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Over the past few years my blog has been visited by people from all over the world. Very few know me, or of me, they simply are looking information concerning the Bible and discover my blog. After many years of intense study and teaching, I've come to believe we are vulnerable to misguided and incorrect teaching if we don't understand for ourselves the teaching of God's Word. My 'hot buttons' are - grace, sovereignty, exhortations and sanctification. If you understand these basic principles of Scripture, and apply them to daily life, you will understand what it means to have peace, joy and absolute security in any circumstance.

Friday, January 17, 2014

LIVING WITH GUILT

Here in Southern California, we've had one beautiful day of 80 degree weather after another. My husband had an appointment with his cardiologist today and I drove with him to La Jolla, north of San Diego. On the way back we stopped for lunch in one of the many beach towns that pebble the Pacific coast. The sea was quite calm with occasional little waves that slapped the shore leaving a line of white foam. We noticed big kelp beds floating off shore, and watched surfers lying on their boards. We wondered if the amazing blue-green color of the water was because of the color of the sky, or maybe the stillness of the ocean. Who knows? I think God was just giving us a special treat.

And I felt guilty. I thought of all the people who were struggling with ice and snow, wind, rain and below normal temperatures. I feel guilty about a lot of things. If I buy something I really don't need, I feel guilty because I know there are many who can't afford simple basic needs. I feel guilty that I don't stay in close touch with friends I really care about and stop by to visit neighbors, or invite them over to our home more frequently. It seems that I'm always too busy. I sometimes feel I haven't taken enough time for my family, or walked the dog or made the cookies everyone loves.  When I'm sitting at my computer close to dinnertime and my husband appears at he doorway to my office and says, "Should I make a salad?" I immediately feel guilty and think I should be making dinner, not writing a blog.  

I don't think we need to look very hard to find something that makes us feel guilty. What I've mentioned may not seem important, but none-the-less, most of us suffer from guilt over the little things.

I remember our children pouting when they'd been punished for doing something they knew was wrong. "You make me feel  guilty" they'd say. I'd tell them, "Good, you are guilty and it's right that you feel bad." God gave us a conscience and an innate ability to recognize right from wrong. I think this started way back in a garden, with a couple we've heard a lot about, Adam and Eve. They lived in a virtual paradise and had a personal relationship with God. God asked them not eat from the tree in the middle of the garden. If they did, God told them they would die.

If you are familiar with the Bible you know what happened next. The "serpent", who is a picture of Satan, convinced them they could eat of the tree and not suffer death.

"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman.
Genesis 3:4.

This was a lie of course by the "father of lies" (John 8:44). Satan hasn't changed his behavior, he still whispers in the ear of those who will listen. "Don't pay any attention to God, the Bible isn't important, you don't need God in your life, there is no heaven or hell." Sound familiar? I guess my favorite 'Satan line' is, "There are many gods, pick one that suits you, they're all the same." Don't believe Satan's lies; there is only One True God, the God of the Bible. If Christian parents don't tell their children the truth, Satan will surely tell them a lie.

Going back to the book of Genesis, this is written about Adam and Eve.

"The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame."  Genesis 2:25.

I tend to equate 'shame' and 'guilt'. Look what happens when Adam and Eve have their eyes opened and realize they are naked.

"Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves."  Genesis 3:7

Adam and Eve felt guilty before God. They had always been naked, but after 'eating the fruit', they began to judge themselves, rather than trust God. Guilt is a part of our human nature. I take solace in the fact that guilt isn't just something I wrestle with. . .all humans, to some extent battle guilt.

Maybe we should look at a dictionary definition of 'guilt'.

"A painful feeling of self-reproach resulting from a belief that one has done something wrong or immoral."  Webster's New World Dictionary.

Our Lord has cleansed us from all sin and does not want us to spend time feeling guilty about the mundane worldly things. We, as Christians, need to rise above that.

"...let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience..." Hebrews 10:22

We will continue to live within our human flesh and struggle against our nature to sin, but "he who promised is faithful" so says Scripture in Hebrews 10:23. I, in my human nature can never be completely faithful, but God sees Christ in me who is perfect and therefore I am perfect.

"...because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy."  Hebrews 10:14

Notice it says "who are being made holy" It's not a 'done deal'. Being "made holy" is a continuing process. In God's eyes, we are already 'perfect' because He sees His Son in us. Knowing this should keep our guilty feelings to a minimum.

Lord, help us to see ourselves as you see us, perfect in Christ. Help us to forgive ourselves and know that You are the faithful One.