Published on March 3rd, 2012 | by Dustin Schledewitz
“One cannot experience the grace of God if he is being motivated by guilt” (Thrasher, How to Be a Soul Physician, 211).
I came across my reflections on this statement today, and I thought it would be very fitting to share those on this blog, because it relates very well with studying the Bible:
1. Guilt should not motivate spiritual disciplines.
“As I reflected on my motivation for many past behaviors, I realized that guilt has often been a motivator for me in regard to spiritual disciplines. I often hear the stories and sermon illustrations that tell of men spending ‘twenty-five’ hours per day in prayer, Bible study, memorization, etc., and it has left me feeling guilty for how little that I do in comparison. This guilt has driven me to attempt to do more and more, and in the process, I have often failed to experience the grace of God in my spiritual disciplines. So, what was meant to nourish my soul has often left me feeling drained and unmotivated. Guilt will no longer motivate my spiritual disciplines; I will lean on the grace of God even for this.”
2. Rely on grace in the whole process of dealing with guilt, not just the beginning and end.
“A second error in my thinking was revealed to me through the statement that even a clear conscience is a gift merited solely by Christ – ‘We are simply to respond to God’s Spirit who seeks to lead us into the full experience of what Christ has earned for us’ (230). I have often heard it said that confession should be a regular part of one’s prayer life, but I have rarely relied on the grace of God to reveal the areas of confession in my life. I believe that He has done this many times, but in my striving to ‘dig up’ areas of confession, I have forfeited the grace that He supplies in the process, not just the result. So, instead of pushing and striving even in this area of confession, I will rely on God’s grace through the Spirit to bring me to the blessing of a clear conscience.
3. Guilt is a gift…when it is not the end.
“The third error was one of a lack of understanding of why God desires me to have a clear conscience. In my mind it seemed to be a rather impersonal command from a Holy God who just can’t stand sin. While this is true, I failed to take into account that, as a child of God, a clear conscience is not the prerequisite for His love (even though I can experience more of it when walking in the light). No, my position as a child of God and His love and delight in me is the foundation for this command! It is a loving, relational command! Conviction from God is an invitation for unhindered enjoyment. The grounds for forgiveness has already been provided, and even the guilt is a gift to bring us to a place to fully enjoy what He has accomplished for us through Christ. So, as I experience God-given conviction and guilt, I will thank Him for that gift, and bring it to Him and ‘struggle in the light.’ Temptation and guilt will serve as a springboard into conversation with God.”