January 31

Leviticus 5-7, Psalm 31

The year was 1983 and this day should have been one of the happiest days of my life. I had just graduated Pharmacy School and being valedictorian of the graduating class I was asked to deliver the speech at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. My speech went fine and was well received, but in it, whether purposely or inadvertently I thanked just about everyone at the end of it except my mother. My mother and I had a very close relationship until about two years previously. My wife and I chose to be married at a very early age (21), and my parents openly disapproved. The next two years were difficult between us and there was a bit of anger. This was a number of years before I came into a relationship with Christ. So, though my mother deserved to be showered with thanks and gratitude during a moment when I could publicly declare how much I loved her, I was silent. I know that it hurt her immediately afterward and my guilt was staggering. As everyone was celebrating at dinner after the ceremony, I could only focus on my guilt which consumed me and my thoughts. When I still think of that moment it still sickens me how thoughtless I was. That is exactly what guilt does, it consumes us internally and destroys our fellowship. John MacArthur said, "The conscience is a built-in warning system that signals us when something we have done is wrong. The conscience is to our souls what pain sensors are to our bodies: it inflicts distress, in the form of guilt, whenever we violate what our hearts tell us is right." This shame and guilt can keep us from experiencing God's love and fellowship.

In chapter 4 of Leviticus, we read about the sin offering which was meant to cover unintentional sins. Chapter 5 deals with the trespass or guilt offering when we purposely or realize that we have wronged God. Chapter 6 continues with this concept and refers more to when our actions have wronged our fellow man. We read in Leviticus 5:5, "And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing;...". When we sin against another we read in Leviticus 6:5, "...He shall restore its full value, add one-fifth more to it, and give it to whomever it belongs, on the day of his trespass offering." The twenty percent added wasn't instituted to punish God's people, but to liberate them from the guilt we needlessly bear whenever we fail to deal openly and candidly with those we have wronged. How serious is guilt? It caused Judas to hang himself when he suffered from the guilt of being the traitor of our Savior (Matthew 27:3-5). It caused Adam and Eve to hide from God and cover themselves with fig leaves after their transgression in the Garden (Genesis 3:7-9). When we fall short and sin against God and others, and we all will frequently, Satan will be right there to whisper in our ears that what we have done is so heinous that God will never forgive us. This is a lie. If we believe this and do not confess what we have done we allow our consciences to become calloused. We read in in Timothy 4:1-2, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,".

For those of us who are in Christ, He has shouldered the burden of our guilt. In 1 John 1:9, we read, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." We read of our freedom from the guilt of sin in Romans 8:1, "There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." So how do we rid ourselves of the guilt that can so easily consume us? We are to admit the sin that created our guilt and repent that sin before God. If we have wronged another, we should make amends. We should acknowledge our wrongdoing, not just try to cover it up with good works. Lastly, we must accept God's forgiveness. He desires for us to experience peace and fellowship with Him. This is strained when we walk around and harbor feelings of guilt.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster