Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Prison of Guilt - Martin Wiles

Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. Psalm 19:13 NLT
Bars aren’t the only things imprisoning people.
I’ve never been in prison, but I have known a few people who have. Bars, fences, and razor wire are all designed to keep prisoners confined. Locks ensure prisoners don’t enter forbidden areas. Guards watch over them to make sure the deterrents do their job.
And then there are the threats prisoners impose on each other. Rape, murder, homosexual activity, cursing, and beatings. Things that bars, fences, and razor wire can’t prevent. Couple these with loneliness, guilt, depression, and disappointment and the experience is more than some can stand—leading them to commit suicide.
Deliberate sins will do such things to a person, as the psalmist knew. He’d never spent time in prison, but he had committed deliberate sins that invited trouble into his life—and guilt. He, however, wanted to live free from guilt—not be controlled by it. Some of his guilt was healthy; some of it was not.
The nature of guilt hasn’t changed. Guilt has a purpose, but, like many things, Satan twists and uses guilt for purposes God didn’t intend.
Guilt brings me to Christ. When my father first explained to me how my sin separated me from a God who loved me, I felt guilt over my sins. I knew I had done or thought things that displeased Him. Guilt moved me to repentance and led to God’s forgiveness.
Guilt also propels me to confession. Being a Christian doesn’t make me perfect. During times of rebellion—or when I had committed deliberate sins—guilt, placed there by a loving God, moved me to confess my sins so I could experience the fullness of my relationship with Christ.
False guilt, on the other hand, keeps me in a prison God never intended for me to inhabit. Fear He will take away the forgiveness He has graciously given. The fear I’ve committed a sin He won’t forgive. Worry over not living up to His expectations. Or a permanent state of anxiety that I’ll never measure up to His hope for me. Guilt leading to these types of worry or anxiety doesn’t originate with God, but with the enemy of my soul.
God’s grace sufficiently covers all our sins—past, present, and future. Let true guilt lead you to repentance and confession, but don’t let false guilt imprison you in worry and anxiety.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the guilt over sin that leads us to You, but thank You even more for the grace that covers all our sins. 

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