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Well, for most of you, you are either back at work or school today. As you journey into this new week, I want us to consider the subject of guilt. Feeling guilty is a response when we know we have done something wrong. We all can do something wrong or sinful so long that our heart becomes hardened to it — meaning, we no longer feel the guilt God’s Holy Spirit in our heart. Look at Proverbs 28:13-14, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. (14) Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity” (ESV). 

When I was in high school — (when we rode horses to school — HA!), during my Junior year I started using profanity to fit in and be accepted by my peers. The first time I did, I literally thought God was going to send fire down from heaven and nuke me. But the more and more I used profanity, the more my heart became so hardened that I no longer felt the Holy Spirit’s conviction. It eventually took a youth retreat at church for God to reach me and help me clean up my potty, profane and blasphemous mouth. 

Guilt is good, except prolonged guilt can destroy us as well. It is a form of a martyr complex. A person keeps beating themselves up over and over until they are no good to anyone, including him/herself. Jesus Christ came and died on the cross and rose from the dead to free us from our guilt and shame. Unhealthy guilt is condemning and leaves you feeling unworthy, cast aside, and irredeemable. That kind of guilt does not come from the Spirit of God. How do I know this? Everyone knows John 3:16, but do you know John 3:17? —“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him” (ESV).

Healthy guilt, on the other hand, will lead you to examine your thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. It will allow you to see them through the light of God’s Word and the perspective of the Holy Spirit to make needed changes. We call that repentance. Some people seem to embrace feelings of guilt, whether through the tendencies of their personalities, or the way they have been treated by their parents or other people. I encourage you to examine the guilt in your life and determine its sources. 

I recently read this article on guilt and I want to share it with you also:

“Research published in the journal Psychological Science found that people's feelings of guilt are lessened after they experience pain. Some volunteers were asked to think and write a short essay about a time they had been mean-spirited or unkind to someone. Others were asked to write about a routine event in their lives. Then they were asked to put their hand in a bucket of water and keep it there as long as possible. Some of the buckets were filled with agonizing ice cold water while others with warm water. 

Then they were asked to reflect on the pain (if any) they experienced and any feelings of guilt. Researchers found that those that were feeling guilty of an unkind act inflicted upon themselves more pain—that is, they kept their hand in the agonizing ice water for longer than those who had thought and written about a routine event in their lives. The "guilty ones" reported that feeling the pain somewhat alleviated their feelings of guilt.

The Psychological Science study concluded: "Researchers explain that we tend to associate pain with justice, as a form of punishment. So when we're feeling bad about an immoral act we committed, experiencing pain makes us feel like we have rebalanced the scales of justice, and therefore it resolves our guilt” (Source: Bastian, B.; Jetten, J.; Fasoli, F.; "Scales of Justice: Guilt and Pain," Psychological Science (April, 2011); Yasser Ali, "Pain Resolves Guilt in Humans, Study Finds," The Money Times (March 2011).

According to the Bible, we should feel the pain of guilt when we fail to keep God's law. But punishing ourselves won't "rebalance the scales of justice." Christ alone has taken the punishment of our sin. In other words, only Jesus Christ can free us from our guilt and shame. Not some experiment or writing about our guilt. Only Jesus can free us from all guilt. No matter what we have done or how many times we have done it, Jesus’ frees us from our guilt. Whatever guilt you have, confess it to Jesus Christ and experience His freeing you from it. 

Read King David’s words in Psalm 32:1-5, “What happiness for those whose guilt has been forgiven! What joys when sins are covered over! (2) What relief for those who have confessed their sins and God has cleared their record. (3) There was a time when I wouldn’t admit what a sinner I was. But my dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with frustration. (4) All day and all night Your hand was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water on a sunny day (5) until I finally admitted all my sins to You and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, “I will confess them to the Lord.” And You forgave me! All my guilt is gone” (TLB).

Questions To Consider

  1. Is there any guilt you are carrying with you from your past that you use to continue to beat yourself up today? Why?
  2. Jesus did not come to continually condemn you, but to free you from sin, shame and guilt. What does that mean to you?
  3. Since this is Monday, take some time today to call out to Jesus Christ and trust Him to free you. If you are unsure how, seek a godly, biblical friend or a pastor to help you. Will you do this? Why or why not?

Scripture to Meditate On: 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (ESV).

Prayer To Pray: “Dear Jesus, please forgive me of my sins and free me from my guilt. I am sorry for sinning against You. I do not want to live like this any more. Please convict me and motivate me to live by Your Word and to You rather than trying to relieve my guilt by someone else or believing that something else can take away my guilt. I love you Jesus. I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen!”

I love you Southside! — Pastor Kelly

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