Perhaps you have heard about the unusual confession Matthew Cordle made on a website called “Because I Said I Would,” a video that went then went viral on the internet. This will provide the prosecution ironclad evidence to convict him of a drunk driving accident in which he killed 61-year-old Vincent Canzani back in June. His lawyer explained that Cordle confessed to the June killing because he is “riddled with guilt” and on the video, designed to deter others from drinking and driving, he says, “You can still be saved. Your victims can still be saved” (Erin Donaghue, www.cbsnews.com).
In Psalm 38, David depicts the heavy weight of guilt brought on by sin. He describes the physical effects he felt because of his spiritual transgressions. He likens it to physical assault (1-2), sickness (3), drowning (4a), a too-heavy-burden (4b), wounds (5), dilapidation (8), and readiness to fall (17). Words like “mourning” (6), “turmoil” (8), “pants” (10), “sorrow” (17), and “anguish” (18) punctuate the Psalm. While some so harden their heart to sin that they can seemingly move forward with no qualms or pangs of guilt, the Bible describes the nagging, constant, and unceasing tug of guilt that accompanies wrongdoing. As David reflected on his sin with Bathsheba and the horrible things he did to cover it up, he would write, “My sin is always before me” (Ps. 51:3). Most people are like David. What they do with that guilt may differ, but God wants that guilt to produce “diligence,” clearing of self, “vindication,” and similar, godly responses in people’s hearts rather than to produce death (cf. 2 Cor. 7:10-11). How fruitful and tragic to feel the weight of sin’s guilt but never apply God’s remedy to get rid of it!
The fact is that all of us are guilty of sin (Rom. 3:23) and deserve a sentence of eternal condemnation, but we can escape the consequences of our guilt by obedience to Christ (cf. Heb. 5:9). The net effect of that can be the profound peace that accompanies forgiveness. Too many are held hostage by their sins when freedom and escape are readily available. We cannot measure or quantify the weight of guilt upon a pair of scales, but we know it is real and burdensome. Jesus calls us to come to Him and He will unburden us (Mat. 11:28-30).