Emotional Baggage – Guilt

Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
“Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”
Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”
Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

  • John 9:35-41

Israel was a spreading vine;
    he brought forth fruit for himself.
As his fruit increased,
    he built more altars;
as his land prospered,
    he adorned his sacred stones.
Their heart is deceitful,
    and now they must bear their guilt.
The Lord will demolish their altars
    and destroy their sacred stones.

  • Hosea 10:1-2

For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

  • Romans 7:19-20

“God was remote, and He was a hard, harsh God from my perspective as a lonely, anxious, insecure child.  He was authority – and in that regard, He was very much like my stepfather: mean, abusive, out to put me down and drive me out.
“My mother’s constant admonition, ‘Don’t do anything that you wouldn’t want to be caught doing if Jesus were to come,’ really put a crimp in my style.  Just about everything that a normal boy would consider to be fun. My mother and the church considered to be a sin.
“Reading the funnies was a sin (and I was delivering the newspapers and longing to see what had happened to Dick Tracy from one day to the next).
“Wearing a tie clasp was a sin. …
“In looking back over the years, I have come to realize that I heard woefully few sermons about the grace of God in all those Sundays at church.  Actually, I’ve heard relatively few sermons on grace since then!  It’s my firm opinion that most pastors preach far more about works than grace.  I’d say more than 90 percent of their sermons are related to the need for us to line up with God’s rules. …
“As a Christian, you may be saying at this point, ‘I still sin.  I don’t want to sin.  But I do.’ …
“My forgiveness was resolved on the cross nearly two thousand years ago.  I don’t need to plead and beg for God to forgive me.  I simply need to ask God to forgive me and then accept the fact that He has and He does.”

  • Charles Stanley, The Source of my Strength

This is the fifth topic after the Introduction to Emotional Baggage.  You may not have ever been lonely or fearful.  You may have never been abused.  You may have never had an inferiority complex.  I can relate to all of those, but maybe you can only relate to one or two, or none.

But Guilt?!

Luis Palau, in his book, Changed by Faith, Dare to Trust God with Your Broken Pieces … and Watch What Happens, says that in his forty plus years of talking to mental health care providers, the problem in over 80% of the cases involves “unresolved guilt.”

My inferiority complex came from my guilt.  My parents were Presbyterians.  They taught at least a part of the Calvinist acronym (although Calvin himself did not create the acronym – just created as a summary of his theology), TULIP: “T” – total depravity, “U” – unconditional election, “L” – limited atonement, “I” – irresistible grace, “P” – perseverance of the Saints.  I said they taught part of TULIP.  They stopped at the “T”.  I was totally depraved, end of subject.  “Now shut up and sit in the corner.”  Grace might be irresistible, but it was beyond my reach and not available.  I never saw grace in the home because it was hidden.

I listed only a couple of “sins” from Rev. Stanley’s long list.  I have written before about reading the comics on the way to church from our home ten miles out of town.  I would not get out of the car until I had read, as a minimum, Dick Tracy and Peanuts.  Yes, with that much obsession, it might have been a sin.

As for the tie clasp, my Dad was a Shriner and he had a Masonic tie clasp with all the symbols on it, probably given to him when he led the local chapter.  When our younger son got married, I took my parents to the wedding, but when we got out of the car, my Dad’s tie clasp went missing.  We tore everything inside out looking for it.  The wedding just might have to be postponed, due to a missing tie clasp.  Everyone laughed when we found it.  When he took off his seatbelt, the clasp slipped from the tie and clasped the seatbelt.  After all the searching, thinking that the clasp was forever lost, I started fiddling with the seatbelt.  They never seem to retract back into the door frame properly, usually due to getting twisted.  And ah, this time there was a reason unlike any other.  Yes, with that much obsession, it might have been a sin.

Having never been Catholic, I refer to my Catholic friends about Catholic matters.  One of my fellow employees, a Catholic, at the engineering company when I went to work there 25 years ago, told me that the company gravitated toward hiring two types of people: Catholics and “Good-Old-Boys”, usually from the South.  The good old boys were told to work hard and long hours and you will eventually get your reward (in Heaven maybe, but the reward at the company was more work), and the Catholics were driven to work hard by guilt.

But could it be that Rev. Stanley’s estimate of 90% of the sermons being on following rules is because the congregations keep asking “What must I do to enter the kingdom of Heaven?”

And how did Jesus respond when He was asked?  He said to follow all the rules, but there is one thing more…

In the case of the rich young ruler, He told him to give away his vast wealth to the poor and follow.  His response to you and me might be different.  Will we have to give up our pride, our popularity, our status in the community, our family, etc.?  Whatever it is of this world that knits us to this world is what Jesus wants us to let go of, because we cannot take it with us when He takes us to Heaven.  And letting go of it now means that we are making that ultimate commitment that Jesus is our all in all.

But there is one more thing that Jesus wants us to give away, our guilt.

As Rev. Stanley said, that debt was paid about 2,000 years ago.  We must still confess our sin, but we need to release it.  As I heard a pastor tell the congregation in a sermon once – and to agree with Rev. Stanley, maybe only once – God has forgiven your sin and He has forgotten it.  Who are you to hang onto the guilt?  As your badge of honor!?  Are you placing yourself above God, as if you know better?

If you truly have Jesus in your heart, confess your sins and then jettison the guilt.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


Add yours →

  1. I have been through a lot of extreme trauma in my life. But nothing, in my experience, hurts as much as hating myself.

    Thank God for His mercy, His grace and forgiveness! Whom the Son sets free is free indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. atimetoshare.me July 11, 2021 — 7:05 pm

    I’m sure I’ve told you of my experience growing up in a strict German Lutheran church. My guilt was reprised every Sunday as the minister spewed fire and brimstone from the raised pulpit. I lived with it for the first 40 years of my life. I’m still a Lutheran, but have had some grace preaching pastors since and realize that it’s often harder for us to forgive ourselves when the Gospel is hidden by the law.

    Liked by 1 person

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