John 3:20 “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”
Guilt is an interesting thing. There is a huge difference between being guilty and feeling guilty. I think the primary factor in that difference is responsibility/accountability. We don’t like to feel guilty so we deny responsibility and refuse to be accountable to God. That is what Jesus is talking about here. The opposite attitude is expressed in John’s first letter: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Our feelings don’t determine our guilt or innocence; that is objective fact. However, as I have heard quoted quite a bit over the past year, facts are stubborn things. Whether we did something or not doesn’t change, regardless of how much we might deny it, and also regardless of why we might have done it or not done it. God indeed sees our hearts, and something that is innocuous for one person might be sin for another. That can make it all rather complicated, but Paul had the right attitude. “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” (1 Corinthians 4:3-4) However, that takes a high degree of trust in God. Failure to come to God in repentance is a clear sign that we don’t trust Him to forgive us: we have swallowed the devil’s lie that God is vindictive. When we understand the magnitude of what Jesus did on the cross, rather than trying to hide from God, like the people Jesus was talking about here, we will run to Him to allow Him to clean us up and make us all that He created us to be.
This is something I have experienced repeatedly. I remember a particular “besetting sin” that I couldn’t seem to shake, but then the Lord got through to me through Peter: “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is short-sighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.” (2 Peter 1:8-9) It was only when I grasped that I really was forgiven that I was able to let go of the sin and not repeat it. I learned that the only real cure for guilt is faith in the cross of Christ. As a pastor I try to get this truth across to people, but as usual, I do so with varying success. Shame is a huge factor in Japanese society, and people allow embarrassment at things that aren’t even sin to keep them from fellowship with the Body of Christ. I obviously have no wisdom or ability to overcome that on my own, so that’s all the more reason to be fully submitted to God, leaving control in His hands and not trying to “grab the wheel,” so to speak. If I will submit to Him, He will even use me to bless others and draw them to His full salvation.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for this time of training in keeping my hands off the wheel. May I indeed rest, relax, and rejoice in You, submitting fully to You so that I may stand firmly against all the junk the devil tries to throw at me, and do Your will on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!