This topic was on my mind today. I was thinking of how God inspires me…but doesn’t make me feel condemned. The Holy Spirit convicts me of my sin…and I am left feeling sad…and then He shows me His forgiveness, comforts me, and equips me with the TRUTH and ways to change (repent). Repentance involves sorrow and CHANGE. He separates my sin from east to west (Psalm 103:12), so that I can be FREE to change according to His good plan for me.
I think there are a few thoughts on guilt out there. The two most often I hear about are:
1) Guilt is a good motivator for change.
2) We should not experience guilt (or give it any thought), because it is not from God, but instead from the enemy.
This is NOT a case where we should find a “balance” between the two. Guilt is NEVER a good motivator for change. But, the other case isn’t telling us the whole truth either. We should not ignore guilt. Guilt TELLS us something. Just like our emotions TELL us something. They tell us about ourselves and they tell us something about the situation. So, what do we do with guilt???
We ask God to tell us! We pray something like this: “God, why am I feeling guilty about this? What does this tell me about myself (my desires, my fears, my dreams, my understanding)? What does this tell me about this situation (whether to run from it because it is dangerous or a temptation to sin, whether there is sin involved in my actions, etc)?” God WILL tell you. He will probably tell you one of two things:
1) You might be believing in a lie from the Enemy about what you should or shouldn’t be doing, and therefore experiencing unecessary guilt based off of that lie.
2) You need to change something! Perhaps you need to avoid the situation because it is dangerous or not healthy or glorifying to God. Or perhaps you need to change yourself or your actions in a particular situation.
If it is 1), then you should ask God to show you the lie and replace it with His truth. There is no need to walk around misguided (and heavy burdened) by unnecessary guilt. If it is 2), then you should ask God to show you what you need to change and LIVE off of God’s inspiration and the Holy Spirit leading you/CONVICTING you to change. Remember, God does not want us to be heavy laden. There are MANY Scripure verses that tells us to cast our cares/anxiety/burdens upon the Lord. Proverbs is a good place to start reading if this is a struggle for you, as it is for many. And reading one Proverb a day will last you for a month. This is how I started out reading the Bible every day. I started with Proverbs, then went to Psalms, and then the One-Year Bible. Now, it is too good to stop!!!
Some people confuse conviction with guilt. Conviction LEADS you to action. It tells you that you did something wrong…or that something is not right in a situation. It isn’t easy though! Conviction has led me to tears MANY times. But, along with the Godly sorrow I feel, I feel forgiveness and GRACE and I am motivated by THAT grace that I feel form the Lord. Forgiveness leads to change. Repentance leads to change. God’s GRACE is what actually changes us. We are so thankful and recognize our sin and our NEED of HIM, that the Holy Spirit comes into our humble hearts and does the work of CHANGE for us. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are our defenders and intercessors. They stand ready to help. But, we have to have willing, humble hearts.
Guilt comdemns. Guilt accuses. Guilt does come from the Enemy. BUT, it can TELL us something.
Let us confess to the Lord any guilt that we feel…and let him heal our hearts, show us HIS truth, and then we can feel the proper conviction and repentance that Leads us to HIM and His grace. He will make us faithful. He will transform us.
I think the number one way anyone can see Jesus in my life is for them to see how HE has transformed me. I often tell people of this testimony in my life for Jesus, because it is the only testimony people cannot refute! People can argue theology, especially if they like to debate. They can argue pretty much anything. But, they CANNOT argue with seeing someone transform before their eyes.
I tried in my own strength to change things in me that I didn’t find desirable before I knew the Lord. But, I failed! I submited to the Lord Jesus, and He is continuing to change me, day-by-day. And as He does this, He shows me more and more things that are not pleasing to Him in my heart. This is a constant process. It even has a name! Once you accept the Lord Jesus as your Saviour, you start the Sanctification process. He refines you more and more to look like HIM. And HE is BEAUTIFUL!!!!
I encourage all of you along this process. It is a tough process. It is a very humbling process. But, nothing in my life has ever been more satisfying than to draw nearer and nearer to Jesus. As I draw nearer to Him, I love Him more and more. He beckons me with His love closer to Him as My Father and Shepherd. And that LOVE compels me further. And it is HIS love that He pours out on us. May you be compelled also by His love for you and the love He gives you for Him and others.