Friday, January 22, 2010

Want to be Free from Guilt?

Guilt is heavy. It is a great weight around our necks. Many of us carry guilt for things we have said, done or even wanted to do. We battle these accusations in our mind and wonder if we can ever be free from the shame and the embarrassment that seems to be ever near. Whether anyone else knows of these offenses or not, the guilt is heavy and wants to derail our lives.

Guilt Does Not Surprise God
God knows this. He is not surprised by the affect of our sinful living or thinking. Likewise, it should not be a great surprise to us either, but often it is and we don't know how to deal with it. What brings lasting joy in your life? What brings satisfaction? Isn't that what you want to replace this guilt and shame? Followers of Jesus know that joy comes when we walk with Him. When we are consistently obedient to what Jesus teaches us, and how He directs us to live we are able to be satisfied. Why would we be surprised, then, to find that there is great pain and separation when we try to make our own way. Yet, usually we are surprised. We don't think about the consequences of our actions. We either refuse to follow Jesus or we simply forget. Then, we are grieved and held in the bondage of our guilt and shame. We don't have to live this way.

God Desires for You to Live Blamelessly
In Ephesians 1 we hear that Jesus has come to create for Himself a people that are holy and blameless. They are a people set apart to love God, follow Him and have this liberty and confidence in Christ in their lives. They are a people who are freely forgiven by Jesus and are called to hold this truth dear and apply this freedom to their thinking and living. Jesus knows this freedom because of His obedience to the Father. He knew it when He walked the Earth and He knows it now. He desires to bring you this relief from shame and guilt. He wants to deliver healing and restoration to your heart.

Have you wondered how David carried on after his scandalous sins of adultery and conspiracy to murder? How was David able to move forward and live victoriously for God's glory? Many of us would consider our lives ruined. We would be convinced that God was going to put us on a shelf until we die. Yet, David didn't live this way. Why not? He understood the power and scope of God's forgiveness. He knew he would bear the scars of his sin, but he also knew God would free him from the weight of the shame of his sin. Listen to what he said in Psalm 32,

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
 2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

6 Therefore let everyone who is godly 
offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
they shall not reach him. 
7 You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah

8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
 9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you.

10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
 11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

I can think of four "r's" that will help you overcome guilt like David did. Here they are: repentance, recovery, remembering and rejoicing.

David acknowledged and confessed his sin to God in verse 5. Relief came when he stopped trying to hide it. Repentance will lead us to make good the wrongs that we have done and to seek the forgiveness we need. It is a difficult step, but it is the first step that must be taken.

We need God's forgiveness. God promises to give it. David knew that he had received. In verse 5 we hear him say directly that God had forgiven him. It was no question. It was a statement of fact. He would live in this truth from now on.

David proclaimed that God was his strength and hiding place in verse 7. We must be quick to remember that God is our help. He is able to give us the courage and hope we need. If we stop dwelling on this truth...if we forget we will be led to begin looking solely on ourselves, others or something else for strength. We must remember! We must continually remind ourselves (out loud if necessary) that God is our strength and His way of living is best. Then, we must seek His ways in His Word and by joining with His people.

The great psalmist knew of the pain of hiding his sin and feeling the accompanying guilt and shame. Now he knew forgiveness. Now he knew joy. His song returned. His heart was returned to gratefulness. God delivered him and he could sing again.

It is a process, but you can sing again. God will deliver you when you seek Him. Christ has come to set us free. He has carried our sin and shame, nailed it to the cross and defeated it by overcoming even death. Will you seek His help in throwing off this dead weight of shame and guilt in your life?

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