What About Guilt?

Ahh, there’s that word: guilt. Isn’t that what we avoid? Guilt. Isn’t that what we detest? But is guilt so bad? What does gilt imply if not that we know right from wrong, that we know there is high country and we are in the low country. That’s what gilt is: a healthy regret for telling God one thing and doing another.

Gilt is the nerve-ending of the heart. Guilt yanks us back when we are too near the fire. In 2 Corinthians 7:10 the Bible tells us that Godly sorrow, “Makes people change their hearts and lives. This leads to salvation, and you cannot be sorry for that.” To feel guilt is not tragedy; to feel no guilt is a tragedy.

When Peter saw Jesus looking at him from across the courtyard, he was flooded with guilt. What if Peter hadn’t dealt with his feelings of guilt? What if Peter had dismissed, denied, or distorted his sin? How many sermons would have gone un-preached? How many lives would have gone untouched or epistles gone unwritten?

Had Peter not felt the guilt in the courtyard, he never would have proclaimed grace int hat great sermon he preached on the day of Pentecost. How many stories are untold today… How many lives have been neutralized by guilt? How many Peters are in the shadows, wanting to come out, if only they knew the way. Peter shows the way.

Please note, there are two fires in Peter’s story. The first is the fire of denial, the second is the fire of discovery. The first fire was built by men; the second was built by Christ. At the first fire, Peter denied Jesus. At the second, Peter confessed Him.

What took Peter from one fire to the next? How did he journey from the fire of denial to the fire of discovery? Between the fires are two events: the tears of Peter and the cross of Jesus. Both are essential. If Peter had shed tears but not seen the cross, he would have known only despair. Had he seen the cross but shed no tears, he would have known only arrogance. But since he saw both, he knew redemption. Ming the ears of the sinner with the cross of the Savior and the result is a joyful escort out of the canyon of guilt into the light of life.

 

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