NORMAN — Hal Lindsey, in his book “Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth,” did a wonderful job of addressing the issue of guilt in a Christian’s life. Guilt is an issue we have all either struggled with personally or helped someone in our congregation deal with.
The enemy would have us believe his lie regarding sin: “Sin separates you from God after you become a Christian and therefore repeated removal of that barrier is necessary to have access to Him.”
When we buy this lie, we respond in several ways to our sin. We might respond with:
· Justification — Make excuses or offer valid reasons for it: “It was only a little lie, and it was easier on everyone involved” or “After all, the government spends my tax money on things I don’t agree with anyway.”
· Feeling unworthy of God’s continued grace and believing that He is mad at us or would never be able to really use us.
· Obsession with confession based on a belief that God keeps a slate of our sin that must be cleared periodically (1 John 1:9).
God’s view of sin — totally forgiven — past, present and future
Below are listed some of the verses that seem to be helpful in explaining this truth: Colossians 2:13, 1 Peter 1:18-19, Hebrews 7:25, Hebrews 9:12 and Hebrews 10:10.
The correct translation of 1 John 1:9, from the original Greek, should read, “If we keep on confessing (agree with God concerning) our sins, He is faithful and righteous, to have forgiven us our sins and to have cleansed us from all unrighteousness.”
The tense of the verb used originally identifies the forgiveness as an already completed act that does not need to be repeated.
It is important to understanding the difference between guilt and conviction:
· Guilt — Legal indebtedness for wrongs done
· Conviction — Holy spirit’s prompting to recognize sin to prevent it from becoming a habit and to request and receive His help in dealing with it.
Guilt never comes from God. Guilt comes from people intending to manipulate us or from misinformed teaching we learned as we grew up. Conviction comes from a God who loves us and wants to help us in our daily struggles.
It is hard to break old, traditional habits. When I first learned what I have just shared with you, it seemed Biblically sound, it made good intellectual sense and something in my spirit told me it was true.
Yet, it took me a whole year to be able to acknowledge my sin, thank Him for his forgiveness and ask for His help in dealing with sin in the future without feeling compelled to ask Him for forgiveness to clean my slate. It takes time.
I hope you will find this helpful as you assist friends and family struggling with disabling guilt feelings.