We hear it all the time—obesity is a leading cause of health problems in our day. The experts tell us to shed the pounds, but everywhere we turn we’re bombarded with messages to the contrary. “Eat!” they tell us. “Our sumptuous treats will make your life full and complete!”
I’m not saying that physical weight loss is unimportant, but we all deal with other types of weight that have an even greater influence in our lives. In a life where we seek personal change and growth, one of the more unbearable weights is guilt. Guilt bogs us down, making us miserable and our personal journey at times unbearable. (The burden of guilt actually multiplies the difficulty of physical weight loss.)
Feelings of guilt flow from our conscience–an internal, but often inaccurate, moral compass. Conscience is an inner law, the likes of which we are not forced to obey.
Everybody is born with a conscience, but the enculturation of each person is different. Someone reared in a family of pet loving thieves, for example, may feel absolutely no remorse about stealing a neighbor’s jewelry, but be devastated at having to kill their dog in the process.
Christians can be particularly susceptible to guilt because we have an innate desire to honor God and do the right thing. Still, few of us realize that guilt is an archenemy of personal growth and change. Guilt’s self-centered, unbelieving focus only serves to perpetuate the cycle of sin.
Sin seeks to knock us out with a one-two punch. It begins with the persistent and sometimes overwhelming desire of temptation. God always provides a way of escape—one which, unfortunately, we don’t always take.
Our surrender to temptation is immediately followed by condemnation. We are guilty and feel downright horrible for what we’ve done. The burden of guilt weighs heavily as we constantly kick ourselves over our failure.
Worldly thinking would simply tell us not to feel guilty. We are good people and there’s nothing wrong in what we’ve done. Christians know better, which is why we can be especially susceptible to the burden of guilt.
But there is another factor that must never be forgotten! The cross! For the Christian, guilt is obsolete!
Jesus paid an extreme price for all of our sins. What an offense to Him that we would continue to carry even one ounce of guilt!
Make every available effort to overcome temptation, but if/when you do fall, please don’t wallow under the weight of guilt and condemnation! Humble your heart. Admit your need. Confess your sin. Go to the cross. And BELIEVE that you are forgiven. No matter what your feelings tell you, stand on the promises of God’s word.
Oh the lightness of heart when we finally shed the weight of guilt!
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2 (ESV)