Hal Lindsey’s Message

Debtor’s Guilt
By Hal Lindsey

When I was in seminary, I borrowed money from a friend. In good faith, I gave him a date on which I expected to pay him back. But something unexpected happened, and I couldn’t pay when I said I would. I felt terrible. I felt like a deadbeat. I found myself avoiding my friend.

And here’s the part that makes no sense but was very real. I felt anger toward him for not understanding my plight. It makes no sense because I hadn’t even tried to explain the situation, and he had not said a word about me being late. I thought about how I might approach him. When I thought through our imagined conversations, I thought about what it would be like if he raked me over the coals. That made me even angrier at him, even though the conversations had all been confined to my own imagination.

Fearing his disapproval — and feeling that I deserved disapproval — I stayed away from him. Then one day, I found myself in a situation where I could not avoid him. Confronted with the presence of my friend, I told him the truth. He didn’t shout at me or put me down. He was glad to be back in fellowship with me. Because of guilt, I had needlessly deprived myself of his friendship.

That happens in our relationship with God. We sin. Then, foolishly, we try to hide it from God — even though we know that God knows everything. Because we feel unholy, we don’t want to invite the presence of the Holy Spirit into our lives. We don’t pray. We don’t read the Bible. Sometimes, we don’t even want to go to church, or be around Christian friends.

Sin blocks our fellowship with God. We’re still in Christ, still headed for heaven, but our own feelings of guilt cause us to interrupt the flow of power from God into our lives. This works out great for Satan. He knows that God’s power is necessary for us to defeat sin. It becomes a vicious cycle. We sin, then we hide from the One who can help us defeat that sin.

God knows that while still in these bodies, we are incapable of perfect obedience. He wants us to walk moment by moment depending on His Spirit. But failure to trust Him amplifies sin and puts us back into the vicious downward spiral. How do we defeat that vicious cycle?

Go to Him. Warts and all, present yourself to Him. Confess your sin and claim His forgiveness. Then turn from your sin and trust Him again. In 1 John 1:9, He promises, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

You might worry that you are not strong enough to turn from your sin. Maybe you worry that you don’t have the power to change. Good! Now you know where you stand. You can’t, but God can! He will give you power. But you need to make the first move. The power to live the Christian life comes from the Holy Spirit and from confidence in the knowledge that Jesus died for our sins, rose from the dead, and sits in heaven at the right hand of the Father where He prays for us continually.

In days like these, we need to walk in His power, and not be sidetracked by sin and the accompanying guilt. So, when you miss the mark, go to Him quickly. And learn to avoid sin by inviting the Holy Spirit into every part of your life. Live victoriously by trusting in Jesus, your Redeemer and Lord.

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