Handling Guilt God's Way
I feel guilty when I waste food. When I was growing up, I had to serve myself at least a little of every kind of food that was prepared. Then, I had to eat everything on my plate, whether I liked it or not. It’s good not to waste food, but these two rules don’t carry divine authority. Our real guilt problem is that where God says don’t, we did, and where He says do, we didn’t… repeatedly. How do we handle genuine guilt God’s way?
We’re guilty because we’ve fallen short of God’s standards. We attempt to compensate for our failures by good works. I knew a Christian man who was unfaithful to his wife. Guilt haunted him for the rest of his life. I’m guessing much of what he did in the church was an effort to make up for his failure. Forgiveness is God’s solution to our futile efforts to make ourselves respectable. He wants to free us from the guilt of our failures so we can live all out for Him. “If that animal blood and the other rituals of purification were effective in cleaning up certain matters of our religion and behavior, think how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out. Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God” (Hebrews 9:13-15, The Message).
The best news ever is that God accepts us as we are. Jesus died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6). We’ve all fallen short of God’s infinite perfection in all He is and does (Romans 3:23). We deserve death because of our disobedience, yet God’s gift is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23). Trust in Jesus’ all-sufficient sacrifice and guilt can’t fill us at the same time. When faith comes, guilt goes. Trusting in the sufficiency of what Jesus did on the cross for us flushes away guilt. In Jesus we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (Ephesians 1:7). By grace through faith God releases us from guilt’s chains so we can live all out for Him.
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