Hi everyone, welcome back to Serenity in The Spirit!
Let’s get straight into it, as you can tell from the title, I want to talk about guilt and God. The Bible makes it clear that all human beings, including Christians, sin (1 John 1:8 and Romans 3:10). That is why we need Jesus - He died so that our sins may be forgiven when we pray to ask for forgiveness and choose to repent (turn) from our sinful ways (He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed - 1 Peter 2:24). This is the basis of what this post is about. Whilst we will get things wrong, we do not have to live feeling guilty forever.
The problem with guilt is that it pushes us away from God. When we feel guilty about our sin, we often feel like we cannot come before God. It's almost as if we believe He's waiting there ready to punish us as soon as we enter His presence. Part of feeling guilty also means that we are scared to come to God as His goodness can make us (with our sin) feel inferior.
Can I be honest for a moment? This is something I have struggled with and still sometimes do. I remember a while ago I did something God wouldn’t be pleased with one Sunday morning, just before church. Moments after, upon reflection, the guilt settled in as did the feeling of dread. Fortunately, the dread was not enough to stop me from going.
The church service began with singing worship songs to God and whilst my mouth moved and my voice sang, my mind wandered elsewhere. “I am such a hypocrite. How can I sing these songs after what I’ve just done??” After a while I suddenly had the thought “whether or not you sin, God deserves the praise of this song“. This simple truth, revealed to me by the Holy Spirit, changed my life and I have never forgotten it. Some of the decisions I make to this day are based on this truth.
Guilt pushes you away from God and, consequently...towards the devil.
If I allowed the guilt to take over, perhaps I wouldn’t have gone to church that day and worshiped the Lord. Staying at home could have given me more time to mediate on the negative thoughts coming from the guilt. This would have gone against the advice of Paul to the Ephesian church (Ephesians 4:27) and given the devil a foothold, creating an opportunity for the devil to try and pull me away from God through my thoughts and feelings.
Guilt can lead you down a hole that gets harder and harder to escape from the longer you allow the feeling to linger. So how do we get rid of that feeling? The first thing to note is we can’t do it by ourselves, it is a work of the Holy Spirit. If you suffer with horrible feelings of guilt after sin the first thing to remember is that feeling a level of guilt shows that you acknowledge your wrongs. This is good as it is a first step to repentance. However, this level of guilt should swiftly lead to prayer, asking God for forgiveness and guidance to help you stop this sin. It’s worth noting that one prayer alone may not relieve you from guilt but it’s important that you do not give up, God is willing and able to help you. If you are unsure about what to say to God and this is preventing you from going to Him, you could try something like this:
Our Heavenly Father,
Thank You for Your mercy and grace. Thank You for sending Your Son to die for me on the cross that my sins can be forgiven. God, I ask for your forgiveness for ____. I pray that You will help me to truly turn away from this behaviour/attitude/way of speaking and create in me a clean heart. May Your Holy Spirit fill me and lead me to behave more like the perfect example you gave us in Jesus. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
I would like to end this post with a verse to remind you of a key aspect of having a relationship with God; though we continually mess up, He is gracious enough to forgive us. Guilt does not have to hold us down, we have victory over the devil and we shouldn’t let guilt hinder our relationship with our creator.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness - 1 John 1:9
Thank you so much for reading! What I have written above has often helped me when I have felt guilty and I pray that this post helps you in your times of struggle too.
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I pray you have an incredible week ahead :)
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