Guilt and Sin
“When you are guilty, immediately confess the sin that you’ve committed. and bring to the LORD as their penalty a female from the flock, either a sheep or a goat. This will be a sin offering to remove their sin, and the priest will make atonement for them.“ – Leviticus 5:5-6 NLT
Guilt and sin. In our society, we try to ignore both. But in God’s view, both are a daily reality and a constant source of the separation from Him that we endure. In the verses above we see that guilt is tied to sin and sin must be confessed. In that day, the guilt and sin required a sin offering in order for the sin to be removed. In verse 15 of the same chapter we read, “If any of the people sin by unintentionally defiling the LORD’s sacred property, they must bring to the LORD a ram from the flock as their guilt offering.” In this case a person has sinned – unintentionally – not willfully. But irregardless, they were to bring a guilt offering to the Lord. They were to confess their guilt. Guilt and sin. They go hand in hand. Yet in our day and age, we try to justify sin and ignore guilt.
In God’s economy, sin and guilt are inseparable. Look back at these two passages again. They tell us that if a person is guilty he is required to bring a sin offering. And if a person sins, he will need to bring a guilt offering. In God’s mind guilt and sin go hand in hand. You can’t sin and not experience guilt. And the presence of guilt is usually closely associated with sin. Sin leaves you guilty – legally. But it can also leave you guilty – emotionally. We have learned to ignore emotional guilt. We have learned to ignore the conviction that comes from the presence of sin in our lives. We rationalize, justify, excuse, and refuse to acknowledge our guilt – even though any sin in our lives makes us “surely guilty before the Lord” (Leviticus 5:19 NET).
But as Christians, what are we to do with guilt. Aren’t we forgiven? Haven’t all our sins been taken care of on the cross by Jesus? Doesn’t the Bible teach us that there is now no condemnation for those of us in Christ? (Romans 8:1). It sounds like there is no place for guilt in the life of the believer. For the Christian, restitution and the death of Jesus Christ, our guilt offering (Isaiah 53:10) also absolves us of legal and moral debt. This statement is important because one of the reasons we carry our guilt is that we refuse to recognize that the debt has been paid.
But the truth is, you and I are guilty of violating the Lord’s holy things. We are guilty of unknown sins, and we regularly wrong our neighbors by both acts of commission and omission. But the prophet Isaiah reminds us:
Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many and he will bear their iniquities (Isaiah 53:10-11 NASB).
Here Isaiah is prophesying that Jesus will be our guilt offering. He will justify us, which means to declare us “not guilty.” He will pay the moral and legal debt. The debt owed for our sin will be canceled. The author of Hebrews wrote:
And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts; and I will write them on their minds.” Then He adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10:10-18 NASB).
Jesus Christ, our sin offering, is the eternal solution to our guilt. He offered Himself for your guilt, but you must acknowledge your guilt and accept this guilt offering He made for you. We must still acknowledge the guilt that comes from our sins. But we must remember that “if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong” (1 John 1:9 NLT). We still have sin natures. We will sin, and when we do, it will bring guilt. But because of what Jesus did on the cross, all we have to do is confess our sin, and He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Why? Because He has already paid the penalty for our sin. He has made it possible for us to to live without guilt. God still takes sin seriously. Sin still brings about guilt – guiltiness. But the penalty has been paid. The sins have been atoned for once and for all. All I have to do is confess my sin, own up to my guilt, and accept the forgiveness of God.
Father, thank You for forgiveness. But never let me become so comfortable with my forgiveness that I learn to live with my sinfulness. Help me to learn from the book of Leviticus just how serious You take sin. May I understand that sin in my life still leaves me guilty. As Your Holy Spirit makes me aware of it, help me to confess my sins immediately and gladly, because You offer complete forgiveness when I do. All because of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men