There is a HUGE issue today keeping people from having a close relationship with God. This particular problem is often the very reason many folks stay away from churches and from God in particular.
The problem is, “Guilt” and “Condemnation.”
Most of us understand what a “guilt trip” is. Have you ever had a guilt trip laid you? You know; “I do everything thing for you, the least you can do for me is. . .” and you fill in the blank.
Some people are experts at this, and I will say that most of you reading this, may have even tried it a time or two; I know I have!
Guilt is a powerful motivator, albeit a negative one. A trip to the local supermarket and you find “fat free” cookies or cottage cheese; the label says: “Guilt Free.”
Products with the “Guilt Free” label sell like hot cakes, because people hate feelings of guilt, and want to be free from it!
What is guilt anyway?
Guilt: guilt is a state in which one experiences conflict at having done something one believes one should not have done (or, conversely, not having done something one believes one should have done). It gives rise to a feeling that does not go away easily, driven by conscience.
Whenever we have done something that is wrong, or if we neglect doing something we know we should do, our conscience feels guilt. It seems to hang in there for days, weeks, and even years, never letting go, always a reminder of something done that was wrong.
For some, this feeling is so ingrained, that it begins to produce behavior problems. For others, the only way to deaden the feelings of guilt is to turn to alcohol, drugs, or other things, finding temporary relief, only to feel even worse, as the affects of those stimulates wear off.
Many times the feelings of guilt are misplaced. A young person who has been verbally, physically, or sexually abused, mistreated by parents, relatives, or others; people who should have been there to protect them.
The young person often feels guilty for the violations committed against them. They feel as though they were the responsible party, and guilt is, heaped on! They go through life feeling as though they are responsible for everything that goes wrong.
My guess is that many of you understand this, all too well.
To experience guilt, real or imagined, is a powerful thing, and often it is a tool used by the devil to keep people away from God.
One of the greatest reasons I stayed away from church, as a young man, was that I had done so much that was wrong, I had committed so many “sins” that the idea of actually coming into a church made me feel afraid.
I was one of those guys who said; “If I walk into church, the walls will fall down.” Have you ever felt like that?
Those feelings of fear and trepidation are not necessarily a bad thing. As we approach the God of the universe, we know He is Holy, Righteous, that He is a God of Wrath and Judgment, no doubt about it!
Speaking of those without Christ Jesus said:
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.
Jesus said, those without Him, without the Son, are guilty! Being guilty also brings another problem that goes right along with feelings of guilt, and those are feelings of condemnation!
Many, struggling with deep feelings of guilt, feel as though they are condemned. A person struggling under a load of guilt feels as though they are serving a life sentence, they feel hopeless, valueless, and feel as though there really is no good reason to live!
Again, people in this guilty, condemned state, often avoid church and God especially. Because God is Holy, Righteous, and would never have anything to do with them.
Those feelings of condemnation, are not entirely misplaced either; Jesus said this:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
Yet, in spite of this, we are inexplicably, drawn to Him, because we know that our only hope lies with Him. We begin to approach Him! We make a move toward God, even risking going to the church, and at the first meeting, we realize that the walls did not cave in!
Then, in an instant, you reach out to God, risking everything, and He touches you!
Instead of getting a backhand across your face, you get an embrace, waves of love cascading over your heart. God welcomes you wholeheartedly; like a long lost son or daughter; He gently wipes away your tears, your fears, and you know, you belong to Him!
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
You are free! The death sentence lifted!
You are GUILT FREE!!!
Somebody please say AMEN!
Now, for some of you that have already met this Jesus, you are reading this today and you find yourself with those same old feelings of guilt and shame.
You have walked with Jesus for a while, and somewhere, somehow, things just do not feel the same. You made a small mistake, then another, and another, and soon you begin to feel worse than ever before.
How can this be?
What is going on here?
How can you be free again?
Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.
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.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD “— and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
Too many times when we sin as a Christian, we feel so bad about it that we refuse to acknowledge it. The last thing we want to do, is go to God and tell Him what we already know He knows!
Therefore, we avoid it. We put it off, and we begin to feel guilty, and shameful. It piles up, we begin to get sad faces, our bones begin to waste away, and inwardly we groan. We avoid the very One who can help us!
The Bible says to acknowledge our sin, don’t hide it, don’t cover it up, but just tell God what you did, say it out loud to Him, and tell Him you are sorry. He then forgives you! It is that simple!
If you keep it hidden, then guilt does its work of bringing feelings of condemnation, hopelessness sets in, depression follows, and we have a defeated Christian, and the devil rejoices!
You become like a Lion without teeth, powerless prayer, poor Christian witness to the world around you, withdrawn, you stay to yourself.
The devil has you right where he wants you. The devil will continue to, systematically destroy you, until you are, totally crushed!
Do not let him get away with it. Go to God right now and settle it. Tell God, in plain words what you have done. If you cannot remember everything you have done, tell Him so, He knows!
Get your teeth back!
Take back, what the devil tried to steal, and be guilt free again!