “But God.” Whenever it looks absolutely hopeless for us humans, God steps in and does the exact thing we need. God restored the broken relationship by reconciling us to Himself through Jesus’s death on the cross.
and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— (Colossians 1:20-22)
That word “reconcile” in the Greek stands for complete reconciliation, never to be broken again. It is done.
For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Romans 5:10)
God chose to provide reconciliation out of his love for us. Jesus Christ has fully satisfied God’s anger against sin, removing the barrier between God and humans. Our faith in Jesus becomes the bridge to restore our relationship with God. God stands eagerly welcoming anyone who will believe the good news and come home. Because you have trusted Christ and are now found in Christ, you can know and live with confidence that your relationship with God is restored…no longer broken because of sin and guilt! Forever.
Word of the Cross #3 is REDEMPTION. You are released…no longer in bondage to sin.
Did you know that every human being born on this planet is born into bondage? I don’t care how much money or status you have. You were born into bondage.
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, (Colossians 1:13)
We were all in bondage to “the kingdom of darkness” until we were rescued by our faith in Christ. Romans chapter 6 describes our bondage as being “slaves to sin.”
Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Romans 6:16)
The slave master “sin” calls the shots. Obedience comes too easily. Colossians 2:8 talks about the trap of the empty way of life we get from human traditions. But you are released from all of that when you trust in Jesus Christ. The Bible calls this “redemption.”
God redeems us to rescue us from the dominion of darkness and bring us into the kingdom of the Son He loves where we have forgiveness of sins.
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)
Redemption means you become the possession of a loving, merciful God and can live in the security of your freedom from bondage to sin. You have a new master now with greater power living inside of you—the Spirit of God Himself. The Spirit can give you freedom from any entrapping sin. Because of His love and His purpose for you, you have been released into freedom to live a life that pleases God in every way. Because you have trusted Christ and are now found in Christ, you can know and live with confidence that you have been released…no longer in bondage to sin and guilt. Forever.
Word of the Cross #4 is FORGIVENESS. You are forgiven…no longer burdened by your sin and guilt.
Many of us carry the guilt of our sins like a heavy burden, weighing us down. All of our debt of sin before God is enormous. We could never pay for it all. But God stepped in and did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. He transferred our sin to a substitute, Jesus, and it was taken away.
When you were dead in your sins…God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14)
Those are some of my favorite verses. Once you place your faith in Jesus Christ, whatever you have done that was wrong in God’s eyes from the time you were born through the time of your death has been canceled. Taken away. All of it. Past, present and future. Nailed to the cross. At the moment of your salvation, forgiveness is complete and continual.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. (Ephesians 1:7)
It’s a done deal! In Christ, you possess forgiveness.
Yet, as long as you live in your earthly body, you will be tempted to sin. Sin will happen—whether intentionally or unintentionally. Although our God is no longer counting our sins against us (2 Corinthians 5:19), we still must deal with the consequences of any sinful behavior. As an already forgiven Christian, the biblical process for dealing with recognized sin is this:
- Remember that your identity is child of God, not whatever that sin is.
- Agree with God that you have sinned against Him.
- Mourn your sin and depend on the Holy Spirit to help you obey God in the future (repentance).
- Trust in Him to help you overcome the consequences of any sinful choices you have made in a way that brings glory to Him.
That’s living a life that pleases the Lord in every way. Because you have trusted Christ and are now found in Christ, you can know and live with confidence that you have been forgiven…no longer burdened by your sin and guilt. Cling to this truth.
Word of the Cross #5 is JUSTIFICATION. You are declared righteous…no longer guilty of your sin.
Justification is a legal term that means, “to declare righteous or not guilty.” Because of Christ’s finished work on the cross, God chooses to give a “not guilty” status to anyone who places their faith in Jesus Christ. Not one human deserves this. It can never be earned. God gives this because Jesus paid the penalty for all sin and takes your sin upon Himself. Then, you get His righteousness.
But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— (Colossians 1:22)
The amazing thing is that God presents you before Himself as “free from accusation” while you are still capable of sinning! When God looks on you, He sees His Son’s righteousness taking the place of your sin—even your sin after you have been a believer for a long time. How do you feel about this? When you are tempted to think that God could not possibly accept you because of your weaknesses and guilty past, declare this to yourself: “Because of my faith in Jesus Christ, I am declared righteous…no longer guilty in God’s eyes.” That’s a fact.
Word of the Cross #6: SANCTIFICATION. You are perfected…no longer flawed in God’s sight.
Sanctification is a word we don’t use in our daily vocabulary. To be sanctified means to be made holy. To be “holy” means to be “set apart from sin.” By faith in Jesus Christ, God declares us holy in His sight. His love chooses to do that for us. It absolutely amazes me that God looks upon me and calls me holy in His sight. Doesn’t that amaze you?
But sanctification is more than just having a different status before God. We have a different purpose as well.
Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. (Psalm 4:3)
The Lord sets apart the godly for Himself. Every believer has been set apart as God’s special, beloved possession for His exclusive use. Sanctified ones are called “holy people” and “saints” in the New Testament (different English translations of the same Greek word).
To the saints and faithful brothersin Christ at Colossae: (Colossians 1:2, ESV)
To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ: (Colossians 1:2, NIV)
God declares you holy because of your faith in Jesus Christ, not your behavior. You have been redeemed, reconciled to God, forgiven, justified and completely accepted by God because of what Jesus has already done for you on the cross. All of that contributes to God declaring you holy as one of His saints by faith in Jesus Christ.
You are also “being made holy” in your thoughts, words, and actions by the work of the Holy Spirit. This is ongoing from the moment of salvation until the Lord comes or you die, when your “being made holy” is complete. The Spirit transforms us into the likeness of Christ so that we become in thought and behavior what we are in status—holy as God is holy. All of Colossians chapter 3 describes what that looks like. We’ll cover that in a future post.
Because you have trusted in Christ and are now found in Him, you can know and live with confidence that you are set apart by God, for God. In His eyes, you are perfected, no longer flawed. Isn’t this better than being manipulated by guilt for not being good enough?
As Paul wrote in Colossians,
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. (Colossians 2:8)
A spiritual infection takes you captive to something other than Christ. The “Manipulation by Guilt” infection is bad. Knowing and believing these 6 truths about Christ’s finished work on the cross will give you an immune system that conquers this spiritual infection. Let Jesus satisfy your heart needs with His truth and His love so you can get well and stay well.
Learn more about staying spiritually healthy in an unhealthy world through our Healthy Living Bible Study of Colossians and Philemon (11 lessons).
- Healthy Living Bible Study on Amazon
- Graceful Living Bible Study on Amazon
- Satisfied Series 3 Podcasts (Colossians series)
- TRUTH Is the Prescription for Healthy Living
- Tame the “Look-Imagine-See” Dragon
- Escape the Cultural Captivity Infection
- Resist the “Tyranny of the Urgent” Infection
- Stop the “Jesus Is Not Lord over All” Infection
- Conquer the “Manipulation by Guilt” Infection
- Flee the Spiritual Substitutes Infection
- Delete the Karma Infection
- Wipe Out the Narcissism Infection
- Counter the “Work Is Secular” Infection
- Overcome the “Holy Huddle” Infection
- Defeat the Victim Infection
- Angels, feathers, and needing comfort for grief
- Dependent Living—God’s desire for His children on Bible.org
- What’s wrong with occasional s’mores and brownies on Bible.org
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