Home » Counseling Corner Archives » Guilt Under the Law

Guilt Under the Law

Some believers in Christ who have wondered into the wilderness of sin may experience a season of enjoyment in that wilderness. The delights of the flesh can suppress and subdue the once enjoyed spiritual satisfaction of walking in the Spirit. “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh.” (Galatians 5:17) Once the flesh gets the upper hand, it will frolic in the carnival of Vanity Fair. There will be no consciousness of sin in this country. Sinful habits, thought and deeds that were once resisted and fought against are now the norm for the deceived soul. Living in wide open spaces in wide open pleasures will at some point poison the redeemed soul. The conscience of a believer having been dulled, deadened, and darkened by the spirit of the world will at some point resurrect to remembrance the first love that has been abandoned. “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” (Revelation 2:4) The difficulty of coming out of it will be intensely aggravated by the sting of the scorpion. The scorpion strikes the conscience with his tail and leaves the devastating sting of guilt. The pain in the conscience becomes unbearable, tormenting and overpowering. King David felt this sting when Nathan confronted him with the truth about his adulterous act with Bathsheba. (II Samuel 12) The Psalms reveal the agony of his guilt. “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your loving kindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin…my sin is always before me.” Psalm 51:1 – 3) David prayed and received mercy by repenting of his sin with “…a broken and a contrite heart. These, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)

But many who have fallen under condemnation of their guilty souls do not experience peace and relief in their conscience. Like David, their sin is always before them. Subsequently they set out to make amends to God, trying to bring an acceptable sacrifice of works to please God, but to no avail. Nevertheless, the soul in despair may take desperate action to try to placate God. I am reminded of the main protagonist in Flannery O’Connor’s fictional short story, Wiseblood:

As a small boy, Hazel Motes was taken to a carnival by his father. The father entered into an adult tent while sending his son into a tent of monkeys. Hazel convinced the keeper of the adult tent to let him in. Upon seeing the activities in the tent, he slipped out. His conscience was full of guilt from what he saw. Upon arriving at home with his father, his mother suspected by his countenance that he had done something wrong and confronted him. She asked him what he had seen. He said nothing. She hit him across the legs with a stick. His guilt became unbearable. The next day he pulled some shoes out of a box and filled the bottoms of them with stones and small rocks and put them on. He laced them up, walked a mile to a creek, sat down and took them off. “He thought; ‘That ought to satisfy Him’.”

How many saints who have wavered and returned to sin have fallen into this thinking? Something must be done to satisfy the Lord so they start clearing up their walk, constantly pleading for forgiveness, hoping that the Lord will finally forgive them. They are under the Law of God never being able to satisfy their conscience. “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. (Galatians 5:4) He who has been justified by faith stands in the grace of God. One needs only to repent of sin to be back with the fellowship of grace. For sin quenches the grace of God. (II Thessalonians 5:19)

Have you fallen into this trap? You do not have to put rocks in your shoes to reconcile your fellowship with God. Come boldly to the throne of grace with a broken and repentant heart and God will forgive you. He will forgive and cleanse you from your sin when you confess your sin. (I John 1:9) He will take the burden of guilt off of your conscience. “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” (I John 1:7)