Do you spend a lot of time feeling guilty? I did, as a result of being abused as a child. I grew up believing something was wrong with me and that everything was my fault. And when you develop that kind of thinking during your childhood, it can torment you for a long time.
Guilt traps us and keeps us in the same place; much like a treadmill that keeps us going, but accomplishes nothing. Guilt is a trap that presses us down into our problems rather than lifting us out of them. And as long as we feel guilty about what we do wrong, we remain in that guilt and will not grow spiritually.
All of us make mistakes, and God knows that! No one can be perfect while in a fleshly body, but we can and must continue to grow spiritually regardless of where we are in our relationship with Christ. But in order to grow spiritually, we must first learn who we are in Christ.
By God's grace and mercy, when we are born again, God not only forgives us, He gives us His righteousness because the Holy Spirit comes to live inside us. We each have right standing with God legally because of the blood of Christ, and even though we sometimes still do things wrong, the ability to do what's right is also in us.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV) tells us: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
God doesn't expect you to become something that He hasn't already equipped you to be. At the moment you are born again, God comes to live inside of your heart. The "seeds" of His character are downloaded into your spirit, and just like any seeds that are planted with the intent to reap a harvest later on, there must be a cultivation period that happens over a long period of time.
You have everything you need to be who God wants you to be, and since God lives inside of you, this means the fruit of His Spirit is also inside you. And after you are born again, you will grow in Christ as you pursue Him daily.
2 Timothy 2:22 (NIV) tells us: "Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." (emphasis added)
The operative word here is "pursue." Pursue means "to crave and go after something with all your mind and strength." Your relationship with God should not only be a Sunday morning thing. He is everything! In Him we live and move and have our being and without him we are nothing.
We rely on God's grace to help us do what's right every day. And if we try to do what God asks us to do without relying on Him to help us, we won't succeed because we need Him to do everything we need to do.
Philippians 2:12-13 (NIV) says: "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed — not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence — continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose."
We don't work FOR our salvation to earn it, but we do work OUT our salvation. There's a difference!
For example, working out for fitness takes time, discipline and commitment. I have worked out three times a week for the last ten years. When I started, I didn't have visible muscles. But now I do, because I'm committed to maintaining my fitness. In much the same way, spiritual growth is a workout, with the results developing over a time because of commitment and discipline. And we lean on God to help us every step of the way.
So keep moving forward, and don't be hard on yourself! You are holy, righteous, anointed, and completely forgiven. You're not where you need to be, but thank God you're not where you used to be. You're okay, and you're on your way!