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INTRODUCTION:

 

There are few emotions that debilitate and enslave like unresolved guilt and consequent shame. Especially among Christians is this found to be the case. Whether through ignorance or deliberate wrong-doing, the guilt that accompanies thought, word, attitude or action that we consider wrong can have devastating consequences in our lives. What is "guilt"? Is all guilt necessarily bad for us? Where does guilt originate? How can we creatively address this powerful emotion? What is God's answer to our guilt?

 

[1] A DEFINITION

 

Guilt = "feelings of personal disapproval when we violate our inner code of ethics and/or conduct". Read Psalm 32/3,4

 

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.

 

This was David's experience with guilt after his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah. Put in your own words how David described the impact of his guilt.

 

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confessmy transgressions to the LORD"-- and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

 

How did David resolve the issue of guilt? What lessons are there in this for us?

 

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.

 

Can you sense the relief and release that comes with forgiveness and the removal of guilt?

 

[2] GUILT - FRIEND OR FOE?

It's not true to say that every form of guilt is necessarily unhealthy. Genuine guilt that leads to confession and repentance and a new beginning can be quite positive in its effects. To put that another way; not all pain is desirable but it can serve to alert us to a problem and save us from further damage.

 

But there is a guilt that is very unhealthy and destructive. This kind of guilt is a pseudo guilt that sabotages lives, wrecks relationships and is a harsh taskmaster. It is unreasonable, unjust and unappeasable. The nature of guilt is determined by its source. Have you ever struggled with this 'false guilt'? Can you give an example of how this kind of guilt effected you or someone that you know?

 

[3] THREE SOURCES OF GUILT

 

A. GOD - The conviction of the Holy Spirit. Read John 16/7-11

 

But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me;in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

 

B. SELF - The conscience of the person.

 

Our conscience is a kind of 'moral monitor' that can either encourage us when we do right or accuse us when we do wrong. Conscience should never be ignored but neither is it infallible as a moral guide.Conscience can fail us at 2 extremes.

 

1. It can be an over-sensitive conscience that produces a false, inaccurate and inappropriate guilt. (Can you give an example of this kind of guilt?- e.g. setting impossible goals and failing to achieve them?)

 

2. It can be what the Bible calls a 'seared' conscience - 1 Timothy 4/1,2.

 

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.

 

What does that mean?

 

How can a conscience become 'seared'?

 

What is the danger of having a seared conscience?

 

C. SATAN - the condemnation of the devil

 

In Revelation 12/10,11 the devil is referred to as the one who accuses believers. The Holy Spirit convicts with a view to repentance and restoration. The devil condemns with a view to bondage and destruction. The conviction of the Holy Spirit is precise and clear. The devil's condemnation is vague and shadowy.

 

[4] DEALING WITH FALSE GUILT

Sometimes people become the victims of guilt feelings that are unreasonable and inappropriate. To determine if those feelings of guilt are legitimate, there are questions to be asked in 3 key areas.

 

1. Our Emotions - "I feel guilty, so I must be guilty". Not necessarily. Such self-condemnation may be the result of unfair self-judgment or, more likely, demonic insinuation.

 

2. Our Intellect - Is my guilt reasonable? Was the situation out of my control?

(eg. Genetic malfunction that led to the birth of a deformed child)

 

3. Our Will - What was my intention? Did I mean or plan for this to happen? Was the situation the result of human error or willful choice?

 

[5] THE RESOLUTION OF REAL GUILT

 

1. Test your feelings of guilt against the Scriptures. If it is clear that you have sinned against God and your relationship with Him, take the next step which is….

 

2. Recognize the full and perfect provision that God has made for your forgiveness and restoration.

 

3. Walk the path of confession, repentance and receiving forgiveness.

 

1 John 1/9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

 

4. Where your transgression involves having wronged another person, acknowledge that fact to the person concerned and seek their forgiveness. Restitution may be needed in some circumstances.

 

[6] FINALLY….. Note and reflect upon together the sequence of the following verses from Romans 2/1, 5/1, 8/1, 12/1

 

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

 

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

 

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.

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