ASK Newsletter 3rd Quarter, 1997

Two Problems Everyone Faces

John H. Stoll, Ph.D.
Executive Director, ASK, Inc.

Recently a university professor stated that the reason suicide was the second leading cause of death among young people was that they had no hope. Hope for that which lies ahead is the motivating factor that energizes every person.

This is because God created every individual for a purpose, and we were created to live out that purpose that God has for each one. The living out of God's purpose for each of us brings satisfaction, which produces hope for a continuation of that purpose and the resulting fulfillment of life. Why the are people despondent enough o take their own lives, and thereby cut short the fulfilling purpose for which they were created?

The two great factors of life, that adversely affect one's fulfilling all that God intended for each of us, are fear and guilt., There are all kinds of fears that overwhelm a person: fear of the future, of the unknown, illness, death, accidents, failure, relationships, etc. The stress from these adversarial elements can become overwhelming, so that one may even despair of life itself. It is a well known factor of life, that the majority of organic diseases are produced by the inability of people to adequately handle the stress in their lives. This in itself may lead to suicide.

The second great element of life, that adversely affects us, is that of guilt. God has given to each of us a conscience (Romans 1:19), to act as a guide to our behaviors so that we follow the proper principles of life, and when we deviate from them our conscience guides us back into the right way. Everyone has an intuitive understanding of what is right and wrong. That concept can be further developed by proper parental guidance, so that as one's character is molded he may exercise self restraint and discipline to do that which is right. Or, the lack of proper parental guidance may develop within a child the selfish desire to live a self centered life, devoid of the restraints of conscience, and thereby continue to do the wrong things in life.

The constant tug and pull between doing what is right and that which is wrong, coupled with the conscience producing guilt when wrong is committed, can also be overwhelming, so that it may drive one to suicide. People constantly desire to be relieved of both fear and guilt. Isn't there some way by which both of these adversarial elements can be eliminated from one's life, so that we may enjoy the fullness that everyone wants, without fear or guilt.

God's answer to these two concerns is an unequivocal, yes. In order to enjoy freedom from fear and guilt, one must be willing to follow the creator's principles, in order to achieve this freedom, and the blessings of life. God's principles are simple, plain, and absolute, and when followed they bring peace, joy, happiness, and hope.

In the Bible in I John 4:7-21 we have God's formula for eliminating fear from our lives. It is found in loving Him and trusting Him. God states, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment---we love him, because He first loved us." Again in Hebrews 13:6 it tells us, "The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear, what can man do unto me"? Finally, in II Timothy 1:7 we note, "God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind". Fear comes not from God, but from within ourselves when we do not trust Him. Loving Him and trusting Him eliminates fear.

Guilt is produced by sin in the life of the person, through selfish behaviors, and disdaining the principles of the Bible that admonish us as to what is right. God's formula for eliminating guilt when one sins is found in I John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". Note two things: confession brings forgiveness, as well as absolute cleansing from the sin. There is a difference between real guilt (from unconfessed sin), and false guilt (which guilt feelings come from Satan and one must reject). Satan delights to hang false guilt feelings on God's children, even when we have confessed our sins. At times we must tell Satan to "bug of", for we owe him noting, and we owe God everything. Trust in God, and His Word, for that eliminates guilt.

Freedom from fear and guilt is refreshing to the child of God. It instills in one hope, and produces peace within, and the truths of Psalm 37:3-7 and Proverbs 3:5,6 are absolute guides for fullness of life (John 10:10).