Craig Groeschel - Get Rid of Your Guilt
I wanna ask you a very personal question, and I hope this isn't too direct, but how many of you have ever been caught doing something wrong? Again. Am I coming on too hot? Do I need to take you to dinner first before we get that first? You've been caught doing something wrong. Now, here's another question. When you were caught doing something wrong, how many of you were sorry? Little deeper question. Were you sorry that you were caught doing something wrong? Or were you sorry that you did something wrong? Because there is a difference. For example, when I was in high school, I got caught cheating on a test, small town, very embarrassing. Everybody knew I was very sorry that I got caught cheating on a test. I wasn't really sorry that I cheated. I was sorry that I got caught. The last time I got caught, I got caught talking bad about somebody that I love and I was very, very sorry. Not just that I got caught, but I was very sorry that I was talking bad about someone that I love. And this introduces our theme for today in a message series we're calling Habits of a Healthy Heart.
In the New Year, if you wanna change your life, what do you change? You change your habits. But if you wanna change your habits, you let God change your heart. And so we're talking about different habits of the heart. The first week, we talked about the habit of self-examination. The second week, we talked about the habit of simplicity. Better is one handful of tranquility than two with toil and a chasing off the wind. Last week, we talked about the habit of slowing and solitude to be still and know that He is God. Next week, we're gonna talk about the very important habit of steadfastness. Today's habit, though, is a very important habit that the devil does not want you to adopt. Because if your spiritual enemy can keep you from this one habit, he can keep you living in shame. He can keep you distant from God, and he can keep you from fulfilling your calling. And that's why today I wanna talk to you about the habit of godly sorrow. The title for our message is "Get rid of Your Guilt".
So Father, we ask today that the truth and the power of Your living word would pierce our souls, change our hearts. And God, may our lives reflect the goodness of Your Son, Jesus. Speak to us, God. We pray in Jesus' name. And everybody said... Amen. Amen, amen.
Let's talk about the habit of godly sorrow. This comes from 2 Corinthians 7, where Paul actually talks about two different kinds of sorrow. Let's look at God's Word that tells us this. We'll start in 2 Corinthians 7:9. Paul says this, he says, "Yet now I'm happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you..". to what? Let's say it loud. "It led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended". And now here's the difference. Godly sorrow. There's two types of sorrow: godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. Godly sorrow, what does it bring? It brings repentance. And what does it lead to? It leads to salvation and it leaves no regret. Godly sorrow leads you to turn away from your sin. It leads you to salvation. But worldly sorrow, what does it do? It brings death.
There's two types of sorrow. And I wanna look at these on the screen just to kind of drive it in. The first one is godly sorrow, which brings about what? It brings about repentance. It's a turning away from our sin that leads us to salvation. There's a different type of sorrow. And this is the, oh, I'm not sorry I did wrong, but it's, I'm sorry, I got caught. It's a worldly sorrow that brings about remorse. I don't really wanna change, but I'm kind of embarrassed I get caught. And that leads to spiritual death. The good news is godly sorrow can actually bring about significant change, healing, and wholeness in our lives. Now, I'll be a little bit transparent, and I hope this doesn't offend you. I can't speak for all of you, but I am actually an expert at finding fault in others. Some of you are too. Some of you got the spiritual gift of criticism. You can find fault everywhere you go. And it's really, really easy for me to make excuses for my own shortcomings while picking out everybody else's wrong doings.
And some of you're doing that right now because you're already thinking, oh, I know. so-and-so who needs this message 'cause they got the worldly sorrow and I need that. I hope my husband's listening to this one. Because if you're like me, it's really, really easy to point out someone else's fault. Easy to point out the spec in someone else's eye and ignore or rationalize or justify the log in your own eye. What do we do? We often will accuse others and excuse ourselves. You did wrong and you're a mess and you sin, but then we make excuses for our own shortcomings, especially in today's culture because almost everything in culture today wants to sanitize or rebrand sin. In fact, even the fact that I've used the word sin, for some of you is too much. There are a lot of people today say like, "Yeah, don't use the word sin because I didn't sin, I made a mistake," or a lot of people who say, "Well, I'm living my truth. Who are you to tell me what sin is for me"?
And so cultural, kind of like sanitized or almost try to baptize sin. We wouldn't say like I told a lie because that sounds too harsh. I exaggerated a little bit, or it was a white lie, or it was kind of a a fib. We'll make it sound a little bit better. Sex outside of marriage, the Bible calls it fornication. That's kind of an old fashioned judgmental word. I don't like that. I just kind of like calling it meeting my needs, like just getting things done. Let's just call it cohabitation, which makes a lot of sense nowadays because we can save money, we can kind of see how things go. And you wouldn't buy a car without test driving at first. Now, would you? Some of you're not like really laughing, like going, "Is he being serious or is he joking"? This is sarcasm in case you don't know, just in case you're wondering. We're gonna make things sound better.
The Bible says some like pretty direct things, like drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God. We use the word drunkards, but we're not also gonna call ourselves an alcoholic. We just like to party a lot. We just like to have a good time. I just like to have three or four glasses of wine to unwind, helps me feel closer to God and sleeps better at night. Sarcasm again in case you're wondering. Gossip, this is a good one. Like we don't know when gossips, we just share prayer requests. If you knew what sister Sally was doing, oh we gotta pray in the spirit for her 'cause she's doing this, that and the other. And before long, we take everything and kind of just like make it pretty. And literally, we might be like the movies we watch, the shows we consume, what we see on our social media, like literally the things that we enjoy are sin. Many times we are being entertained by sin.
And Isaiah said, "Woe to to those who call evil good". Changing the wording doesn't change the sin. What is sin? Not a popular word, a lot of people get angry with it. It comes from the Greek word hamartia. It's like an archery term. What it literally means is if this is the target and this is the middle of the target, hamartia means to miss the target, it means missing the mark. In other words, if we believe that there is to God, then there is absolute truth. And truth is not our idea. Truth is a person. Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. And so if there is a God and God is God, then God says the truth. And if we miss His standard of truth, that's called hamartia. That's sin that's coming under or missing God's standard in the way that He calls us to live.
Now, Craig, you're being judgmental, like calling out my sin or whatever. I can't call out your sin without calling out my sin. Every single one of us, every person who's ever lived except for Jesus has sinned. Romans 3:23 tells us very, very clearly, "For every one of us has sinned; we all fall short. We all miss the standard of God's glorious grace". We miss God's standard. And so you may say like, why are you doing this to us? You're supposed to be fun. You're the feel good Life.Church guy, right? Easy believe and stuff like that. Life.Church entertainment, feel good church, right? Why are you talking about sin? I already feel bad about myself. I just want to eat my donut here in church. The reason we talk about this is very, very important that we recognize that we sinned against God because until you see yourself as a sinner, you won't see your need for a savior. We've all sinned, every single one of us. It's amazing that you're clapping for me calling you sinners. That's God that's really fun.
I love this church. And so I sinned my senior year of high school two weeks before graduation and got caught cheating. And I was sorry because I was embarrassed and I felt remorse because I got caught. The challenge is remorse is not the same as repentance. Some of you, if your sin became public, that part of you that you don't want anybody to know, that secret, dark part of your heart, of your life, if it became public, you'd feel bad that other people know. Repentance is not just feeling bad that other people know is feeling so repentant before God that you turn away from the sin and run to God with all of your heart. And some of you right now, there's something going on, you kind of feel bad about it, you don't really anybody know, and you might have a little bit of remorse. And if it came out or if we talked about it or if I called you on or you called me on something, some of us, we just come up with our excuses.
Well, this is just how I deal with things. This is not that big of a deal and it's really someone else's fault. And if you do get caught, you're sorry that you got caught and you're sorry for what it cost you, but you might be blind to what it's doing to others. And when you're remorseful for your sin, you often run away from God. You don't wanna really wanna take it to him. You run away from him. And then one day, you look in the mirror and you don't recognize yourself. and you have no idea how you got to where you are. And for those of you that are Christians, one day you might wake up and discover you're not as close to God today as you were before. Like you used to be intimate with God and talk to God and be aware of His presence. And He would prompt you during the day and His word was feeding you consistently. But now, not so much. What's happening in your heart has grown cold toward God.
And some of you might even say like, why don't I feel God the way I used to? I used to feel His presence. Why don't I feel Him? Well, perhaps one of the reasons might be because sin separates us from God. God is holy and doesn't look... It separates us from God. For example, let's say you're out in the cold and where I live, that's been about all there's been for the last four years. It feels like if you're out in the cold, it's really, really cold, but you have a great hat on and maybe you have a scarf on, and you've got some long johns or some long underwear on, and it's and a nice jacket, and some gloves, and some snow boots, and some great socks, if you're covered in really, really warm clothes, you won't feel the cold because your clothes separate you from the cold. In the same way, if you go out into the world and you're covered in sin, you can't feel the presence of God because your sin separates you from God.
There's a difference between remorse and repentance. I'll tell you a story. Have you ever mentioned that we have six kids? Okay, we have six. I'm still trying to get my mind around that. We got six grandkids. How did this happen? They're gonna multiply. There's be like 700 of them. I can feel this. It's exponential, okay? My second son, my youngest son, his name is Steven. I'll show you a picture of... This was Steven when he was about three. We called him Bookie. Sam is in that picture. Sam started calling him Booby, which we felt would be inappropriate and so we rebranded it as Bookie. And so Steven became Bookie. And when Steven was about this age, one day I came out in our front yard and he was just squealing in sheer delight. Three-year-old Bookie, he was going, "My friend, my friend, my friend, my friend, my friend." and he was dancing around his friend. And I went and looked at his friend and it was a little baby rattlesnake.
The rattlesnake was dancing and rattling. Steven was dancing and rattling, having a blast with his friend, my friend. So I disposed of his friend. And Steven was so devastated. My friend, my friend, my friend. A rattlesnake was his friend. I would ask you with a serious tone, is there a sin you've befriended? Is there a sin that you're enjoying? Is there a sin that is dangerous to you, but you've been very comfortable with it? It could be jealousy, like you're jealous of her perfect hair and her perfect kid that she's got more shoes than Oprah. Or it could be that someone hurts you and you're just really good at hating them. You look at their feet all day long and you pick it apart. Spend more time looking at their feet than the people you love to pick them apart. It could be materialism, but you rationalize it. I just like nice things. All your other losers, you like dumb things, but I just like nice things. It could be that you're like me, you're cheating your way through school, or you just take God's name in vain.
I mean, you play golf and you take God's name in vain. Could be your comfort eating or medicating yourself or watching porn again. And you rationalize it and try to tell yourself it's no big deal. It's not that big of a problem. I can quit it anytime. Really, this is just my one thing. This is just how I get by. I'm not as bad as most people. And you rationalize sin. My friend, my friend, my friend. Rationalizing your sin is the first sign your heart is growing cold toward God. Is there a sin you befriended? Worldly sorrow may be embarrassed, may feel kind of bad, makes excuses, but it lacks repentance. And godly sorrow is very, very, very different. God godly sorrow is a very, very deep and honest. It's a sincere brokenness over your sinfulness, over your wrongdoing. It's marked by this genuine humility and grief. Not that you were caught, but that you sinned against God. It's this heartfelt repentance to God.
What does it mean to repent? It's like a churchy word. Well, what does re mean? Re means to turn. Pent is like the pent house. Re is turning from that which is lower to God's higher standard is to repent. It's not just like, ah, yeah, I had it again and I'm gonna try hard not to do it. And three days there, I did it again, I wish I had and it's just my one day. No. It is a God, I'm so sorry, God. I love you, God. I know you have something better. God, I don't want to do it again. I am turning away. I'm closing the door. I'm doing something. Have you ever noticed that most of the time you fall and give into temptation, you do it through a door that was left cracked open? 'Cause you're being kind of quiet. The door was still open, you sinned and you left the door cracked. I don't wanna do it anymore.
Oh, but the door still cracks. I can still do it if I want to. Repentance is like I'm getting as far away from that which breaks the heart of God and hurts me as humanly possible. I am turning away from the lower destructive things and lies of the enemies of the higher calling of God is a repentance, is turning toward God. How do we do it? Very, very simply this is what happens. We are going to confess quickly and we're going to repent wholeheartedly. What I've noticed is one of the marks of maturity, when I am walking by the spirit, when I'm intimate with God, there is an immediate awareness of sin. If I'm distant from God, if I'm ignoring God, if I'm put God up on a shelf and I'm gonna call on him when I need Him, if I'm not in the word, then I can actually slip into a sinfulness and justify it, and rationalize it, and kind of tolerate it, and almost accept it. But when God's Word is in my heart and when His spirit is directing my steps, the moment I step out of His will, immediately I'm convicted, not condemned, convicted that there's a better way, that this is a lower lie of the enemy and there is a higher truth of God.
And I will confess quickly. Oh God, I'm sorry. Oh, I didn't mean to. Oh God. Oh please, God. God, thank You for Your... God, God, I need Your grace. God will quickly, quickly, quickly, quickly, quickly. It's not that you're not gonna fall, not that you're gonna mess up, but you recognize it quickly. That's a good sign. And then what do you do? You repent wholeheartedly. It's not an all, I'm sorry, I'll probably do it again tomorrow. Oh, I'm gonna rededicate to you and I'm not gonna do it for three whole weeks this time, God. No, it's a full on, "God, I know that is against your heart, against your will, hurts your people and destroys me. I turn, I slam the door, I run away from that. I confess quickly and I repent wholeheartedly". What happens when you confess your sins to God? Scripture tells us this, if we confess our sins to God, the Bible says, God is faithful and just, and what will He do? Hold it against us? Bring condemnation into our lives? Make us feel like losers for the next 30 days while we earn our way back and do His good grace?
If we confess our sins, our God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Not only, listen, does He forgive us, but He purifies us. He cleanses our hearts. When you confess, He forgives you freely. You did nothing to earn it. You don't deserve it. And yet He gives it to you. And so what I wanna do is I wanna be close to God. Am I gonna still sin? Unfortunately, I'm still stuck in a sinful body prone to sin, prone to the wrong thoughts, wrong judgment, wrong words, wrong actions, wrong attitudes. But when I do, because I'm close to God, I confess quickly. God, forgive me, change my heart. And I'm gonna repent wholeheartedly. And when I receive God's undeserving mercy and grace, it changes me. When you receive His undeserving mercy and grace, it changes you and you're different. Confess quickly. Repent wholeheartedly. Confess quickly. Repent wholeheartedly. Confess quickly. Repent wholeheartedly.
I was talking to a guy that was still battling with pornography and he said, "Craig, all these years I'm still fighting the urge to look at porn". And I said, "Well, you want me to tell you the good news of what you just said"? And he said, "What's the good news"? The good news is you're still fighting. Meaning you haven't rationalized, you haven't given into it. You're not dancing my friend, my friend. You don't wanna do it. So at least there's that. And then we talked real openly about it. So tell me about your repentance. Wat does your repentance look like? It's like, well, I tell God I'm sorry, and then I do it again.
And I tell God I'm sorry and then I do it again. I said, "No, no, no, no. That's confession. What about your repentance? How do you turn from it"? He goes, "well, what do you mean? I tell God I'm sorry. And I go three days and I do it again". I said, "Well, where do you look at it"? He said, "Well, always on my mobile phone". Said, "Okay, so if that's where you're looking at it, if you're turning from it, how are you closing the door"? And he looks kind of confused. And at that point, I didn't push anymore. I said, "Just think about what you can do". I was thinking you can block things. And I said, "Go ask God what you can do to repent to close that door". About, I don't know, three or four days later, he came to me and he was smiling really big. He said, "I repented, I repented, I repented". I said, "What'd you do"? And he showed me a dumb phone. I said, "Where's your smartphone"? He goes, "I repented. I got rid of it". Said, "You got rid of your phone"? He said, "Man," he said, "if I continuing that, I will lose my marriage. I'd rather have a dumb phone and my marriage than a smart one without it".
That's repentance. That's turning. He told me he's been four months without looking at porn for the first time in his life since he was 13 years old. In the beatitudes. Jesus said this, He said this, He said, "Blessed are to those who mourn for they will be comforted". I always love that verse. You lose a loved one. Blessed are those who mourn, Jesus will comfort you. I didn't realize that that's true that when you are hurting, God does comfort you. But the word in the Greek is actually talking about those whom mourn for their sin. Blessed are those who are really, really sad that they sinned against God. Blessed are those whose heart is breaking when our actions break the heart of God. Bless are those who mourn for their sin for they will be comforted. Very similar to the woman who was caught in adultery. When all the religious men said, "Stone her, stone her, stone her, stone her to death," and Jesus knelt down by the woman and started writing something in the sand.
And we don't know what He wrote, but whatever He wrote caused all the men to leave. One by one they left. Some scholars think He probably wrote their sins. Rabbi important wrote his sin down and he left. Ah, we don't know, but they all left. And Jesus looked on at the woman and said, "Where are your accusers"? And she said, "They've all gone. They're not here". And he looked at her with love and said, "Then neither do I condemn you. Go your way and sin no more". go your way and sin no... Can you see how much God loves you? Can you see His grace? Romans 2:4s ays this, "Don't you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can't you see that His kindness is intended to turn you from your sin"?
It's his kindness. It's not His anger. It's not His wrath. It's not His justice that leads you to repentance. It is the love of God, the grace of God, the kindness of God that leads you to repentance. And that's why there should be a habit. Sorrow, yes, godly sorrow. Confess quickly. Repent wholeheartedly. God, anytime, I wanna be so close to God that I'm aware immediately when I step off the path, when my mind wanders, when my mouth says something dishonoring to God. Oh, they're up. God, forgive me. I turn from it. God, forgive me. That's why this is one habit, the devil doesn't want you to adopt because if you don't, he can keep you living in shame, distant from God and keep you from filling your calling, there's a worldly sorrow. Yeah, not that big a deal. You got your thing, why don't criticize me, rationalize it out? And there's a godly sorrow. It's a heart that's broken before God. It's one that confesses quickly. It's one that repents wholeheartedly. And this leads to salvation where there is no regret.
So what is God saying to you today? Don't feel a bit of condemnation. There is no condemnation for those who are Christ Jesus. If conviction, that is the result of a God who loves you and has something better for you. We close the door. We confess quickly, we repent wholeheartedly. And we run to a Father who's running to you 'cause when you draw near to Him, He draws near to you. It's His love, it's His kindness that leads you to repentance. And repentance leads to salvation and the life that God wants you to have. So don't settle for anything less.
So Father, today, we thank You. We thank You in advance for all the mercy and grace that we're gonna receive. 'cause, God, we need it. Holy Spirit, You work in the ways that You need to work. We're open to what You wanna say to us.
Church, if you want to be so close to God that you confess quickly, repent wholeheartedly. You got the habit of turning quickly from your sin and turn quickly to God. If you wanna be sensitive, righteous, you wanna honor God, just lift up your hand right now. Just all of our churches, lift up your hand right now. Online, you can type in the comment section, I wanna honor God in every way, I wanna honor God in every way.
God, I thank you that in our life groups, we've got a safe place to confess. God, we know that we confess to you for forgiveness. And we know we confess to people for healing. We confess our sins to one another and we pray for each other that we may be healed. God, I thank you that on the other side of confession, there's forgiveness and there's healing. So, God, prompt us to do what we need to do. If we need a dumb phone or whatever it means or whatever ever life, God, we wanna close the door. We wanna turn away from the lower lies of the devil and turn to the higher things of Your kingdom to confess quickly and repent wholeheartedly. And we thank you. There's healing, forgiveness, grace, mercy in Your presence, so we run to You, that we thank You that if we're mourning for our sins, that You will comfort us. So we need You, we turn to You, we run to You.
As you keep praying today, there are those of you that you might be like I was. I cheated in high school and then did a whole host of other things. And I felt so guilty. I thought I need to really try to be good enough for God. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get there. And I didn't realize that every single one of us have sinned, that it's impossible for me to work my way to God. And it was when I read His word and I recognized that the only way that we're made right with God is by His grace. It's never our works. It's only His grace. We put our faith in Jesus. Who is Jesus? He is the Son of God. He was without sin. He was our sacrifice for our sins. He died on the cross. And God raised Him from the grave.
And so what do we do now? What is repentance is turning away from our sin, is turning towards Jesus and just saying, "I wanna be like You. I want you to be the Lord of my life. I want you to be my Savior. I wanna follow You. I want to be Your disciple". When you turn, when you call on Him, God, here's your prayers. Listen. He forgives everything. Every sin is gone separated from you. You become brand new. There are those of you today, this is your moment. You've been under the weight of your sin for too long. Today is the day, we're turning away for it. This isn't like a little Sunday school prayer. This isn't like a feel-good thing. This is a life change. We are walking away from the old. We're pursuing Jesus at all of our churches today. Those who say that's me, I need His forgiveness, I need His grace, this isn't just a little prayer, this is a life change. We are repenting. We're turning away from our sin. We're turning towards Jesus. He's king, He's Lord, He's savior.
When you call on Him, He hears your prayers. He forgives your sins. You're about to be changed. All of our churches, those who say, yes, I need His grace; yes, I need His forgiveness; yes, I step away from my sin; I give my life to Him, that's your prayer. Lift your hands high right now all over the place and say yes over here. Praise God for you right here. Others of you say yes, Jesus. Right back over here. I surrender. I give you my whole life. Others, today, lift up your hand and say, yes, Jesus, I trust You. Online, type in the comments section, I'm surrendering my life to Jesus. And as we have people all over the world calling on Him, would you just pray aloud with those around you? Pray:
Heavenly Father, I turn from my sin and I turn to You. Jesus, save me. Forgive me. Make me brand new. Fill me with Your spirit so I can know You and I can live for You. Direct my steps. Heal me, change me. My life is not mine. I give it all to You. I am Your disciple. You are my Lord. Thank You for new life. You have all of mine. In Jesus' name I pray.