Guilt and Regret

Recently, a guest speaker made the observation that Jesus Christ is the guilt offering for our sins. This was derived from a close analysis of the Book of Leviticus, where the Jewish sacrificial system required a guilt offering for sins, the cleanse a guilty conscience. In the Book of Hebrews, this is applied to Jesus Christ and his people.

What follows from this is that God has redeemed a people to be his own not to be a guilt-ridden people. Guilt-driven Christianity is not biblical Christianity.

And yet the Psalmist says, “a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). So there must be a difference between guilt and contrition for God’s people.

I think this is an intuitive distinction. If a person is guilty for something, they owe a debt of payment for that guilt. If a person is contrite about something, one expresses a kind of remorse for what he has done.

Remorse is a proper response to evil perpetrated by oneself. Follow remorse, regret would be the future memory-based version of remorse. I can’t think of any time God condemns us for feeling remorseful.

But God does want us to live free of guilt.

My meditation for today then would be to try and think on Jesus Christ as the guilt offering for my sins. I am free from my guilt and condemnation. But I still have the effects of my sins to deal with, and I regret it. I would work, then, to be free not only from sin’s presence, but from its power over me.

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