Tuesday, 30 December 2014

The Weeping Woman

The weeping woman kneeled at the front of the altar, her mind in anguish, her body racked with guilt. Clutching her stomach, she dry wretched and fell prostrate on the floor. Her hairless head was clothed in a blue and white cloth, a sign of the cancerous guilt that was slowly destroying her body. Her mind went numb. Should she reject the overwhelming guilt of knowing she neglected and abused her children? This was huge.

“Was there hope for a guilty conscience?”
“Must she always live with this pain?”
“If only society was more accepting of her actions, she wouldn’t feel so bad.”

Feeling unable to stop her destructive pattern, the temptation to find relief with alcohol and drugs was difficult to resist - as always. The temptation to justify her actions was even greater.
Again, she screamed inwardly,

“Was there hope for a guilty conscience?”




A guilty conscience is like a cancer that eats away body, mind, soul and spirit. Unless our conscience finds relief it will destroy us just like an aggressive, malignant cancer. 

The Bible describes three separate paths a person can choose to take with a guilty conscience. Just like a ‘choose your own adventure’ novel, the path we choose, influences the ending of the story. Our own self-talk is a good indicator of which path we are choosing , when faced with true guilt.

          Path 1 Path 2 Path 3

Denial
Remorse
Repentance
“I did nothing wrong” “I am so disappointed with myself for doing this.” “This is wrong. Never again!”
“Everybody does this” “I wish I could stop.” “I will stop even if it kills me.”
“There were extenuating circumstances, so it’s okay” “It’s too hard to change.” “There is no going back.”
“If only society was more accepting, I wouldn’t feel so bad.” “Taking responsibility is too hard.” “I take responsibility for my actions.”
“It’s their fault for making me feel so bad.” The behavior may stop for a short period but quickly recommences. Weeping, anguish and sorrow over the wrong actions and thoughts.
The behavior continues, unchanged. Small changes to improve the behavior may be made. A complete reversal of behavior is made. The action or thought is never repeated again.
No making of amends with those hurt. No forgiveness is received. Asks for forgiveness from others and from Yahweh.
No forgiveness to receive. No making of amends with those hurt. Amends are made to those hurt.
The wrong actions or thoughts are declared good  The wrong actions or thoughts are declared wrong but persist despite this. Forgives self.



Now the choice of paths is not a one off decision, made once and for all at some pivotal moment of our lives, rather each day we must choose which path we want to take, for each day is full of different circumstances and different choices and it is possible to accrue guilt every day of our lives.

But how do we acquire a guilty conscience in the first place?

What is guilt?
This is best explained by looking at it’s opposite.

The opposite of guilt is:  innocent, pure, clean, blameless. 
To be guiltless means I have done nothing wrong. 
My conscience is clear. 
I have broken no laws or trespassed against anyone.

How do we determine guilt?
Now this is where things can become interesting. If we all decide for ourselves what we think is right or wrong, then logically this will be a disaster. For example, you might think something is okay and yet I might call it a heinous crime. Whilst I would be crying for justice and punishment, you would be crying for freedom to continue in your actions. There would never be any peace.

It is therefore only logical, that right and wrong be determined outside of ourselves by something external, not man made. This is where the one and only God Yahweh comes in, the creator God of all creation and author of his Holy Word the Bible. As owner of creation and creator of all mankind, it is him and not us who arbitrates what is right or wrong. We can learn his ordinances by reading the Bible. It is the final authority, not you or me.

Each and everyone of us becomes guilty when we break one of God’s laws. We are hence deserving of punishment.

How do we remove guilt?

Step 1: Acknowledge that it is Yahweh’s laws that were broken and it is from him that we foremost need forgiveness.

“Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” Psalm 51:4

Step 2: Ask God for forgiveness. No transgression of the God’s law is too great.

 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

The Bible tells the true story of King David, who slept with another man’s wife, got her pregnant and then subsequently killed her husband to hide the evidence. David pretty much broke all of God’s laws in one day! 

Below are David’s words when he was confronted with his sin and realised the severity of what he had done. God in his great mercy, heard his cry of repentance, and forgave David.

Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God,

    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.


Wash away all my iniquity

    and cleanse me from my sin.


For I know my transgressions,

    and my sin is always before me.


Against you, you only, have I sinned

    and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.


Surely I was sinful at birth,

    sinful from the time my mother conceived me.


Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;

    you taught me wisdom in that secret place.


Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;

    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.


Let me hear joy and gladness;

    let the bones you have crushed rejoice.


Hide your face from my sins

    and blot out all my iniquity.

10 

Create in me a pure heart, O God,

    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 

Do not cast me from your presence

    or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 

Restore to me the joy of your salvation

    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,

    so that sinners will turn back to you.

14 

Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,

    you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

15 

Open my lips, Lord,

    and my mouth will declare your praise.

16 

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;

    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

17 

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;

    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

18 

May it please you to prosper Zion,

    to build up the walls of Jerusalem.

19 

Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,

    in burnt offerings offered whole;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.



Step 3: Make amends with those you have hurt.
Step 4: Forgive yourself, for Yahweh has forgiven you.



His forgiveness is available to all that would ask.











  

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