One of the great destroyers of self esteem is unresolved guilt. Whether true or false guilt, this emotion can govern our
lives from monrning until night. While guilt can provide motivation for change that needs to take place, it can also cause
serious problems if we do not know how to deal with it constructively. Mental institutions and prisons are filled with people
whose lives have been ravaged by unresolved guilt.
The world's answers to guilt cannot provide the freedom from guilt we need. A prevelant answer to guilt in modern psychology
is to pretend we are not guilty, placing blame on others for our wrong actions or embracing relativistic thinking that denies
moral absolutes. However, as hard as we may try to deny guilt, our hearts know the truth, and we continue to live with a defensive
rather than a forgiven spirit.
False guilt, on the other hand, caused by people foisting their expectations on us or from unrealistic expectations we
place on ourselves, can drive us to the breaking point as quickly as true guilt. False guilt motiveates us to take responsibility
which is no tours and to blame ourselves for the wrong choices of others. False guilt╣ can cause us to live with
a sense of defeat, despair and worthlessness as we cripple ourselves and others by enabling unhealthy behavior. These are
common results when we handle the powerful emotion of guilt in our own wisdom.
However, the Bible shows us how to deal with guilt feelings to prevent them from ruining our self image or
ruling our lives. As we grow in our relationship with the Lord, He helps us learn to identify false guilt and resolve true
King David, the author of at least 73 of the Psalms, was the instrument God used to impart wisdom about dealing
ith guilt. This man, described by God as a "man after His own heart" (1 Samuel 13:14), at one time in his life became self-sufficient
and disregarded God's leadership. As David followed his own desires in this state, he committed adultery with Bathsheba, the
wife of Uriah, one of Israel's loyal soldiers who was away at the battlefront. When Bathsheba became pregnant and David could
not hide his crime, he arranged the death of Uriah on the front lines of battle and then married Bathsheba.
Whether one feels for David or casts a critical eye, God used David's story to exhibit the power of His forgiveness
in our own lives. The first lesson to be learned is that hiding guilt is no way out of guilt's bondage. Attempting to hide
his sin did not quench the fire of burning guilt within David or lessen the terrible riplling effects of his wrong choices
within his family and the nation of Israel. Indeed, the guilt David sought to hide has been revisited by millions throughout
But through the Psalms that David penned about his experience, God has shown us the healthy way to handle
guilt and find freedom in God's forgiveness and grace. The Psalms declare that God has provided a way for us to live guilt-free
lives, and this is reason to celebrate! God knows we were not made to live with guilt, and the Scriptures declare the incredible
lengths to which God has gone to allow us to experience forgiveness and freedom from this powerful emotion. As we continue
our study of Reasons to Celebrate, we will observe truths from the Psalms regarding this aspect of being fully known and fully
loved by God.
1.a What are the positive effects of guilt? How can guilt benefit us and society in general?
b. What are some wrong responses to guilt promoted in our society today?
c. Why do these responses to guilt only produce more problmes?
2.a. How negative effects can guilt have on people's lives?
b. How woul dyou define the real needs of the guilty person?
3.a. One reason God hates sin is that it destroys our lives. How did David describe some of the feelings produced
Psalm 38:10-11, 14, 17
b. What was David's response? For what did he ask God?
4.a. Freedom from guilt first requires confession, or agreeing with God that a specific action was
wrong. How did David confess his sin?
b. What did David acknowledge in Psalm 51:5-6?
5. Freedom from guilt also requires repentance, a total turning from wong to live a godly life. How did David
express his repentant spirit in Psalm 51:10-12?
6. Waht did David discover as he came to God with sincere confession and repentance?
Psalm 103:3-4, 9-10
7. What is God's promise to the one who comes to Him in genuine repentance?
8. On what basis are we cleansed from sin?
Isaiah 53:4-5, 10-12 (prophecy about Jesus Christ)
Romans 5:1; Matthew 26:28
Reference: Note 1, Redemption, bottom
9. How does 1 John 1:9 reflect the process that brought David freedom from guilt?
10. What is also necessary in order to experience freedom from guilt?
Matthew 5:23-24; Leviticus 6:1-5
Matthew 6:12, 14 (Matthew 18:21-35)
11. How does Psalm 130:3-4, 7-8 sum up our reasons to celebrate God's forgiveness?
12. From what can God's forgiveness set you free? Why is the forgiveness of God a reason to celebrate?
13. What heart attitudes are important as you come to God for forgiveness?
14. Why was the cross of Christ necessary for you to be forgiven by a holy God? What does the cross prove
about God's love for you?
Reference: Note1, Redemption, bottom
15. What attitude does an understanding of the cross encourage you to have toward other people?
16. As we discussed in our last lesson, perfection will never be the basis on which we accept ourselves. What
is always the basis of healthy self-love and forgiveness?
Note: Are there areas of your life where you would like to experience God's forgiveness
once and for all? It may be helpful to take a piece of paper, go before the Lord, and prayerfully list unforgiven sin. After
this time of confession and repentance, write 1 John 1:9 in large letters across the sheet and destroy it, symbolizing God's
You may want to then express forgiveness to yourself and acknowledge forgiveness of specific individuals
who have hurt you. Finally, you may feel led to ask forgiveness of individuals you have wronged. As difficulte as these tasks
may seem, great joy and freedom is the result.
╣ Redemption. "The concept of redemption can only be fully understood by glimpsing the Biblical
context of human beings held captive by the power of forces they cannot defeat. Only through intervention can that slavery
be broken and freedom accomplished, often by paying a ransom. In the Old Testament, God intervened on behalf of Israel, taking
the initiative in the great redemptive event from Egypt, the exodus (see Genesis 15:13-14; Exodus 1:11-14; 12:31-42; Psalm
105:23-39), where the goal was the enjoyment of life in the promised land. References in the Old Testament to redemption from
sin point forward to the redemption from sin accomplished in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24; Colossians 1:13-14). Though in the
human arena freedom can be purshased through money, no human being can break the bondage of anothe rhuman being to sin. No
person can redeem another human being. We are all slaves to sin: Christ, however, paid the ransom with His blood, His death
(Exodus 12:12-13; Leviticus 11, 14; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Timothy 2:6). The goal of our redemption is to enjoy freedom
from the guilt and power of sin and to live a life of service that reflects our new standing (Romans 3:24; 6:7-22; Galatians
5:1, 13; 1 Peter 2:16). The goal will be fully achieved only at the resurrection on the last day (Romans 8:23; Ephesians 1:14)."
The NIV Topical Study Bible, pages 137-138, 1391.
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