Sermon Notes May 26, 2013 FBCam

Grappling with Guilt

Genesis 42

It was Ninth Grade English Literature class. We were reading American short stories, and our assignment was to read Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell Tale Heart.” Following are some highlights from the chilling tale…

The officers were satisfied. My MANNER had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears…until, at length, I found that the noise was NOT within my ears.

I foamed — I raved — I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder — louder — louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly , and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? …They heard! — they suspected! — they KNEW! ……

I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! — and now — again — hark! louder! louder! louder! LOUDER! —

"Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed! — tear up the planks! — here, here! — it is the beating of his hideous heart!"

(Edgar Allen Poe, “The Telltale Heart”)

The story was creepy then – it’s still creepy now!

Poe wrote about the paralyzing human experience that we know as GUILT.

The story of Joseph teaches an important lesson on overcoming guilt.

Joseph is not the main character in this particular lesson. The ten brothers are the ones who will teach us about guilt. This message will examine the Source, the Symptoms and the Solution for guilt.

The Sermon title, “Grappling with Guilt” is from a chapter in by Derek R. Brown and Matthew Whitehead in, Joseph: Understanding God’s Purpose. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2013.

  1. The SOURCE of Guilt.

We know that GUILT comes from SIN. John 16:8 "When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:"

But more specifically, guilt is the result of UNCONFESSED SIN. We see this in the DIFFERENCE between JOSEPH and the TEN BROTHERS. The brothers are burdened by the sins of the past. Although Joseph suffered injustly, he is free from the bondage of holding onto his past.

Joseph has the blessing of a GOD AMNESIA.

He endured great injustice, but GOD HELPED HIM FORGET. Genesis 41:52 "The second son he named Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”"

God amnesia” is not the same as being incapable of recalling past events. When Joseph sees his brother, he knows them instantly and remembers what they did to him. But God had freed him from any obsession over the injustices committed against him.

Genesis 42:6–9 "Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the one who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked. “From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.” Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. Then he remembered his dreams about them …”

He is not held captive by bitterness, anger or revenge!

GOD AMNESIA is not unaware of the injustices of the past, it is just unbound by them!

GOD AMNESIA allows the child of God to be joyful in whatever circumstances we are in!

By comparison, The TEN BROTHERS have the CURSE of REGRET.

They live in FEAR of JUDGMENT

They could not rest from the memories of what they had done to Joseph. When accused of being SPIES, they blabber their story about their family. Genesis 42:8–13 "Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.” No, my lord,” they answered. “Your servants have come to buy food. We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies.” “No!” he said to them. “You have come to see where our land is un-protected.” But they replied, “Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more.”

They assumed that the harsh treatment they were receiving from this Egyptian offical was God’s judgment against them for their actions. This theme is repeated in the following portions of the story.

Genesis 42:21 "They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come upon us.”

Genesis 42:22 "Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.”

Genesis 42:28 “My silver has been returned,” he said to his brothers. “Here it is in my sack.” Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, “What is this that God has done to us?”

Remember, 22 years had passed!

Joseph was 17 when he was sold as a slave (Gen 37:2)

He was 30 when raised up over Egypt (Gen 41:46)

7 years of abundance passed.

2 years of famine passed (Gen 45:6)

Notice the difference between JOSEPH’S RESPONSE to trials and the BROTHER’S RESPONSE to TRIALS:

Joseph serves God with Joy.

The brothers FEAR GOD’s Judgment

The source of Guilt is unconfessed sin

  1. The Symptoms of Guilt. Time has NOT HEALED the consciences of the brothers!

HIDING. Adam and Eve hid from God’s presence because of their sin. Genesis 3:8–10 "Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. " "But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” " "He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”"

HATRED. When our SIN is revealed, we often TURN AGAINST the righteous man or woman that exposes our sin. We see this response when the Jews turned against Christ on account of his righteousness. John 15:24–25 "If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. "

Another symptom of guilt is SEPARATION from GOD. Isaiah 59:1–3 "Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. " "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. " "For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things."

REMORSE plagues those who do not confess their sin. Ezra 9:6 "O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens."

When we do not confess, our guilt plagues us with feelings of UNWORTHINESS. Luke 15:21 "“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’"

Finally, the most severe guilt has the potential to drive someone to SUICIDE, like it did Judas. He could not bear the weight of his guilt, and as a result he killed himself.

Matthew 27:3–5 "When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied.“That’s your responsibility.” So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself."

  1. The SOLUTION for Guilt.

Penance is NOT a solution.

The brothers faithfully served their father for the past 22 years. They had not harmed Benjamin. They had learned to get along, as evidenced that they accept Jacob’s admonition to go to Egypt to buy food and do so without arguing.

BUT THEY WERE STILL PLAGUED BY GUILT! Perhaps they thought that their loyalty to Jacob would compensate for their unfaithfulness to Joseph. But good deeds cannot cleanse us from the guilt of our sinful deeds. That is the point of grace. If good works could cleanse our consciences, then Christ’s death was in vain.

The fact that good works cannot remove our guilt is highlighted by the authro of Hebrews. "The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.” (Hebrews 10:1–2)

GRACE is the only Solution!

The BROTHERS lived by LAW.

They viewed God as a RETRIBUTIVE GOD. Genesis 42:21 "They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come upon us.”

A taste of retribution began to awaken feelings in the brothers, feelings that Joseph’s cries for mercy (v. 21) and Jacob’s tears (37:34–35) had failed to awaken.” Allen P. Ross, "Genesis" The Bible Knowledge Commentary: (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 92.

JOB’S FRIENDS also express the same view of God and thought of God as a retributive God (Job 4:6-9).

The DISCIPLES in John 9 saw God as a retributive God. John 9:2 "His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

GOD WILL PUNISH, but not before every last offer of His grace is rejected!

The cure for GUILT is GRACE!

Grace is Given to those who see their need! CONFESSION. Psalm 32:3 "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long."

the weight of past sins can hinder us from living in the freedom that comes with full recognition of God’s grace.” Derek R. Brown, and Matthew M. Whitehead, Joseph: Understanding God’s Purpose, (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2013). Ge 42:1–38.

Guilt is an emotion that God gives us to bring us to the point of seeing our true need.

Be Glad It Hurts” I recall hearing a doctor say, “So long as a diseased appendix hurts there is hope for a safe removal. The danger period is when it stops hurting. It may mean the appendix has burst, spreading poison throughout the entire body.” So be glad that when you sin, your conscience still hurts and leads you toward repentance. (Herschel H. Hobbs, My Favorite Illustrations (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1990), 225.)

Confession brings healing!

Confess to God.

Confess to those offended


Confession can still be real!

DAVID was caught

Confession is EASIEST when prompted by conviction. But confession can also be genuine if our sin is exposed. HOWEVER, it is always more painful when exposed.

HE GIVES MORE GRACE” James 4:6 "But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

With grace, comes CLEANSING. Hebrews 9:14 "How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!"

With grace, comes PEACE. Romans 5:1 "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,"

With grace, comes ACCESS. Romans 5:2 "through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God."

With grace, comes joy. Psalm 32:1 "Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered."

Is there something today that separates you from fellowship with God?

Is there something today that separates you from fellowship with someone else?

God is gracious and desires to forgive.

You cannot atone for your wrongs by an improved life.

You must depend on God’s grace in order to be free.

The best part is, He delights to give grace to all who ask!