The Only Solution

“‘But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ — he said to the man who was paralyzed — ‘I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.’ And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God” (Luke 5:24–25).  

- Luke 5:17–26

A young woman who was about to get married was terribly distressed and visited a professor at her Christian college for some counsel. During the meeting with her professor she confessed that her troubles came from the guilt she was feeling for engaging in premarital sexual relations with her fiancée. Prior to meeting with her professor she had talked with a liberal clergyman who told her there was no reason for her to feel guilty since she was an adult and could make her own decisions about her body and her relationships. However, this advice did nothing to alleviate her guilt.

The girl’s professor explained that she felt guilty because she was in fact guilty of breaking God’s law for sexual behavior. He also told her that the Lord’s solution to this problem was for her to trust Christ and seek forgiveness. In so doing, she would be absolved of her guilt and be made new before the judgment seat of the Father. Taking the professor’s advice, the young woman repented of her sin and turned to Jesus, and she left the counseling session overjoyed that many of her feelings of guilt and self-loathing were gone.

This story illustrates the point that the only real solution to real guilt is real forgiveness. Too many people today try to deal with their guilty consciences by denying sin, rationalizing iniquity, or other measures. But though feelings can be suppressed, the objective reality of guilt will inevitably work itself out in a person’s life if the underlying reality of his transgression is not addressed. Christian counselors and pastors well know that sin not confessed produces all sorts of marital difficulties and other relationship problems, and contributes significantly to the development of addictive habits and other issues. This is all on top of the most dreadful consequence of unresolved guilt — estrangement from God.

As we have said many times before, our Father in heaven promises to forgive, without exception, every sin if we come to Him through Christ, confessing and asking Him to forgive our misdeeds (1 John 1:8–9). And when we do this, the Lord will forgive us, enabling us to go forth with joy and gratitude, as shown in today’s passage.

Coram Deo

One of the most important reasons we need godly friends is so that we can discern our guilt and experience the Lord’s forgiveness. Left to ourselves we will often rationalize our sins or quickly suppress guilt feelings, but others can help up see when we are doing this and point us to Christ. They can also help us determine the reality of our objective guilt so that we may recognize guilt feelings that are actually illegitimate. Seek out such godly friends.

Passages for Further Study

Prov. 28:13
Isa. 55:6–7
Eph. 1:3–10
James 5:16

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.