Read Romans 3:23
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (NLT)
It is generally agreed that guilt is a bad thing. It is wrong to feel guilty. And it is true that some forms of guilt are crippling. We feel guilty about things that were not our responsibility; or feel guilty because we have an oversensitive conscience; or feel guilty because others insist on loading rejection on us and causing us to feel like worthless worms.
But there is healthy guilt. An awareness,expressed in our text,that we have indeed fallen short of God’s standards. This is not morbid guilt feelings. This is not blaming ourselves for something that is not our responsibility. Our falling short is our doing: we can’t blame anyone or anything else. And we can’t play the finger-pointing game,feeling better about ourselves by pointing to others whose sins are much more serious than our own. A sin is a sin is a sin.
Guilt can be healthy because it drives us to mercy. Without an acknowledgement of our wrongdoing there can be no forgiveness for it. Refusing to recognise our true moral guilt means a refusal to embrace grace. The Christian understanding of guilt is not meant to have us wallow in our unworthiness but rather to have us gratefully receive the forgiveness of Jesus.
Only as we face the bad news of our being lost sheep gone astray can we embrace the good news of the good shepherd whose passion is to bring us back on track.