Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How Not To Be Defeated By Guilt Over Sin

Are you racked by guilt a majority of the time? Are you constantly feeling like your Christian walk is lacking and God is always disappointed by your actions and/or lack thereof?

If you're like me, this is pretty much your default state as a Christian. It shouldn't be this way, though. God called us to rejoice in Him, to live free from guilt, not because we don't sin, but because there is no condemnation for those in Christ.

This post by Kevin DeYoung was a fantastic reminder of these truths to me. His 4 points about why Christians tend to live under guilt:

1. We don’t fully embrace the good news of the gospel.
2. Christians tend to motivate each other by guilt rather than grace.
3. Most of our low-level guilt falls under the ambiguous category of “not doing enough.”
4. When we are truly guilty of sin it is imperative we repent and receive God’s mercy.

I especially loved his fleshing out of the 4th point:
Paul had a clean conscience, not because he never sinned, but, I imagine, because he quickly went to the Lord when he knew he was wrong and rested in the “no condemnation” of the gospel (Rom. 8:1). If we confess our sins, John says, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). We aren’t meant to feel borderline miserable all the time. We are meant to live in the joy of our salvation. So when we sin–and we’ll all sin (1 Kings 8:46; 1 John 1:8)–we confess it, get cleansed, and move on.

This underlines one of the great dangers with constant guilt: we learn to ignore our consciences. If we are truly sinning, we need to repent and implore the Lord to help us change. But if we aren’t sinning, if we are perhaps not as mature as we could be, or are not as disciplined as some believers, or we are making different choices that may be acceptable but not extraordinary, then we should not be made to feel guilty. Challenged, stirred, inspired, but not guilty.
Read the whole post.

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