Written by Anati Bacela
Inspired by the book ‘The Exceptional Life’ by Stephen Arterburn
'If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.'
– 1 John 1:9 (NIV)
When we have done wrong, we tend to feel a nagging emotion called guilt. It is an emotion God built into us to make us conscious of the difference between right and wrong. Guilt can be a good thing, as it brings to our attention that we need to turn away from the wrong we are doing and start doing the right we know we should be doing.
You may feel guilty if you are either: involved in a sin, repeating a sin or choosing to sin. Because the devil knows that the Holy Spirit uses guilt to convict us of wrongdoing, he uses it as a tool to drag us down and sap the hope out of us. At times, after sinning, you repent and ask for God's forgiveness, but you still feel guilty because you don't fully believe, have not accepted, or perhaps have rejected God's forgiveness.
We tend to judge ourselves far more harshly than we judge others. It is so much easier for us to forgive others than it is to forgive ourselves. Guilt and shame distort the way we perceive and respond to ourselves, everyone, and everything else around us. They sap the hope out of us; the light for which this world so hungers. Everything looks gloomy through the eyes of guilt or shame. We find ourselves feeling unworthy of love and unable to enjoy the present or be excited about the future.
Shame consumes our self-image, tells us we are unworthy, and causes us to live in a web of pain from the past. This can be shame resulting from mistakes you've made in the past or shame resulting from something someone else did to you: abuse, abandonment, rejection, or bullying. You need not live with this shame; it has no place in your life.
Guilt that we need to rid ourselves of is the guilt that we carry after repentance. This is not righteous guilt, it drags us down and robs us of the very hope our darling Jesus Christ claimed for us on the cross.
We need to know the difference between what we should feel guilty about, and what we shouldn't. It is not guilt that flows from losing our temper and saying harsh things that cripples us. If you have lingering guilt which never really goes away, then there is a deeper issue - a shame that requires you to dig a little deeper. You may need to go as far back as into your childhood and remind yourself that you were just a child and you didn't know any better. If someone hurt you or abused you, you may need to remind yourself that you were powerless and cannot be blamed for their actions.
You are only human. The only perfect human being who ever walked this earth, was Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He was sin-free and sacrificed His very blameless life for us to receive a life rich in hope. He was rejected so that we could be accepted. We need to accept and live in the fullness of the divine forgiveness offered to us by Jesus Christ through His blood shed on the cross.
When we feel guilty and shameful, we have no hope, and without hope, we feel like we have nothing. Hope is the fuel that gets us out of bed in the morning. It is that voice that will remind you that something better awaits you on the other side of your current struggle. The only source of real hope is Jesus Christ. God wants us to live a life that reflects the hope we have in His Son, Jesus Christ.
'...There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.' – Romans 8:1 (NIV)
- God has promised to forgive your sin. Have you asked Him to forgive you?
- How would your life change if you accepted God’s forgiveness and let go of your regret?
- How would your life be if you let go of your guilt and shame, and chose a life of hope in Christ Jesus instead?
- Are you living in the fullness of God's love and promises for you?