Sunday, February 24, 2008

Abortion, Anguish, and The Man of Sorrows

This story from the London Daily Telegraph broke my heart when I read it, and I thought I'd share it with you for two reasons: to talk about the fatal weight that guilt from sin can yield in our lives (II Cor. 7:10) and the hope we have for release from guilt and pardon of our sins in the finished work of Christ Jesus on the cross.

Sadly, this young lady did not place her trust in Christ's sacrifice and committed suicide so overwhelmed was she by the guilt of having an abortion:

An artist killed herself after aborting her twins when she was eight weeks pregnant, leaving a note saying: "I should never have had an abortion. I see now I would have been a good mum."

Emma Beck was found hanging at her home in Helston, Cornwall, on Feb 1 2007. She was declared dead early the following day - her 31st birthday.

Her suicide note read: "I told everyone I didn't want to do it, even at the hospital. I was frightened, now it is too late. I died when my babies died. I want to be with my babies: they need me, no-one else does."

The guilt over sin expressed in those words is crushing. Indeed, while she didn't put it in such language , it seems her guilt led her in some way to feel a need to atone for that sin by her own life. Scripture tells us there is no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood (Heb. 9:22), but Scripture also makes clear only the blood of the perfectly sinless and righteous Son of God can cleanse us from sin and its guilt (Heb. 9:11-15).

Ms. Beck's case is heartbreaking, her final act of helplessness irrevocable. But my prayer is that from this widely-reported tragedy that the Gospel may advance. I trust many more gifted men of God will blog and preach on this matter, but in my own small way, I hope now to apply the good news of the Gospel so that, whoever reads this might take heart in the truth of the Gospel: all sin, even murder of the unborn, can be washed clean by the shed blood of Jesus.

All of us feel the weight of shame and guilt for sins we've done. All of us are sinners deserving God's wrath, persistently obstinate rebels against his divine reign. But the good news is Jesus Christ has borne our sin and shame in his crushed and broken body on the cross. Christ has tasted death so that we might have forgiveness and new life as children of God (Isa. 53:3-12):

3 He was despised and rejected [2] by men;
a man of sorrows, [3] and acquainted with [4] grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces [6]
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief; [7]
when his soul makes [8] an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see [9] and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, [10]
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, [11]
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Ms. Beck's soul was exceedingly anguished with guilt and she offered herself as a sacrifice for it, but if she placed her trust in Christ she could have rested in the knowledge that Jesus Christ, the spotless Lamb of God made Himself the one true perfect sacrifice for sin and guilt. Jesus' death on the cross has made effectual a salvation that makes "many to be accounted righteous" and that sacrifice is ordained by God's own will and hence fully pleasing to Him.

Because Jesus has borne our grief, our shame, and our guilt, all the while despising the shame of the cross for the joy set before Him (Heb. 12:1-3), we can through faith in Him be dead to sin and alive unto God, new creations in Christ Jesus (Gal. 2:20-21; Col. 2:6-15; II Cor. 5:17).

We can never by our own tainted blood atone for our sin and guilt. Praise be to God that He's provided the perfect sacrifice in his only begotten Son (John 3:16-21).

If in reading this you have been cut to the heart, I would urge you to "Repent and be baptized... in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins." (Acts 2:37-38)



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