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Friday, October 4, 2013

If ONLY - I Had Not Done It

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If ONLY - I Had Not Done It! - By Michael J. S. Austin, Ph.D.


What an awful "If ONLY" cry from the heart this is! Here, I face a serious subject - deep remorse. And I aim to help you get out of those depths, even if that does not sound possible. Many people have done all manner of things, and then suffered deep regret. They were led perhaps by the thrill, the lure, the sheer wickedness seemed so enticing - or into an argument, or whatever, and now they live with regrets. Perhaps there is just one particular thing - that one sin that ruined everything. And now you are left with haunting memories and consequences.
In this article I am trying to do two things. The first is to help you see the big picture of what you have done. You may find this insight helpful. The second is to share what may bring some measure of peace and understanding to your heart and mind.
I am facing this issue with the direct teaching of Scripture as the word of God. Not psychology. Not self-esteem recovery therapy - not medical intervention (but don't rule out that you may need this) and not self-visualising techniques or meditation. Any or all of these may improve your well-being and feelings, but they are not, in my view, getting to the core issue. And I shall try to explain why. A short article is limited to making a few observations and suggestions for you to follow. But if you need pastoral help, seek it from a ministry where God's word is honoured and the good news of God's grace is already transforming lives.
  • Why do I feel like this?
Guilt is not easy to deal with, especially when it comes with a sense of devastation. Atheism and secular humanism are unable to offer any explanation for real moral guilt. Only in a clear, biblical framework of the special creation of our humanity and our moral fall into disobedience against God, do we grasp true moral failure, why we feel so bad and why it is not all relative. And the really big issue is not that you stole from a relation, or charmingly facilitated the compromise of a person's marriage vows, but that we all have never heeded this - 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself' (Luke 10:27).
In the context of true moral guilt, it may well be aggravated by emotions of remorse at how much grief and sadness it has caused - and you may be inclined to self-pity. And remember, emotional responses, like grief and regret, flow first from the way we are thinking about our lives and actions. The way we understand our actions shapes the feelings we experience.
  • I cannot turn the clock back
"If only - I had not done it!" It is this terrible sense of "It's done now" that brings so much grief. Now nothing can undo it, and I may begin to get judgemental, blaming myself, angry and unforgiving, and that can be very destructive. Compounding this is the force of behaviours that urge addictive repetition. Oh, wouldn't they love to be free from those shackles and chains! Here, I need to confront myself (you can do that), but not with self-harm or violence. God's word is intensely realistic. Paul the apostle knew well how people lived in the first century and how "freedom" was in fact often a license for the degrading. So he challenged the Christians at Ephesus not to live 'as the Gentiles...' who 'have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!' (Ephesians 4:17-19). Not a lot has changed from the first century! Yes, we accept that not all guilty remorse stems from behaviour like this; you may have fallen into a blind rage and ruined a close friendship.
Either way, whatever it is, there are constructive things for you to consider.
  • New beginnings
Yes, we are unique and of great value - but sin as real moral failure in the sight of God has spoiled and deceived us. We thought we were masters of our destiny but instead we have become mired in our own stupidity. Thinking we were as free as an eagle, we finish up fettered to our own folly. But for all that, we are not worthless and whether we know it or not, our actions matter to God. So, the first thing to do is acknowledge that real wrong has been done - in God's sight. Don't shift the blame. Own up, don't pile on the guilt, don't try to turn your "if only" thing into a martyr complex. If another person or people are involved, and you haven't already done so, just offer a simple, courteous apology, even if it means swallowing your pride.
  • Now
Now get to the heart of the issue - it is the same here for everyone, Princes or paupers. Accept that sin is the root of your problem. I may have hurt other people, but ultimately it is against God himself. Then turn in confession to Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Lord. He is willing and able to save to the uttermost and freely forgive all sin and cleanse your conscience from all guilt. Accept on trust that his death was the punishment your sins deserved - 'Christ died for the ungodly' (Romans 5:6). Accept by faith that his resurrection was his deserved acquittal, and that because he acted for others, that too becomes the believer's acquittal! This then, is when you start to live a new life, at peace with God and loving him. Go on, do what you need to do. We are responsible but unable without his enabling. Call on him - he is near the broken-hearted!
Don't expect all the consequences to vanish, but do be assured about getting to the root of guilt - and do be assured that Christ welcomes all, whatever they have done, and forgives - even that one thing that troubles YOU.
Hello, my big goal is to show that biblical Christianity appeals to serious reason and careful thinking - it is grounded in definite history, invites enquiry and is relevant today.  So, I aim to share the good news of Christ crucified, risen and ascended - a Saviour who is worthy of your full confidence. And I write to help you find faith or to strengthen your faith. I share Evangelical and Reformed convictions and have a PhD from Reformation International Theological Seminary for work on the validity of reason. Use these links to my Amazon Kindle titles - all are at very low prices: 1. I saw Him die - Viewing Jesus' death TODAY http://www.amazon.com/saw-Him-die-Viewing-ebook/dp/B007TX696U/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_t_2 2. Darwin's Puzzle - Unravelling the riddle of reason http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007ZE34GG Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Michael_J._S._Austin,_Ph.D. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7074313

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