Christian Guilt

Q. Hebrews 10:1-2 reads, “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming–not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.”

If we flip this verse around it’s also saying, promising actually, the reverse, i.e. that those who have accepted Christ’s sacrifice on their behalf and have accepted Him as Personal Savior will no longer experienced guilt. Why then are so many Christians tortured with guilt?

A. If only it was that simple. In Hebrews 10:1-2 the writer was comparing the numerous sacrifices for sin required by the Levitical system with the once for all time sacrifice the Lord made on our behalf. If your hypothesis about turning the verses around was correct, no believer would ever experience guilt. But the fact is we do experience it, more so than any unbeliever, and the reason we do is that we’re being convicted by the Holy Spirit to confess and be forgiven.

There are lots of preachers who teach we can lose our salvation if we don’t toe the mark, and once we lose it we can never get it back. And there are lots of preachers who teach that since we’re already saved forever we don’t need to ask the Lord to forgive us when we sin. These are opposite approaches but they produce the same result, guilt.

But there is almost nobody teaching that while we’ve already been forgiven in the eternal sense and no one can take us out of the Lord’s hands (John 10:27-30), confessing when we sin, as 1 John 1:9 instructs, will purify us from all unrighteousness here on earth. This has the effect of absolving us of our guilt in the here and now. So for the Christian, the old Scottish proverb “confession is good for the soul” is literally true.

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