By: Sydney Gautier

Scripture: Psalm 51

None of us are immune to screwing up.  Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We all have moments or maybe even seasons of life we look back on and wish we could just erase. With those failures, we experience guilt. We all know the feeling when it starts to set in; your stomach starts to turn, your head hangs a little low, maybe your mind starts racing, “what have I done?” 

In a sermon Barry did back in 2016, he talked about guilt as being an emotional gift that allows us to feel and accept that we have done something wrong. However, this gift of guilt can often be used in the wrong way. For instance, when I think of the way I respond to guilt, I think of an endless loop of struggle that I often find myself in when the feelings of regret set in. 

It goes something like this: mess up/sin/fail, beat myself up over it, try harder, fail again despite all the effort I put in to doing or being better, REPEAT. Each failure starts feeling worse than the last, and the guilt starts running deeper and deeper. This kind of response drives me towards myself and all the ways I’ve messed up. This is what Barry referred to as the religious response. One that doesn’t have a lasting change because it never gets to the root of the problem, one that is more focused on ourselves and our shortcomings than on God. 

But there’s a type of response that Barry pointed us to in Psalm 51 that’s much different, that he referred to as the Christian response. This Psalm shows us how guilt is to be used as a gift, as a way to drive us towards Jesus and to repentance instead of towards ourselves. 

In this Psalm we see David’s response to his own sin and failure. Long story short, David committed adultery with Bathsheba, who was the wife of one of his own men named Uriah, and got her pregnant. Then intentionally had Uriah killed in battle so that he would never know he had slept with his wife. Problem solved, no one had to know what he had done. For a while, David didn’t feel bad about it, he felt no guilt at all. The sin ran deep and Barry told us his heart was calloused, because that’s what sin does to us when we don’t get to the root of the problem. But then God sent Nathan to David to help expose his sin to him. 

Once Nathan exposed David’s sin to him, we see his response was not to try harder or do better, it was to run to God and ask for forgiveness and mercy. He asked God to change his heart and change his mind, he got to the root of the problem. 

Psalms 51:1-2, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgression. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”

Psalms 51: 9-10 “Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

This should be our response to guilt, too. We serve a good and loving God who wants us to use this guilt to drive us to Him, to ask Him to change our heart and mind! Barry told us He does not abandon us in our sin, he doesn’t take his spirit from us, he doesn’t disown us, he is with us always. He is a good, good Father.

Barry said that the answer to our guilt is all summed up on the cross in Jesus Christ, who took all the sin of those who would believe! Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, we can run to him in repentance, with all of the messes we’ve created and be caught in a sea of God’s unending grace and mercy and forgiveness. What an amazing gift that is! 

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Click here to listen to a playback of the sermon, Emotions: Guilt