In the past I sometimes confessed the same sin dozens of times and maybe sometimes I even re-confessed a sin a hundred times. I tried to confess until the bad feeling in my gut went away. Partly, that happened because I did not know that there is two meanings for the word guilt’
The first meaning of guilt has to do with culpability. That meaning of guilt contains no feeling at all. If I run a red light and come before a judge. She might say “Are you guilty”? In my imagination I would say “No your honor I am feeling just fine today”. Then the judge would say ” It does not matter to me how you are feeling. I could care less. All I want to know is did you run that red light”?
If I sin and go before God would say “You are forgiven. My forgiveness was bought and paid for by Jesus at Calvary. It is in the legal contract we have together”. Because of god’s grace in effect we no longer guilty.
Let’d say you loaned me $100. The next day you said “O George I want to forgive you your debt. Tom who saw you loan me the money but did not think it was fair of me to accept your debt forgiveness is angry might say”George I saw you borrow money. It is dishonest not to repay your debts. However, it was you from whom I owed the money forgave. No Matter what Tom says my debt is completely gone forever.
It is God against whom I sinned. Therefore if God says I am forgiven no one else in the universe has a voice in the matter. My guilt is gone.
The second meaning of guilt is a monomer. What we are talking about is not guilt it is shame People often think they are feeling guilt feelings when in fact the correct term for what they are feeling is shame.
Shame is the opposite of Honor. Shame is the feeling of not measuring up. It is the feeling of being less than. I would not touch this misery with confession if I confessed a thousand times.
In my case shame came because we were so poor. Also I think shame became a driving feeling for me because of the seemingly endless nature of my mom’s criticism.
Shame came to me in my person from other people. I felt shame at Jr High School because my clothes were often dirty. Sometimes I washed my jeans in the bathtub at night. I put them in soapy water and scrub them with a broom. Of course they were soaking wet in the morning, I wore them wet to school, By the end of the day they were dry and I would have respectable jeans for a few days.
Because shame is a dynamic between people the solution has to come from me interacting with people. To defeat shame someone’s arms and voice must become the arms and voice of God. I need acceptance from the God I see in you in order to know it comes from the God I cannot see.
The 12 Steps talks of honestly and openly confessing my short comings to God, myself and another person. All to often I have found church people as too rejecting, gossiping and judgmental to trust with my confession.
There were exceptions of course. Perhaps the most important was from a man named Jack Lockhart. Jack was first my youth pastor and later the pastor of the church where I had a wonderful experience over several years as the youth pastor. The church was Maplewood Baptist Church in Lakeside, CA. I want to honor those people right now. The people had the sweetness in their heart that Jack had in his heart.
Real deliverance for me came from the Al-Anon folks in the area around Long Beach C.A. My first sponsor was a woman named Elsa who could count her years in her program in decades. I did my defect confession with her. She was so full of God she was amazingly insightful. I did my first try at confession with her. After I finished my effort she said I think you need to take a deeper deeper run at it. On the third try she accepted my confession gave me a start at achieving the serenity for which I had been looking for all my life.
I think of two verses. The first is “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”.
The second is from James.”Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one for another, that Ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
I am committed to openness as a way of life. Some of you who have read the things I have written noted and admired that in me. Openness works for me. It has also caused me deep heartache at times but it is still very profitable. Other people need to find their own “Walk In The Spirit” life style. Yours is yours and is not mine.