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How to Deal with Guilt

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
February 9, 2022 12:01 am

How to Deal with Guilt

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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February 9, 2022 12:01 am

How can we resolve the guilt that haunts us? Today, R.C. Sproul helps us to distinguish between objective guilt and subjective guilty feelings.

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Today on Renewing Your Mind.

It wasn't God who said let your conscience be your God. It was Jiminy Cricket. Though our conscience should be our God in some things that is if our consciences are duly informed by the word of God, then we ought to be following our conscience, but the consciences.

Scripture says can be seared home whom you trust her consciences today on Renewing Your Mind thunderously scroll continues his series dealing with difficult problem will help us discern when our conscience is telling us the truth and when it's leading us astray and in the process. Learn the difference between true guilt and guilty feelings today were going to consider one of the most serious difficulties that any of us has to face in our Christian lives. The difficulty is one that is universal and it's one that has the power to be debilitating and paralyzing to our personal growth and I'm speaking of course of the problem of guilt, and Paul gives his exposition of the gospel in his epistle to the Romans.

He talks about the universality of human sinfulness and in chapter 3 of Romans in verse 19 he makes this comment. Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. So Paul says whatever the law says, it says to all who are under the law, and in a certain sense, all of us are under the law of God, so everything that the law says that says to all of us and what it says to us is that when we stand before the judgment seat of God. Every mouth will be quiet. Every mouth will be stopped because under the judgment of the law of God the whole world is guilty many times I'm engaged in intellectual discussions with people doing the task of apologetics and trying to answer their objections to the truth claims of Christianity. And I've noticed on such occasions, that if you answer one objection to the Christian faith to their satisfaction before they take a breath.

The raise another objection and if you answer that objection to their satisfaction.

Again, there comes 1/3 1 1/4 one and it gets to be almost an endless chasing of somebody around the circle frequently. What I will do in circumstances like that after I tried to answer these questions all stop this game and what the person in the eye and say here's my question for you. What do you do with your guilt. What you do with your guilt.

I don't ask them do you have guilt. I assume that they have guilt and that they know that they have guilt and it's an amazing thing to see how people stop in their tracks. When you ask them a direct question like that and begin the starter and stumble as they grope up for an answer to the question because if there's any place where the unbeliever is vulnerable and exposed.

It is at that point because even though they may seek to deny the reality of their guilt. They know that they are walking through this world with on resolved guilt. Several years ago that I had a friend who was a psychiatrist and very seriously.

He came to me in one occasion and asked me to come to work for him and I said you must be joking.

I don't know the first thing about psychiatry and I'm certainly not qualified or capable to work in your office dealing with people who were in therapy. This is all that you are nice you was that he said because the vast majority of the problems that I have to deal with as a psychiatrist are all bound up with guilt. Guilt and its consequences. Guilt that is paralyzing guilt that is unresolved and he said most of the people I see only to psychiatrist. They need a priest they need to understand how to unlock this problem of guilt for the first thing I want us to understand about guilt is that guilt is objective.

What I mean by that is that guilt has nothing to do in the final analysis with our feelings or our subjective responses to the situation. Guilt ultimately is defined strictly in all objective categories. What I mean by that is this guilt is incurred when the law of God is broken. We define sin historically as any want of conformity to or transgression of the law of God and when we break the law of God, either by failing to do what the law requires, or actually doing with the law prohibits at that moment, we incur guilt and guilt is the breaking of the law of God, and God as our judge determines that when we have transgressed his commandments. We have thereupon come to a status of guilt that I mentioned this business of guilt being objective because there's so much confusion in our culture about the nature of guilt.

We tend to associate guilt with guilt feelings, so we need to distinguish between guilt as objective and guilt feelings which are subjective, that is feelings about guilt have to do with our personal, subjective attitudes and responses to actual violations of the law of God. Now when we talk about guilt being objective. Were talking about its being defined strictly in terms of breaking the law and the first thing that the state about that is that the law that defines guilt in the final analysis is not the civil law, not the customs and mores of a given social order, but moral guilt in the final analysis is defined by the breaking of God's law not wise that's important to understand what because human laws, the laws of our society. The laws that we call the civic order of our culture don't always agree or correspond to the law of God, that is, there are many things that the civil law may allow or permit that God will not permit. It's also true that you may sometimes be obeying the law of God, and in so doing disobeying the civil magistrate and in the eyes of the civil magistrate, you may be adjudged to be guilty, whereas in the eyes of God. You may be declared to be innocent. We remember in the New Testament. For example, when the authorities of the Jewish nation prohibited the apostles from preaching the gospel and Peter asked the question should way obey God or man and they said we cannot obey this civil magistrate because if we do we will incur guilt before God because he's commanded us to do these things and we remember when Stephen provoked the outrage of his enemies and in a kangaroo court. He was suddenly found guilty and was stoned to death and even while he was being killed. He had the vision of heaven open before him, and he saw Christ standing there in heaven as his defense attorney. Pleading his case before God and so the earthly court found Stephen guilty while the heavenly court found Stephen innocent so we understand that there can be. These conflicts, but it's the other side of that coin that we need to be very very careful of and that is when the civil law allows us to do things that God does not permit.

I think people in America need to realize that we have gone through a powerful revolution in our history, the cultural historians have told us that the most radical revolution in American history did not take place in 1776, but it took place in the 20th century, chiefly in the decade of the 60s where the revolution of the 60s was a revolt against established values establish customs against the established order, and with it came the sexual revolution, the feminist movement, the gay rights movement. The free speech movement, and so on. These were attempts of a new generation to create a new society a great society. A new order, and in many respects it was successful and those who are old enough to remember the culture before 1960 sometimes still remain somewhat dazed and confused about what is happened in our own country, and we experience life now as people who are from the old order and are now forced to accustom ourselves to a new order in which there is great miscommunication between those two orders and were engaged in a cultural war. Now in many respects that revolution was an ethical and moral revolution in the 60s and it had some very strange dimensions to it in the youth culture and university campuses in the 60s with the advent of the drug culture and the advice of Timothy Leary for young people to turn on in the dropout and so on. And we had the hippie generation and all of that there were two famous slogans that emerged in our culture.

The first was everybody has the right to do his own thing. I listen to that for a moment.

Everyone has the right to do their own thing that salutes a philosophy of moral relativism and pure subjectivism saying I have the right, morally, to do what I want to do if I want to be engaged in premarital sexual behavior extramarital sexual better. That's certainly not the government's business is nobody's business. The government has no right to invade the bedroom. This is a matter of personal and private preference for me it's subjective. It's relative and we witnessed the impact of that kind of thinking in the trauma of 1998 going into 1999 with the impeachment process of the president of the United States where the nation was very much divided over the question of distinguishing between the presidents personal moral behavior and his political behavior as the Chief Executive Officer of the land. Because the second slogan of the 60s was that cry and call of the young people under 30. Remember, they said we can't trust anybody over 30. The so-called generation gap that was spoken of. At that time called the older generation to tell it like it is, tell it like it is now the phrase tell it like it is is a call to objective truth and you see the tension here on the one hand the young people were saying we want to do our own thing we want to live on a subjective mystic basis, but we want you to tell it like it is to conform to some kind of objective standard of truth, though, if we analyze that carefully we discover that what happened in that decade of the 60s and into the 70s was a radical disjunction between what we call personal ethics and social ethics. The same group of people who were marching in the half of social justice with respect to civil rights and had a deep passion to make sure that human rights were protected in the land and were opposed to the violence and the bloodshed in the Vietnamese war, and so on and protested against war and the violation of human rights around the world. Having a high sense of social morality were the same ones that were living communes, getting high on drugs and involved in promiscuous unbridled sexual behavior so that there was this disjunction between personal morality and social or public morality. In a sense, what happened was sin was now reduced to institutional behavior, not personal behavior and personal immorality was rationalized on the basis of people having the right or the freedom to express themselves. However, they wanted to, that were living on the other side of that revolution.

So today we encounter all kinds of confusion about the matter of guilt, the pain of guilt feeling is a marvelous curative thing. Imagine what would happen to us as human beings. If our physical bodies. Suddenly lost the capacity to feel pain, we would never be alerted to the presence of an invasive disease that could be life-threatening. As uncomfortable as the pain is it is a warning sign an alert to us that something is wrong. Think back in your own life and how you have dealt with guilt how if you commit a sin once, you may be overwhelmed with sickness in the pit of your stomach. A sense of personal revulsion because of what you have done your sick about it literally because the weight of your guilt feelings is so and worms, then you do it again and the second time. It's not quite as uncomfortable, then you do it 1/3, fourth, fifth, sixth, and pretty soon you can cruise along in this behavioral pattern without any feelings of guilt whatsoever. You have acquired the status that Jeremiah described when he spoke to the hard heartedness of the people of Israel.

What he said to them because of their repeated transgressions of the law of God, you have acquired the four head of the harlot that is you have lost your ability to blush.

You become recalcitrant, you become calloused so that now you can violate the law of God and not think anything of it, and there is where the absence of guilt feeling becomes a license to continue to sin and to sin with the assumption that you can do so with impunity.

For every sinful action. There is under heaven. Somebody has brought forth a carefully crafted rational defense for it and attempt to justify. That's why we have a problem with this conflict between guilt and guilt feeling we can desensitize our consciences and remember conscience is crucial here Scripture speaks about conscience as that inner voice within us that voice that either accuses us or excuses us for the behavioral things that we do however it wasn't God who said let your conscience be your guide. It was Jiminy Cricket and we have to be careful about adhering to what I call Jiminy Cricket theology though our conscience should be our guides, in some things that is if our consciences are duly informed by the word of God, then we ought to be following our conscience, but the consciences. Scripture says can be seared it can be twisted it can be distorted and the conscience can actually excuse us for the very thing that God accuses us of doing. We think of David. I can't for the life of me imagine that King David who elsewhere was defined and described as a man after God's own heart who wrote so many of the magnificent salts here was a man who sold was aflame with passion for the things of God and he got engaged in adultery. And because of his involvement in that adultery. He then use the power of his political office to have his lovers husband sent to the front lines were conveniently he would be killed and removed as an obstacle for David's desire so that he could take Bathsheba to himself. I can't believe that David went through that process without the pangs of guilt hunting and yet even this one. Who was so familiar with the law of God managed to silence those internal voices so that when Nathan the prophet came to him the confront him with his behavior and Nathan told the parable in order to get David's attention.

David didn't recognize himself in the car and David expressed his outrage is moral outrage at the behavior of the villain in the parable, and he said where is this man not in my kingdom will I tolerate that until Nathan looked at David and said, thou art a man then the house of David collapsed on his head, because suddenly through the power of the Holy Ghost. David was brought face-to-face with the reality of his guilt and he was devastated. Fortunately for David, there was still a sensitivity in his soul to the things of God, so that when God the Holy Spirit touched him with the conviction of his sin. Now David restored a proper relationship between his guilt feelings and the reality of his guilt.

The objective and the subjective came together for most of us that's where we have all kinds of subjective techniques to hide our guilt to conceal our guilt to deny our guilt but we have to remember 11 that guilt is an is defined not by what one is not defined by what we see, it's not defined by what is state law. If were going to deal with the problem of guilt we have to understand the difference between true guilt and guilty feelings. And that's exactly what Dr. RC Sproul divorce today to help us understand that the clear distinction your listing to renew your mind and another lesson from RC series dealing with difficult problems so far this week.dispose address topics like anxiety, anger, and suffering. It's a very practical series and I committed to you would be happy to send you all six lessons on one DVD. Contact us today and request it with your donation of any amount to look at your ministries. You can reach us by phone at 800-435-4343 or you can go online to Renewing Your before you go today but let me tell you how much we appreciate you listening to Renewing Your Mind.

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Drs. will address is something we struggle to do, especially when we have been on socialist everyone of us has an obligation to forgive.

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