Summary: It is only by admitting our guilt, confessing it and receiving God’s forgiveness that we can move on to overcome it in our lives
In recent survey in the UK 41% of people said that they would enjoy everyday pleasures more if they did not fell guilty afterwards. Isn’t that amazing? 41% of the population feel guilt everyday about enjoying something. This morning I want to teach you what Scripture has to say about overcoming guilt. The first thing we need to understand is that there are things for which we should feel guilty and there are things for which we should not feel guilty. There are things for which we should feel guilty and take personal responsibility. However, there is false guilt where we carry the guilt of what other people have done. False guilt cripples us and the truth is that we carry what is not ours to carry. False guilt is not ours, it belongs to another and we need to recognise that and assign it appropriately. Guilt can have either a positive or negative effect in and on our lives. Positively it can bring us to take responsibility, seek forgiveness and experience freedom. Negatively it can cripple our relationship with God and with other people. Negatively guilt which is never dealt with destroys intimacy with God, intimacy in relationships, especially within a marriage relationship. Guilt can also be something which we experience constantly or intermittently in our lives. I would suggest to you this morning that if you are experiencing guilt constantly in your life then you really need to come and talk to someone and get it sorted or you will end up emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually scarred. Guilt can lie dormant for years in our hearts and then all of a sudden come to the surface, sometimes with such force that it feels like we are drowning. Guilt can be triggered years later by a memory, a meeting, and we need to have in place the Biblical understanding of how to deal with it when it does appear.
Right at the beginning of this sermon I want to read a verse from John 3 to you, read John 3 verse 17. I hope you listened to those words carefully. God did not send Christ into this world to condemn it but to save it. He did not come to put a load of guilt on to our backs but to take guilt from our lives so that we might know freedom in Him.
Turn with me to Psalm 51. Allow me to set the background to this Psalm. In 2 Samuel 12 Nathan confronts David with his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah the Hittite (her husband). In 2 Samuel 11 we read the story of David’s adultery with Bathsheba, her falling pregnant and of David’s failed attempts to cover his tracts by inviting Uriah from the battlefront to the palace in the hope that he will go home to Bathsheba and believe that the child is his. When this plan fails David sends Uriah back to the battlefront carrying his own death warrant. Joab the commander of David’s army obeys the instructions and Uriah is killed. David believes he has escaped but he has forgotten the word of God which says in Numbers 32.23: ‘Be sure your sin will be found out.’ Sin deceived David but it was discovered but not before it had wreaked havoc in David’s life and later in the life of his family and his kingdom. David would pay a heavy price for his adultery and the murder of Uriah. The baby born to them would die. Amnon (his son) would rape Tamar his sister, David’s daughter. Absalom would kill Amnon in an act of revenge for what he had done to Tamar. Later Absalom would rebel against David and in a show of strength would sleep in view of all Israel with David’s wives and concubines. Eventually Absalom would be killed by one of David’s fighting men. All the while David was powerless – why? Because David had no moral standing with his children after his sin with Bathsheba. Remember that, sin destroys. In 2 Samuel 12 Nathan confronts David by telling him a story of a rich man who takes a poor man’s pet lamb to feed a visiting guest, despite having a huge flock of sheep of his own. As soon as David exclaims that such a man should be put to death, Nathan springs the trap and declares that David is the man in the story. You know one of the telling things about guilt is that it creates great anger in our souls towards others who are guilty of the same thing we are guilty of. That anger is focused on them but in reality it is the fear of exposure and the judgment we know we deserve.