ard such as the clear teaching of the Word of God. Some psychiatrists have added a third dimension to this definition in what they have described as guilt to ward God (ibid., p. 66). A healthy at titude toward the problem of guilt will not only include the insight to differ entiate between real and false guilt but a knowledge of the teaching of the Word of God as to the cause, the con sequences, and the captivating power of sin. Such a person will be led to re pentance that leads to godliness and blessing. But let us hasten to observe the sec ond important key to handling our guilt feelings according to the Word of God. I believe we must also have a healthy and enlightened attitude to ward God’s capacity to forgive sin. Second Chronicles 7:14 says that if we will humble ourselves and pray and seek his face, forgiveness and restora tion will result. Paul reminds us that “God, for Christ’s sake” has made for giveness for the individual an accom plished fact, if we will but claim it by faith. For it has been purchased “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Pet. 1:18). Finally, let me say that prayer and faith are the instruments by which we unlock the chest of God’s forgiveness and experience His cleansing power. David said, “I acknowledged my sin unto thee . . . and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin” (Ps. 32:3, 5). This is where we begin in the Chris tian life, but this is also where we must continue, keeping short books with God, daily, momentarily confessing our real guilt to Him, as the Holy Spirit en lightens our minds. And then, by faith, claiming and acting upon the forgive ness which He provides.
Prayer (continued) of the Lord: “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). And Paul adds in Colossians 3:21, . . lest they be dis couraged.” I am afraid that many times we err in setting up unnecessarily strict sit uations, puritanical prohibitions built upon our own lack of understanding and personal prejudices, until we ac tually create emotional problems, and pseudo-guilt feelings that need never exist if we would but learn as parents to “live in the spirit” (Gal. 5:25, 26). Dr. Toumier further states that “not a single person passes through the pe riod of emancipation from parents with out involving himself in a life of se crecy which is always guilt-ridden” (p. 13, Guilt and Grace , Harper Brothers, publishers, 1962). Now that we have seen the uni versality and magnitude of this prob lem, let me briefly state three things that are important to the handling of our guilt feelings according to the Word of God. First, we must have a healthy atti tude toward guilt itself. In order to do so, I believe we must learn to dis tinguish between real guilt and guilt feelings. Psychologists today speak of func tional guilt, which is brought about by social suggestion: for instance, fail ure to accomplish something that needed to be done, because it was phy sically impossible (many of us face work loads that we simply cannot ac complish in the amount of time and the strength available, yet we find ourselves feeling guilty because the task is not completed). Feelings of fail ure to gain approval from a friend or a parent are also many times simple feelings of guilt for which there is no real validity. In addition, many psy chiatrists maintain that all inferiority is actually experienced as guilt. But, psychologists also speak of what is called Value guilt, that is, guilt to ward self, or guilt that arises from actually betraying an authentic stand
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