When my children were young (my daughter was 8, and my son was 5), my wife and I would take them out for a bicycle ride on a nearby cycle path while we walked alongside. To get onto the cycle path we had to cross a road. The volume of traffic on this road wasn’t terribly large, but the speeds that the occasional car travelled on it were crazy.
Every time we crossed this road together, we paid special attention to explaining to the children the importance of being careful when crossing. My daughter was a switched on 8 year old, and understood the instruction given to her. However, on this particular Saturday my daughter didn’t listen to her instruction.
She asked if she could ride on ahead of us to the end of the cycle path and stop by the road side until we were there. I agreed, but reinforced that she HAD to go no further than the road side and explained that if she didn’t stop there, her little brother would follow her into the road.
She readily agreed with the terms, and cycled off at speed (for an 8 year old!). Not wanting to miss out on anything, my son eagerly followed his sister – not letting his stabilisers hold him back. My daughter arrived at the road side in no time, and I shouted the instruction again for her to wait for us. However, instead of waiting, my daughter looked up and down the road and decided to cross – as it was safe to do so. At this stage, my son had also reached the road side, and saw his sister on the other side.
It was then I noticed a car entering the road, and shouted for him to wait, but he was too focussed on catching up with his sister, so started to cycle across the road. My wife screamed as the drama unfolded. Fortunately for us the driver was alert enough and second guessed my son entering the road and slowed down for him to cross. We walked the rest of the way home very close together!
My daughter had continued to cycle the short distance home, but had heard the shouting and scream. I didn’t need to say a word. She had realised what had happened – her guilt was written all over her little face – and I could see that she seriously regretted her actions.
There are probably several parenting lessons to be learnt from the above story:
- Don’t put too much responsibility on young shoulders
- Teaching your children to listen to instruction
- Teach your children to be obedient
However the topic I’d like to talk about is GUILT.
The definition of guilt has to do with remorse for having done something wrong.
So if guilt is a consequence of our wrong doing (sin) how do we deal with our guilt as we grow from childhood into adulthood?
Meet two kinds of guilt – True or False! One is a friend who speaks truth, gently leading you to repentance and forgiveness. The other is a secret conspirator who taunts and condemns, bringing dishonour and inner shame. False guilt arises when you blame yourself even though you’ve committed no wrong or when you continue to blame yourself after you have confessed and turned from your sin.
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”1 Peter 5:8
The Bible teaches us that we have all done wrong (sinned) and fallen short of God’s Glory (Romans 3:23). Although we might not like to admit our sin, it’s these wrong doings that leave us with the feeling of guilt. True guilt is your friend, a Godly companion who whispers truth and motivates you to repent and be free.
Repentance is part of the faith that leads to salvation and in Jesus, even the most heinous sins are blotted out (Acts 3:19). No matter how you came to your situation or how long you’ve carried that distressing burden of guilt, God is the solution. The moment a person turns from sin (repents) to Jesus in faith, their sins are forgiven.
Our salvation through Jesus Christ is by grace, and grace forgives. God’s grace is indeed amazing and His Word gives us assurances that we can be free from our sin and guilt through Jesus Christ:
“God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him”John 3:17
Jesus is God’s means to save sinners. God’s purpose for sending His Son into the world was not to condemn people but to save those who would believe.
“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ”2 Corinthians 5:21
Jesus was able to offer his own life, upon the cross, for our sins. He died so that God can forgive our sins. Righteousness means a right relationship with God and sin means a wrong relationship with God. We have done nothing to deserve a right relationship with God, and we can do nothing to earn it. We can only receive it as the free gift of God. We can receive it only because Jesus died for us.
“He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.”Ephesians 1:7
Christ’s death on the cross was the sufficient payment for the sins of all who believe. What did this redemption cover? It paid to release us from the eternal penalty and the earthly power of our own sins. This freedom was not “free,” since it was paid for by Christ’s death; it cost Him everything. As a result, for the believer, the ultimate price has already been paid. This is kindness and grace, the ability to become a child of God, because God provided a free way to know Him by faith.
“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west”Psalm 103:12
It gives you a wonderful feeling of freedom to be separated from your sins and joined with God.
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death”Romans 8:1-2
Jesus didn’t come to earth to bring condemnation. He came to bring salvation to all who would believe in Him. Thank God today that there is no guilt for the person who knows, loves and believes in Jesus Christ as Saviour.
We need to trust the promises of God that He will forgive sin and remove guilt, based on the blood of Jesus Christ. A Christian’s sins have been paid for on the Cross. The sin debt of any believer is heavy, but every bad offence we have ever committed has been covered over by the grace of Jesus Christ. We still sin, but Jesus doesn’t get back on the Cross. His death was sufficient for all our sins.
God’s motivating factor in obedience is love, not guilt. God guides Christians through His Word to obey Him. Sometimes God’s love for us involves discipline. Many times we suffer the consequences of our sins, but God will lead us to follow Him exclusively with love, not with guilt.
My daughter’s guilt was short lived, perhaps because there wasn’t a serious outcome or because I forgave her by giving her a big hug when I realised that she was upset and regretted what she had done. If a sinful redeemed earthly father can forgive his precious daughter, then dare to imagine what our Mighty, Just, Loving, Gracious, Merciful Heavenly father can do for you!
If you are not a believer why not go to God right now and accept His wonderful gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ?