Guilt That’s Covered by Grace!
Too much guilt is an unnecessary weight that many people of faith carry around. I say too much guilt because according to the authors of Guilt: Letting Go, as with every emotion we possess, guilt serves a purpose, but too much guilt can be destructive. The author of Guilt: Letting Go says that a certain amount of guilt guarantees our control over wild, primitive feelings that might be destructive to ourselves and others.
No one is exempt from guilt and some guilt is good for us because of its ability to help us form a conscience about what we should or should not do. Guilt has helped a lot of us change behaviors and reshape our lives. For an instance, some have turned their lives over to Jesus after feeling the guilt from their sins against God. It was the guilt that I felt about my sins against the Living God that led me to turn my life to an all loving, gracious and sufficient God.
There’s an old saying, “Too much of anything is not good for anybody” and that certainly holds true for too much guilt. Guilt is good when it helps us take the corrective measures needed to change our behavior or reshape our lives, but beyond that, guilt can become destructive if allowed to linger. After guilt has led you to take a look at yourself and make the positive changes necessary to correct ways or adjust attitudes, then leave it behind. In other words, don’t continue to carry it with you, for it will become an unnecessary weight.
All of us will occasionally feel guilty; yet, there are some people that allow guilt to linger around too long. There are some people who are allowing guilt to eat them alive every day. Guilt that’s allowed to linger around will destroy joy rather than restore it. There are members of God’s Church that feel guilty and unworthy because of something they did years ago. They have even asked God to forgive them but the memory of it all still haunts them.
Some time ago, I read an article that said, “There are people living daily within their own personal court rooms, for they wake up every day waiting to hear the verdict guilty as charged for something that happened years ago. You can burden yourself with too much guilt and punish yourself without real cause. Please be aware that it is the devil that uses guilt against us to manipulate and destroy us.
Research has proven that guilt is a contributing factor for suicide, and murder. Guilt can lead to physical sickness that causes heart attacks, cancer and addictions. Guilt can cause one to live an unfulfilled, warped or burdened life. There are some walking around today carrying a suit case loaded with guilt, holding on to memories of past failures, mistakes or sin.
It’s probable that all of us have had times when we wished that we could erase the sins and failures that are so indelibly impressed on our minds. And the bad news is there is no pill that will erase those negative thoughts out of our minds. Now! I will not give you the bad news without giving the good news. The good news is, no matter how shaded our past has been, it does not have to ruin our lives, for in the 15th Chapter of First Corinthians, the Apostle Paul finds a way of taking the sting out of guilt.
In First Corinthians 15:1-10, Paul was attempting to do several things. He first of all was reminding the believers in Corinth that were wavering in the faith that the Good News he preached to them was truly the only way to salvation. Paul also encouraged them to not only take his word, but look to the witnesses that were listed in the 4th thru 7th verses.
Paul also witnessed that his calling was different from the other apostles. He was not on his way to church when Jesus called him. In the 9th verse, Paul appeared to display a hint of guilt which led him to feel unworthy of being called an apostle. He felt unworthy because of how he had persecuted the church prior to his calling. According to the NIV Bible, Paul labelled himself as being “abnormal”.
He remembered how he had been a blasphemer, persecutor and an insolent man before his calling. I wonder if you understand that guilt works that a way. It will attack you and carry you back to how bad you used to be and what you used to do. Years after Paul became a Christian, it’s probable that he still regretted his past life of persecuting the church. And the only thing that you can do about your past is regret it, for you can’t do anything to change it.
Paul didn’t try, nor did he let guilt take him down, for he knew that God had cleansed and forgiven him for his past. That’s why he could say in the 10th verse, “But by the grace of God I am what I am… For those that may be hanging on to guilt of the past, there’s nothing in your past that God will not cover with His Grace and forgive you. When your past or others attempt to make you feel guilty, speak to the guilt and say, “But by the grace of God, I am what I am. Its God grace that has afforded you forgiveness and given you a new start.
This post is an excerpt from the sermon, “Guilt Cannot Stand Under Grace”. It was preached by me on November 4, 2018 at Third Street Bethel AME Church,