Like a lot of people, I often wrestle with guilt and shame from my past. Before I was a Christian I lived on the other end of the spectrum from righteousness. I often feel like the Apostle Paul did when he referred to himself as the ‘chief of all sinners’. Unfortunately, there are always people in my wake who remind me of who I used to be adding to my already infested heart of regret. I have recently been working very hard towards overcoming my past and wanted to share with you some of the things I’ve learned from God’s Word, the Bible.
First, there is a difference between guilt and godly sorrow. Guilt is used by the enemy of our souls (sometimes through other people) to inflict shame and oppression onto us. But the Lord tells us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, meaning that when we gave our hearts to Jesus, we are no longer spiritually held accountable for them – we are no longer guilty, because Jesus paid the ransom for our sinful soul.
On the other hand, godly sorrow (that some times feels like guilt) occurs when we walk in rebellion, to spiritually prompt us to work through our behavior with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 says:
I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Godly sorrow is “according to the will of God” and is therefore a very good thing. It is good because it leads its sufferer to repentance, and it is good because it points to a heart that is truly broken over sin. God says He will never despise a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17). It is knowing God’s kind and forgiving nature that moves those who sin to repent (Romans 2:4).
1 John 1:9 tells us that If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. That being said, when we continue to dwell on past sins that we’ve confessed, what we are saying in essence is that what Jesus did on the cross wasn’t good enough, and that God lied when He said we were cleansed. Faith is standing in the truth; we’re forgiven and cleansed, the sins are not held against us any longer, and they have no power over us. I once heard someone say, “Every time Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future,” which we know is eternal damnation.
Brother and sisters in the Lord, if you know Jesus as your Savior your sins have been washed away by the blood of Christ. Walk in that freedom. Do not buy into the lies of the enemy and allow him to drag you down. The Lord has great plans for you – plans you cannot fulfill in the depths of guilt and oppression (Jeremiah 29:11-13). Stand in truth!
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