Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Dealing with True Guilt

"For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight" (Psalm 51:3–4).

What is true guilt? Guilt objectively occurs when we break the law of God. Guilt feelings are the result of that. Sometimes a person may feel guilty when he does something that is not really objectively wrong in God’s eyes. This is because his conscience has been misinformed. In the same way, however, we sometimes don’t feel guilty when in fact we are guilty. Thus, though guilt feelings can be an important signal to us, alerting us to sin, we need to be more concerned with true guilt than with guilt feelings.

The first thing we have to do in dealing with guilt is to acknowledge it. The normal thing for us sinners to do is to deny our guilt. We don’t want to face it, so we push it down. But the more we push guilt down, the deeper it goes, and the more pervasive its destructive influences on our lives become.
We live in a society today that has sought to deal with guilt by denying its reality. We want to see people happy and healthy, and sometimes in order to make someone feel better we tell him that it’s okay, and that what he did is not all that bad. However, real guilt must be dealt with by facing the sin that caused it. We see this principle clearly in the life of David.

King David used his power to take the wife of Uriah the Hittite. After committing adultery with her, David had Uriah killed in order to cover up his sin. Then God sent Nathan the prophet to confront David. Nathan did not tell David that what he had done was not so bad after all. Rather, he told David that he had sinned against God, and that what he had done was horrible (2 Samuel 11–12).

David’s response is seen in Psalm 51. David did not minimize his guilt; instead he confronted it and confessed his sin. It was through this confrontation and confession that he found forgiveness.

Is there some area in your life where you feel guilty? Confront this problem by asking two questions. First, am I really guilty of breaking God’s law, or am I feeling guilty about something I shouldn’t feel guilty about? Second, if I am guilty before God, have I confronted this sin and confessed it? Avoid compounding your guilt through your failure to acknowledge it. Set aside time today for reflection, and if necessary, confession.