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Guilt — It’s A Good Thing

06/15/14 by April

‘I am grateful,‘ writes Emily Letts of her decision to post a video of her abortion, ‘that I can share my story and inspire other women to stop the guilt.’”

Have you ever considered why we have guilt? What is the source of guilt? Can it be a good thing? Guilt is a sign of an active conscience, or an indwelling knowledge of right and wrong. When we experience guilt, we need to consider what’s going on.  God uses guilt as a signal. It is His quiet voice beckoning to us to draw nearer to Him in our brokenness, and acknowledge we need Him. Think of guilt as an early sign of an infection. There is an indication that something is wrong, but pretending it’s not there does not remedy the problem. Rather the infection must be addressed with the proper treatment.    When we respond to God’s call to turn from the sin that brings us guilt, we apply knowledge and thereby exhibit wisdom. It’s a healthy thing. The result is an improved self which overflows into our relationships and our communities.

It is when we choose to ignore guilt, and proceed in our own way that we fall further away from God, and we claim for ourselves what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace.”

Cheap Grace

  1. Justification of sin without the justification of the sinner
  2. Preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance
  3. Grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate
  4. Cheap grace is cheap because it has no value because we bestow it upon ourselves

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Costly Grace

  1. Grace which requires the condemnation of sin, but justifies the sinner
  2. Costly in that it cost God the life of His Son

….You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.’
                                     –1 Corinthians 6:19b-20

  1.  Grace in that God delivered Christ up that we may have the only true life
  2. Confronts us as a call to a broken spirit and contrite heart into forgiveness by following Jesus

–Ibid.

We cannot claim grace and forgiveness for ourselves when we reject the standard of righteousness defined by the Great Judge. And when we deny guilt, we have eliminated the first step to approaching the glorious throne of the only One who can provide our restitution. God is also the only One who defines sin, and He is the only One who is able to forgive it. We all experience shame and guilt resulting from the destructive power of sin.  Pray to Christ and be honest with Him.  Receive forgiveness and be refined.

Instead, we have renounced shameful secret things, not walking in deceit or distorting God’s message, but commending ourselves to every person’s conscience in God’s sight by an open display of the truth.” –2 Corinthians 4:1-3

  • Where are you dealing with guilt?
  • What methods do you use to “stop the guilt?” Do you find those methods effective?
  • How could God be using guilt in your life to refine you and bring you closer to Him?
  • In what areas are you granting yourself cheap grace rather than acknowledging the costly price through which grace has been offered to you?

What do you think?

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Current Commentary

  1. so deep in thoughts…thank you Read More

    by Olg, 2 months ago
  2. I think... he's a thoughtful guy ;) Read More

    by Nathan, 6 months ago
  3. Thanks. This is a great, well-thought-through, balanced, and reasonable reply to Cynthia's article. You did an excellent job of not … Read More

    by Caleb, 6 months ago

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