Are you bugged by a guilty conscience? Are you carrying around baggage from a certain mistake or bad decision that produces feelings of regret and self-loathing? If so, God wants you to know it's okay to let it go.
Now, it is completely natural to grieve over a bad decision or mistake that you have made. We have all said or done things that we wish we could take back. But there is a difference between healthy grief – which is really the conviction of the Holy Spirit – and its counterfeit, which is the oppressive kind of guilt and condemnation that Satan uses to bring a person down day after day.
But we can rest in this truth as believers in Christ: Because of His great love for us, God has cancelled our sins completely. He has removed every stain of imperfection and given us the gift of His spotless perfection. It is not God's will for those who are born again through Christ to live with guilt and condemnation That's exactly the message Jesus came to earth to deliver (see John 3:16-17; Romans 8:1).
And nothing will ever change God's love for you.
When you receive that essential truth for yourself, any burden of guilt that you may have will be lifted from your shoulders. Maybe it sounds too good to be true, but it really is that easy.
Breaking the Habit of Guilt
I had a terrible problem with guilt for many years of my life. During most of my childhood, I grew up in an angry, unstable, abusive atmosphere, which caused me to become a negative, angry, judgmental adult who didn't like myself or anybody else for that matter. As a result, I often behaved in ways that I regretted later, especially in my relationships.
Through the years, guilt had become so ingrained in me that I just didn't feel right if I didn't feel wrong. And I carried those negative feelings with me right into the early years of my ministry.
For example, whenever I went to God in prayer, I would automatically focus on two things – my problems and my mistakes.
I'll never forget the morning God spoke to my heart and said, "Joyce, are you going to fellowship with Me today or are you going to keep focusing on your sins?" At that moment, I realized God wasn't mad at me; He loved me. And He was encouraging me to drop the dead weight of my guilt.
He wants the same for you, too.
God Does Not Expect Perfection
I think many people struggle with guilt because they think God expects more of them than what they can deliver. Some people even think He expects perfection, but that couldn't be further from the truth.
God's Word says in Romans 3:23 (NKJV), "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
We are all in need of Salvation through Jesus Christ.
The Bible also says that where sin abounds, grace does much more abound (see Romans 5:20). Now this is not giving us license to live a sloppy life and sin as much as we want; it means when you fall short of perfection in any area of your life, you will always have another chance to get back up, brush yourself off and try again with God's help.
God will always be on your side, cheering you on to victory.
What Does God Expect from Us?
The apostle Paul explains what God requires of us in Philippians 3:12-14 –
and that is to simply grow.
Let's take a look…
Paul says, "Not that I have already obtained [righteousness], or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (NIV).
In Christ, we can forget about what lies behind us – that is, the things we cannot change – and press on toward the mark of perfection, doing our best in the present moment.
One thing that has helped me get over my guilt trips (which I used to take on a daily basis) is realizing they are totally, completely useless. They didn't help me behave any better. Actually, all they did was break the heart of God and make me act worse.
I have come to realize that the only way to make progress is to let go of what lies behind.
Race at Your Own Pace
We will always make mistakes. That is our nature. But God knows we're growing and He is full of mercy.
He doesn't want you to get up in the morning and worry about what you did yesterday or what you might do wrong today. God wants us to come boldly before Him to receive forgiveness and move forward, completely guilt free.
Jesus said, "…Ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy (gladness, delight) may be full and complete" (John 16:24 AMP).
When you ask God for His forgiveness, don't just stop there. Take a moment and receive His forgiveness. Say out loud, "God, I receive Your forgiveness. Thank You for giving me a fresh start. Because of what You have done for me, I am filled with joy."
You don't have to waste any more time focusing on your sins. Instead, You can fellowship with God and learn from His Word. If you do that, I promise you, you will grow, grow, grow.
Remember, God loves you and He is always cheering you on to victory.
© 2013 Printed with permission of Joyce Meyer Ministries