HOW TO GET RID OF YOUR GUILT
The late baseball legend Gil Hodges told this story. Once, when he was managing the Washington Senators, he discovered four of his players had broken curfew the previous night. Immediately, he called a team meeting and said, "I know who you are but I do not wish to embarrass you. You know the rules; you will each be fined $100. I have placed a cigar box on my desk. I expect the four of you who broke curfew to put your money in the box by 3:00 p.m." At the end of the day, Hodges found $700 in his cigar box!
1. What Gil Hodges discovered is that a lot more people are struggling with guilt than he imagined.
2. Guilt plagues everyone to some degree, for we all have to lay our heads on our pillow at night and accept the fact that we have not done as well as we could have done. One Christian psychologist recently stated that "Guilt is the most difficult problem in the whole realm of psychological therapy."
3. Guilt has been a problem since the beginning of time.
a. It was guilt that caused Adam and Eve to hide when God came walking in the cool of the day.
b. It was guilt over his adulterous affair that caused David to say, "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away from my groaning all day long."
c. It was guilt that caused Isaiah to cry out "Woe is me for I am a man with unclean lips" when he came into the presence of the Living God.
d. When the Pharisees brought the woman caught in adultery, Jesus looked at the angry mob and said, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to through a stone at her." It was guilt that caused the men to drop their stones, one by one, and walk away.
e. It was guilt that caused Judas Iscariot to take his own life after he betrayed Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
4. And Guilt continues to haunt the human race.
The IRS once received a letter from an anonymous taxpayer. It read, "I have cheated on my income tax for the past seven years, and tonight my conscience is troubling me to the point that I cannot sleep. I have enclosed a $100 bill as my way of saying ĎI am sorry.í If I find that I still canít sleep, I will send the rest of what I owe."
5. Guilt has been a companion of mankind from the beginning.
THIS MORNING, I WILL PRESENT TWO POINTS ON THE SUBJECT OF GUILT.
I. FIRST, HOW DO SOME PEOPLE RESPOND TO GUILT?
A. SOME PEOPLE RATIONALIZE THEIR GUILT.
1. Do you ever listen to what people say when they are caught in the act of doing something wrong?
Not too long ago, the newspaper reported that a man was arrested for stealing a car parked at a cemetery. When he stood before the judge, he said, "Since the car was parked at the cemetery, I just assumed that the driver was dead."
2. Insurance companies hear the best rationalizations. Here are some explanations people have given when filling out accident reports.
Coming home, I drove to the wrong house and collided with a tree that I donít have.
A truck backed through my windshield into my wifeís face.
A pedestrian hit me and went under my car.
I pulled away from the shoulder of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law and then drove into the ditch.
In my attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole.
The pedestrian had no idea of which way to jump so I ran over him.
3. Now before we laugh too much at these attempts at rationalizing mistakes, I wonder what our excuses must sound like to God when we are guilty of sin?
B. SOME PEOPLE DENY THEIR GUILT.
1. There is a perfect example of that in the Old Testament.
a. Israel was at war with another nation, and King Saul was instructed by Samuel the prophet to destroy all of the property belonging to the king of the enemy nation. However, Saul looked at the sheep and cattle this king owned, and began to estimate its worth.
b. Finally, he decided to disobey God and keep the kingís possessions for himself. He forgot that God sees everything we do. God sent the prophet Samuel to confront Saul with his guilt.
c. So what did Saul do? He tried to fool Samuel into thinking everything was great! He greeted the prophet and said, "Look I have done everything God told me to do!" And Samuel said something to the effect of, "Oh yeah? Correct me if Iím wrong, but donít I hear the sound of sheep and cattle in the background?" and Saul said, "Oh that. Well, yeah, we did take some of their sheep to use as a sacrifice." Samuel then told Saul, "To obey is better than sacrifice" (1 Samuel 15).
2. Isnít it amazing that people have the capacity to deny guilt when the evidence before them is unquestionable?
C. SOME PEOPLE RUN FROM THEIR GUILT.
1. Bars are filled with people trying to run away from their guilt.
a. Judas ended up on the end of a rope.
b. Jonah ended up in the belly of a fish.
c. Peter ended up back in a fishing boat.
2. The problem with running from our guilt is that it follows us wherever we go.† We cannot run away from our guilt.† We cannot drink our guilt away.† We cannot hide our guilt.† Until we take care of our guilt, then we will be plagued by it.
3. What do these three so-called solutions to guilt have in common?
4. Most significantly, they donít work. Some of you here today know firsthand that what I am saying is the truth. You have tried to rationalize, deny and escape your guilt and you have learned that no matter what you do, you still feel guilty!
5. Well, this is where the story gets good. There is a solution to the problem with our guilt. We donít have to keep fighting a losing battle. We can be guilt-free.
II. SECOND, HOW CAN WE GET RID OF OUR GUILT?
A. FIRST, TO GET RID OF OUR GUILT, WE MUST ACCEPT AND EMBRACE GOD'S FORGIVENESS.
1. If we are Christians, our guilt and our sins have been taken care of by Jesus on the cross!
2. I don't know a better way to say this than in the words of David:
a. When we like David, beg of God, "Wash away my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin," we can be assured that His cleansing does make us "whiter than snow."† God has said that our guilt has been removed; He has said we are clean.†
3. When we surrender in faith to Jesus, we no longer have any legal guilt before God.†
4. When He wipes a slate clean, there are no erasure marks.† The sin is gone; the guilt is gone.† The record of the crimes no longer exist--no matter what human record may be kept.
5. When God forgives, the sin is totally annihilated.† It doesn't exist in you and me any longer.† It doesn't exist in heaven.† Guilt is gone.† It can only exist in our memories.† Once the sin is confessed, it is gone!† I am not teaching once saved always saved, I am simply teaching God's wonderful forgiveness!†
6. Although people receive God's forgiveness, some people do not forgive themselves.† They walk around forgiven in the eyes of God, but yet are guilt ridden.† They feel guilt for the sins that they have committed in the past.
7. If you feel this way, please listen very carefully.
a. In (Luke 5:8), Peter fell at Jesus' knees crying, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!"† Peter was so guilt ridden for the life that he had led that he didn't feel worthy being around Jesus.† At times, isn't this how we feel--unworthy!
b. Although Jesus knew of Peter's condition, what did Jesus say to him?† Did Jesus say, "You good-for-nothing worthless sinner--get away from me, you will never enter into the kingdom of heaven?"† No.† Instead, Jesus replied, "Don't be afraid" (Luke 5:10).
8. Even though we may have committed some terrible sins in our past, when we have been forgiven by God, we have nothing to fear!† For Jesus is telling us, "Don't be afraid."
9. When we accept, believe and trust in the forgiveness of God, God uses our faith to defeat our personal guilt.† The way to be healed of guilt is to believe what God tells us about His forgiveness.† Embrace His forgiveness not only today, but everyday so that you can begin to live guilt free.† (Much of the information above was adopted from Joe Beam's book, "Forgiven Forever.")
B. SECOND, TO GET RID OF OUR GUILT, WE MUST CONTINUE TO CONFESS OUR SINS, NOT ONLY TO GOD, BUT ALSO TO ONE ANOTHER.
1. According to (1 John 1:9), it is very important that we confess our sins to God.† When we do, we receive forgiveness and our guilt is wiped away.
2. Unfortunately, we at times commit sins that we fail to confess.† Does this mean that our unconfessed sins are not forgiven and will result in condemnation and guilt?†
a. The word translated as "purifies" in the New International Version is translated as "cleanseth" in the King James Version and "cleanses" in the New American Standard Version.
3. John tells us that if we are living faithful godly lives, then all of our sins are being forgiven through the blood of Jesus.†
a. Notice, that he didn't say "purified," meaning something that happened once and doesn't happen again.† He purifies.† It keeps on happening throughout our walk with Jesus.
4. When Jesus died on the cross, He not only died for every sin we committed before our conversions.† But He also died for all the sins we commit after conversion.† He not only forgives what we were.† He keeps forgiving what we do.† He promised it to all of us who are living in His light.
5. Keep in mind that God doesn't want us to think that continual cleansing offers some kind of license to live godlessly.† After telling us of the remarkable, continual forgiveness, John pauses to say, "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin" (1 Jn. 2:1).
6. We must not take advantage of God's grace, instead, we need to value and appreciate that our confession not only cleans us from our sins, but it also takes away our guilt.† Confession is a vital part of living guilt-free.
7. But not only are we to confess our sins to God, but we should also confess our sins to one another.†
8. Some people are living with guilt because they are hiding sin from their loved ones or from their church family.† They have done something that they should not have done, but instead of owning up to it and confessing it, they are hiding it.
9. If you are hiding your sins which is causing you extreme guilt, today you can receive healing if you would just confess your sins and ask for forgiveness.† If you do, your burdens will be lifted and you will feel much better.
C. LASTLY, TO GET RID OF OUR GUILT, WE MUST STOP ENGAGING IN SIN.
1. Although we receive forgiveness of our sins when we are walking in the light, at times we still experience guilt because we are living and participating in blatant sin.
2. One of the many benefits we enjoy from the Holy Spirit is that He convicts us of sin.
3. When we sin, the Holy Spirit is gracious enough to tell us about it.† He tells us about our sins by pricking our hearts and sending us guilt.† We need to understand that some guilt is good and is designed to help us in our walk with God.†
4. The best way to get rid of guilt is to stop sinning!†
5. At this moment, you may be experiencing guilt because you are blatantly doing something that God does not want you to do.† If this is the case, then stop it!† It is amazing how guilt disappears when the sin disappears.
1. If you experience a lot of guilt, then please be aware that you can begin living guilt free if you embrace and follow three principles.
a. To get rid of guilt, we must accept God's forgiveness; we must continue to confess our sins, not only to God, but also to one another; and lastly, we must stop engaging in blatant sin and start living righteous and holy lives.
2. God doesn't want us to walk around in guilt.† He wants us to live in victory.† He wants us to live guilt free lives.†
3. This morning, if you are burdened down with guilt, come forward and lay your guilt on the cross, so that Jesus can mercifully take care of it.† Come forward now, as we stand and sing.