Summary: God doesn't want us to live with a burden of guilt and so God has given us a way to have a guilt makeover.
A. A man was sitting in the living room and wondered what time it was, so he called to his young son in the kitchen and asked, “Bobby, what is the little hand on?”
1. After a short pause, little Bobby replied, “A chocolate chip cookie.”
2. Little Bobby got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, and he was feeling guilty, and so he confessed.
3. That’s actually a pretty good model for all of us.
B. If we could somehow step on a guilt scale – one that measured the weight of the guilt we are carrying – I’m guessing that it would show that some of us are carrying a heavy weight of guilt.
1. We are in a series called “Extreme Makeover – God Edition” and we are addressing some of the things in life that cause us the most difficulty.
2. Last week we talked about lust, and in previous weeks we have talked about worry, anger, bitterness and substance abuse.
3. The interesting thing about today’s issue is that it can be the result of any of the other things we have been addressing.
4. The guilt that we might be carrying may be in association with our struggle with anxiety, anger, bitterness, alcohol abuse or pornography use.
C. Just what is guilt?
1. Guilt is a feeling that everyone is familiar with. It can be described as a “bothered conscience” or a “feeling of culpability for offenses.”
2. This is what we might call “true guilt.” True guilt or genuine guilt comes as a result of violating one’s moral beliefs.
3. The opposite is what we might call false guilt. It is derived from misconceptions or feelings gone astray. In the case of false guilt, the individual feels guilty without having committed any violation.
4. Dr. Paul Tournier, a noted Christian physician, wrote, “false guilt is that which comes as a result of judgments and suggestions of men. True guilt is that which results from divine judgment.”
5. God uses genuine guilt to stir our conscience when we act irresponsibly and sinfully. Genuine guilt is meant to be a positive motivator that brings us to our knees before God’s throne of grace and mercy.
6. False guilt, on the other hand, can be deadly to our lives.
D. Many people feel a sense of guilt and they cannot define the reason for their guilt.
1. Sadly, many people who are the innocent victims of another person’s immoral actions often feel guilty for that which is not their fault.
2. People who have been physically, mentally, emotionally and sexually abused are prime candidates for false guilt.
3. They often carry huge burdens of guilt that they should not have to bear because their abusers told them repeatedly that it was all their fault.
4. False guilt is not from God. It is Satan’s way of keeping us from becoming all that God desires
5. False guilt can take many forms – there can be guilt over not meeting parent’s expectations, or assuming responsibility for your parent’s divorce, or not meeting other’s standards.
6. Some people feel guilty if their house is untidy or the lawn isn’t mowed, and Satan takes delight in imprisoning us in guilt over trivial things.
7. People who suffer from false guilt face a never-ending barrage of messages that shout, “you’re a failure”; “you are bad”; “you’ve disappointed everyone around you.”
E. How do we try to deal with guilt?
1. Some people try to deny it or rationalize it – they say, “Well it wasn’t really wrong, and lots of other people do the same kinds of things. So, I’m not really guilty.”
2. Some people try to ignore it – they stop listening to their conscience. This, of course, is a very dangerous thing to do.
3. Some people try to deaden it – they try to sooth their conscience by eating, drinking, inhaling or injecting something to make their pain go away.
4. Some people try to blame others for it – saying, “It’s not my fault. They are the guilty party.” Sometimes that’s true, but other times it is not.
5. One other way that people try to deal with guilt is to try to compensate for it – They try to do something good to make up for the bad thing they have done. They try to be overly nice or unreasonably self-sacrificing.
6. As you can plainly see, none of these approaches to dealing with guilt are good, healthy, or spiritual ways to handle the problem.
F. The Bible has many stories about guilt, regret and forgiveness. Perhaps the best known is the story of David.
1. What makes David’s story so helpful is that it is not only the most famous sin in the whole Bible, it is also a great example of the wrong way, initially, to deal with our sin and guilt – that is cover it up.