Responding Rightly to Guilt

Something I was reading today triggered my memory of a sin from the past. Fresh feelings of guilt swept across me, even though it was something for which I asked the Lord’s forgiveness many years ago. Sadly, my default plan of attack for dealing with that unwarranted subjective guilt was to try to minimize my sin. “It wasn’t that big of a deal,” I found myself thinking. Other forms of rationalizing came to mind like, “I didn’t really fully understand at the time that it was sinful.” Then I noticed the feelings of guilt were starting to lessen. But by God’s grace I quickly caught myself: this was an utterly unbiblical way to handle my guilt because it amounted to a rejection of the sufficiency of the cross and a belittling of the the glory of God.

It was a rejection of the sufficiency of the cross because God has given me Christ and His work as the sole means of dealing with my guilt. It was a belittling of God’s glory because my view of sin and my view of the majesty of God are directly proportionate. I then acknowledged the full weight of my sin—as much as I am humanly able to comprehend—and thanked God that Christ completely bore the fullness of His wrath that I deserved for that sin, gaining for me a perfectly clean conscience (Heb 9:14; 10:22; 1 Jn 1:9). It was not until I dealt biblically with my feelings of guilt that they disappeared, the cross was exalted, and God’s glory was magnified.

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One Response to Responding Rightly to Guilt

  1. Melissa April 6, 2007 at 8:36 am #

    I find myself doing the same thing often. It’s only when we recognize Christ’s righteousness for what it is and God’s forgiveness in its full reality that the guilt does flee. Another verse I find helpful is “Casting down imaginations and every thing that exalts itself against knowing God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:5 paraphrase). Whatever gets in the way of me knowing or obeying Christ must be cast down. And I don’t have the power to do that. Fortunately, Christ has already secured the victory. Thanks for sharing.