Category Archives: Guilt

Guilt – can be needlessly destructive, except when….

Blaming ourselves for another’s misfortune is usually harmful.  Major Henry Rathbone sat with President and Mrs. Lincoln in the President’s box at Ford’s Theater Friday, April 14, 1865.  Beside him sat his stepsister-fiancee Clara Harris.

When a shot hurled bluish air into the box, Rathbone stood and confronted the assailant, who slashed him with a knife from elbow to shoulder.  Bowled over by the blow, he staggered to his feet and reached for Booth, knocking him off balance as he leaped below. Rathbone collapsed from loss of blood while he and Clara waited with Mrs. Lincoln at the Peterson house.  Clara, her dress soaked with Rathbone’s blood, stuffed a hanky into the wound.

They wed in 1867 and had three children.  Rathbone couldn’t stop blaming himself for Lincoln’s death.  He mentally degenerated, suffering increasingly from fears, delusions, ailments and headaches.  He resigned his Army commission in 1870 and toured European spas fruitlessly seeking cures.  He grew increasingly paranoid and defensive through the years.  Early on Christmas Eve, 1883, he walked fully dressed into his wife’s bedroom and asked to speak with the children.  When she hesitated due to the early hour, he pulled a gun and shot her, then stabbed himself six times with a knife.  Committed to an insane asylum, he lived in delusional fear, seeing dust and gas spat from the walls.  He died in the asylum 1911.  American Heritage, 2-3, 1994, p. 110-111

Unjustified guilt can drive us into madness, illness and, to this day, into anti-social behavior that attacks and destroys our most important interpersonal relationships.

However, and the constant exception, guilt is good when we blame only ourselves for our sins.  Guilt from disobeying God’s laws and God himself is as natural to us as wind to Antarctica.  Every responsible person is spiritually dirty enough to be Illinois real estate.  However, seeking God’s forgiveness is also necessary.

He will forgive any guilt we confess I John 1:9.  But we must accept it as SIN.  If we justify its existence as RIGHT simply because we want to live that way, forgiveness and peace of mind flee.  The Creator of morality also defines it, a right he keeps to himself. God’s word will always be in every age, whatever culture demands, the judge of virtue and sin, right and wrong.

Don’t accept blame for another’s misfortune unless your behavior caused it.  Always accept blame for your personal sins, and seek God’s forgiveness either way.

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Guilt – the human condition after disobedience, Part III

Let’s consider the ultimate way guilt is good. Part I emphasized the personal peace gained in having guilt forgiven. Part II emphasized the personal values gained by removing admitted guilt. Part III emphasizes the ultimate good of guilt.

Not only does it clear everyday life of obstacles that would otherwise shackle us; it promises our restoration beyond what Adam enjoyed to a complete originality of a new body encasing our perfected spirit in God’s likeness.

Baptism now cleanses us inwardly, but leaves our body as is! Our spirit delights in being renewed, while our unredeemed body keeps us imprisoned. We’re still subject to Adam’s curse: we all surely die. Before we do, we still need sleep, food to eat and recovery from illness, disease or accident.

Even now, we revel in God’s Presence, not just in God’s benefits. We want his forgiveness, his provisions, his purity but most of all HIM! But God’s promise for the new world is: never again will we be subject to anything short of perfection. Never found here, to our despair, it’s inherited in his new world, to our endless joy. Now it’s quiet resonance captivates our mind. Then, in an overflowing plenty, a pandemonium of ecstasy enthralls! Fini.

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Guilt – the human condition after disobedience, Part II

Curses on computer!  Nevertheless….Guilt in mortals is good, whether we sin in ignorance, as Eve did, or against knowledge, as Adam did.  Guilt is also inevitable in mortals, however we sin.  The original pair felt shame and tried to cover it.  What they didn’t know, and most people still don’t, is the uselessness of hiding sin.  Secreted, it festers into a spreading cancer that consumes our spirit.  God’s solution, sacrificing an animal to himself on their behalf, then clothing them its skin, provided their release from sin.  The Master’s sacrifice permanently and perfectly released us.

Nevertheless, guilt is not only good, but necessary.  Guilt when sinning is the spiritual monitor God put in our brain—call it conscience—that blares like a fire alarm when triggered by sin.  It’s a warning:  awaken to what you’ve done, or haven’t!  Our society, by disconnecting the monitor from our brain, has loosed heretofore unimaginable wrongs in society.  It’s the need to “be me”, to do “what I have to do to be me.”  However unlike Jesus it makes us, it satisfies the ego.  We then create a God who has compassion on all, despite our sins.  If Jesus won’t have it, we’ll find someone else we think will.

Adam and Eve KNEW when they sinned.  She took responsibility for being deceived; Adam wanted her to take responsibility for his sin against knowledge.  God sentenced both to punishment for violating his word.  Adam’s the far greater sinner as the head of humanity.

The point is, both knew their guilt when disobeying God.  Our culture no longer wants to be guilty for transgressions of eternally-fixed truths.  That’s how far we’ve fallen from God.  Instead of admitting sin against the OLD STANDARDS God set, we create new standards that excuse us, empower us, liberate us and, we think, eliminate us from condemnation.  End Part II

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Guilt – the human condition after disobedience, Part I

I read the book Further Along the Road Less Traveled, written by the late Dr. Scott Peck.  Though a professed believer in Christ, Dr. Scotty had a tenuous understanding of God’s word.  He considered the Garden of Eden a myth and, at the same time, “an embodiment of truth.”  How can myth be the embodiment of truth?

He also believed that eating the mythical fruit in the mythical garden—really making a psychological appraisal of certain information received from Someone—aroused consciousness in a mythical Adam and Eve, which led to self-consciousness.  Their taking refuge behind mythical trees in the mythical garden led God to understand the couple’s shyness.  Thus, shyness resulted from disobedience to God.

How ludicrous!  In reality it was guilt, not consciousness, that disobedience aroused in the couple in a Real Garden of Eden.  Made in God’s Image, the very essence of consciousness, Adam had consciousness the instant God breathed into his nostrils.  Adam named the animals because, conscious of his distinction from them, his nomenclature could describe as it defined them.

Guilt, whether acknowledged or merely dramatized, continues to exist in mortals.  Believers in Jesus Christ, forgiven as they are, know enough to bring guilt to him for forgiveness.  Unbelievers, not spiritually-skilled, persist in considering guilt as neuroses or psychoses, resulting in personal maladjustments and/or anti-social behavior.  Better by far to admit the truth of God’s word, certainly beginning with belief in Reality of the Garden of Eden where real people developed the real guilt that every person in every generation since has felt when disobeying the Real God.  End Part I

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