Summary: Life is a series of trade-offs -- if you won’t make them, you can’t go to the next level. This is the first in a series describing trades you can make to be happy in 2005. *HANDOUT INCLUDED*

Trade-off’s for a Happy 2005.

Everything plateaus when until you’re willing to make the trade-off.

Trade in “Guilty Conscience” for “Guilt-free Living.”

Don’t you hate people who always bring up the past?

What if all your mistakes/things you’ve done wrong could be wiped out in a moment?

Chris, wanting it all to go away.

Everyone wants to be rid of guilt. . . but different people try to do it in different ways.

Lots of people will try to tell you that guilt is not real.

Judith E. Brandt has written a book called The 50-Mile Rule: Your Guide to Infidelity and Extramarital Etiquette. An interview with the Chicago Tribune included this interchange with Ms. Brandt:

Q: You say [in your book], don’t feel guilty. That doesn’t seem realistic.

Ms. Brandt: Guilt is basically something built into society to keep you in line. If you are going about your business in a discreet way and you are continuing to take care of your wife and, most importantly, your children, there is no reason to feel guilt.

"’Miss Manners’ of Adultery,"

1. Guilt will keep you from heaven.

The Bible is full of verses that tell us that one day we’ll all stand before God and give an account for how we’ve lived.

Romans 14:12 “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”

2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body... whether it be good or bad.”

Hebrews 9:27 “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”

Now compare those Scriptures with this one:

James 2:10 “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”

That’s serious! We think of murder as really bad. But did you know that Jesus said if you cut people down with your words, that’s just as serious as killing?

I’m preaching a series later this year on the 10 commandments. Is there any of us that has perfectly kept the 10 commandments? Let’s see: “You shall have no other gods before me.” Uh-oh. Have I always put God first, or have other things taken His place? I’m in trouble already!

Have you ever lied, stolen, coveted something that was another’s? Have you ever used the name of God in a careless way?

If you’re like me, you know that you’ve done wrong. And no matter how small it seemed, the Bible says you might as well be guilty of all. Because of what the Bible says, you know you’ll answer to God for it! Wow.

If that thought scares you, it should. It does me! What you need is not a better system to hide your guilt – what you need is a way to be forgiven. What you need is a way to be at peace.

2. Guilt will keep you from being at peace.

Proverbs 28:1 “The wicked run when no one is chasing them: but the righteous are bold as a lion.”

Nicky Gumbel tells us of a man who sent a check to the government for back taxes with a note attached that said:

“I felt so guilty for cheating on my taxes I had to send you this check. If I don’t feel any better, I’ll send you the rest.”

Guilt and guilt feelings are not the same.

Two little boys were quite rowdy, and were always getting into trouble. Finally, the exasperated mother took the little boys to the priests of the church they attended.

The priest decided that if he got really theological, it might scare the little boy into obeying and behaving. So he sat him down in his office, and staring him squarely in the eye, said, “Where is God?” He paused, and the little boy looked scared. Thinking his scheme was working, the priest said it louder: “WHERE IS GOD?” The boy looked even more scared. Once more the priest almost shouted, “WHERE IS GOD??!”

The little boy leaped off the chair, and dashed out of the office. As he passed his brother waiting for his turn, he yelled back, “Run! God’s missing, and they think we did it!”

Guilt is when you’ve done something wrong.

Guilt feelings is when you feel it.

The proper way to deal with guilt feelings is to start by dealing with guilt. It would be silly to try to get a murderer to put aside his guilt feelings, without doing anything about the fact that he was guilty of murder!

In the same way, Dr. Phil or John Gray may be able to help you get rid of feelings of guilt, but it doesn’t help anything if you are actually guilty!

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