Guilt-Free Living. By Robert Jeffress. Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 1995. 256 pp. Cloth, $15.99.
According to the author the purpose of his book is to help the reader “eliminate those unrealistic, self-imposed expectations about different life areas” that cause a person to wallow around in guilt and never truly enjoy life (p. 5). Jeffress believes that God has reasonable and attainable standards for the various areas of one’s life, which when met, can create a sense of “closure—the assurance that we have done enough” (p. 6).
Hopefully Guilt-Free Living is likely to have the same widespread impact on the Christian community as books like Swindoll’s The Grace Awakening and Hodges’s Grace in Eclipse. Indeed, these books share a similar premise. Jeffress suggests that most believers spend their lives trying to prove their worthiness before God by “performing” for Him. Even believers who would fight to the death for the doctrine of salvation by faith apart from works often get caught in the “works web.” Although saved apart from works, many believe in practice that acceptance comes through striving to reach a higher goal. However, true acceptance in the Christian life comes not from doing more and more and more but from doing “enough” (chap. 1).
To some Christians this book might be viewed as soft on sin. But guilt-free living, says Jeffress, is not about denying the reality of sin in our lives. Some people, he says, feel guilty because they are guilty (p. 21). Yet once we have accepted God’s free gift of eternal life and the forgiveness of sin that accompanies it, “guilt-free existence” is quite possible and more importantly—it’s biblical (p. 21). Moses, Solomon, Nehemiah, Paul, and even the Lord Jesus all experienced closure in their lives (p. 11). That is, they knew when they had done enough.
Jeffress goes beyond principle into practical application in his book. After laying a solid biblical foundation, he proceeds to demonstrate how the freedom from guilt and self-imposed pressures can affect many areas of one’s life. A few areas touched on are marriage, Bible study, money management, work, and ministry (this is an especially good chapter).
At a time when Christian bookstores are filled with books which place unrealistic—often impossible—demands on believers, this book is a liberating breath of fresh air. It’s an accurate and profound harmonization of the Free Grace doctrine of salvation with the doctrine of sanctification. Don’t just read this book. Read it and pass it on to others.
J. B. Hixson
Tremont Baptist Church