The burden of guilt…



Scripture: Psalm 32:1 Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. 5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Observation: Here the writer graphically articulates the burden of guilt that comes with sin, “…your hand was heavy upon me”. However, he goes on to describe the relief and freedom that comes from confessing our sins to the Lord and receiving forgiveness.

Application: We all sin. Me. You. Everyone. One of the ways God gives us to know when we’re walking in the ways of sin is the experience of guilt. Guilt is a form of spiritual heaviness on the inside – like a spiritual ball and chain. 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, God is who faithful and just will forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. That’s fairly simple and straightforward, don’t you think? Yet many times we end up dragging our sin around much longer than is necessary. Why?

Sometimes our pride gets in the way, so we refuse to acknowledge our sin. “That wasn’t my fault. Couldn’t be helped.” It’s amazing how often we choose to delude ourselves, or rationalize our sin.

Another way we delay confessing our sin is when we’re dealing with chronic sin – a form of sin we repeat over and over again until we become de-sensitized to the guilt that comes with it. The bible refers to these patterns as “strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4). Strongholds are powerful because they become an entrenched part of our thinking and subsequent behavior. With strongholds of sin, we generally accept a lie as the truth in order to rationalize our sinful behavior. The good news is that, by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within all believers, these strongholds of sin can be broken and we can be set free from them. Which leads me to some questions:

Are you carrying the burden of guilt today? If so, what is the source of that guilt (what did you do or not do)?

Where in your life might there be a “stronghold” of chronic sin? Are you aware that you’ve become numb to guilt in this area of your life? What is the lie you’ve accepted as the truth in order to rationalize this pattern of sin?

Would you like to have your sin forgiven, and the guilt washed away by God’s grace? If so, join with me in prayer…

Prayer: Heavenly Father, you are indeed merciful and abounding in steadfast love for us – even when we choose to remain in the guilt that comes from sin. You know, O Lord, how heavy a burden guilt can be. Give us grace today, dear Lord, to confess our sin to you right now (pause for a minute and confess your sins to God). And as we confess our sin to you, we receive your abundant mercy and forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, who died and rose again to break the power of sin and death forever. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for freedom from guilt and shame. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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