Summary: Did you realize that God has a prescription for dealing with guilt and shame. And that this prescription works for both Christians and non-Christians. What could even non-Christians possibly do to resolve their guilt in sin?
OPEN: A little boy had been given a slingshot for his birthday. He loved it and practiced every day aiming at different objects. During the summer he and his sister would spend a lot of time at their grandmother’s house and, one day he was out in her backyard he spied his grandma’s pet duck. On impulse he took out his slingshot, took aim and hit the duck with a stone.
The duck died!
He’d killed it!
Then he panicked. What was he to do? This was grandmother’s pet duck. She’d hate him forever for having killed her pet.
So he hid the bird in the woodpile.
And when he looked up… and there was his sister. She’d seen what he’d done.
After lunch that day, Grandma told Sally to help with the dishes. And Sally said, “Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today. Didn’t you Johnny?” And then she leaned over and whispered to him, “Remember the duck!”
So, Johnny did the dishes. What choice did he have?
For the next several weeks Johnny did a lot of dishes. And every once in a while (when he’d be tempted to object) his sister would whisper to him: “Remember the duck”
Have you ever felt guilty?
Have you ever been sitting somewhere, or standing in the shower, or driving down road and suddenly remembered something you’d said you shouldn’t have said. Or something you’d done you shouldn’t have done. Or something you’d thought that would bring you shame if anyone knew you’d thought it?
And this wave of guilt comes flooding over you, and you felt this shame and embarrassment that you just felt like crawling under a rock somewhere?
Have you ever felt like that?
Somewhere along the line… we’ve all killed a duck.
And when we remember that incident of what we’d said, thought or done - we hate ourselves for it.
And, you know - the Bible tells me that - Satan loves to use that against us. Revelation 12:10 tells us that Satan is “the accuser of the brethren…” and Satan has a lot to work with when he accuses us. He has no problem making us feel guilty… because we are guilty. Romans 3:23 says we’ve “…sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Billy Graham once noted that – everywhere he went - he saw a universal sense of guilt. It’s a common emotion in EVERYBODY. And when we have unresolved guilt it can do great damage to us.
For example, when we have unresolved guilt, we get sick easier. Apparently there’s a high percentage of the illnesses people suffer as a direct result of guilt folks have never dealt with.
ILLUS: Famed psychiatrist Karl Menninger once wrote a book called “Whatever became of Sin?” Now Menninger wasn’t a Christian, but during his lifetime he’d noted how his profession had downplayed the effect of the shame improper actions had on people. His contention was that unless one dealt with a person’s conscience and guilt there were many internal conflicts counselors could not fix. He once said that if he could convince patients in psychiatric hospitals their sins were forgiven (take their guilt away), 75% of them could walk out the next day.
ILLUS: Back in 2006, researchers at the University of Toronto found that people who suffer from a guilty conscience experience “a powerful urge to wash themselves”. The researchers asked test subjects to recall past sins and were told to wash their hands as a symbol of cleansing their conscience. Another control group was told simply to wash their hands.
The researchers found that those who recalled their sins washed their hands at “twice the rate of study subjects who had not imagined past transgressions.”
(Our Daily Bread 2/4/08)
David described his feelings this way:
“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.” Psalm 32:3-4
David’s guilt made him suffer physically. He said it felt like
• his bones were wasting away
• like there was a heavy weight upon him
• like his strength was totally gone
But why would David feel like that?
Why would WE feel like that?
ILLUS: Behavioral Scientists call it “cognitive dissonance”. Cognitive Dissonance is the conflict (or dissonance) inside our minds (cognitive) when we BELIEVE one thing but we ACT in an entirely different way.
Such a conflict exists when we act in a way that our inner conscience knows is wrong.
We THINK one way… and we ACT another.
This creates cognitive dissonance.
According to behavior scientists, this dissonance manifests itself as a sense of uneasiness, or a lack of peace.