Reckoning with our guilt over sexual sin
Do you know the experience of guilt? Sometimes it is acute, a stabbing pain in your gut. At other times, it is a dull, gnawing in your soul – a vague feeling of “wrongness” about life, and when you stop to focus on why, the memory of your sin floods back. You long to be free from guilt, but as your failure persists, the pain continues. As a Christian, the guilt you experience over your sin is unavoidable. You know the truth. You know how God calls you to live. You know the things you should be doing, and the things you shouldn’t.
Worse, our experience of guilt is compounded because sexual sin is always “clustered” with other sins. Lies and deceit are the constant companions of sexual sin. We squander time and resources, neglecting our calling as husband, father, son, employee, church member, etc. Sometimes we steal to support our behaviors. All these things deepen the reality of our guilt.
Because we keep our sin hidden, guilt surfaces in other ways and impacts our relationships with others. We are irritable and impatient. We become withdrawn and sullen. Sometimes we rage, even scaring ourselves. Even if you manage to hide your behavior for decades, you need to realize that there is always fallout from sin. Sin always infects our relationships with God and others. Because of the reality of your guilt, spending the evening looking at porn online will impact who you are at work the next day (how well you are able to function, interact with others, and so on). When you stop at the adult bookstore on the way home from work (or the bathhouse, for example), it affects who you are at the dinner table with your family. When you spent time at work having a sexual chat online, you will be a different man at the home Bible study that night. If you are having suggestive conversations with a co-worker, it will determine how you interact with your wife once the kids are in bed. You may be able to hide your behavior, but there will always be relational consequences.
The hope for you today is that the gospel is true! Listen to the promise from Colossians 2:13-14, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” He does not treat us as our sins deserve, rather because ”the LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love,” he removes our transgressions from us “as far as the east is from the west” (see Psalm 103, especially vv. 8-14). In Christ, God has forever dealt with the problem of our guilt!
How do you tend to respond to others when you feel guilty? Are you angry, impatient or withdrawn? Who tends to be on the receiving end of these behaviors?
Excerpt taken from Harvest USA’s new (soon to be published) workbook for men, “Sexual Sanity for Men, Recreating Your Mind in a Crazy Culture”, published by New Growth Press. Check the Harvest USA bookstore on our website, www.harvestusa.org to see when it is available. This workbook is excellent for small groups and one-on-one mentoring.