In the minds of some, ghosts occupy haunted houses, old cemeteries and any other place that gives you an uncomfortable feeling after dark. However, the only truly haunted place is the human conscience.
The human conscience is haunted by guilt. Guilt is the ghost of sins that are past. It wanders the halls and shadowy places of the human mind and heart. No judge needs to bang his gavel and declare our guilt. No jury of our peers is needed to prove us guilty. Our conscience is both judge and jury. Anytime we appear in the courtroom of conscience, the verdict is always the same—guilty!
Some people live with the daily anguish of an accusing conscience. Far from happy, they spend their days on the run. They invest their time and energies into employment. They occupy their minds with activity. They dread silence, because in silence they hear the gavel fall, and the verdict echoing from the courtroom of conscience—guilty!
Some people live with guilt every day. Some people can’t live with guilt. Judas couldn’t. Haunted by the verdict of his own conscience he hanged himself.
How often does your conscience bother you? God gave us the voice of our conscience. The voice of conscience is a good thing. However, God never meant for guilt to haunt our minds and hearts. Guilt is the ghost of unresolved, unforgiven sin. Guilt results from sin that has been buried—but never forgiven or forgotten.
When David wrote Psalm 32, he was living with the ghost of past sin. He was describing what it was like to live day after day with a guilty conscience.
When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Psalm 32:3-4
The reason for guilt is sin never confessed, never forgiven, and as a result, never forgotten. How many holes have you dug in the recesses of your conscience in an attempt to bury your sin?
Tinninitus is a disease that causes ringing in the ears. Some people have such a hard time living with the ringing in their ears that wear a device that masks the ringing. Although they mask the ringing so they won’t hear it, their ears are still ringing.
Some of us have found ways to mask the voice of our conscience. Even so, our guilt remains. How do you deal with guilt? Have you buried sin? Have you tried to hide it in the recesses of your conscience from God, from yourself, and from others? Sin unconfessed and unforgiven will continue to haunt the halls of conscience.
Guilt is destructive. Wrestling with feelings of guilt can make a person physically sick. Guilt can cause emotional distress. Masked guilt is unresolved guilt and can be the underlying cause of many emotional problems. Guilt impacts your everyday life.
It can make you hang your head in shame. It can make you eat your way to your grave, or drink your way there. It can affect how you feel about yourself and your perception of how others feel about you. And, like Judas, guilt can lead you to take your own life.
Those are the physical and emotional ramifications of guilt. What does guilt do to our spiritual lives?
Guilt is like a shackle to your spirit. That means it will hold back spiritual progress in your life. It will cause you to stop reading your Bible. It will cause you to stop praying. It will cause you to give up your service to the Lord. It will cause you to quit going to church. It will stifle your witness. It will steal the joy of your salvation.
On the other hand, David wrote: How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven—whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. Psalm 31:1-2
Deceit in your spirit means that there is dishonesty in your spirit. You are not being honest with God or those around you. The Lord’s finger of conviction is pointed at you day and night. Guilt haunts your mind and heart. Instead of allowing the Lord to deal with your sin, you try to deal with it yourself. You try to bury it—to hide it. Burying guilt in your conscience is like taking poison into your body. It will eat you up.
I want to ask you a question. Is there anything in your life you are trying to hide? Do you fear that if it were known, it would change the way people feel about you? For that reason, you have hidden it from the world–and maybe even from yourself. Maybe you know exactly what David meant when he said; When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Psalm 32:3-4
David came to a point where he realized that sin and guilt were taking an irreparable toll on his life. He was dying from the inside out. Are you?
You don’t have to try and mask your guilt. You don’t have to find ways to live with guilt. You don’t have to take the route of people like Judas who can’t live with guilt. God has a remedy for guilt! It is called forgiveness.
Do you ever wish that you could just start life all over? I don’t mean deciding to turn over a new leaf. I mean start all over. Put the past behind you. Freed of all your bills and burdens, you could just start over. Forgiveness gives you a fresh start.
Guilt is to the soul ,what being trapped at the bottom of a pool is to the lungs. It is suffocating. Forgiveness is to the soul what breaking to the surface from the bottom of a pool is to the lungs. It is release. It is refreshment.
Where did David go to find forgiveness of sin and freedom from guilt? David turned to God! David’s burden of guilt became so heavy that he could bear it no longer. He said: I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD; and You forgave the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:5
It is the desire of God’s heart that you live a life free of guilt. God issued the following invitation through the prophet Isaiah.
Come now, let us reason together says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though the are red like crimson, they will be like wool. Isaiah 1:18
God Himself has announced that His forgiveness is available. You might be thinking, “ But you don’t know what I’ve done!” I know this: God wouldn’t offer you what He couldn’t give. I also know that the words of Isaiah reveal that forgiveness is available for the worst of
sins. “Though your sins be as scarlet—they shall be as white as snow.”
Can God take away your sin? Yes! And your guilt!
I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “ I will confess my transgressions to the Lord;” And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:5
There is no clearer statement in all the Bible of how you can be free—not only of sin—but of the haunting guilt of sin. In 1 John 1:9 we read, If we confess our sins He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
In Hebrews 10:22 we are told that we can have our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience. David knew the flip side of that. He knew what it was like to live with guilt—to bury it in his heart—to walk around and try to do his job eaten up on the inside by the ghost of past sins.
The source of David’s guilt was not his conscience alone. David’s guilt was produced by the conviction of God’s Spirit. He says, day and night Your hand was heavy upon me. Could that also be true in your life?
David came to a point where he realized that sin and guilt were taking an irreparable toll on his life. So he came clean with God. He threw open his heart before the Lord. The days of secrecy were over. You can almost hear the release in his voice when he says: “And You forgave the guilt of my sin.”
There is no sin so dark or deep that God cannot cleanse the spot that tarnishes your soul and remove the guilt that haunts your heart. God has a remedy for guilt. That remedy is called forgiveness. The most powerful healing that will ever come to your life will come when you allow God to forgive the guilt of your sin.
Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the Lord, And He will have compassion on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. Isaiah 55:6
All Scripture comes from the NASB® www.lockman.org
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