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Liberation from Guilt

By Dr. Don Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
We must be willing to take full responsibility for our share of the blame. -

Do you ever try to overcome your sense of guilt by explaining to others the reason why you made certain mistakes? In the 2nd of a 19-article series, Dr. Don Dunlap discusses the natural inclination of the human heart toward deceitfulness. He warns readers of the danger of self-justification and explains that we are unable to overcome wrong behavior in our own feeble strength.

We learn in the Bible that God’s ways are not man’s ways. God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Apart from God’s instructive Word our natural minds are inclined to believe deceptions as truths. In Scripture we find a repeated emphasis on the importance of a clear conscience. The writer of 2 Peter 1:5 exhorts Christians to add to their faith a clear conscience. Maintaining a conscience that is void of offense toward God and our fellow man is the second most important thing in our lives after our faith in Jesus Christ.

We cannot have a clear conscience when there is unresolved guilt in our lives.

Christians who disobey God’s command to maintain a clear conscience fall prey to Satan’s many deceptions. It is impossible for a Christian who has unresolved guilt in his or her life to possess a clear conscience. In an effort to understand what the Bible teaches concerning guilt, we will consider several commonly believed deceptions and their corresponding truths.

We must be willing to take full responsibility for our percentage of the blame in a conflict.

When we commit an offense against another person we naturally tend to conclude that we were only partially to blame and the person that we offended was mostly at fault. We often refuse to go to the offended party to ask for forgiveness. We generally think that if we wait long enough the other person will come to his or her senses and be the first one to seek reconciliation.

The truth is that while we may believe that we have committed a small splinter of an offense, the one who has been offended often views the offense as a huge log.

God commands us to take responsibility for our share of the blame. Even if we are convinced that we are only one percent to blame, we should humble ourselves and ask forgiveness for that one percent. It is God’s business to convict the other person involved of his or her share of the blame.

When we have a guilty conscience, we often tell ourselves that we will exert the sheer force of our wills to forsake our wrong actions. The truth is that we will never be able to discontinue our wrong behavior in our own feeble strength.

God tells us to humble ourselves before Him and ask forgiveness for the offenses we have committed. Only then will we be eligible to receive grace from the Lord to cease from our wrongdoing.

We should not try to justify our motives when we make a mistake.

Christians sometimes try to overcome their sense of guilt by explaining to other people the reason why they made certain mistakes.

They hope to make them understand that although their actions were questionable, their motives were really good.

God’s Word reveals to us the fact that our hearts are naturally inclined toward deceitfulness and we are prone to wicked behavior. When we acknowledge the truth of this principle we align ourselves with God’s thinking and we eliminate the need for self-justification.

The only way to alleviate our guilt is to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness.

Many times Christians who are guilt-laden succeed in convincing themselves that their offense is comparatively insignificant. They reason that other people do things that are much more serious. The truth is that the offended party is much more sensitive to the sting of the offense than the perpetrator is, and the negative consequences of the offense will continue until confession and repentance occur.

No alternative method exists for the Christian who has committed an offense against another person. He/she must go quickly, humble himself/herself, and ask for forgiveness. At the very moment that a sinner repents, God faithfully begins to pour out His marvelous grace to grant healing and restoration.


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