What Do You Do with Your Guilt?
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”- Romans 3:23
In the discipline of apologetics, we endeavor to make a case for why we believe what we believe as Christians. This we do in fulfillment of 1 Peter 3:15, which tells us to be always “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” Typically, Christian apologists—those who practice apologetics—focus on intellectual challenges that skeptics pose concerning God’s existence, the reliability of the Bible, and similar issues. This is important work, but seasoned apologists testify that it is never intellectual issues alone that keep people from believing in Christ. What prevents people from trusting in Jesus is the fact that they know trusting Him as Savior means following Him as Lord, and they just do not want to give up their sin and perceived autonomy.
Such individuals, if they are particularly hardened, will not admit to dealing with feelings of guilt. Often, the response to the Christian apologist will be something like “I do not believe in God or His law, so there is nothing for me to be guilty of.” Depending on the person and the situation, it is not inappropriate at this point to tell the other person that whether he believes in God or not has no impact on God’s existence. There is either a self-existent Creator or there is not, and if there is one, then all people need to know whether they have kept His law as well as the consequences for failing to obey.
Of course, we know that God has not left us without a witness. There is the written law of God, but even those without access to the Bible or who do not admit that it is true have no excuse, for nature also witnesses to the Lord. As Paul tells us in Romans 1:18–32 and 2:14–16, the Almighty has revealed something of Himself in the created order and in the consciences of all people. Sinners try to suppress this knowledge, but they are never wholly successful. God’s revelation gets through, and all people know deep down that they have broken His law. In his most honest moments, even if those moments only occur when no one else is around, even the most vocal opponent of Christianity knows he is guilty.
As we preach the gospel and defend the faith, asking people what they do with their guilt can be a powerful way to help them sit up and take notice of the message. There is nothing more important than finding forgiveness, and the Christian faith alone offers a way to experience true forgiveness from God.
We will see in the days ahead that only Christianity can offer a guilty person peace with God because only Christianity has an atonement. Today the question we must all ask ourselves is what to do with our guilt. If we know Christ, we take it to Him in repentance, confident that He will forgive us when we turn from our sin. Perhaps you have not yet trusted Christ. If not, today is the day. Believe on Him and you will be forgiven and reconciled to God.
Passages for Further Study