“I feel so guilty” is a common phrase in my mind. Honestly, I struggle with guilt feelings because there is a standard of living I am not able to fulfill. My guilt is irrational, based upon an overactive conscience and a legalistic upbringing. I see imperfection and recognize my lack of energy to “fix” things, and beat myself up. It is Satan’s way of keeping me down and I give in to his taunts when my helmet of salvation is not firmly fixed on my head – around my mind. You see, I have come to Jesus and have accepted His gift of salvation. Now, I must actively “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” and frisk the thoughts that get past my helmet. It’s hard work, some days harder than others. But I know I am His and He is mine so I press on toward the goal….
My struggles with false guilt are not everyone’s struggle. Some people are truly guilty for they have never come to God for salvation, they are still trying to work their way to heaven or conceptualize a guilt-free life. Give it up. It can’t be done. Having your conscience clean happens at the cross, realizing He paid it all and He will redeem your past with new life in Him.
I found this excerpt, again, from the book, Pleasing God by RC Sproul:
In considering guilt we must be careful to distinquish between guilt and guilt feelings. Guilt feelings are subjective. They arise from within us. We can feel guilty even when there is no guilt. Guilt, however, is objective. It involves a real state of affairs. Whenever we sin we incur guilt. Guilt involves a debtor relationship to God. It is tied to sin.
The Westminster Catechism defines sin as “Any want of conformity to, or transgression of the Law of God.” This is a masterful definiton. It captures both sins of omission and sins of commission. When we fail to conform to the Law of God, we fall short of what God requires. We do not do what God commands. That is a sin of omission. When we transgress the Law of God, we do what God forbids. This is a sin of commission.
Either way, by ommission or commission, if we violate the Law of God we incur guilt. That guilt is real and objective. It is also devastating. Appropriate guilt feelings may of may not accompany guilt. We know that guilt feelings make us uncomfortable. We employ numerous devices to rid ourselves of those feelings. We excuse ourselves. We rationalize. We shift blame to other people or to our circumstances. We blame society. We blame our environment. We blame parents. We appeal to everything we can to escape the pain of personal responsibility. We use every kind of avoidance mechanism, because our guilt is indeed great. It is too much to handle, and unless we cope with it in the right way — appealing to the saving work of Christ — we spend valuable time and energy running from guilt.
We have learned to harden our hearts. We can lose the capacity to blush. Jeremiah declared the word of God to Judah: “You have had a harlot’s forehead; you refuse to be ashamed” (Jeremiah 3:3).
The rest of the chapter is excellent but the quote is getting too long. My point: We must distinguish between real guilt and false guilt. Some of us have false guilt, a tactic of Satan to keep us down and ineffective for the Kingdom of God. If we have come to Jesus for salvation, we are clean. However, we will violate the Law of God by sins of omission or comission, even after salvation. We must deal with sin in the proper way. We must determine to not hide from what God has strictly forbidden and refuse to blush.
Now this is the gospel message we have heard from Him and announce to you: God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him and yet keep on walking in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth. But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. ~1 John 1:5-10
If we are willing to blush over the transgressions we know we have committed against the known Law of God, we can be free of real guilt. If you struggle with false guilt, take the thought captive, look at it in the light of His word. If you have sought forgiveness previously, you are clean before your Lord, no need to continue asking for forgiveness for the same sins. He promised to remove your sin as far as the east is from the west. Put on your helmet of salvation and walk in confidence before the Lord.