How God's Grace Deals with Guilt

John David Ware, Guilty but Forgiven!

Here's my guilty mugshot.

I'd planned to do a lot of work last night, but that didn't happen and I felt guilty.

I got up at 6.30 AM today to pray, work and then to make up for going to bed early.

God had other plans.  He did a lot of work on me in regard to guilt and distraction.  

We all have guilt, but the truth is that we can't deal with it and we can't really make up for regretful omissions and commissions in our life.

After confession and renouncing the errors we've made and making any and all ammends and atonements, we should find rest, forgiveness and forever leave guilt.

It's not doing something about it and its not that we must be dealing with it all the time.  

We can do nothing but stand in the shadow of Jesus atonement.  And stand tall we should, never again to be concerned with the distraction of guilt.

Guilt (along with our too many interests) is a major source of distraction.  

Guilt is a pig.  Don't give it wings.


An Ode to Guilt

I've been lazy in my bloggin.  Feeling like I've been a doggin.'  So, of course I owe a poem.  Grab the oars and let us row 'em.  Sprinter runs so he can show 'em.  Jesus lives so you could know Him.
Time has come the walrus crowin.'  Burn the guilt with a flamethrowa! 


The Walrus and The Carpenter

by Lewis Carroll

(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."


Adrian Rogers on the radio shed light on the problem of guilt and distraction due to guilt.  As Rogers says, it's not doing, it's not dealing, it's DONE because of GRACE.  Unmerited favor.  

He told a story of a man who was drowning in a river and rescuers managed to throw him a line before he went over the falls.  He held onto it for awhile, then he latched onto a floating log that looked secure.  And they both went over the falls.  It was a bad decision to hold onto something that seemed secure, but yet was attached to NO POWER SOURCE.

I did some Googling and I found this.  It is long, so here are some highlights to the sermon: Grace is Greater Than Our Guilt Psalm 38 - by Dr. Adrian Rogers.

Full Sermon http://hfth.weebly.com/the-grip-of-guilt.html.  Or see below.

Grace is Greater Than Our Guilt Psalm 38 - (Highlights)
by Dr. Adrian Rogers

One psychiatrist estimated (it may be a high estimate) 100% of people in mental institutions in America are there because they cannot handle guilt. 

Unresolved guilt and Unrealistic goals = Unrealized Glory.  Unresolved guilt saps the strength out of your life.  The man with unresolved sin in his life is carrying around a load, a weight.  There are two kinds of wounds that can come to the human psyche. One is sorrow and the other is guilt.  But sorrow is a clean wound. Given time, it will heal. Guilt is a dirty wound and it will never heal until it's cleansed.   

When God saves you, He doesn't fix you up where you can't sin anymore, He fixes you up where you can't sin and enjoy it anymore.  

We have people today talking about safe sex. You know what we need to talk about? Sacred sex. One man with one woman, married living together is God's plan. People say, what are we going to do about the AIDS epidemic. 

David's confidence came from this: He knew that he knew that God would hear his prayer. He knew that God stood ready to forgive and to cleanse. 

The text on this link http://hfth.weebly.com/the-grip-of-guilt.html has many errors so I corrected some and reprint it here.

Grace is Greater Than Our Guilt Psalm 38 - by Dr. Adrian Rogers

I spoke this morning about the person who is a a perfectionist who's in the performance trap and we said that one of the problems with that kind of an individual is unresolved guilt, unresolved guilt.

He has unrealistic goals. And he has unresolved guilt, and he has unrealized glory. He never gets what he wants. And I want us to look at the middle of this thing here and uh find out what to do with our guilt.

And incidentally, if you were to ask an individual, what is guilt? The average individual would say, well, guilt that's the that's the feeling you have when you do something wrong. Well, that's not true. That's not what guilt is. That's the guilt feeling.

If you put your hand on a hot stove and you have pain, the pain is not the burn. It's the burn that causes the pain. The burn is the raw skin. The burn is the blister. And so the feeling that you have, that guilt feeling, that is no guilt, it is guilt feeling.

Now we want to do something about that feeling, but it would be sad indeed to do something about that feeling and not do anything about the guilt. Guilt is the condition and the punishment of that condition is God's wrath.

Something must be done, not about the feeling, but about the condition. That's the reason that no psychiatrist on this earth, no psychologist on this earth and no educator on this earth can deal with guilt. Unless, they do it with the grace of God. Now, thank God for Christian psychiatrists.

Thank God for Christian psychologists. Thank God for Christian educators who understand the grace of God. But you see, all the psychiatrist can do apart from the grace of God is to teach you not to touch the stove again or to help you deaden the pain, but they cannot do anything about the guilt itself.

Only the grace of God can remove guilt. Now we have a generation of people who are big about dealing with guilt feelings, but they don't understand how to deal with guilt. And the deepest need in many lives and many who are saved is what to do with guilt. They are haunted by the ghost of guilt. One psychiatrist estimated (it may be a high estimate) 100% of people in mental institutions in America are there because they cannot handle guilt.

Well that seems like an extreme to me, but if he were to even say that it means that it is a major, major problem. And it brings all kinds of psychological, emotional and physical problems with it.

Well, Psalm 38 is a Psalm that deals with this matter of guilt. And we're going to look at it. You know, even when preachers talk about this subject, so many times they talk about renewal. Renewal has the idea that you're already basically right and you just need to kind of freshen up.

But the word that is needed in America today is not renewal, it is repentance. And that's what this Psalm deals with. What this Psalm is is the prayer of a guilty man. It's the prayer of King David, who while he was a great sinner, and a great saint, was also a great theologian and a great repenter.

So we get to learn something about how God's grace deals with guilt. What you have in this Psalm is really the prayer of a guilty man and it's a beautiful thing. It has blessed my heart. Now first of all, we're going to take the Psalm in 2 halves. We're going to talk about the tragedy of sin in the life of a saint. And then we're going to talk about the remedy for sin in the life of a saint.

Now that's easy to remember. The tragedy and the remedy. What is the tragedy of sin in the life of a saint? Well I want to mention some things that sin will do in your heart and in your life. Now, when you get saved, you're going to find out that God does not fix you where you cannot sin anymore.  He fixes you up where you can't sin and enjoy it anymore.

But if you do sin (as a Christian), here's what your sin will do.  David's sin displeased his God. Look at verses 1 and 2 of Psalm 38. He says here, "O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore."

Not only are there words of rebuke, but there arrows of conviction.

In verse 2, "thine arrows stick fast in me." Has God ever shot you? Brother he does me. You're going to be pierced with pain when you sin. God will speak to you. He'll rebuke you. God will shoot you with an arrow of conviction. In verse two, "Thy hand presseth me sore." Some people think that if you're a child of God and you sin, he just tosses you away. No, it's just the opposite. Friend, he puts you in his grip and he squeezes, he squeezes. He bears down.

It's not that he casts you off, but he squeezes you all the tighter. Here's old David feeling that fellowship broken, that hand of pressure that is there. Now the mark of a child of God when he sins, is broken fellowship with God. My sin displeases God and that may be the costly price of all.

Now, if you're here tonight and your name is on this church roll, are you listening to me by radio or later by tape and there's sin in your life and there are no words of wrath, no arrows of conviction, no hand of pressure in your life, I suggest you better get saved. You better get saved. David was a saved man and he found out that number one, his sin displeased his God.

The Bible speaks in verse one of God's hot displeasure. Not only did it displease his God, it dissipated his strength. And six ways it dissipated his strength. Look here. First of all, his sin wearied him. Look in verse three. "There's no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin." You know what the Bible says, there is no rest for wicked.

Some people have difficulty sleeping and sometimes the difficulty that people have sleeping is neurological. Sometimes it's simply digestive. But many times it's because of unresolved sin in the heart and in the life and for those people, a clear conscience would do much better than a sleeping pill.

Unresolved guilt saps the strength out of your life. The joy of the Lord is your strength, but when you sin, the joy goes and your sin will tire you out. You'll be frazzled. His sin wearied him. In verse 3 he said, there's no rest. He sin weighted him. In verse 4, "For mine iniquities are have gone over mine head as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me."

The man with unresolved sin in his life is carrying around a load, a weight. Like a hundred pound weight on his shoulders. Mexico city one time, I lead a young man to Christ. We sat in the Volkswagen, I'd hired the Volkswagen to take me around. And after our trip I sat there and lead the young man to Christ. And when he prayed with me after receiving Christ, he said something I'll never been able to forget.

He said, Mister this is wonderful. He said, if feels like I've been carrying around a bag of stones and I've just set it down. ha ha isn't that beautiful?

Said I I I've had this bag of stones and I just sat it down. Well, that's what sin is like. It's like a bag of stones. It it weighted him down. Look, he says, my burden is too heavy for me. Then not only did his sin weary him and weight him, it wounded him. Look in verse 5, "My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness."

Now was this physical suffering? Was he physically wounded? I don't think so. I think what he's talking about now is where the arrow of conviction shot him. I think he's talking about now where spiritual gangrene sat in and his spirit stinks. He is wounded spiritually.

There are two kinds of wounds that can come to the human psyche. One is sorrow and the other is guilt. Both are deep, red, raw wounds. But sorrow is a clean wound. Given time, it will heal. Guilt is a dirty wound and it will never heal until it's cleansed.

And here's what David is talking about now. His sin is festering in him. His sin has wearied him. It has weighted him. It has wounded him and it worries him. Look if you will in verse 6. "I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long." Again listen, when God saves you, He doesn't fix you up where you can't sin anymore, he fixes you up where you can't sin and enjoy it anymore.

He really does. His sin, he said, I'm troubled. The most miserable man in the world is not a lost man. The most miserable man or woman in the world is a saved man out of fellowship with God. His sin worried him and his sin wasted him.

Look in verse 7, "For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh." In this verse I believe he's talking about a genuine disease. I believe that David had venereal disease.

When he said my loins are filled with a loathsome disease... David committed immorality and I believe he transacted a disease. I want to say something to you. God forgives, but nature never does. God forgives, but nature doesn't.

And don't think that you can sow wild oats and then have crop failure. David played fast and lose. And you know all of the disgusting symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases and I don't even want to stand up here and have to talk about this, but there's damage to the brain, and to the skin, and to the eyes, the bones, the liver, the teeth, unborn children, premature death.

We have people today talking about safe sex. You know what we need to talk about? Sacred sex. One man with one woman, married living together is God's plan. People say, what are we going to do about the AIDS epidemic.

Why don't we try this? Why don't we try this? I mean, it is so simple. So simple. When all else fails, just simply read the directions. His sin wasted him and his sin weakened him. Look if you will in verse 8 of this same chapter.

"I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart." Why David, the mighty warrior has been brought low. He's broken in body. He's broken in soul. He's broken in spirit and he's crying out in pain.

I wonder what his servants thought as they passed his door and listened to him in his sick room. Tell you this much about sin folks. Sin promises a lot, but it pays very poorly.

Well, we're talking about what sin does to the child of God and we said that his sin displeased his God. We've said that his sin dissipated his strength. Here's the third thing it does. It deadened his soul.

It deadened his soul. Look if you will in verses 9 and 10. "Oh Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee. My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it is also gone from me."

How did it deaden his soul? Well first of all, he became spiritually blind. Look at it. He says, "as for the light of mine eyes, it is also gone from me." Again he's talking now as a poet. He is spiritually blind. He is he is blind to God's blessings. He's stumbling in darkness. But not only is he spiritually blind, he's spiritually deaf.

Look in verse 13. "But I, as a deaf man, heard not...." Spiritually blind, spiritually deaf. David had enemies and the enemies were out there and they wanted to trap him. But now he's very vulnerable to danger. He is blind to blessing and deaf to danger. But not only is he spiritually blind and spiritually deaf, he's spiritually dumb.

Look in verse 13. "But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that opened not his mouth." Sin had shut his mouth. Here's the sweet singer of Israel, but he has no song. Praise is dried up. Testimony is withered. Soul winning is stopped all together. What has sin done to the child of God? It displeased his God. It dissipated his strength. It deadened his soul.

Tell you what else it did. It distanced his friends. Look in verse 11. "My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off." The word sore is the word that is translated as leper. Actually, he was a moral leper. And in other words, people didn't want to be around him.

You know what sin will do to you? Sin will make you hard to live with. Nobody wants to be around you. A Christian with a wounded conscience is hard to live with. A backslidden Christian is one of the most unlovely people I know of. I'm going to tell you a secret. I'd rather be with a good, old-fashioned, all American sinner who'd never been saved for company than a backslidden Christian.

Really. I mean, these people are not a peace with themselves. They are out of joint. They are hard to live with and God help a church when you get somebody in the church who is out of fellowship God. There are far more difficulty caused in the church by those kind of people than by the pagans who come and sit and listen.

Isn't that an amazing thing. He said, my my friends just stand aloof from me. Well, it distanced his friends. I tell you what else it did. It delighted his enemies. Look in verse 12 of this. "They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long."

The devil, your enemy is strategizing against you moment by moment by moment by moment and like a shark he wants to smell blood in the water. And when you stumble, when you trip, when you fall, when you sin, what a delight it is.

Look in verse 16, "For I said, Hear me, lest otherwise they should rejoice over me: when my foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me." Did you know that there are people who would love to see you fall into sin? Did you know there are people who'd love to see me fall into sin? They would. They're enemies of the cross of Christ and the cause of Christ would love to see, delight to see some man of God, some woman of God, some teacher, some deacon, some leader, some evangelist fall into sin.

What does sin do to the child of God? It displeases his God. It dissipates his strength. Friend, it deadens his soul. It distances h is friends. It delights his enemies. That's the tragedy of of sin in the life of a child of God. When we have an unconfessed sin in our heart and in our life, it delights Satan, because we have given Satan a beach head, a place to work.

That's the reason the apostle Paul said, don't let the sun go down upon your wrath. Neither give place to the devil. Now, enough of that. Let's turn it over. Let's look at it not only from the tragedy, but let's look at it from the remedy and how grace can deal with guilt. Now remember, it's not the guilt feeling that we're dealing with. It is the guilt, not the pain. It is the burn that we're dealing with.

Four wonderful steps to freedom. They're right here in this Psalm. First of all there is what I want to call the sinner's confidence. Look in verse 15. Here's what made David such a great man. "For in thee, O Lord, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God." Now that is his rock ribbed confidence. He knew that he knew that God would hear his prayer. He knew that God stood ready to forgive and to cleanse.

I have said it often. You may disappoint God. You may break God's heart. You may disgrace God, but there's nothing you can do to stop God from loving you. He loves you and he says, for in thee O Lord do I hope. Thou wilt hear O Lord my God. Always friend, believe that there is a God of glory and the hope of cleansing is there if you want it.

Nothing, nothing can separate you from God's mighty love and there is no guilt his blood cannot wash away. Have I put that confidence in your heart? Does the Word of God (verse 15) put that confidence in your heart?

There is the sinner's confidence. Secondly, there must be the sinner's contrition. That confidence must be inseparably and inextricably interwoven with contrition and brokenness. You must come to the end of your sin.

Look if you will in verses 17 and 18. "For I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me. For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin." Nobody has ever repented until he's sorry for his sin. There can be no repentance without sorrow. The Bible says it is godly sorrow that worketh repentance.

There must be that contrition. Uh You see, David is at the end of his rope. I mean, he's had it. When he said I am ready to halt, what that literally means is I have no more confidence in self-effort. I'm not going to try to cover it up anymore. I am genuinely sick of this.

Last week, I shared with a young man. He said, I am sick of my sin. I cannot tell you how my heart began to leap with joy when he said that. He said, I am sick of it. I said, Hallelujah! Let's get down on our knees. We got down on our knees and friend, he left that bag of stones there and got up a whole man.

Saved, born again by the grace of God. But he never would have until he came to that place. Sometimes people waltz down the isles of churches and join churches like they're doing God a wild favor. And they have never, ever repented of their sin.

There is no forgiveness without repentance, no forgiveness without repentance and there is no repentance without sorrow. Godly sorrow worketh repentance. There's the sinner's confidence. There's the sinner's contrition. There is the sinner's confession.

Look in verse 18. "For I will declare mine iniquity." Not my brothers, not my sisters, but it's me O Lord. Clearly confess your sin to God. Make no excuses for your sin. I will be sorry for my sin.

To confess means to agree with. When I preached a series of messages here, not very long ago on "Back to the Basics." I dealt with a cleansed life and I dealt with John 1:9 that says, "If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

And I pointed out to you that the word confess is a composite Word. Homo-eghetto which means, to say the same as. To "confess your sin" does not mean to admit your sin. You can admit your sin and not confess it in God's sight of you. But when you confess it, you admit it but you go beyond the admission and you judge it.

You say about sin, what God says about it. You see that sin from God's viewpoint. When you agree with God about it, when you take sides against it, you have confessed that sin. There's the sinner's confidence: God I hope in you. You're my God. There's the sinner's contrition. I am sorry for my sin. There is the sinner's confession. I will declare my iniquity and there's the sinner's cleansing.

Look in verses 21 and 22. "Forsake me not, O Lord: O may God, be not far from me, Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation." Now, know that when you're forgiven, you are restored completely and totally.  Sin is gone, buried and cleansed, never to be brought up again.

And why? God will forgive me because that's the kind of a God that he is. Forsake me not O Lord, my God be not for from me. Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation. That literally means, Oh God, my Savior, my Savior.

Now I don't care what you've done. How bad it is. You've probably have not sinned as badly as David. First of all, his sin was horrible. It was a sexual sin. At first a hot-blooded sin and then a cold-blooded sin. It was the sin of duplicity. It was the sin of treachery because he sinned against Uriah the Hittite.

It was a sin that took a man's life. It was a sin that disgraced a nation. It was a great sin because he was a man in leadership. David acted terribly, but friend God cleansed him.

Now listen to me. If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us. Cleanse. Not patch, but cleanse us from all, not some, but from all iniquity.

And he's faithful and just to do it. If he didn't do it, he would be a liar. He would be unfaithful. And if he didn't do it, he would be unjust. Why? Because Jesus died for those sins. And those sins have been paid for. That's grace. When you preach on Grace, you walk the razor's edge. Because some people think you're being light on sin. Oh no. I'm not trying to minimize sin. Sin is tragic. I'm maximizing the grace of God.

You say, well I haven't sinned like David sinned. No, but come up close and I'm going to tell you something. You need as much grace as he did. No matter who you are and where you are. And the sweetest teenager in this church without Christ is just as lost as the worst thief and pervert in America.

And it takes as much of the blood of Jesus to save him or her as it does that person. But thank God there is grace. And where sin did abound, grace did much more abound. Isn't this a wonderful Psalm? Thank God for it. And it's right there folks. It's right there. We can see the tragedy and we can see the remedy. Father God, thank you for your word tonight. Seal it to our hearts. In Jesus' precious name. Amen


amydh said...

Mr. Ware, you may never know this side of Heaven what you did for an ordained co-pastor (pastor's wife) who 8 years ago tragically sinned and devastation is not a strong enough word to describe the fall-out. Godly sorrow was almost instant in my life as soon as light exposed the horror of my sin against God. And my spirit broken and contrite. Yet the agony of the guilt, regret, being shunned and friends' complete abandonment plus the nightmares and loneliness was relentless and unbearable. Even in the glorious miraculous redeeming grace that saved our marriage (married 20 years now - PTL), there has remained a sorrowfulness that could not be cast off. Through counsel and deliverance, God revealed the root of my iniquity and I have walked in His love and righteousness since true repentance. And thru the years His mercy restored and we have been restored in ministry even together now. I was called to teach His Word at an early age and I have collaberatively (ghostwritten) over 15 books for well known ministers (Before the crash). Yet I have one pursuit and that is to KNOW Him and to make HIM known. God has been continuously calling me to pick up the visions that died years ago from books, to film, to women's studies/conferences) and yet I held back as if my feet were cemented in the regret and remorse.
Yet tonight. Unresolved Guilt and Unrealistic Goals = Unrealized Glory! I have had dreams and visions about God's glory and I long to be a vessel of HIS glory for HIM alone. Yet I found unbelief rolled like a stone in front of my tomb of resurrection to His glory. (John 11:40) All to say as I poured through Adrian Roger's sermon...I wrote it all down and realized it is GUILT that has held me captive and I must lay it at the cross for the last time and begin to live my destiny to it's fullness. Oh, how I thank you a thousand times over for taking the time to write this tonight! For many I'm sure, but if for one...I am that one. May God reward you with His lavish love and unimaginable favor and outrageous provision to do what He has called you to do. I have been a part of three 168 films. "Stillborn" being the film several years ago that I went to the festival/awards. Yet in the loneliness of the years I gave up my film dreams as well as teaching in conferences which I was doing before 2004. I have been awakening in 2013 and prophesied to be a Lioness with a voice for His Kingdom. I ask nothing but that you say a prayer that God will help my unbelief and bring people in my path as mentors and alignment for HIS glory and for HIS Kingdom and for His people who do not know that He is passionate about a personal relationship with them as their Lord and Savior. Pray that I won't give up now. That I'll stand up, head up and move forward.
Thank you John David Ware. God has used you again. You can look for me in May. I have a feeling the Lord just might have a film for me...whatever He wants....
Thank you for this LONG comment box. Whether you ever read this or not. It was purposeful! The anointing is so strong and I'm ready to sit and listen to my Creator...He's been waiting a long time......
Blessings Beyond Measure to you and yours....

John David Ware said...

Amydh,you made my night. There is no better feeling than to know you've made a difference in someone's life and been so used of God. Thank You! I needed that. I will read your comment a lot. Might even print and stick it on my wall. jdw