There is a silence in the room and a lean, bold gentleman stands up and bellows, "All Rise. " The people in the room stand as a strong , stately man dressed in a black robe enters the room and instructs: "Be seated." He reviews some papers in front of him and looks toward you with a pointed stare. Turning to the stoically dressed man who is standing beside you he asks, "How does your client plead?" "Not guilty" is the reply.
Moments pass as the judge ruffles through the papers in front of him. At last he looks at you, encourages you to stand, and with a thundering voice he proclaims: "Guilty!" The room grows even more silent and the harrowing sound of the words from this man ricochet in your mind. "Guilty"— "Guilty"—Guilty." Finally, you come face to face with yourself and you admit, "I did it."
Now all that remains is the payment, the sentencing for your crime. You begin to wonder, Will it be the minimum or the extreme? You wait with fearful anticipation. As the judge begins to speak, you scratch your head in disbelief. Could it be true? Did the Judge say, "Sentence paid in full"? You walk out of the room and ask to be handcuffed and taken to jail.
I know what you are thinking at this point: Why would this man or anyone desire to be incarcerated after he/she has been set free? But I say to you, why would you continue to walk in the bondage of guilt once you have repented and been set free by God?
We are all familiar with the Prodigal Son and his desire to have what he thought was his. There are numerous sermons concerning the plight of this young man and his subsequent reconciliation with his father. However, I believe the turning point of the prodigal son’s life started when he first admitted his wrong and began to head back home as a free man:
"But when he came to himself, he said, "How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants" (Luke 15:17-19).
Notice that he wasn’t walking in arrogance or pride but rather faith in God. His father, symbolic of our loving God, saw no need for punishment. With the lad’s repentance, the chains of sin and guilt were broken and he could go boldly in the liberty of forgiveness.
Deliverance and healing from guilt begins when you repent and begin to walk in the freedom of that repentance. The enemy desires us to live in the shadows of our guilt even after we have been forgiven by the Almighty God. However, guilt is only what you feel about the committed the offense; it does not make you the offense (sin).
To explain this further, let’s take a look at another "Prodigal Son" in Genesis 3: 10-12: "So [Adam] said, "I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.’ And [God] said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?’ Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate’ ."
Here we have vast contrast in situations. This Prodigal Son Adam attempts to brush off his guilt by shifting it to his helpmate. Unlike the son in Luke 15, Adam seemingly does not accept responsibility for his wrongful actions but rather offers up Eve. Adam simply says, "If had not been for [Eve] I would not have disobeyed you. I am a victim; I am not guilty." I believe if Adam had repented, instead of shifting blame and responsibility, he would have immediately moved back into the freedom he was accustomed.
How many times have we blamed the other person for our wrong? We say things like "If he/she had not called me, I wouldn’t have gone over there" or "I treat them just like they treat me." Perhaps you’ve rationalized cheating on your taxes, or not giving your tithes. Maybe there is an ex-spouse, a girlfriend, a boyfriend or your child’s other parent that you have not forgiven because of how they have damaged you. Now you feel justified to behave as you do towards them. Possibly you feel it’s not your fault. I challenge you to think again. The Prodigal Son in Luke made a transformation based on the revelation that he was guilty. Adam missed his makeover because he failed to admit his guilt.
In closing, let me return to our original situation at the beginning of this message. As the Judge looks in bewilderment, would you reply, "I know you have set me free, but I would rather be in bondage just to satisfy my own feelings"? Hopefully, this situation is just hypothetical. I pray that you accept the freedom from your guilt once you repent and be not entangled in the bondage of sin again.