Guilt

I’ve been working on a short story lately having to do with the concept of guilt. The idea came when I was listening to a radio program featuring speaker/apologist Ravi Zacharias.

As I was thinking about what topic to blog on today, I glanced at an article I bookmarked some time ago, and the topic is guilt. Ah-ha!

I began to peruse the article and came up against a troubling fact, reminiscent of some things I’ve read connected with the emerging church. There seems to be a movement afoot that a) lays guilt at the door of the church (not a person’s conscience or the Holy Spirit who convicts of sin); and b) wants to free up Christians from guilty feelings.

Here’s the part of the article I found most troubling:

He (God or your husband or your best friend) wants you to do one thing, you want to do something else. If you get your way, your joy is tainted by the selfishness you feel, and by knowing you will have to eventually pay that person back.

Thankfully, God isn’t like that.

Granted, God isn’t into payback the way we humans are. He doesn’t get His feelings hurt and because He’s miffed, insist on His way next time.

But what I find troubling about that quote is the idea that a Christian could say she wants to do one thing and God wants her to do something else, and she apparently thinks it’s just find for her to then “get her own way.”

Isn’t the Christian life about God’s will and God’s way? Since when do we get on equal footing with the Redeemer of our souls and decide to go our way instead of His? And not feel guilty about it. Because God doesn’t do payback.

This article shows the confusion of our time, I think. If I discern that I want to do one thing, but God wants me to do something else, to pursue my desires over God’s is sin. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin. Conviction makes me feel guilty—because I am!

The way to not feel guilty when I am guilty is to repent of sin. Turn from it. Stop doing it.

Of course, there is a “guilty” that comes from disappointing someone that may or may not be sin. If I “get my own way” in a disagreement with a friend because I am being selfish, then I have sinned and should feel guilty.

On the other hand, if I tried … say, to pick a friend up at the airport, but my car broke down, I can feel disappointed and even sorrowful that my friend was inconvenienced and I wasn’t able to fulfill my commitment on time. Those feelings may be similar to guilt, but there would be no real guilt in play.

The feeling of guilt can be induced, I believe, but real guilt cannot. Satan accuses the brethren, and I think he sometimes does that to our faces as well as to God’s. He wants us to feel defeated and incapable.

The answer is not to say guilt is bad. It’s to recognize when guilt is real and when it is not. Real guilt is easy for us to handle because Jesus Christ made it easy (that easy-yoke thing 😉 ).

I’m thinking right now, a question might help. When guilty feelings stir, I want to ask, Where are these coming from? I want to learn also to pray, asking God to give me the answer to that question. Left to myself, I can too easily fall under the influence of the enemy’s lies.

Published in: on August 26, 2009 at 1:38 pm  Comments (5)  
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5 Comments

  1. The best way for me to process guilt is this: We are guilty in the flesh. That’s a given. So if I’m in disobedience to the Lord, I’m acting in the flesh and guilty (of sin which is what made me guilty in my natural state). Once I’m guilty, as you pointed out, I need to repent of the sin that made me guilty. And, yes, the Holy Spirit will convict me IF my heart is eager to please God. If my heart is hardened to His voice, I will pursue sin and remain guilty, facing the consequences we all know follow sin. If I continue to indulge sin, my guilt amasses, consequences continue, and if I abandon repentance, I face condemnation. Sin makes us guilty as charged. Seeking true forgiveness from the Lord erases that guilt and restores us to the righteous place His Blood provided for the truly repentant. (I John 1:9)

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  2. Amen to both you ladies! I see way too much of this “we shouldn’t feel guilty” – especially when we are just doing something for ourselves, because we have to take care of ourselves, because if we don’t no one else will. How completely opposite of what Christ tells us to do.

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  3. Great comments, Nicole and Rae. I think the increased message that our feelings of guilt are the problem, not actual sin or conduct that needs to change, comes from society’s belief that Man is good. Sadly, the church is accommodating that thinking, it would seem.

    Becky

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  4. Hi Ms. Miller,

    Thank you for being a wonderful Junior High English teacher.
    This article was such a blessing to read. I was taken back by what you wrote about “to pursue my desires over God’s is a sin.” It totally confirms how sinful I am because of my selfish desires. It makes me realize I need to repent throughout the day and pray that I open my heart and mind to His will.

    God Bless,
    Lisa

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  5. Lisa! 😀 Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment.

    God’s amazing grace at work that you found this article a blessing and that phrase you quoted, a help. I’m glad it confirmed some things God is already teaching you. He is great about doing that. 😉

    Becky (aka Miss Miller)

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