In The Big Fight, a new book from The Christian Book Company (edited by Richard Perkins and Tim Thornborough), Richard Coekin has a helpful section on guilt. Writing specifically to men, he highlights four different kinds of guilt men (or women) may experience.
1. Many men don’t feel guilty before God when they should!
The Psalmist observed:
An announcement is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: there is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin. (Psalm 36: 1-2)
Many men don’t seek the Saviour because they don’t fear God as they should because they don’t feel guilty enough about their sin.
2. Many religious men feel guilty before God about things that aren’t wrong!
The Apostle Paul also warns us about false teachers who:
forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving. (1 Timothy 4: 3)
Many men are taught by human religions to feel guilty about thoroughly good things like getting married or eating certain food or other blessings from God eg: the food laws of Judaism, the fasting laws of Islam or the vows of Roman Catholic monks.
3. Many men rightly feel guilty before God when His Spirit is convicting them of their need for the Saviour!
When he [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment… (John 16: 8)
This means that Jesus’ Holy Spirit continues to convict us through the Scriptures of our guilt under God’s law, to show us our need of Him. This is our experience when we’re becoming Christians and throughout our lives as Christians. Our awareness of guilt is an encouraging sign of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in our lives. But His ministry doesn’t end with guilt.
4. Christian men shouldn’t keep feeling guilty because we are cleansed from our guilt by Jesus’ blood!
The letter to the Hebrews says:
let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience. (Hebrews 10: 22)
He’s been explaining that, like a high priest entering God’s presence with the blood of a sacrifice for the sins of his people, Jesus has permanently entered God’s presence in heaven as our High Priest with the sacrifice of His own blood shed for our sins on the cross. This means that the way is now open for us to live for ever in the presence of God without guilt, if we are “sprinkled” with Jesus’ blood through trusting in His death for our sins.