The Struggle With Guilt
1 John 1:5-9
During a vacation several years ago, I found myself struggling to relax. Instead, condemnation afflicted me: Why aren't you studying more? Shouldn't you be witnessing and not sitting? Guilt crept into my mind and kept me from enjoying life.
There are two types of guilt: biblical and false. The first originates with the violation of a scriptural law. This is not a feeling but a reality: we have sinned and should repent. The second, which includes feeling guilty after confessing a sin, is not based in truth or supported by the Word. God has forgiven us, so there is no need to linger in shame.
People struggle with false guilt for many reasons. Legalistic teaching, for example, presents life as a series of rules that can never be followed to the letter; its adherents often feel bad about themselves. Next, self-reproach can derive from abuse or verbal putdowns during childhood. Another cause is perfectionism—high expectations that one is incapable of attaining can flood a person with self-condemnation. And finally, low self-esteem has the same result.
Satan uses this false sense of shame to paralyze us. Inevitably, guilt leads to doubt about God's love and salvation, which paves the way for fear, insecurity, and inability to enjoy life. It can also open the door for physical symptoms like depression.
The Lord wants us to live free from guilt. If you experience shame, ask Him to help you trace its cause. Then affirm these truths: You are special (made in God's image and redeemed by Him), loved by the Creator of the universe, and forgiven. Reject—in the name of Jesus—any false shame you have.
For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org.
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Used with permission from In Touch Ministries, Inc. © 2009 All Rights Reserved.