In Touch Daily Devotional
by Dr. Charles Stanley
July 16, 2007 – The Struggle With Guilt - 1 John 1:5-9
A believer’s response to guilty feelings is related to their understanding of guilt. By definition, the word refers to a sense of wrongdoing. Guilt is an emotional conflict that arises from second thoughts about a particular action or thought. Repentance is the biblical method for clearing away these negative feelings.
But many believers are plagued by guilt that’s not actually rooted in sin. “False guilt” develops several ways:
First, a church caught up in legalism can foster this unhealthy feeling. Members may feel they’re not fulfilling enough of the church’s requirements, such as praying, Bible reading, and witnessing. Or they may do things that others in the church believe are wrong, even though there’s no scriptural basis for their opinion.
Second, painful memories of childhood abuse may lead some adults to believe they’re somehow to blame for the sins committed against them.
Third, hearing believers’ criticisms of others can lead to low self-esteem. Without a clear understanding, a person may get the feeling he or she can’t measure up to God’s standard.
Genuine, biblically based guilt is anxiety over a definite, willful sin. The various causes of false guilt all have one thing in common. They aren’t the result of sinful behavior. Such feelings are Satan’s tool for harassing God’s people.
True guilt is the Holy Spirit’s loving pressure to correct a specific wrong. Understanding this truth enables us to reject Satan’s attempts to distract us with lies. Whatever the cause of false guilt, it must be rooted out of the believer’s life.
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