Guilt can Go, Now!
Guilt Can Go—Now! (Psalm 32:1-5; 1 John 2:1)
Where can guilt go? How do you dispose of the residue of past failure? If left alone, guilt can become insomnia, outbursts, free-floating anxiety, criticism of others, and physical disease. The Christian faith must deal effectively with guilt if Christianity is effective in human life in any way. The good news of the gospel is this: God's forgiveness is a bigger event than your guilt. The Bible presents an extreme case of guilt in the life of David. If God can deal with this, He can deal with anything. Guilt can go if you tell it like it is and turn to Jesus Christ as your Advocate.
Guilt Can Go If You Tell It Like It Is
The way up and out of guilt is to tell the story to God just like it is. We often deny, hide, refuse, or cover up before God. Relief comes from telling it to God like it is. David spent a year in silence—speechless and mute before God. When he came to himself he made a threefold confession. It touched on three dimensions of his guilt.
Godwardly, we have rebelled. The word "transgressions" (v. 1) means rebellion, revolt, or acts of sedition against the government of God. In secular language, it referred to a break in relationship between two parties. David broke God's law, violated his own conscience, and betrayed other people. But the first step up and out of guilt was to relate guilt to God, not to other people.
Manwardly, we have missed the mark. We must admit that we have deflected our aim, erred from our own standards. The shepherd boy David never intended to do what the king David did. The author of the twenty-third Psalm hardly expected to have to write the thirty-second Psalm. He had missed the goal that he had set for his own life.
Inwardly, there is something twisted that needs to be straightened out. At the level of doing, we rebel and miss the mark. But that is not the deepest truth about us. There is something askew that needs to be set straight. There is something warped that needs to be unwarped. David had to admit what he was, not just what he did.
The moment we make this three-dimensional confession, we experience the pardon of God. Guilt can go. The confession must be made sincerely by those in whose spirit there is no deceit.
Guilt Will Deal with You If You Do Not Deal with Guilt
Dr. Tournier expressed, after years of practice, that many of the physical symptoms he saw in his patients resulted from suppressed guilt from years before. David said the same thing more eloquently three thousand years earlier. He noted that psychologically and physically guilt would have destroyed him had he not told it to God like it was.
Psychologically, guilt makes the conscience roar. David expressed that his conscience was "roaring all. . . day long" (v. 3, KJV). The word refers to the ravenous roar of the leaping lion. The shepherd David knew the blood-chilling reality of that roar. All day long his conscience roared at him.
Physically, guilt can affect the body. "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away" (v. 3). The framework of his body was racked, shaken, and the seat of his strength seemed to disintegrate. He was fatigued and listless with no sense of direction or purpose.
No one can argue that guilt exacts a great price in human thought and physical life. It can make people self-destructive in ways they do not even recognize. Deal with guilt before guilt deals with you.
Turn to Jesus Christ as Your Advocate
We know something better than David knew. He looked back to animal sacrifices and a temple. We look back to Calvary and a Risen Lord. That Lord is now our great Advocate.
We have an Advocate presently. He is right now at the right hand of the Father in heaven. We do not have to worry about the immediate availability of His help. Whether our guilt was caused ten years ago or yesterday, He is even this moment at the right hand of God.
We have an Advocate positionally. Jesus Christ is in that face-to-face access to the Father which enables Him to speak for us in our time of need. Our own sin would shut us out from the presence of the Holy One. Our Lord Jesus is never outside the immediate presence of God Himself.
We have an Advocate powerfully. Because His name is Jesus, He is a sympathetic Advocate. Jesus is a friend to sinners in this age. But because His name is Christ, He is a sinless, powerful Advocate. Because He has no sin of His own, He stands in the Father's presence as my substitute.
You can tell it like it is and turn to Jesus Christ as your Advocate this very moment. Guilt can go.