Tag Archives: Religious Hatred

Why Do I Feel So Much Guilt?

#2 in Q & A Series

Well, all of us are guilty. Feeling it and having the ability to do something about it is a gift.

There are lots of reasons why people feel guilt. Maybe you have done or said something wrong. Or maybe you have been influenced by your culture, family, or a non-New Testament religious organization that has you convinced you are not worthy. Regardless of the reason you are feeling “so much guilt,” the New Testament has the solution for you.

Guilt can be a motivation to improve our lives. In Romans 3:19, Paul writes that the purpose of the law “is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God.” Paul is saying that all of us need to take responsibility and not excuse our own ungodly thoughts, words, and actions. We all fall short of God’s ideal and need Christ’s righteousness for us to be in right standing with God.

Once his righteousness is in us, we experience great confidence. In I John 3:20-21, John writes, “Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence.” Feeling guilty is our state outside Christ or in disobedience to Christ, but as we abide in His righteousness, we are cleansed and gain great confidence in him. This is easy. It is a relief.

In Matthew 11:30, Jesus said, “For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

In II Corinthians 11:9, Paul said, “I have never been a burden to you, and I never will.”

I decided early in my ministry career that I wanted my Christian service to be like Jesus’ and Paul’s in this respect. Every ministry I have ever led has been structured to be an uplift, an encouragement, a relief to people. Life is difficult enough, we don’t need Sunday worship to be a burden as well. And on Sunday mornings when we as believers gather to celebrate the resurrection of Christ and, consequently, our own resurrections, we worship, fellowship, give, and publicly read the Word together. This is not the time to add burden to people’s lives. Our giving can be done freely, joyfully, and without pressure. That is why I am opposed to religious leaders imposing guilt in order to extract funds from fellow believers. Some construct godless, guilt-inducing ways to get believers to give more and more. I’ll not go into details, but fundamentally I think believers should give, and the leadership should budget accordingly so the costs of ministry do not excessively burden the worshippers.

Sadly, many Christians do not feel guilty because of the convicting power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, but because of leaders who impose guilt in order to control them. These types of leaders have been in the church from the beginning, and very often they are our most popular leaders. Paul warned Timothy about them by saying, “They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the confidence of vulnerable women who are burdened with the guilt of sin and controlled by various desires” (II Timothy 3:3-6). I notice these leaders scrutinize the weaknesses of others and present themselves as spiritually superior. Watch out!

Our modern Christian culture demands justice and public ridicule for some sins, while other sins are embraced. Immorality, theft, and addictions demand punishment. Judgmentalism, lovelessness, and blame, however, are lauded and can be marketed to the church . If our leaders promote certain sins, they can raise significant amounts of money to stop “those sinners.” This duplicity makes the one raising the funds appear spiritually superior highlighting the inferiority of others. Everything about this is contrary to the New Testament.

We should fund the Gospel, but we should probably ensure it’s an authentic New Testament Gospel. New Testament Christianity is an uplift to people. It lightens our load and offers a solution for guilt. The cross sets all of us free from the need to humiliate others, even the unrepentant. It’s just not our role. We offer dignity, confidence, and joy because of the love and righteousness of Christ. Remember the fruit of God’s Spirit within us is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Because of the reality of the cross, our lives are a Sabbath rest. I know, I know, the great evangelists say we should burn out not rust out. Well, let them. I’m going to take some time in my back yard and gratefully enjoy Him. I’ve lived long enough now, that I feel no need to be an expert in anyone else’s sin. I only feel compelled to let others know the freedom they can find in Him. That’s it. And that’s not hard.

If you feel guilty, then repent. Receive your forgiveness and be transformed, renewed, filled, and healed, so your life will improve. Now, smile a grateful smile, and rest.

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Another’s Sin Is Our Opportunity

Humanity’s sinfulness was God’s opportunity to demonstrate his great love for us. When others sin, it gives us an opportunity to be like Christ in their lives and demonstrate his healing love. Too often roles are confused and we think the sins of another are our opportunity to demonstrate our moral superiority, our intellectual supremacy, or our power and influence. If we enjoy lording over others, then their sin is our opportunity to rule over them. But if our primary role is to be reflective of God’s Kingdom on earth, then another’s sin is our opportunity to be like Jesus by identifying with, healing, and serving the sinner.

Every time we break rules we give power and rights away and, to some degree, lose control of our lives. In the church, when we sin against God and consequently our brethren, we lose influence and inadvertently give others authority over us. In society, when we break the law or violate social norms, we forfeit our rights and lose the power to make the choices for ourselves that would have been assumed prior to breaking the law, thus making us more vulnerable to others.

No doubt, it’s our responsibility as Christians to do all we can to grow in Christ so sin diminishes in our lives while holiness increases. Simultaneously, we should grow in obedience to civil law and do everything within our power to build an honorable reputation. Often we focus on this personal process, which we assume is a reflection of our character and godliness. No doubt, to some degree, it is. But that might not be the core reflection of our faith that reveals our eternal destiny.

People with good parents, good citizens, and good students become better people and better citizens as they mature. Many non-believers are just as moral and law abiding as believers. God highly values our personal integrity and he also values others, especially the weak, which is why it’s our response to others in their most vulnerable moments that might reveal whether or not we understanding and embrace the core New Testament message with power. Our response to the sins of another might reveal more about our godliness than the common measurement systems we are all so used to using.

Jesus teaches us in Matthew 25:31-46 that the difference between the sheep and the goats in the final judgment will be based on how we responded to others. The idea here is that our response toward others in a difficult position reveals whether we are biblically inspired satanic judges deceived into believing that our personal righteousness proves that we are genuine believers, or if we are indeed the healing heart and hand of Christ. In other words, when others have lost their power because of catastrophe, whether self-imposed or something outside of their control, our response to them reveals the true “us.” Certainly, when another is vulnerable because of their sin, our responses reveal whether or not we embody the Gospel, or if we have intellectually assented to a set of religious values that, in reality, condemn us as we condemn others (Romans 2:1-4). The sins of others afford the opportunity that reveal our core. It’s our response to others in their weakened state that reveals whether we are a sheep or a goat.

When another sins, the weakness that will accompany that sin gives each of us an opportunity to either distance ourselves and be their accusers, pointing out their weakness and failures, and using it against them; or we can be like Jesus and actually draw closer to them in their distress and offer a hand of love, kindness, and some practical support to make their lives a little better. It’s our choice. I think we’re learning about how to have a Love Reformation.

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