Releasing The Guilt Of The Past

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RELEASING THE GUILT OF THE PAST

 

Psalm 32:1-5

Psalm 32:1-5 (NIV)
1 Of David. A maskil. Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”— and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah

INTRODUCTION:

 

A.        [I understand that a naturalist can cut down a tree and by merely studying the rings in the center of the trunk he is able to discover the life history of that tree.

 

The color and contour of each ring suggests different things.

 

An expert might say, "Here's a ring that represents a year of drought or here is a time when there was a fire, or lightning or a great deal of rain."]

 

B. Something similar happens when God looks at our lives, he takes a piercing look beneath the surface and sees rings, which represent all sorts of different hidden hurts and pains from the past.

 

Here's a ring left from an alcoholic father, or here's a mark that reveals that time in your life when a relationship that meant the world to you was severed.

 

Here's a ring that represents the time an upset, stressed out mom said, "I wish I'd never had you."

 

Or another ring for each sin we have committed in our lives.

 

Regardless of the rings, whether they are few or many, we all have some.

 

C. The question is how do we deal with the past?

 

Often times we try to cover up our rings, and we try to suppress the past, which haunts them.

 

It was Cal Thomas who said, "Halloween's not the only day of the year that people put on masks."

 

When God looks at our lives, He takes a piercing look beneath the surface and sees rings, which represent hidden hurts and pains from the past.

 

But through trust in Christ we can release the past.

 

[Maybe you heard about the man who was hired to go and take a census in the hills of east Tennessee.

 

He knocked, and a teenage girl came to the door.

 

The interviewer asked, "Is your mom home?"

 

She said, "She ran off with a moon shiner."

 

The man continued, "Is your father home?"

 

"Nah," she replied, "He pokes his head in once a month to take a bath."

 

The frustrated guy said, "How about an older sister?"

 

She said, "Nope, she's in jail for shooting at a sheriff."

 

The guy said, "Is your older brother home?"

 

She said, "Nah, he's at Harvard."

 

The astonished census taker gasped and said, "Harvard? What's he studying?"

 

The girl said, "Nothing. They're studyin' him!"]

 

Transition: Today we're going to study the past in order to realize the negative impact that guilt can have on our everyday lives, and to help each of us realize that through time, and through Christ we can release the past.

 

1. THE REALITY OF GUILT

 

At times we all feel guilty, occasionally or constantly, depending upon the nature of our dependencies.

 

And we find that our secret sin cannot co-exist with inner peace.

 

The 1st reality of guilt we find is that;

 

A) Guilt Bullies

 

Guilt is a bully always picking fights that we can never win.

 

It casts doubt and undermines trust.

 

READ Psalm 32:3-4

Psalm 32:3-4 (NIV)
3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah

Once we are old enough to know right from wrong, guilt stalks us whenever we choose wrong.

 

Our problem is that we know better, but we don't always want to do better.

 

Listen to Psalm 32:1-4-The first two verses are very positive; David is talking about after he's confessed his sin of adultery with Bathsheba-READ

 

1 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.

Now listen to this transition, he shifts to before he confessed his sins.

 

READ vs. 3-4.

3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.

That is the reality of guilt. Perhaps the most painful bullet that guilt fires at us, is the emotional stress-David says, "I'm groaning, I'm sapped of strength"

 

The 2nd reality of Guilt is that;

 

B) Guilt Erodes

 

Guilt erodes our confidence by destroying our relationships.

 

It keeps us living in our past- groaning, sapping strength.

 

It brings up the past: the cutting remark, a lustful thought, an arrogant attitude, and a greedy maneuver.

 

So many are paralyzed in the present because they are living in the past.

 

It's tough to release the past, especially when we find ourselves reliving it day after day after day.

 

[Frank Howard, former Athletic Director of Clemson University explained years ago why they didn't have Rowing as a sport, "We won't have any sport where people sit down and go backwards!"]

 

The apostle Paul said, "Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press on."

 

[In 1954 Opening Day of Baseball, the Cincinnati Reds played the Milwaukee Braves.

 

Two rookies started in that game.

 

Cincinnati had a rookie named Jim Greengrass who went 4-4 with 4 doubles.

 

The Braves rookie went 0-4, but that was just the first day.

 

Who is it that people remember? Is it Jim Greengrass or Hank Aaron?]

 

My point is people won't remember how you started; they'll remember how you finished.

 

You may have a life that is strewn with mistakes, and blunders, but the question is which direction is it heading? How do you want to finish?

 

We can be so burdened with guilt that when we pray to God, we hear the static, "Boy is God ticked at you."

 

And yet that's not the Biblical picture at all.

 

In reality his reply to the repentant is not one of anger. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11:28)

 

That doesn't sound to me like the description of one who doesn't want you to get personal with Him.

 

People don't remember how you started, but they'll remember how you finished.

 

Regardless of your past mistakes and blunders how do you want to finish?

 

2. THE REASONS FOR GUILT

 

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me." (Psalm 51:1-3)

 

1st reason for guilt is;

 

A) Sins of the Past

 

David had good reason to feel guilty—he was guilty.

 

He had committed adultery, lied to cover it up and had Bathsheba's husband Uriah murdered.

 

[There's a scene in "Gone with the Wind" where Scarlet O'Hara is crying and pouring out all of her false guilt to Rhett Butler.

 

Butler's response to her is classic.

 

He says, "Scarlet, you are not upset because you feel sorry; you are upset because you got caught."]

 

At times we're more bothered by the fact that others know our mistakes rather than the fact that we have disobeyed God.

 

"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." (2 Corinthians 7:10)

 

A 2nd reason for guilt is;

 

B) Reminders of the Past from Satan

 

Satan is a video genius when it comes to splicing together a highlight film of all of our foul ups and mistakes.

 

We speak of a habit that we’re going to quit and the Devil laughs and says, "I've heard that before!"

 

A 3rd reason for guilt is;

 

C) Reminders from Others

 

Even after you become a Christian others will enjoy bringing up your past. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to get some new friends.

 

If you are not able to behave like a Christian when you are around your friends, then you are not bringing them up they are bringing you down.

 

"What fellowship does light have with darkness.”? (2 Cor. 6:14)

 

3. THE RESPONSE TO GUILT

 

A) Disgust

 

When we realize the mistakes we've made we privately say to God, "Why did I do it again? I can't believe I did that. What was I thinking?"

 

B) Denial

 

We tend to rationalize, "others have done far worse."

 

But denying our sins doesn't erase them, it only magnifies them.

 

It moves us in the opposite direction of confessing.

 

Instead of running to God for His forgiveness, we are retreating from Him.

 

We tend to think our problems will go away if we cover them up.

 

But the truth is they get bigger.

 

It's like trying to hide an elephant under a welcome mat.

 

[I heard of a woman who was at a social gathering of some ladies.

 

When it came time to leave, she found her car door was locked and her keys were in the ignition.

 

Knowing that she had an appointment in an hour, she reluctantly went in the house and called her husband.

 

He had to leave in the middle of an important meeting at work and drive 20 miles to the house.

 

While the ladies were waiting they realized that the passenger door was unlocked.

 

Her friend looked at her and said, "What are you going to do?"

 

She replied, "I'm gonna do what any decent wife would do."

 

So she reached in, locked the door and slammed it shut!]

 

Everyone deals with guilt in different ways.

 

You can deny guilt, attempt to minimize it, rationalize it, or blame others, but the only solution is to admit our sin to the One who is sinless and begin the trusting process.

 

C) Admission of Sin

 

The fourth step of Alcoholics Anonymous says, "Make a searching and fearless, moral inventory of ourselves."

 

Most people who have gone through the program say that the fourth step is the most difficult.

 

"Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord." (Lam. 3:40)

 

D) Confession to God and Others

 

Often times after committing a sin I am told that some people will try to soothe their conscience by bathing or washing their face repeatedly.

 

(Pilate—trying to wash his hands of Jesus)

 

Isn't it interesting that God chose the symbol of baptism to signify spiritual cleansing?

 

In Acts 22:16 Ananias said to Paul at his conversion, "Now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away."

 

Baptism is an act of releasing the guilt of the past.

 

It makes a clear line of demarcation and communicates, "I am different now."

 

E) Acceptance of Forgiveness

 

Whenever we speak of David, we usually talk of David and Jonathan, David and Goliath, and then in the same breath we say David and Bathsheba.

 

Max Lucado says, "Our human nature won't allow us to speak of how good he was without bringing up how bad he was."

 

We like to dwell on the dirt.

 

But the Bible teaches that, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 Jn 1:9)

 

Guilt is temporary, but God's grace and forgiveness is eternal.

 

If God says that he will forgive your sin and forget it, he means it.

 

The Bible says he hurls it, he banishes it never to be brought up again, “I will remember their sin no more”.

 

The good news is found in vs. 2, 5 of our text (READ).

 

For those who truly repent of the past, God wants to forgive and forget their sins.

2 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”— and you forgave the guilt of my sin
.

CONCLUSION:

 

Satan won't remind you of the ongoing pain of that choice only of the temporary pleasure -- he'll gloss over the guilt and remind you of the rush.

 

But the more times you can go without giving in, the less potent his attacks will become as you gradually grow in your acceptance of God's forgiveness and love.

 

And you know that Satan's attacks will lose their sting, his bark is bigger than his bite.

 

For when Christ allowed imperfect humans to nail him to a cross, his blood covered over all of our past sins, and all of our future sins.

 

And if He is able to conquer the grave, then surely He is able to forgive us.

 

Regardless of the outcomes of your individual encounters with Satan, the truth remains Jesus has defeated Satan, once and for all at Calvary.

 

Although we may lose an occasional battle, we can still win the war because of Christ's victory.

 

The devil is doomed to Hell for eternity!

 

So the next time Satan reminds you of your past, you remind him of his future!

 

 

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