I wrote my opinion about something on Facebook a few weeks ago and was accused of causing guilt in someone’s life. I was so impressed that I had that much power over a person and a person I never even met. (Lord, it’s hard to be humble.)
Don’t get me wrong, I know that some people have a tremendous gift at guilt trips because they want to make you feel worse than they feel about themselves. But I promise that wasn’t my intention. For this FB post, I was simply stating my thoughts and even why I felt the way I did. I read my post over and over, just to make sure I wasn’t in the wrong. Then I let it go…let it go…(You KNOW you just sang that!)
I spent most of my life feeling guilty about things I didn’t even do and even more over the things I did that were wrong. My guilt was such a burden and so destructive that it just led to a deep self hatred and shame. Guilt is so ugly, and causes us to do ugly things. So I’m here to set the record straight and hopefully, bring you some freedom.
Before I move on, I want you to know that I wholeheartedly believe that God gave us all of our feelings, even our negative ones. He didn’t desire for us to actually experience pain or heartache, but he also didn’t desire for us to sin. Our negative feelings are an innate part of being human, and our human experience is what draws us nearer to God. With that said, I believe that guilt is a feeling that God can use and here is how I believe it works.
There are two types of guilt:
CONDEMNATION is when we feel guilt the enemy uses it to pull us out of or away from our relationship with God.
CONVICTION is when we feel guilt and the Holy Spirit purposes it to draw us nearer to God.
The situation doesn’t determine whether it’s condemnation or conviction. The foundation of what we believe will lead us to accepting one or the other.
Let’s say you have tried to stop smoking. You know that it’s not good for you, you understand that you are ruining your body and can actually cut your life shorter by your choices, affecting not only your life but the lives of many. (see what I did there, you should stop smoking).
Let’s say you do a really great job and for 3 weeks you don’t touch a Marlboro. Never light it up. Then one day, work is particularly painful and you are walking outside to your car and someone walks past you with a cigarette. One whif, you’re a gonner. You don’t even try to NOT smoke. You stop and buy a pack of cigarettes, light one up on the way home. As you throw your butt out into the street, littering, breaking the law (see what I did there? Don’t litter!) you feel an overwhelming sense of shame for what you just did. The guilt floods in. You can’t control it. You’re so stupid you can’t do anything right. Why do you even bother trying. God is just so disappointed because you are a loser.
So is it possible that God intended to use that guilt to draw you closer to Him? Is it possible that the Holy Spirit is trying to whisper this instead, “Hey dude. You messed up. It’s okay, I know it’s hard. Let’s start over. Throw the pack away. Brush your teeth. And know you don’t have to do this alone. Depend on me, lean on me, when you are weak, I am strong. You stepped away for a minute, but come back to me. We will do this!” Ta da: CONVICTION
Instead, we take those negative whispers, and agree with them, smoke the rest of the pack, and feel like an even bigger failure. We feel far from God, like He could never really love someone like us, and feel the weight of our shame every single day. Dum dum dum: CONDEMNATION
When Paul wrote a letter to the Romans, he knew they struggled with sin and the fine line between flesh and Spirit. Romans 8:1
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
Wait, what? Ya. That is what this means. We don’t have to let our guilt become condemnation. If you have a relationship with Jesus, you don’t live under condemnation. All of Romans 8 (and even 7) talks about this struggle between flesh and spirit, sin and freedom. I love this, too:
If your sinful nature [condemnation] controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit [conviction] controls your mind there is life and peace. [interjections MINE]
So here it is. All laid out for you, free to believe, free to change your thinking, to change your life. To bring you actual freedom.
Choose the Holy Spirit. Choose conviction. Be free from the guilt that presses down on your chest at night and makes you second guess your every decision. Free from the guilt that makes you afraid of saying the wrong thing, taking the wrong turn, doing the wrong thing. Free from the guilt whispered by people you love, and those that hate you. You don’t have to. You just don’t have to.
“You should not be like cowering,fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God’s very own children, adopted into his family—calling him “Father, dear Father.”
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