What I'm really trying to say is that the Christian Gospel is the remedy for guilt . . . not for sin. As we say in medicine (when we are talking about a drug) is that it has the FDA approval for, or indication for, a certain disease. The Gospel is indicated for guilt. Using it for sin is what we call using it off-label, or for purposes that it was never intended for. Those who say, "Become a Christian so that you can grow and be righteous" don't understand the Gospel. That's why Mary Magdalene understood it the best of all the close followers of Jesus. That's why her love was misunderstood by so many, from Andrew Loyd Weber, to Dan Brown. She knew the Gospel like few others. I bet she followed Jesus wishes after that point better than anyone because of her grace-spun love for Him. The Gospel is not a license to "Go Wild" but as the source of comfort for her marrow, that deep place of shame, guilt and inferiority.
The big misconception is that the gospel sets you free from sin, but really it sets you free from the poison of guilt. The dragon still bites, but the septicemia doesn't take root. The real problem of the Fall is the pandemic guilt that corrodes society and the Gospel is spot on for dealing with that problem. If the church had been known for being the grace dispenser, then you couldn't build them big or fast enough. They would all be over-crowded. Instead the churches are dying a slow death as the young people escape to find oxygen and the freedom to know truth.
When I talk like this, my evangelical friends start to roll their eyes and suggest that I'm being soft on sin. They imply if people listened to me, they would just go wild. You've seen the X rated videos haven't you, "Evangelical's Gone Wild?" That's a joke of course. I'm not saying that at all. I promote the raising of the standards of obeying the rules to the point that Christians stop lying, even if they are lying "for Jesus." That they stop lying to themselves (manipulating people for personal gain and thinking it is for God's glory.)
When you believe that the Gospel makes you, practically (not just legally) righteous, when it doesn't, then you start to pretend you are. The more you pretend, the more you drift out of reality and into the sea shrouded by mist, self-deception and shadow boxing with true motives. With the more loss of the real come the more loss of true guilt. Then you really do go wild in your morals but under the pretense of smiles and working for God. You control people, use them, abuse them . . . all for God while hiding your women, whiskey and stolen money in the closet.
I will admit that there is a place in secular society where there is a lack of guilt too. The most notorious is among the true psycho and sociopaths. These people (speaking of the psychopaths) can take a kid, rape them, torture them, kill them . . . even eat them, and sleep like a baby that night. They can even go to church the next day (thinking here of Dinnis Rader, the BTK killer who did just that, and at the same time served his Lutheran church and the Boy Scouts as an outstanding citizen).
But the milder side of the guilt deficient, and the more common, are people with various personality disorders. They can secretly plan to destroy you completely, all the while smiling big. A lot of them reside in the church.
But these guiltless people are the minority. The under-girding of human life is guilt, lots of it. We all feel inferior. Those who say they don't, well, it is part of their game of pretending to be above it all, in order to bury their deep insecurities and guilt as deeply as they can.
But there is a balm in Gilead