We live in a world full of disorder. Chaos. Confusion. Things not as they should be. And when I forget that God is my ever present help in the midst of all this trouble, I find stress in growing in me. I take on God’s job and become my own helper and protector.
But the turmoil of the world, and the inner turmoil I so often find in me when I am not living as I should, is a result of the fall of man in Genesis 3. When Adam and Eve sinned, both creation was cursed (Romans 8:20-22) and thanks to Adam and Eve I was gifted their sinful nature. “You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in…”(Romans 5:12, The Message). And so things are not as they should be. But here is the good news, I was not given the job of controlling or fixing this mess. There is an incredible promise in Genesis 3:15 that gave that responsibility to the coming Christ. My role is to point people to the solution…and remember to go there myself.
This brings me to a massive breeding ground of stress. One that I, in myself, have no solution for – and never will. The guilt of unconfessed sin. This week I’ll just deal with the stress of guilt, and then the next two weeks what the ripple effects are in us of unresolved guilt…and they are awful.
Here is the key principle: I do not have the ability to absorb sin and it not be harmful and damaging to me. There is something in me that moves me toward sin (Romans 7:15-23), but there is nothing in me that resolves my sin. The apostle Paul realized the solution was not in himself. “I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does” (Romans 7:24,25 – The Message).
If my sin is not resolved, I will always become a victim of that sin and that sin will have an effect on me. It is always a negative effect. I do not have the ability to live with unresolved sin and it not have an impact on me.
- “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear” (Psalm 38:4).
- “When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. The pressure never let up, all the juices of my life dried up” (Psalm 32:3,4 – The Message).
And then two interesting things happen in me.
- My guilt sensitizes me to sin in a way that that is more reactive to it. I can spot it in others and I become very judgemental. Because the log is still in my eye, I can always spot the speck in your eye, and I make it my business to tell you…and others (Matthew 7:3ff).
- But my increased sensitivity to sin does more than make me judgemental, it increases my own susceptibility to sin. Sin is not passive. My unresolved sin always grows. The longer I live with prolonged guilt and delay forgiveness the deeper the sin patterns become in me.
Prolonged guilt + delayed forgiveness = deepened sin patterns.
So what do I do?
We do what the Psalmist did, he confessed. “Then I let it all out; I said, ‘I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.’ Suddenly the pressure was gone – my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared” And when I do, because Jesus paid the price of my sin, I am forgiven and cleansed. I am de-stressed.
SOME GOOD NEWS PASSAGES TO PONDER...and act upon to eliminate the stress of guilt:
- Psalm 32
- Psalm 51
- I John 1:9
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