The Tabernacle Scroll

Issue 38

When we sin and refuse to come to Christ for forgiveness, our guilt may find expression in a number of ways. For example, before David repented of the terrible sins of adultery and murder, he experienced physical, emotional and spiritual anguish. He talks about it in Psalm 32: 3-4: "When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all day long (emotional). For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me (spiritual); my vitality was turned into the drought of summer "(physical).

Not all sickness is necessarily due to personal sin! However, unresolved guilt can affect us in the following ways: (1) Physically, it may manifest in listlessness, imagined sickness, real sickness, headaches, stomach disorders and exhaustion. If we try to run from our guilt, immersing ourselves in work or turning ourselves to some other activity in reckless abandon, we will pay a price. (2) Emotionally, it is exposed in depression, anger, self-pity, feelings of inadequacy and denial of responsibility; (3) Spiritually, it shows up in a sense of alienation from God, inability to pray, reduced fellowship with believers, no feeling of joy, inability to read the Bible etc. Unresolved guilt also affects us Relationally. It usually manifests in blaming others, speaking ill of others, withdrawal, lying and excuses, inability to relax, self-justification and the refusal to accept the love and grace extended by others.

David's guilt affected him physically, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally. But he cried out to God, found the assurance of forgiveness, and was able to enjoy life again.

Its good news that we have God' forgiveness. Firstly, we have his 'Legal Forgiveness' where, acting as Judge, he grants us forgiveness when we receive Christ as our Saviour and our Advocate (1 Jn. 21:1; Rom 8:28-39). Secondly, we have His 'Family Forgiveness', where He acts not as our Judge, but as our heavenly Father. When we disobey Him and do not correct ourselves (1 Cor. 11:31), He gets our attention with painful circumstances (see Heb. 12:4-11). If a son takes the family car without permission and then lies about it, his parents aren't doing him a favour by pretending it didn't happen. The basis for trust has been damaged. Before privileges can be restored, he must own up to his wrong and be forgiven.

It is a misconception to think that God forgives unconditionally! Both types of forgiveness described above are dependent upon acknowledgment and confession of sin.



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