Summary: How to handle guilt God’s way

Silencing a Guilty Conscience

Psalm 51,

We’re starting a new series today on the greatest Psalms.

Psalms is by far the most popular book in the Old Testament, quoted more often by New Testament writers than other book.

Some of the most popular literature in the world is found in the book of Psalms.

Psalm 23,The Lord is my Shepherd, Psalm 90, the oldest Psalm, written by Moses, Psalm 46, a favorite read at funerals, God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

The Psalms are actually “songs of praise.” That’s what the title means. This collection of 150 Psalms served like a songbook for the nation of Israel.

When they gathered for worship they sang the psalms. Most of them were originally set to music.

We don’t have any of the original music,

but many of the Vineyard songs we sing

are really Psalms set to music.

Today we’re going to look at Psalm 51.

And let me ask you as we start,

Have you ever had trouble trying to silence a guilty conscience?

I don’t think we have any aliens here this morning,

and assuming that you’re a human being,

then the answer is yes,

you’ve had to deal with guilt.

In fact, some people are experts at trying to produce guilt.

Like: the man who called his mother in Florida. "Mom, how are you?"

"Not too good," says the mother. "I’ve been very weak."

The son says, "Why are you so weak, are you sick?"

She says, "Because I haven’t eaten in 38 days."

The man says, "That’s terrible. Why haven’t you eaten in 38 days?"

The mother answers, "Because I didn’t want my mouth to be filled with food if you should call."

Its pretty easy to deal with guilt like that,

but many of us have done things

that have seriously bothered us for years afterwards.

And the guilt is always there in the back of our minds,

and it can drive us nuts.

And so people try all sorts of ways to deal with the terrible feelings of guilt

and the low self-esteem that comes after they’ve messed up.

Some people try to Deny it: “Well it wasn’t really wrong,

and lots of other people do the same kind of things?” So I’m not really guilty.

Or they try to ignore it: just stop listening to their conscience

Or maybe you try to Deaden guilt, by eating, drinking, inhaling, or injecting something to make the pain go away.

Or some people try to compensate for it: Do something good to make up for the bad they’ve done.

Guilt is a powerful motivator.

Did you know that the Fed Gov’t even has a conscience fund for people who cheated Uncle Sam and decide to pay up?

Of course they’ve had this fund for 160 years, and they’ve only received about $3 million, so guess a lot of people are still living with a guilty conscience.

Some people who sent in money to it enclosed notes like: “I’ll sleep better now”, or “I’d hate to burn in hell for a couple of bucks.”

Another guy wrote the IRS stating, “I can’t sleep; my conscience is bothering me. Enclosed is a check for $50. If I still can’t sleep, I’ll send you the rest.”

In recent history in the U.S.,

we’ve had at least two Presidents who got caught doing things they shouldn’t.

Now, I’m sure all the presidents have goofed up at times,

but not all of their sins got aired on national TV.

The first was Nixon,

with the Watergate scandal,

which eventually cost him the presidency.

The second is of course is Bill Clinton,

who engaged in sexual acts with an intern.

And of course, what is the first reaction when a president,

or anyone else for that matter,

gets caught in sin?

They immediately try to cover it up.

In fact, what Nixon really got booted from the presidency for

was the Watergate cover up,

the conspiracy and lies to cover up what had been done.

And of course Bill Clinton was caught in numerous lies as well.

He was trying to cover it all up,

and only when all the evidence was already out,

for everyone to see,

then he finally admitted it,

and apologized for what he’d done.

Let me ask you.

To what extent would you go to cover up a sin?

Maybe you’re covering something up right now?

Maybe there’s some habit or sin

that you are doing your best to make sure

nobody else finds out about.

The truth is,

Nixon and Clinton were just following an example from the Bible.

Because the most famous sin in the whole Bible is also one of the greatest cover-up stories of a man trying to hide his sin.

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