Guilt is a dangerous emotion because it can shut us down spiritually if we let it. We make mistakes and then start wondering where we stand in our relationship with God. Does He still love us and want us around or are we out of His good graces and out of the family?
The Bible clearly states in 1 John 1:9, "If I admit my sins, confess my sins, He is faithful and just to forgive me for all of my sins and to continuously cleanse me from all unrighteousness."
Forgiveness is not a one-time thing that happened the day you received Christ. It is an everyday thing, for the rest of your life. You see, when Jesus died on the cross, God not only forgave every sin in our past, but every sin we will ever commit!
Yes, we should be sorry for our mistakes. We might even have a short season of grieving over what we've done wrong. But when feelings of guilt try to overtake us, we need to press through them remembering that in Christ we're forgiven and nothing can separate us from God's love (see Romans 8:38-39).
Are You the Kind of Person God Can Use?
I used to have a terrible problem with guilt. The abuse I went through as a child put shame in me that produced horrific guilt whenever I did not perform perfectly. Until I learned how to stand against it on a daily basis, I could not do very much for God.
I still remember the day God confronted me about my problem with guilt. I was walking through a parking lot and feeling rather pitiful because I'd done something wrong. And suddenly, I was having a conversation with God in my mind that went something like this:
"Joyce, how do you plan to get over this sin that you've committed?"
"Oh, I'll just receive the sacrifice that Jesus made when He died on Calvary."
"I see, and, uh, when did you plan to do that?"
"Oh, probably in about three days."
"Don't you realize that all you're doing is trying to pay for your sins and that's what I've done? I don't need your help, Joyce. So would you do Me a favor? Would you please just let go of this and get on with your life? Because, frankly, I have need of you and you are of no value to Me in this condition."
You see, a mature Christian knows how to let go of past mistakes. Their attitude is: God's called me. He's gifted me. I've got an assignment to do and I don't have time to waste feeling guilty. I have sincerely repented for my sin, God has forgiven me, and I'm moving on.
That's exactly the kind of person God can use!
Embrace the Freedom to Be Who You Are
John 8:32 (AMP) says, "You will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free." So when God speaks truth to us about a sin or mistake we've made, instead of defending ourselves and resisting God's correction, we need to receive it and keep moving forward in His Spirit. This sets us free from guilt and condemnation, which only hold us back and keep us from becoming everything God created us to be.
When we're free to be who we are in Christ, God can use us in significant ways and we can live the abundant life Jesus died to give us.
It says in John 13 that Jesus knew who He was―where He came from and where He was going―yet He put on a servant's towel and knelt down to wash the disciples' feet.
Because Jesus knew who He was, He wasn't embarrassed to serve others. He wasn't concerned about impressing anybody or being perfect. He just did what He came to do.
Do What's Right Even When It Feels Wrong
God isn't looking for perfection from us. He knows we're going to make mistakes. What He wants is pure and simple relationship with us.
God loves you so much, and He knows you better than you know yourself. He accepts you just as you are but also wants you to keep growing in Christ so you can have everything He has for you. And we ALL have room to grow!
If you will make a daily effort to keep growing in your relationship with God, your behavior will keep improving all the time. But until you get off the treadmill of guilt, your progress will be horribly slow.
We cannot wait until we feel right to believe we're right in God's eyes. We have to start believing it while we still feel wrong. That's what it means to press past the pain of our hurts and mistakes. And eventually, our feelings will catch up with the truth.
Paul said in Philippians 3:12-13, "I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead" (NLT).
I want to encourage you today to really receive God's forgiveness in your life. You don't have to spend two or three days feeling rotten about yourself every time you make a mistake. Instead, believe in God's love for you and that good things are in your future. And keep pressing on!