At the evening sacrifice, I arose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my robe, I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God. And I said: “O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens. Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been very guilty, and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to humiliation, as it is this day. (Ezra 9:5-7)
When a culture begins to feel more self-confident in human wisdom with self-exaltation, the feeling of guilt diminishes for slights or injuries to others and to God. A hedonistic world does not account for responsibility and accountability. The obligations of being a neighbor to others and serving the needs of the community no longer are the primary purpose of the individual. There is a cultural disappearance of guilt. Immorality is an accepted norm. Judging others because of their life decisions is unacceptable in a world of self-identity. Feelings of culpability are not based on the word of God with a view of judgment. Guilt is removed, and remorse for life decisions is replaced with the desire to find happiness in self regardless of the outcome.
The failure of guilt changes the moral compass of society. What was once viewed as an act of dishonor or guilt is accepted as the norm. There is a diminished stigma of unwed pregnancies. Premarital sex is an accepted and often expected part of life with no guilt. Parents accept their children’s sexual identity allowing them to express their carnal needs with the warnings of being safe. Homosexuality is so open the minorities of the alphabet soup society make it seem everyone follows the same persuasion. The agenda of the perverted is to force their ungodliness on others. To ridicule is to face the harsh criticism of a world gone mad. Abortions take place every day because the mother feels no guilt for killing her child and the father often is of less interest. The killing of innocent people is rampant in a world with no guilt for action. One of the primary ingredients of sin is the lack of guilt.
Lying, stealing, dishonesty, and covetousness are not viewed through the lens of guilt. Business is often conducted with dishonesty at its foundation. Pursuing stuff is done by any means and to any limit allowed by law. Stealing from the company is done without guilt. Lying on taxes is an accepted manner to stay ahead of the government. What once served as the character of honesty and integrity is frowned upon as ancient, outdated, and outmoded. There is no more guilt for the actions of the individual. The reason that crime increases, immorality flourishes, and politicians lie, steal, and cheat is because there is no guilt.
In the church of the Lord, the lack of guilt is prevalent. Even in the religious world, there was a sense of guilt, and those days are lost. Now women parade around half-dressed (or less) with no guilt. Missing church services no longer produce feelings of guilt. Hearts seek to justify their actions for not attending. They love church, and they love the Lord, but they do not think it is necessary to attend church and have no guilty feelings about missing time and again. Work is more important, recreation more enjoyable, vacations more necessary, and plain laziness and faithless hearts attribute to numbers of people feeling no guilt. They are being lulled to sleep with the tantalizing hum of Satan’s song to their eternal destruction.
Ezra realized something about the people of God. His heart was torn asunder because of the sin of the people. He tore his garment and robe, fell on his knees, and begged God’s mercy. Ezra acknowledged his iniquities and guilt. His heart was broken because he had broken God’s heart. Guilt is a healthy medicine to cure a faithless heart. Until the heart of God’s people feels guilt at forsaking the word of the Lord, there will be little hope. Losing the feeling of guilt can destroy a soul. Guilt is like pain. When the body experiences pain, it is a signal of danger. A hot stove inflicts pain to warn the body of impending destruction. If pain were not present, the body would suffer and die. Guilt is a reminder of the pain of sin. Without guilt, there is no consciousness of the relationship I have with God. I am a sinner. I am guilty. God help me know that.