Tag Archives: guilt

August 29; Saving Grace

Ezekiel 31:1-33:20, 40:1-27

God tells us, “The righteousness of the righteous man will not save him when he disobeys…” (33:12) That’s an important truth. It would be like getting stopped for speeding. The officer walks up to your car window and asks, “Do you know why I pulled you over?”

“No, sir, I don’t.”

“Well, Ma’am, you were going 60 in a posted 35 MPH zone.”

“My bad,” you reply. “But last year I made dinner three times for people in my church who had surgeries.”

What are the chances the policeman would ignore your offense just because you did some good things in the past? Not likely.

Verse 12 goes on to say, “and the wickedness of the wicked man will not cause him to fall when he turns from it.” In fact, God later says this:

None of the sins he has committed will be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he will surely live. (verse 16)

Sometimes I think we need to be reminded of both these truths. First, we need to know and understand that no amount of good deeds will ever earn us a free pass when we disobey God. Our past righteousness is unable to save us.

But neither is our past sin able to condemn us once we’ve asked God to forgive us. I think that’s often the harder of the two truths to grasp. God will never use the sins washed by Jesus’ blood against us at any time. Ever.

We remember our past – but God forgets our past when we repent, when we turn from our sin. That promise is straight out of God’s mouth. Those sins are buried in the deepest sea as far as God is concerned. Gone. Forgiven. It cost Jesus a lot to make that happen. But He did make it happen.

God is reminding me today that Satan is a master at throwing up our past sins, to keep us chained to the past, ineffective in service to God when we let our past paralyze us. Guilt over a sin God has forgiven is a feeling that doesn’t come from God.

Our past has shaped us into the people we are today. Even our past sins have contributed to who we are, and can be instrumental in how we are used by God to reach others. But I believe God would have us consider our past forgiven, our lives redeemed by the blood of Jesus.

I believe God would have us repent, allow Him to forgive our sins, then have us move on from there to serve Him without guilt, without apology, without hesitation as people who can’t do enough for the One who has saved them.

Have you sinned? Ask God to forgive you. He will. Then move on and be the man or woman God can use to lead others to His saving grace.

 

 

May 2; Forgiven And Cleansed

Samuel 11:2-12:24; Psalms 6, 32, 38

What would you say was the worst sin you’ve ever committed? Are you living with the consequences? Have you asked God to forgive you?

We read about David’s doozie of a sin with Bathsheba, his attempt to make her husband Uriah believe he was the father of her baby, and when that didn’t work David arranged Uriah’s death. For David, one sin led to another and another and another.

God punished David for these sins. God also forgave David when he repented. But I wonder if David was ever able to look into the eyes of Bathsheba and not see the face of Uriah. Sometimes you just can’t escape the consequences of sin.

We read the psalms David wrote during this time and can’t help but feel his anguish. He tells us even his bones were in agony, his guilt overwhelmed him, the light had gone out of his eyes. It sounds like David was in the throws of a deep depression. David knew what it was like to hit rock bottom because of his sin. David also knew what it was like to be lifted up from those depths.

Psalm 32 describes this beautifully. It begins:

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

David had tried to cover his own sins, by committing more sins. He learned that no matter how he spun it, he could not undo what had been done. He couldn’t hide it hoping others wouldn’t know his guilt. The psalm continues:

Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When you think about the worst sin you’ve ever committed, have you been honest about it with God? Have you confessed it all? David tells us God covers that sin and does not count it against you. Can you imagine?

You might beat yourself up every day because of that horrible sin. But I John 1:9 tells us this:

If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Forgive AND cleanse!

David goes on in Psalm 32 to say God not only covered his sin, He forgave David’s guilt of that sin. If you are holding on to guilt over past sin, please read this psalm. Let David assure you that the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds you, surrounds all of us who trust Him.

I asked you to think about the worst sin you’ve ever committed. But the truth is, every sin comes with a death penalty. Every sin separates us from God, and should cause us to feel guilty and ashamed. And every sin is forgivable if we confess it to God who died on a cross so we could be forgiven.

Earlier I wondered if David was ever able to not see Uriah’s face when he looked at Bathsheba. I hope so. I hope when he looked at her he was reminded instead of God’s grace, God’s forgiveness, God’s amazing love. Because when David confessed his sin of adultery and murder, he was

Forgiven and Cleansed.

2 Samuel 1; Saul’s Sin Killed Him

Remember in 1 Samuel God had instructed Saul to go to war with the Amalekites, and wipe them out. 15:2-3 says:

This is what the Lord Almighty says: I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.

But Saul only almost obeyed. He defeated the Amalekites, “But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs – everything that was good.”

Saul didn’t wipe them out exactly the way God had instructed him. And God was not happy.

The end of I Samuel and II Samuel 1 seem to contradict each other. Who really killed Saul? I’ve been of the opinion that the man we read about in II Samuel tried to cash in on Saul’s death, that he found the king already dead, took his crown and arm band, and ran to David to be rewarded for taking care of David’s enemy. But I might be wrong.

The story we read in II Samuel might not contradict I Samuel after all. Consider this: Saul, being mortally wounded, falls on his sword to commit suicide. His armor bearer sees him do that, watches his king fall, then commits suicide himself. However, Saul is only mostly dead at that point.

The young man in II Samuel comes up to Saul and hears the king whisper, “Kill me,” and he does. Saul was a dead man walking. He most likely would not have survived his wounds. The young man just accelerated the inevitable. Saul, at the end of I Samuel was dead for all intent and purposes. As you turn the page, you see him finished off.

That’s what I’ve come to believe after studying what others have said about the subject. It’s an opinion that doesn’t really matter in light of eternity, and I recognize it as an opinion. But J. Vernon McGee opened my eyes to a spiritual truth we can learn from this that does matter in light of eternity.

Remember Saul’s sin way back in chapter 15? he didn’t completely destroy the Amalekites like God told him to. Now, years later, it’s an Amalekite who ends up destroying him.

Could Saul have actually survived his wounds? We’ll never know because the young Amalekite killed him.

In Sunday School this past Sunday we were studying Psalm 32, written after David received forgiveness for some pretty awful sins. His sin with Bathsheba was bad enough, but David’s efforts at covering up that sin resulted in more sin, and more guilt until he felt crushed to the bones. You can hear David’s relief at being freed from that guilt here in this psalm.

I shared something I found written by John Dunn. And I was reminded of it as I read this chapter in I Samuel this morning. Dunn calls sin a serpent. He says when we cover up a sin, we’re just keeping it warm so that it may sting more fiercely, infect us with more venom.

When we don’t deal with sin, when we don’t eradicate it, turn from it 100%, we are only protecting it. And it will bite us in the end.

Let’s not be nursing sin. Let’s not ignore it, or cover it up. When God reveals sin in us, let’s fall to our knees and repent immediately.

Otherwise, that sin could be the very thing that ends up destroying us.

 

December 12 – A Clear Conscience

Acts 20:4-23:35

Paul said something to the Council in Jerusalem that got my attention. Paul, as Saul, had persecuted the church. He was responsible for the imprisonment of hundreds of men and women who were guilty of nothing more than believing in Jesus. He was present when Stephen was stoned to death, even approving of the murder.

But in 23:1 he said, “Brethern, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.

Seriously? Paul could say he wasn’t overcome with guilt about his past? Shouldn’t what he’d done give him sleepless nights over feelings of regret?

This week I have struggled with memories of how I treated my parents, both of whom now live with Jesus. Did mom know how much I appreciated the white suit she had made for me for homecoming? Did she forgive me for unkind words I’d said to her in my youth? Why did I choose to go to that jewelry party at my coworker’s house instead of welcoming Dad the night he drove 60 miles to surprise me? Mom had died. He was alone and lonely. And I didn’t stay. Why didn’t I hug my nephew the last time I saw him? Our eyes connected, but we didn’t hug. And he died a few days later. Did he know how much I loved him?

Friends, I have a guilty conscience. I see the faces of friends I betrayed, the looks of people who received the biting words I said, the hurt I caused. And I am sitting here weeping with regret.

I didn’t commit the sins Paul did. Yet he could say he had a perfectly good conscience before God. HOW?

I am reminded that I am forgiven. Jesus took the guilt upon Himself. I can stand before Him with a good conscience because when God looks at me He sees Jesus’ perfection. He’s forgiven me of all those things I did and didn’t do, and He’s forgotten them. I am guilt-free as far as He’s concerned.

So when I struggle with guilt, like I have these past days, I need to recognize that it’s not coming from my Savior. It’s Satan’s attempt to make me a slave to my past.

God, forgive me for falling for that. Thank you for forgiving me. I am a sinner. I am guilty of unspeakable sins. And I can feel pretty bad about them. Help me to remember that Jesus died so that those sins can be washed away, never to be remembered by You ever again. Help me to rejoice in my salvation, to never live another minute regretting what I can’t change. And give me the power to not repeat the sins I’ve committed. I don’t want to miss the joy of living with a perfectly good conscience before the God who gave it to me.

June 27 – When Faced With Sin

I Kings 15:1-24, 2 Chronicles 13-16

Baasha, king of Israel, was at war with Asa, king of Judah. King Asa heard that the Israeli army was going to cut them off, preventing anyone from coming in our going out of Judah. So Asa sent silver and gold to Ben-hadad, king of Aram, asking him to break his treaty with Israel, and help the people of Judah.

Here’s the thing. Asa had been doing some pretty good things in Judah. He led his people in worship of God, and removed the idols from the land. But when Asa’s true colors were seen when went he to Ben-hadad for help instead of going to God, the seer Hanani got a word from God to deliver to Asa. The message went something like this:

You blew it, Asa. You didn’t trust God to help you against the Israelites, but you trusted a mere man. So God wants you to know that from here on out, your nation will surely have wars. (16:7-9)

I’d like to tell you that Asa repented when faced with his sin. But he didn’t. In fact, he got mad at Hanani and threw the seer in jail.

I get it. Nobody  enjoys hearing they’re wrong. Nobody likes having their sins thrown in their faces. But when we are wrong, and we will be, how we handle the correction is very important.

Asa’s stubbornness led to an illness . Even in this, Asa didn’t turn to God. He turned to the doctors and just tried to side-step the Lord. Not a smart move.

I need to remember that when God points out sin in my life, whether through reading His Word, through a Sunday sermon, or through the voice of a friend, my reaction is crucial. May I not react harshly toward the messenger, but rather repent of that sin.

And may my worship of God come from a heart that wants to please Him, even in those times I have to swallow my pride and admit I’m wrong.

May 14 – I Need A Shower

Psalms 32, 52, 86, 122

David wrote psalm 51 after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba. I imagine everyone of us have felt like David felt while dealing with the guilt of sin. Psalm 32 says that when David held on to sin, even his body wasted away, he groaned all day long because God’s hand was heavy upon him.

Been there. Done that.

God doesn’t want us being ok with sin in our lives. That’s why He invented guilt. The feeling of guilt is a good thing. It can make us unhappy enough to ask God to forgive us, to take our guilt upon Himself, and set us free from that burden.

The psalms also express the joy that comes from confession, from the assurance our sins are forgiven, and we are guilty no longer.

Whiter than snow!!

The other day I decided to skip my morning shower. The forecast called for a chilly rain all day, so I figured I’d get up, do some housework, and not step foot outside. My nephew had a baseball game scheduled that evening, but I was sure they wouldn’t be able to play because of the weather.

Was I surprised when I got a text from his dad at the field, saying “Game On.”

Oh NO! No time to get cleaned up. So I put on a ball cap to cover my dirty hair, grabbed my umbrella and an extra jacket, and rushed to the game.

I felt awful! I felt dirty and ugly. I enjoyed watching my nephew play ball, but I was embarrassed the whole time.

When I finally stood under my shower and let warm water pour over my body, when I massaged that shampoo into my hair and felt the bubbles rinse down, I stood there and sighed. It felt so good! Every cell in my body relaxed.

That’s the feeling I get from reading these psalms. David, once dirty and ugly and miserable in his filth, allowed God to forgive him and wash him clean. What joy! What peace! What relief!

Are you carrying the burden of guilt because of unconfessed sin in your life? Give it to the Lord. Ask Him to forgive you, something He’s anxious to do. And enjoy the feeling of being really, really clean.

 

A Twinge or an Amputation. Your Choice.

The older I get, the more frequently my body aches. Just yesterday I felt a twinge in my knee as I got up from the couch. It hurt when I put weight on it, so I intentionally kept my foot straight, my hips in line, as I walked. I didn’t want to do damage by twisting it. And, after a bit, it stopped hurting.

Then I read Hebrews 12:12 this morning and had to smile at God’s timing. Because I had put the whole knee-thing out of my mind and am sure I would not have given it another thought had I not seen what was written there:

“…make straight paths for your feet so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.” (NKJV)

I am not kidding. Coincidence? I think not! I am blown away at how intimately interested God is in me, how personal, and how He longs to teach me every day.

So what is the lesson here? The writer of Hebrews is talking about God’s discipline of His children. I think the example in 12:12 says that when we sin, it can result in something like a twinge in the knee. God’s discipline could be in the form of guilt, or shame, or regret. But if I keep repeating the sin I cause damage. The discipline, then the consequences become more and more intense.

But if I intentionally walk straight, repent of the sin, if I resist repeating the sin, there is healing. There is forgiveness. And that’s what Jesus died to provide. That’s what God wants for us.

If you continue reading Hebrews 12 you’ll see that Esau is used as an example of this. Esau sinned for a bite of food. And in keeping with my analogy, he didn’t just get a twinge in his knee, he lost his leg. No amount of tears could bring that leg back.

Sometimes God’s discipline is a twinge. But if we choose to ignore it, we could lose the whole leg. Sometimes God’s discipline feels like guilt. But if we choose to ignore it, it could cost us so much more. And we might find ourselves living with devastating consequences of a sin that could have been stopped at the twinge.

Dearest God, I pray that we will recognize that twinge of guilt as Your discipline when we sin, or even think about sinning. Guilt doesn’t feel good. Yet so often we ignore it and continue in the sin. Thank you that you don’t amputate the first time we sin. We’d all be limbless! I pray that we will be sensitive to the way You work in our lives, that we will be quick to learn from Your discipline so that we won’t have to suffer further consequences for our bad choices. And, God, thank you for reminding me today how intimately interested you are in each one of us. I love you.