This week’s discussion is Shaking off feelings of guilt. Bonnie Gray is hosting a blog-and-comment discussion on “keeping faith fresh.” When you have finished reading here, hop over to Faith Barista and join in on the jam session!
A man goes to see a doctor about a nagging pain in his shoulder. As the doctor examines him, the man turns his arm in a certain way and says, “Doc, it hurts when I do this.”
The doctor says, “Then don’t do that!”
Pain is the body’s way of telling us that something is not right. When pain is doing its job, it acts as a warning bell of something that needs our attention. When pain is out of control, it serves only to distract and incapacitate. That’s the thing about pain: we all hate having it but we would be in a world of ‘hurt’ without it!
If the body has this warning system to protect us from harm and alert us to damage, doesn’t it make sense that God would provide a similar siren for our spiritual life? Perhaps Guilt is that siren and serves as the pain response of the soul. But the purpose of Guilt goes deeper than just a warning system. It is a call to action.
Isaiah saw the glory of God and he responded with “Woe is me! I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips.” (Isaiah 6:5) In the following verses, Isaiah repents of his sin. God then asks, “Who will go for Us?” Isaiah cries out, “Here am I. Send me!” Guilt brought him to his knees so he could hear the message and respond. Guilt said, “There is a problem – fix it!”
The prophet, Nathan, came to King David and confronted him about his adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12) and the Guilt of David’s actions drove him to write Psalm 51:1-19
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin.
Guilt is a pain in the soul that tells us that something is wrong and needs to be fixed.
However, this is not the end of the story. God not only wired us to experience Guilt to point out our shortcomings, He gave us Grace to wash it away. This is the beauty of God’s love for us. He is not standing in heaven with a big stick looking for an opportunity to beat us over the head. He is standing in the pages of His Word holding a bowl of His Own blood – ready to pour it over our Guilt and wash it all away.
Once we have brought our Guilt to the Father and accepted His Grace to remove it, the purpose of Guilt has been satisfied and we are Guilty no more. If we continue to feel Guilt after we have received God’s forgiveness and Grace, we have believed a lie that says we must some how “pay” for this grace. That’s not Christ’s Grace – that’s Chronic Guilt.
If I have a sliver that is causing pain but I remove it. The pain will eventually go away. But if I continue to dig and pick at the place where the sliver used to be, I continue to be in pain – pain caused by me – not by a sliver. This is what happens when we don’t allow God’s forgiveness to provide healing. We continually go back to the original injury and replay, relive, and redo the events in our minds. We dig and pick around at the past and ignore the hope of the future and we feel guilt – guilt caused by us- not by the presence of sin.
“We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews 10:10
The primary meaning of this passage is that Christ died one time for all people and there is no need for further sacrifices. But in verse 17, the writer quotes Jeremiah 31:34 – “…their sins…I will remember no more.”
I God doesn’t remember them why do we?
Guilt is a warning that the soul is sick; but once the “cure” (God’s Grace) has been applied, guilt becomes a cancer that eats away our soul and prevents us from living the abundant life that God desires for each of us.
May you accept God’s free Grace and live a life free from Guilt but focused on His desire to make you more like His Son.
Open Mic: Share your thoughts
- What role has Guilt played in your life?