Most contemporary psychologists would have us believe that “a guilty conscience” stems from one’s environmental conditioning. That is to suggest that if parents bred strong moral ethics into their children they would grow to mirror their ideals. However, this concept is over-simplistic, for it assumes that all children today enjoy godly, nuclear family environments.
Since the majority of new-century children are reared in blended families, moral lines are becoming increasingly indistinct. In any case, true consciousness of guilt for sin is not directly connected to what dad and mom may have taught or failed to teach. For a child to receive solid Biblical instruction from each new set of parents they are forced to adopt is virtually impossible.
The truth is that the godly guilt which “leads to repentance” (II Cor.7:9-10) is based on two primary factors: God’s Word and obedience to it. A convicting sense of guilt for what offends God can only be found in the Bible, not in psychology books. God wrote down His standards in black and white and has never asked humankind to reinterpret them for Him.
But simply being aware of God’s plan of salvation is insufficient without obedience to His directives. The more we learn and take His teachings to heart, the more we become aware of what truly offends Him. As we come to know Him better, our love for Him will cause us to avoid that which displeases Him. “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
Guilt is a good thing when it drives us to the cross of Jesus Christ. Only by obeying the Gospel and accepting Jesus as Savior, can we be truly free from the guilt of sin. Children and adults can only pillow their heads in peace after Jesus has forgiven their sins. An expensive psychiatrist’s couch is only a cheap substitute.