Robert Jeffress - Moving From Guilt to Repentance - Part 1
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. The Bible says that all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And as a result, our default status before God is guilty. So how can we better position ourselves with God? How do we redeem ourselves? Well, today we're going to examine one of the guiltiest characters in the Bible, king David, and follow the path to recovery that he discovered. My message is titled, "Moving from Guilt to Repentance". As we continue our series Invincible on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Recently, our nation witnessed the horrific consequences of not dealing with guilt correctly. On March the 16th, 2021, Robert Aaron long entered into three different spas in the Atlanta area and massacred eight people, most of them Asian women. What was his motivation? That's what everybody wanted to know. The media immediately blamed it on racism, racism that was fueled by conservative rhetoric they charged. But when that motive really didn't pan out, they searched for another reason to blame his actions. And when they found out that Robert long was associated with an evangelical church, that's all the ammunition they needed. And the New York Times, the Washington Post boast printed stories that accused his evangelical background that focused on sexual purity and abstinence from sex, apart from marriage, that that was repressive and it caused all of these sexual desires to erupt in him. And it caused him to feel unnecessary, shame and guilt about his sexual activity and addiction.
Of course, let me just say to blame Christianity for the shame people feel over their sin is like blaming a CT scan for cancer. CT scans do not cause cancer, they only reveal the cancer that is there. Robert long, even himself offered an explanation, a reason to justify his actions. He blamed it on the women who worked in that spa. He needed to eliminate the source of temptation. They were to blame for it. But the real reason, Robert Aaron long felt guilty was because he was guilty. Just like every one of us here today. Every one of us watching this broadcast is guilty of something. Proverbs 28:1 says, "The wicked flee when no one is pursuing them".
There's something about a guilty conscience that causes us to want to run and cover up. A young woman has an abortion, and she's afraid that her parents will discover it. A man has an extra marital affair and he's afraid his wife will discover it, and end the marriage. An employee is guilty of embezzling funds from his employer and is afraid that he'll be fired for his transgression. A young woman struggles with same sex attraction. She's afraid that she'll be discovered and doesn't even want to talk to her spiritual leaders about it. Everybody struggles with guilt about something because we've all sinned and fallen short of God's plan. But we have a choice of how we handle our guilt. We can try to cover it. We can run away from it. We can blame others for it. We can rationalize it, or we can discover the freedom that comes from God's forgiveness.
In our series, Invincible, we're talking about 10 mountains that separate us from the blessed life that God has intended for us. And today we're going to talk about the mountain of guilt. Guilt becomes a barrier that not only separates us from God, but it separates us from the blessings of God in our life. Today, we're going to talk about conquering the mountain of guilt by moving from guilt to repentance. But let me say at the outset, the Bible says there are two kinds of guilt, one is judicial guilt. This is the guilt that we all have before a holy God. Paul said in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". Every one of us has fallen short and we've been declared guilty by God.
Now that's hard for some people to accept. They say, "No, look, I know I'm not perfect, I have some flaws and imperfections, but thank God I'm not like that shooter in Atlanta, Georgia, or that man in boulder, Colorado who killed 10 innocent people. Thank God, I'm not like that. I'm not that much of a sinner". You see, the way we look at things is we see a great deal of difference in humanity, but God sees very little difference in human beings. We're all the same in his eyes. Let me illustrate that for you. The distance, the geographical distance between the north pole and the south pole is considerable. Do you agree with that? That distance between the north pole and the south pole is considerable, but it's really negligible when compared to the distance from the north pole to the furthest star in our universe. It's the same way with human beings, we think there's a great difference between us, but there's really not that much difference when compared to the holiness of God by that standard, we have all fallen woefully short.
Well, can't God just look the other way? Can't God just be more tolerant toward those of us who are sinner? No. In Exodus 34:6-7, the Bible says, "God will, by no means allow the guilty to go unpunished. A holy God has to deal with sin". And the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that when we trust in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins in the great throne room of heaven, God declares us not guilty before him because of what Christ did for us. Romans 5:6 says, "Therefore, having been justified through faith, having been declared not guilty through our faith in Christ, we have peace with God through our Lord, Jesus Christ". That's judicial guilt, our guilt before God that only God can remedy, but there's a second kind of guilt. And that is ethical guilt. This is the guilt that comes up from sins we commit after we become a Christian.
Have you discovered you still sin after you become a Christian? That's not supposed to be the rule of life, but it does happen. And the Bible says that too can be a barrier between God and us. In Isaiah 59:2, God was talking to his own people, the Israelites, and he said, "Your iniquities, your sin has made a separation, a barrier between you and your God". When we sin as Christians and I'll say this several times today, God doesn't move away from us, but we move away from God. And we move away from the blessing of God. Now, whether we're talking about judicial guilt of non-Christians or the ethical guilt of Christians, we've got one of three choices in how we're going to handle that guilt. One is silence that is tried to ignore it or cover over it. Secondly is sorrow. We can feel really bad about our sin. We can be sorry for the sin. We can be sorry we got caught. We can be sorry for the terrible consequences, but that's not repentance that's the third choice.
The third and only lasting solution to guilt is repentance. A word that means to have a change of mind, that leads to a change of direction. In 2nd Corinthians 7:10 Paul would contrast the difference between sorrow and repentance. He says for the sorrow, that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. Satan would love nothing more today than to curse those of you who are feeling guilty to say to yourself, there's no way I can be forgiven. I'm just a worm. I'm nothing. I'll never be forgiven. I'm so sorry. He would love for you to wallow in your sorrow without ever experiencing the gift of forgiveness. But the kind of sorrow that comes from God is the sorrow that leads somewhere. It leads to repentance, turning away from sin, experiencing God's blessing and never looking back with regret. That's what true forgiveness is all about.
Well, today for the short time we have, we're going to look at one man in scripture who illustrates all three of those responses. First silence, then sorrow, and finally the life giving repentance. His name was king David and his story is found in 2 Samuel chapter 11. 2 Samuel chapter 11. Now we've been through this story in recent days in another setting, so I'm not going to give you all the details. I'm going to give you the reader's digest version of his story. You remember it well. David was one of three kings of the United Kingdom of Israel before it split in 922 BC. And he was the most successful of all of Israel's kings. He had achievement after achievement, after achievement. And when we get to 2 Samuel 11, he's at the zenith of his career. There would never be another one like David.
Unfortunately David began to believe his own press clippings. And he thought the rules that apply to everybody else don't apply to me. And the Bible says in the spring season, when he should have been out with his men fighting to expand the kingdom, he decided to stay back home and relax a little bit, enjoy the perks of being the monarch. It's good to be the king. And so he was lounging around in his apartment when he looked out the window and behold he saw a woman on the rooftop next door, bathing, undressed, and the rest as they say is history and David summoned for her had her brought to him. They had a night of passion. And that night of passion resulted in Bathsheba's pregnancy. And she told David a few days later that she was pregnant.
Now he could have, at that moment, repented confessed his sin and received God's forgiveness. Instead he chose to cover over it and he concocted this elaborate plan to make it seem like that Uriah, Bathsheba's husband, who was out fighting with Israelites have him come home for a weekend rendezvous with his wife. And then they could say, the baby was Uriah's, well, that didn't work out. So when that didn't work out, David came up with another more sinister plan. He sent word to the leader of the army, "Have Uriah Bathsheba's husband be put on the front lines of battle then everybody else withdraw from him and he'll be killed". And that's exactly what happened. He had Bathsheba's husband Uriah killed. And once he was dead, David was free to marry Bathsheba. Which he did. And they lived happily ever after.
Is that how the story ends? No, the story doesn't quite end that way, the most haunting part of that entire story is the last sentence of 2 Samuel 11:27. "But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord". Nobody else knew except David and Bathsheba, what had happened, but God knew, and God knows where you are right now when others aren't watching, God is always watching. The thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord. For six months, perhaps even up to a year, David covered over his sin, tried to go on with his life in kingdom, but it wasn't without consequence. In Psalm 32, he writes about what his life was like during that period that he was covering over his sin. Psalm 32:3-4 says, "When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long for day and night, God, your hand was heavy upon me. My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer".
Notice the three consequences that occur whenever we don't deal with our guilt, our real guilt properly. First of all, there are physical consequences of guilt. David said, "My body was wasting away. I felt like I had 103 degree fever that wouldn't subside at all". There are actual physical consequences of unresolved guilt. One medical expert says it this way, "The awareness of wrongdoing often produces prolonged feelings of remorse and self-condemnation that lacking catharsis can actually have damaging effects on the bodily systems and open the gates to disease. The physical effects of unresolved guilt can range from sluggishness and weight gain to a complete breakdown of the immune system". There are also emotional consequences of guilt that David experienced. He said, "My groaning continued all day long". He's talking about the emotional turmoil of unresolved guilt.
There are two emotional consequences of unresolved guilt. Depression is the most common. When people feel guilty, they go into depression. My friend, the late Dr. Frank Minirth, Christian psychiatrist and Dr. Paul Meyer both described about the relationship between guilt and depression. They said many of the patients they treated through the years with depression was linked to guilt. They wrote, "They felt guilty because they were guilty. And straightening out the wrong that they were doing was sometimes all that was needed to straighten out their feelings of depression". Another emotional consequences of unresolved guilt is anxiety. We've talked about that before, worry. People carry around this low grade fear with them that their deed is going to be uncovered or that God is going to get even with them, that the sword of Damocles is just hanging over their head and they are filled with anxiety. But thirdly, there are spiritual consequences to unresolved guilt. David said it this way. He said, "For a day and night, God, your hand was heavy upon me".
Unconfessed sin, first of all, leads to a break in our fellowship with God. Again, God doesn't move away from us if we're one of his children but we move away from God. We feel guilty. We don't want to be around God. We sure don't want to open our Bible. We don't want to be in church. We're broken in our fellowship with God. We actually got that from our first parents, Adam and Eve. Remember when they sinned, what was their first response? To run and hide from the presence of God. When we break our fellowship with God, we're separated from the blessings of God. And secondly, talking about spiritual consequences of guilt, unconfessed guilt leads to the discipline of God in our life.
Now, if you don't remember another thing else I say today, I want you to remember this. Although God doesn't always settle the score immediately, he always settles it eventually. Although God doesn't always settle the score immediately, he always settles it eventually. Galatians 6:7 says, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. Whatever a man sows, this will he also reap". There are some of you right now who are living in sin. You think nobody else knows what you're doing that may or may not be true, but God knows. Don't confuse God's mercy with God's tolerance of sin. If you are living apart from God and some horrible consequences, not come into your life, don't mistakenly think God doesn't care about my sin or he treats me differently than other people. Or maybe God really doesn't care that much, or maybe there really isn't even a God, don't fall for that. The only reason God hasn't brought discipline into your life yet is to give you a chance, perhaps one last chance, to repent.
You say, "Well, pastor you're just making God seem like angry old man, an ogre. I can't believe in a God who does that". Look, if you're a child of God, you can be guaranteed of the discipline of God in your life, not because he hates you, but because he loves you. In fact, the Bible says in Hebrews 12:6, "For those whom the Lord loves he disciplines and he scourges every son whom he receives". A parent who allows her child to go unpunished for disobedience is a negligent parent. If God allows you and me as his children to go through life and sin, without consequence, he's a negligent father. God's going to bring discipline into your life, if you don't confess it, not because he hates you, but because he loves you.
And that's exactly what happened to David. David went six months, perhaps a year without any consequences in his life. And he thought, "Man, I'm Scot-free, God doesn't care about this, obviously". But on a day that began like any other day, Nathan walked in and he said, "King there's something going on in the kingdom that you need to be aware of". "What is it Nathan tell me". He said, "There is a wealthy man in the kingdom who has unlimited wealth, but he took the one sole possession of a poor man, his little ewe lamb and he sacrificed it". As David heard this, his anger began to boil and finally he stood up and said, "Who is that man? He'll punished immediately. Who was it"? Nathan shook his bony finger at the king and said, "You are the man". And at that moment, David knew immediately the jig was up. He knew what he had done in secret was now private. And he had a choice right at that moment, he could continue the cover up. He could have had Nathan executed and tried to move forward. But fortunately he chose a different course of action. He chose to receive forgiveness of what he had done.
And that's what Psalm 51 is all about. Turn over to Psalm 51 because if you look at the superscription above the Psalm, it says, "A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had gone into Bathsheba". And I want you to notice in this Psalm, the four steps that David exercised to move from guilt to repentance. First of all, today, if you are feeling guilty, if you feel separated from God and others, because of your sin, first of all, acknowledge your sin as sinful. Notice what he says in verses one and three, "Be gracious to me, o God, according to your loving kindness, according to the greatness of your compassion, blot out my transgressions for I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me". David, doesn't say, "I've got a slight flaw, I've got an addiction. I've got a little problem, I need to take care of, he acknowledged his behavior is truly sinful".