Bella Vista Church of Christ



Randall Caselman


Guilt – What A Burden


  All too often we don't enjoy the journey of life because of all the baggage we're carrying. It's time we learn to" Travel Light." Guilt is a psychological burden that drags us down, exhausts us physically, tries our patience, and depresses us. Unresolved guilt robs us of peace, happiness, and emotional stability. Guilt, what a burden to carry, a load to tote.


  Guilt is not a new issue: It robbed Adam & Eve of their intimacy with God, caused them to hide from Him. Guilt caused David to say, "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away." Guilt caused Isaiah to cry out "Woe is me," Paul to say, "O wretched man that I am." Unresolved guilt caused Judas to take his own life after betraying Jesus.


Note some wrong ways we try to deal with guilt...


  Rationalization. King Saul is a Biblical example. He was instructed to destroy all the Amalekites along with their property. Instead, he decides to bring King Agag and his livestock back to Israel so the people could witness the killing of their enemy, and the livestock could be offered in worship to God. Samuel's answer was "God is more interested in obedience than in sacrifice." God doesn't accept our excuses for our sin behavior.


  Some try to deny their guilt. This was the sin of Cain. "I am not responsible for the safety of others!" "Am I my brother’s keeper?" Denial of the sin, stuffing our guilt feelings add up to the same lie and does nothing to resolve our guilt.


  Some try to run from their guilt. Nowhere do we see this anymore than in the life of Jonah. But when the storm came, and the sailors asked: "What have you done that your God is so angry with you?" Jonah admitted his sin. He was still carrying his guilt even though he was far from where his sin decision was made. In our culture, we use drugs, alcohol, or a binge of immoral behavior in an attempt to escape our guilt. Judas ended up on the end of a rope; Jonah in the belly of a fish. Peter ended up in tears and remorse. Simon the Sorcerer was in the gall of bitterness. Guilt follows because conscience is inside.


  We try to conceal it. David thought he could hide his adultery with Bathsheba. To conceal her pregnancy, he had her husband brought home from the front lines so he would sleep with her. When he refused, David had him killed. And sure enough nobody knew the sin except David and God. This narrative is proof positive that we cannot hide our guilt in our own heart without ugly, harmful consequences.


  We think we can atone for our guilt. I spend a good amount of my time counseling with people who think like this: I’ll work harder down at church. I’ll be a better person; I’ll read my Bible more, pray more, give more. I’ll tell the Elders that I’ll teach a class, or go on a foreign campaign. Self-righteousness, individual piety can never forgive sin, any sin!


Well, as God's Children, what do we do with our guilt?


  It's important that we know His forgiveness is absolute! When God forgives sin, it is as if it never happened. Psalm 103.8-14: "The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve... Nor does He repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him." Micah7.19: "You will have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea." Jeremiah 31.33-34... "This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the Lord.... For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." Isaiah 1.18...“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." I don't know a better way to say this than in the words of David: As far as the east is from the west... So far has He removed our transgression from us. Remember this: God is a seventy-times-seventy forgiver, absolute and unlimited!


  We must learn to accept God’s Forgiveness. We receive God's forgiveness, but some of us never accept it, we walk around forgiven but still guilt ridden. Others say, "Well you just need to forgive yourself." No, we don't have the resources to forgive sin; only the blood of Jesus can do that. But we can accept God's grace, mercy, and loving forgiveness. What a shame that He freely gives, and we don't accept! Now's the time to live the good life, accept His forgiveness and get over our sin guilt.


  Be willing to acknowledge our sin. John tells us that as Children of God, we must take ownership of our guilt: "If we confess our sins, acknowledge our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1.7-9). This is why it's so foolish for us to try man-made ways to deal with our guilt: Rationalizing, Denying, Hiding, Running from it, Blaming it on others, Etc. Does this mean that our unconfessed sins are not forgiven, sins that we commit and don't know it at the time? No! Listen to John 1.7: "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin."  John is saying that if we are walking in the light of truth, living faithful lives, then our sins are being forgiven by the blood of Christ. The same blood that forgives in the act of New Testament baptism, forgives as we walk in the light. That's good news! That's Grace. Amen?


  I must mention one more thing; we must stop our sin behavior! The adulterous woman was told, "Go your way and sin no more." I believe that a part of walking in the light is trying our best to forsake that sin that so easily besets us. I'm not saying that God doesn't forgive repeated sin, but church we have an obligation to repent, change our life!


  Jesus tells us that one of the benefits of the Holy Spirit is that He convicts us of sin. The Spirit is gracious enough to tell us by pricking our hearts, giving guilt. So guilt is good! It is designed to help us come to grip with sin so we can deal with it properly.


  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light... Though your sin be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."


—Randall Caselman