In Times of Guilt, Draw Near to God

This morning, our pastor preached on the passage of Scripture Hebrews 10:19-24, which discusses the believer's privilege to come before the Throne of God because of Christ's finished work on the Cross.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Pastor Eric touched on the subject of guilt that often drives us to run from God, rather than laying it before Him and counting our sin as already covered. Often, guilt comes from the conviction of the Holy Spirit and lets us know that we must confess something to be cleansed; other times, however, we feel guilt for no reason in particular or for an infraction that has long since been repented. When we confess our sin, God not only forgives us (as 1 John 1:9 states), but our consciences can be clear, as well.

Then Pastor Eric made an interesting observation from his experience in biblical counseling: "Whenever someone is not reading the Bible, trying to counsel them from the Scriptures can be absolutely frustrating. It's like trying to give resuscitation to a rag doll."

I thought about that for a moment, and he was absolutely right! In the 5 years or so I have been counseling Christian women with eating disorders, (generally through e-mail), I can almost always tell if they have been reading their Bibles or not. Those who are in the Word generally change their thinking and attitudes about their eating disorders relatively quickly, and although it's a struggle, they have both the resolve to turn away from it and the faith that Christ will help them. The women who are NOT reading their Bibles regularly (I can even tell when they're not looking up the passages of Scripture I give them) seem to stay stuck in the same cycle of thinking and self-defeating patterns of sin. They are more prone to "put off" and procrastinate their own restoration - "Maybe someday I'll change." "I wish the devil would leave me alone." "What'll it take to make me change." (These are all comments I have received from women).

Please note that I am only talking about women who are professing born-again believers. To attempt to biblically counsel a non-Christian would be useless - evangelism would then be the first step. Once a woman accepts that she is a sinner in desperate need of a Savior and calls on the Lord Jesus Christ to save her, then we can begin proactive work on her eating disorder. To deal with the addiction before dealing with the state of the soul would be like slapping a Band-aid on a cancerous tumor.

My pastor's observation, naturally, has a much broader application than to Christians struggling with eating disorders. To foster intimacy with God, to know His will, and to see answered prayer, we must be reading and meditating on His Word. It is the way He speaks to, and counsels, His children.

Many thanks to Katie Halpin for the picture.


  1. There's been a lingering question on my mind for quite a while; sometimes I think I 'get it' while other times it is illusive. So here it is: Is it possible for a professing Christian to REMAIN in a state of spiritual infancy, carnality, and/or lukewarmness, excusing sin or accusing (blaming) others for it? (Which in this case 'it' is referring to bulimia.)

  2. I would say a qualified no. Here's why: by definition, a Christian has the Holy Spirit indwelling her. One of His main "jobs", if you will, is to convict of sin (John 16:8). This precedes and presupposes His conforming us to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). He also provides comfort (2 Cor. 1:3-4) and assurance that we are, indeed, God's children (1 John).

    Now, why is this important? If we lack assurance and have reason to doubt our salvation, we are told to "test ourselves" (2 Corinthians 13:5 - John Macarthur has a great series on this, if you'd like I'll send it).

    Typically, there is no creature on earth more miserable than a disobedient Christian. Your soul will just be crying out; the conviction and loss of fellowship is felt so keenly. Do you sorrow over sin? Constantly repent and seek forgiveness; only to fall again? YES, a Christian can fall into addiction, this was a main thesis of my book.

    BUT.....a "lukewarm" or carnal professing Christian, by definition, really doesn't care about her sin. She may sin with impunity, and either rationalize her sin, or (as you pointed out) blame it on someone else. If you are saved (general "you"), the Holy Spirit will only let you get away with that for so long. A true Christian, even if she falls, is genuinely remorseful over sin. She will still seek to turn from it, even if she fails repeatedly. A false convert is not sorrowful and tends to be apathetic.

    Only God knows one's heart for sure, but there will be SOME evidence of fruit in the life of a true child of God.

    Hope that helps. See also my entry, "Will Bulimia Send Me to Hell?"

  3. I read my bible daily, I repent, I want to change but I fail EVERY DAY. I feel like I could not possibly be forgiven when Christ knows im just going to do it again.

    I cant let go of the guilt of the bad steward of money, destroying the temple all of it but I cant stop.

    I never feel truly forgiven

  4. Anon, I know how you feel and I went through the same thing for years when I was trying to truly repent of the bulimia. I discuss this at length in my book.

    One passage that really blessed me was Luke 17:4: "Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying 'I repent,' you must forgive them."

    The Lord never asks us to do something He doesn't do Himself. No matter how great your failure, His grace is greater still. Keep repenting; keep asking fr His grace and strength in the moment of temptation - it never runs out. Regardless of what your feelings tell you, if you are repentant, He DOES forgive you. Trust His Word; not your feelings.


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