The Norman Transcript

Religion

May 15, 2014

Does guilt make us better Christians?

NORMAN — The Rev. Scott Gordon, Claycomo Baptist Church: The simple answer to this question is yes — and no. Actually, the Bible is quite clear on how we should live, but it is not simple.

This fact impacts Paul’s instruction to Timothy as he encourages the young pastor to “be diligent to present yourself to God …” (2 Timothy 2:15). In similar manner, all believers must be diligent students of God’s word as we seek to live for his glory.

Thankfully, our Lord has not left us to wonder how we should think concerning guilt. Turning to the New Testament, we find clear words: “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death,” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Guilt brings grief to our lives. Seeing ourselves as God shows us we are — sinners who have offended a Holy God — we understand our need of a Savior. Through repentance of our sin we receive forgiveness from the Lord. As followers of Christ we continue to benefit from guilt leading us back to repentance each time we choose sin over righteousness.

In contrast, worldly grief comes from guilt which is arbitrarily founded rather than from the truth God has revealed. This brings us to utter hopelessness or causes a hardness of our hearts which leads to death. A poignant biblical comparison of godly versus worldly grief is the difference between Peter's guilt, repentance and restoration after he denied knowing Jesus during Jesus’ arrest and trial, and Judas’ guilt, fear and suicide following his betrayal of Jesus.

Admitting we are guilty sinners leads us to repentance to God in which we receive his forgiveness, the removal of that guilt and the blessed freedom to live for his glory enjoying his wonderful promises.

The Rev. Justin Hoye, St. Patrick Catholic Church: Not necessarily. It exists within our power, Christian or otherwise, to embrace guilt as something so linked with us that we decline to relinquish it. It is a terrifying thought. We might refuse the removal, the expiation, of our guilt out of pride or fear.

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