A number of times over the years, I’ve asked a person here or there (how non-specific can you get!) to do something, then made this caveat: but don’t worry or feel guilty if you can’t do it. Several times over the years, I’ve received this response, “Oh don’t worry, I won’t feel guilty. I don’t feel guilty about anything.”
Now in some ways, that’s OK. We need not be motivated by guilt any longer because there is no condemnation in Christ (Rom 8:1). However, I’ve heard this type of response from certain folks, and then thought about it within the context of their lives. Then I begin to wonder if this I-don’t-feel-guilty-about-anything attitude really means that the person really feels no conviction for sin or the Spirit’s leading. No convictions on being in worship, no convictions on parenting, no convictions on selfishness, isolation, hospitality, etc…We should feel conviction for sin regularly, because, well, we regularly sin. Guilt tends to be general, where as conviction is quite specific.
The grace which God has shown us through Christ (which takes away all guilt and punishment of sin) does not take away conviction of sin. In fact I think its just the other way around. Titus 2:11-12 reminds us the affect of this grace:
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age…..
Contrary to making us complacent in how we live, it actually moves us toward living godly lives, “training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions.” It doesn’t fill our lives with guilt, but grace does point out all the ways in which we try to find life outside of the gospel.
The next time you I hear, “I don’t feel guilty about anything,” it might be worth exploring that a bit further. Do we feel any conviction about not using our spiritual gifts, respecting others, loving our neighbors, not supporting a local church in worship and work, how we work, etc…? If we don’t, then it’s very possible this I-don’t-feel-guilty-about-anything-attitude may really be something as simple, and dangerous, as quenching the Spirit. At the end of the day, it may be nothing more than living as a Christian sociopath under the guise of grace.