Got guilt? Most of us do on some level. What is guilt? Guilt assumes a standard set by an authority has been violated. God tells us in Romans 3:10, 23 and 6:23 that we have ALL done things by nature and by choice that make us guilty before our God.
When you walk through Psalm 38, it is David crying out under the weight and affliction of unresolved guilt. You may recall he'd done some things in 2 Samuel 11 that would be splashed all over the checkout stand tabloids if he did them today. He thought he'd taken care of all the loose ends...yet still, something gnawed at him. He talks about it all through Psalm 38, the festering wounds, the searing pain, feeling feeble and crushed, lack of strength, friends are avoiding him, people scheming against him, rumors flying, feeling sad, agitated and alone. Why? All because of unresolved guilt- he was carrying around the weight of the sinful things he did, until Nathan called him out and rebuked him.David walked into his marriage with this tremendous burden of guilt.
But God has an answer for guilt in his Word- Jesus died so that we do not have to live carrying this guilt with us through our lives. Walk with us through the five steps to walk free from guilt:
#1 I'm a sinner: Yes, we have to admit we're a sinner and accept that what Jesus did on the cross was payment enough for our sin. So many people say "I can't forgive myself"....here's the great thing: you don't have to! Jesus Christ died for you, he paid for your sins, you only need to admit your sin and accept His forgiveness. We know in 1 John 1:5-8 and Prov 28:13 that people who have accepted Christ as their Savior handle guilt differently.
#2 Tell God: Of course God already knows your sin, but telling Him means that you see your sin the same way He does. As you tell God your sins, seek His forgiveness. Psalm 51 is David's crying out to God his confession and seeking His forgiveness. When was the last time you sat down with God to confess the things you've done and seek His forgiveness?
#3 Tell the person you sinned against: In Matthew 5:23-24, God placed such importance on this, He tells us we should leave in the middle of giving our offering to seek out the person we've offended, confess our offense to them and seek their forgiveness. WOW! This is so pivotal and something we have cheapened over time with the casual "I'm sorry" or worse "If I've done anything to hurt you, I'm sorry." When Sherry and I began reconciling our marriage, we had a LOT to confess to each other and for which to seek each other's forgiveness. It was a process, taking one offense at a time, sharing how it hurt, then confessing and taking responsibility for the offense, seeking forgiveness, then granting forgiveness. Part of the conversation always looked like: "God has convicted me of how wrong I was when I (fill in the blank with the offense). I am so sorry I hurt you that way. I sinned against God and against you when I did that. I've sought and received His forgiveness. Will you please forgive me?" Don't miss this, this is powerful. And pray before you embark on this part of the journey- it's important to have this conversation at the right place, the right time, with the right person and the right spirit.
#4 Make restitution: With everything we do, there are consequences. In your sin, someone may have experienced injury, loss or damage, so it is important to offer to make right or recompense someone for the loss.
#5 Change and grow: This is where the rubber meets the road, where you repent. Repentance is the change in your thinking that leads to a change of behavior. We heard a pastor share that repentance involves the change in three things- your mind (the way you think about something), your heart (the way you feel about it) and your feet (your direction away from something). Changing and growing, or repentance, comes from spending time in God's Word so we continually see how different God's ways are from ours. We need God's Word to experience His sorrow and to keep our focus on God and how our sin offends Him. Without recognizing we naturally see things differently from God, our repentance will be counterfeit and short lived, filled with simple regret and remorse, focusing on ourselves and how hard our lives are.
Can you imagine how embracing this understanding of guilt, then taking the steps God ordained to walk out of it will change your marriage? We walk into marriage not thinking about the natural difficulties of two sinners becoming one. Thank God we've got His plan A for becoming more like Him, and when we're married, we've got a built-in partner to help us. We challenge you to pray and spend some time this weekend walking through these five steps with some issues that may have been hanging over your heads in your marriage for the last month, year or ten years.