Summary: An inductive elimination of the myths many people choose to use in dealing with their feelings of guilt leading to the exposure of the only way to deal with our pasts – real forgiveness.
Have you ever felt so guilty that you longed for FORGIVENESS or perhaps even PUNISHMENT?
In a short story called, The Tell Tale Heart, Edgar Allen Poe wrote about a murderer who put his victim under the floorboards in his house. When the police arrived to question him, he started to hear a heart beating. The longer the police stayed the louder the pulse became. This murderer was convinced it was his victim’s heart trying to reveal his guilt. Finally, the sound became so loud that he confessed. He thought the police could hear the heart beat too. But they hadn’t heard a thing. The heart he heard beating louder and louder was his own – spurred on by a guilty conscience.
The only answer to a guilty conscience is FORGIVENESS. But not everyone believes in it. Do you?
1. Some people say: “From now on, I’ll be very GOOD and make up for all the WRONGS I’ve done.”
But that doesn’t work does it? What judge would accept that line from a killer? Promises of good behavior – whether they are kept or not --- will never make up for the wrongs we’ve done.
2. Others think, “If I feel BAD long enough and get DEPRESSED enough, the guilt will go away.”
Does that make sense? I think it’s like saying, “If I keep beating my head against the wall my headache will go away.” It might seem to work but ultimately it will cause even more damage.
3. I’ve heard more than one person say: “It’s not my fault. That’s just the way my FAMILY is. It must be genetic.”
Would you accept that from someone who had harmed your child or grandchild? There is no way that placing blame on our family or our genes will make things right when we’ve dome wrong.
4. I’m sure you’ve heard people make excuses like “I’d do better if I wasn’t so SICK/POOR/RICH/ABUSED/ETC.”
We all would like to make excuses at one time or another. However, excuses don’t remove our guilt or correct our wrongs.
5. Maybe you’ve thought: “The pain of this guilt will go away after a few BEERS or when I’m with MR. / MS. RIGHT.” Perhaps you’ve assumed that you’d feel better after going to a church service or saying a prayer.
But numbing the pain with chemicals, food, romance or religious activity will never remove the damage or heal the destruction. In fact using these things to cover up our guilt only produces more guilt.
6. Some people are hung up on forgiving themselves. They say, “If only I could forgive myself, I’d feel BETTER.”
But “If only’s” will never change a thing, will they? Only someone else can remove our guilt. Forgiveness must come from the one we’ve offended.
Thesis: Real FORGIVENESS is the only way to deal with guilt. It’s the best way to be free from the past and to prepare for the future. Forgiveness let’s us try again and do the right thing.
Key Question: Do you believe? Do you believe in real forgiveness?
A. Do you believe in forgiveness that comes from GOD for all PEOPLE?
There are no exclusions. Anyone who asks for God’s pardon will receive it. His forgiveness saves us from all our guilt. It covers all the wrongs anyone could possibly commit. It makes us right with God because His forgiveness is based on Jesus death on the Cross. God’s forgiveness establishes an intimate relationship between you and Him that need never end.
B. Do you believe in forgiveness that costs us NOTHING?
It is God’s gift of love and grace to us. We don’t deserve it. We cannot earn it with good deeds or gifts to the church. And we can never truly repay Him either. How could any person dare to imagine he or she deserved Jesus’ sacrifice? How could any of us think we could pay Him back? God’s grace – His love gift without strings – is given to all who receive it at absolutely no cost to them.
C. Do you believe in forgiveness that converts how we LIVE?
When God forgives us, we are changed. We enjoy the freedom of forgiving those who have wronged us. When He forgives me, I can feel free to seek forgiveness from others. God’s forgiving love also motivates us to live above the actions and attitudes we had to apologize for. God’s forgiveness coverts the way we live because His Spirit takes up residence in us and guides our decisions.
Conclusion: God’s forgiveness is the only way to deal with guilt. It’s the most excellent means to freedom from the past and to prepare for the future. God’s forgiveness enables us to start over and to live like Jesus did.
God’s forgiveness is freely offered to you. You are not excluded. His forgiveness will cost you nothing even though it cost Jesus everything. And God’s forgiveness will change you. You cannot experience it and keep on living like you always have.