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Understanding Guilt

J. Stephen Lang


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Many psychologists like to talk about -- and try to get rid of -- patients' guilt feelings. They seem to assume that the feeling is the problem. If it can be gotten rid of, the problem is solved -- or so they say. They overlook the fact that people often experience genuine guilt over having wronged someone -- another person, or God himself. Getting rid of the feeling isn't the problem, then, is it? The problem is that a precious relationship has been broken. It needs mending, not psychoanalyzed away.

Happily, the Bible holds out more promise than most of these so-called "experts." It assures us that much of our guilt isn't just feeling -- it is a real awareness of harm done to someone. It also assures us that God is willing and eager to forgive us, cleanse us of guilt, and restore joy to our lives.

O God, you know how foolish I am; my sins cannot be hidden from you.

He has not punished us for all our sins, nor does he deal with us as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our rebellious acts as far away from us as the east is from the west. The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he understands how weak we are; he knows we are only dust.

Let the people turn from their wicked deeds. Let them banish from their minds the very thought of doing wrong! Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

All have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious ideal. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins.

If we are living in the light of God's presence, just as Christ is, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin.

The Book of God's Promises -- Copyright, 1999 by J. Stephen Lang. All rights reserved, used with permission.

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About The Author

J. Stephen

J. Stephen Lang is the author of more than ten books about the Bible, including the bestselling The Complete Book of Bible Trivia, 1,001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible but Never Thought to Ask, The Bible on the Big Screen, Everyday Biblical Literacy, and The Complete Book of Bible Promises. Lang is a regular contributor to Today's Christian, Discipleship Journal, Christian History and other periodicals. He lives in Seminole, Florida.