A few months back I was listening to a popular Bible expositor on the radio, I won’t say his name I want to avoid making this post about him rather than the content of his assertion, and he stated that when the Christian sins, in order to really deal with his/her sin, this particular Christian needs to have a sense of real guilt and real sorrow in order to demonstrate genuine repentance — in other words, in order to really be forgiven. This seems problematic to me given passages like: I John 1: 9; Romans 8: 1; etc. The Bible makes apparently clear that I don’t have to experience a feeling of guilt in order to receive forgiveness for my sin. In fact all I have to do is ask for forgiveness, and I am forgiven; I don’t have to live with the burden of guilt for a particular prescribed amount of time — isn’t this the good news?
Understandably, this Bible teacher is fed up with the immorality and moral laxity that has crept into the evangelical church in America. His remedy, apparently, is to place Christians under the yoke that Martin Luther so vigorously endeavored to be freed from. The yoke is the penitential system found within the framework of the Roman Catholic Church. If my reception of forgiveness is contingent upon me experiencing some sort of subjective weight of guilt, before I can receive forgiveness from the Father, then indeed this pastor has taken hold of some bad theology. Am I denying that there will be guilt when I sin? No! What I am denying is that reception of forgiveness is contingent upon my feeling of guilt; rather, it is contingent upon the faithfulness of Christ.