Revelation 12:10 (NIV)
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.
2 Corinthians 7:10 (NIV)
10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
Suppose that the believer does not take advantage of his victorious position in Christ. Suppose he refuses to use the spiritual defenses provided. Suppose the believer sins. What then?
You would think that Satan, having led the person into sin, would then leave him to suffer the consequences; but this is not what happens. Satan has one more strategy that can make the disobedient Christian doubly defeated.
When you and I have disobeyed God, Satan moves in for that finishing stroke. He attacks us in our heart and conscience. “So you are a Christian! You go to church, you read your Bible, you even seek to serve the Lord. And look what you have done! If your friends at church knew what kind of a person you really were, they would throw you out!”
See how subtle and merciless Satan really is. Before we sin—while he is tempting us—he whispers, “You can get away with this!” Then after we sin, he shouts at us, “You will never get away with this!”
Have you ever heard his hateful voice in your heart and conscience? It is enough to make a Christian give up in despair!
It is important that we learn to distinguish between Satan’s accusations and the Spirit’s conviction. A feeling of guilt and shame is a good thing if it comes from the Spirit of God. If we listen to the devil, it will only lead to regret and remorse and defeat.
When the Spirit of God convicts you, he uses the Word of God in love and seeks to bring you back into fellowship with your Father.
When Satan accuses you, he uses your own sins in a hateful way, and he seeks to make you feel helpless and hopeless.
Judas listened to the devil and went out and hanged himself. Peter looked at the face of Jesus and wept bitterly, but later came back into fellowship with Christ.
When you listen to the devil’s accusations (all of which may be true), you open yourself up to despair and spiritual paralysis. “My situation is hopeless!” I have heard more than one Christian exclaim, “I’m too far gone—the Lord could never take me back.” When you have that helpless, hopeless feeling, you can be sure Satan is accusing you.
As long as you are feeling guilty, you are under indictment and you are moving farther and farther from the Lord. True conviction from the Spirit will move you closer to the Lord.
Satan wants you to feel guilty. Your heavenly Father wants you to know that you can be forgiven. Satan knows that if you live under a dark cloud of guilt, you will not be able to witness effectively or serve the Lord with power and blessing.
Sad to say, there are some ministers/churches that major in guilt. They seem to feel that unless a Christian goes home from service feeling like a failure, the services have not been a blessing.
Definitions and Key Thoughts
Guilt is a feeling of deep regret or remorse caused by feeling responsible for a failure or loss.
Guilt can lead to shame if the feelings of guilt are based on an act or acts that were thought to be sinful or displeasing to an authority figure.
There is a difference between feeling guilty and actually being guilty. If a moral law has been violated, a person is guilty, regardless of whether or not he feels guilty. On the other hand, just feeling guilty doesn’t mean that a moral law has been violated.
It is important to clarify whether the guilt is caused by a sinful act or from inappropriate regret.
True guilt is caused by sin and is God’s way of calling us to repentance and restitution.
False guilt is a burden of responsibility and blame we place on ourselves for failure to live up to our own or someone else’s expectations.
Paul had a situation like that in the church at Corinth. One of the members had fallen into sin and had refused to repent and make things right with God and the church.
1 Corinthians 5:1-6 (ESV)
1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.
2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing.
4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus,
5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?
2 Corinthians 2:6 (ESV) 6 For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough,
At first, when this sin was detected, the Corinthian believers were very complacent and refused to act. Paul’s letter shocked them into their senses; but then they went to the other extreme and made it so hard on the offender that they would not forgive him!
So Paul had to counsel them,So that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, lest somehow such a one be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him…in order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes. 2 Corinthians 2:7, 8, 11
Excessive guilt and sorrow can only lead to depression, despair, and defeat. Sometimes it leads to destruction.
The first epistle of John was written against the teaching of the Gnostics of that time…and we still have some of their ‘way of thinking’ at work in our congregations. It’s the idea that we can grow as individuals to the point that we will eventually be perfect…the discussion of perfectionism.
1 John 1:8-10 (ESV)
8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. Jesus Christ stands at God’s right hand to intercede for us!
1 John 2:1 (ESV)
1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
Guilt caused by sin requires an understanding of confession and forgiveness.
This kind of guilt is prompted by the Holy Spirit working in the conscience. The individual is motivated to confess sin and experience God’s cleansing.
Confession, request for forgiveness, and/or restitution needs to happen if possible (that is, if the person hurt is still alive, or if restitution is able to be made in any form).
Once you’ve confessed, apologized, and made restitution, don’t beat yourself up anymore, Leave it with God.
Turn off the mental tape player. Satan, not the Holy Spirit, is the accuser Rev. 12:10). Satan wants to create feelings of condemnation resulting in unnecessary guilt. Turn him off!
Keep a “guilt pot:’ Anytime you feel guilt creeping in, write that guilt feeling on a piece of paper and throw it in the pot. (The pot will remind you that God is the Potter, always at work on you, and you are merely the clay-Isaiah 64:8,)
This perfecting ministry has two aspects to it. As our High Priest, Jesus Christ intercedes for us and provides the grace that we need when we are tested and tempted. If by faith we turn to him and come to the throne of grace, he will see us through to victory.
But if we yield to temptation and sin, then he ministers as our Advocate to forgive us and restore us to fellowship once again.
LOVE FOR ALL song (136)
Love for all and can it be? Can I hope it is for me…I, who strayed so long ago, Strayed so far, and fell so low?
I, the disobedient child, Wayward, passionate and wild…I, who left my Father’s home, In forbidden ways to roam
To my Father can I go? At His feet myself I’ll throw; In His house there yet may be, Place a servant’s place for me.
See! my Father waiting stands; See! He reaches out His hands: God is love, I know, I see, Love for me, yes, even me.
So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself– Genesis 3:10
Adam already knew he had sinned, He felt an inner awareness of wrongdoing called guilt, given by God as an internal corrective. The realization of guilt could have brought Adam to repentance and confession, Instead, Adam tried to cope with guilt and shame by avoidance and denial.
As long as we blame others and refuse to take responsibility for our wrong actions, we remain mired in sin, Guilt cuts us off from God’s redemptive healing. God invites us to be honest about our sin and confess it to Him, When we do, God is “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9),
At the evening sacrifice I arose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my robe, I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God. And I said: “0 my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens.” -Ezra 9:5-6
Despite our mistakes and failures, God is willing to meet us at our point of need. Sometimes we can make amends by specific action. At other times we suffer the consequences of our sin, but through repentance, we can experience God’s grace and love.
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. . . Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide ill the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” -John 8:31-36
No truth is more glorious to imprisoned people than to be told that they are no longer condemned but are set free! Christ brings that good news.
Often, however, believers who have been set free still keep themselves behind bars. They feel guilty about their past, or that they can’t be perfect in this life.
The feeling of guilt is healthy and productive when it helps us to know when we have done something wrong. But oppressive guilt can also keep people from being able to rejoice in their new life in Christ. That kind of guilt is a prison. We needn’t stay locked up if Christ has set us free.
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. -Romans 8:1
Failure to keep the law perfectly leads to condemnation. Since no one can keep God’s law perfectly, all people are condemned. The law brings guilt because people realize they are powerless to keep it. Christ’s death for us, however, sets us free. If Christ no longer condemns us, then neither should we condemn ourselves.
But I don’t ‘feel’ forgiven…I don’t ‘feel’ saved. This might be true because
- We do not believe God
- We do not see ourself as God sees us
1 John 1:5-8 (ESV)
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. Do not listen to the voice of the devil! Instead, listen to the voice of God. Turn to the Word and believe what God says.
Rest assure that your Advocate in heaven is waiting to forgive you and restore you. To delay admitting and confessing sin is only to give Satan a greater opportunity to damage your life and ministry.