I am guilty as sin
Sin is in me.
Let’s blame Eve.
It was Eve that first gave into the number one temptation since God created us — to be like God. I suppose we could blame Satan who deceived her. By the time Adam came upon the scene, it was too late. Still, like most husbands would, he joined Eve in the one and only thing they were not supposed to do.
Eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil meant that they now knew sin. From that moment forward the internal battle raged between trying to do good and wanting to do bad.
That is the struggle into which I was born. Into which we are all born. This doesn’t mean that we have to pay for Eve’s sin. It does mean that the consequences of sin are long lasting, even eternal. We suffer the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin.
They were kicked out of Eden and their lives became difficult and harsh. I wonder how many conversations they had that started with if only. I wonder if Adam accepted his responsibility for his own sin or did he blame Eve for their troubles. I imagine the devil really coming at them with reminders of their guilt and how they condemned themselves and betrayed God in a minute. How they were imperfect, scarred, creations of God that failed miserably.
Satan is like that. He shows you the shiny objects that look so good and tasty. He influences your thoughts and challenges your beliefs until you cave. Then he laughs and points his finger at you as he mocks your weakness and failures. For most of us, guilt follows sin.
Most times guilt is functional though. It causes us to feel the pain of our sin and to suffer the consequences of our actions. Satan tries to convince us or to blind us to any consequences of our sins. God shows us the consequences of our sin.
Functional Guilt versus False Guilt
Sometimes guilt is not matched to our sin. Aside from functional guilt, there is false guilt. This guilt doesn’t stem from sin, but from letting people down for solid and healthy reasons. The let down can be imaginary in some cases or it can be real. For example, I let a friend down recently when I was too sick to help him with the church service. I was too sick to attend let alone lead part of the service.
This was a wise choice yet the guilt I felt at letting him down outweighed the reality of my illness. In other words, I had false guilt because I couldn’t perform as promised. There is a difference between the feelings associated with letting people down and false guilt. If I let people down, I apologize and explain the reason. I may feel bad for a bit, but I don’t let those feelings consume me and condemn me. False guilt is when I replay pretend conversations in my head about how I really let that person down, I should have done what I promised no matter how sick I was, I always let people down, my friend won’t like me anymore, I bet he’s really hurt, etc. And it is all my fault.
It’s not like I ate the apple of that tree! But if feels like it.
Where functional guilt moves us towards being better friends, associates, spouses, or parents, false guilt pushes us away from people. Left unchallenged, it creates a dark vision of who we are. We can start to believe that we can not be trusted and will hurt others because of our inability to be good.
The reality is we can’t be good. Not good up to God’s standards. Only Jesus was good—without sin. Everyone else is suffering from the consequences of other’s sin or our own sin. Sin covers us like a fishing net and drags us down to the muddy bottom of a murky sea. The only solution is to have someone set us free from that net. And that is Jesus. John 8:36 says that if Jesus sets you free, you will be free indeed.
You see, we don’t have to carry that burden alone. We live in a sinful world, but we can be set free from our sins and the kind of guilt that destroys. Discover the truth of Jesus and the truth will set you free (John 8:32)
Andy Becker is a retired counsellor and author of The Travelers, a fictionalized account of spiritual warfare (available on Amazon) as is, Stupid Thyroid, a book he co-wrote with his wife, Stella. Andy and his wife, Stella, lead Lighthouse Ministry in North Central Regina, one of Canada’s poorest and roughest areas. He is a retired counselor, speaker, and writer. Andy Becker is working on his second book about spiritual warfare. His first book, The Travelers, is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.