~ I was raised in a home where Christ was the center of our family and I chose to make Him my Savior when I was very young. I struggled through my teenage years, genuinely wanted to know the Lord and really have a deep relationship with Him but I had placed myself under such intense legalism and condemnation all I felt was failure and disconnect. In my early twenties, I made some pretty horrible decisions based in anger and brokenness. During my ‘Prodigal’ years, I was amazed that I never felt guilt over my actions. I did so many things opposite the character of Christ, yet not once did I feel that stab of guilt you would expect from someone whose parents raised them up in God’s Word and who knew the truth. Yet, as a Believer whose heart was to follow and serve Christ, I felt an overwhelming presence of guilt over my struggles and short comings.
~ Today, as I was thinking over the conversations I had with a good friend of mine, these thoughts kept resounding in my mind: how did I never feel guilt? Wouldn’t Jesus ‘prick’ my heart if I was truly His? Why is it that now I feel such sorrow and guilt over my actions, when I’ve come back to Grace?
~ And then Jesus brought an understanding before me that opened my eyes. What is guilt? Guilt is a form of manipulation. We, as weak, sinful humans, guilt people into doing what we want. Satan brings our grievances before us so we are frozen in our guilt and can’t move forward. Guilt is a tool of Satan, not of God. When we are walking in sin, Satan has no need to impose this form of manipulation on us, because he has us right where he wants us. When we are walking with Jesus and the weakness of our flesh rises up and gets the better of us, Satan is there to tell us what horrible Christians we are. He reminds us of our failures to keep us from growth, and we give him the power to do so because we feel we deserve the punishment.
~ Yet Jesus sets us apart. He called us in love and gave us a free will to do as we wish, even if it breaks His heart. Satan holds us captive by the weakness of our flesh, Jesus set us free by allowing His flesh to be brutally beaten and nailed on a cross for all to see. When He rose He set the captives free. Jesus gives us immeasurable worth. From the moment we acknowledged our need for a Savior, we were forgiven for every thoughtless act, cruel word spoken, malicious sin, evil thought… His forgiveness has no limits. It keeps no record of wrongs. And still we fall for Satan’s trickery every time. He is nothing if not consistently predictable.
~ So next time you find yourself in a place of weakness, whether your faults are being paraded before your eyes or you have succumbed to the temptations of the world, remember that Satan’s only wish is to drive you away from the feet of Jesus. If you are walking in the world and you wonder why it is that you feel no remorse for your actions, it is because Satan wants you there. He wants you to indulge in the hopelessness therein. And it will feel good. You will feel no guilt, no shame. You will feel accepted and loved. You won’t struggle with feeling like you have failed your Heavenly Father. You will feel relief! Sin is so easy to fall into. But sin only tastes good for a time. And when the grace of our Savior ushers us back into the fold, like He promised over and over that He will do for one of His lost ones, Satan WILL be there waiting to destroy us with the overwhelming guilt of our choices.
~ I don’t have a ‘Christian cliché’ to offer you with this one. I won’t tell you things like ‘take your thoughts captive’ or ‘’leave it at the foot of the cross’. We all know what the scripture says. The problem is not that we don’t want to do this; it’s that we don’t know how. It’s a place Jesus meets you, after much prayer and tears and heartache.
~ Please recognize that conviction is not guilt. Conviction is Jesus whispering His truths and His wisdom to you. Conviction invites you to be better and is coupled with a joy that we have a Father constantly perfecting us into His likeness. It gently corrects you and brings you insight into your failings, not hopelessness because of them.
~ So pray! Pray for the wisdom to see the manipulation of our enemy and wise up to his ways. Pray for God to remove those feelings of guilt and worthlessness that Satan spends too much time breathing in our oh so willing ears. We fight a different battle. And our weapon is Jesus Christ. So get on your knees. Be real with your Savior, for He knows your heart and longs to hear you confide in Him. And in His time and by His perfect grace, He will fight and conquer these battles we are daily immersed in.
~ Right now, my struggle with guilt lies in my feelings of failure and worthlessness because of my choices and how easily I allowed myself to dive into the pleasures of the world to escape my broken heart. So I’ll pray. I will pray for healing. I will pray for strength. I will pray until Jesus destroys this giant and once again plays the conquering Hero in my life.
~Romans 8:1-9~ 1. So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2. For the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you through Christ Jesus from the power of sin that leads to death. 3.The law of Moses could not save us, because of our sinful nature. But God put into effect a different plan to save us. He sent His own Son in a human body like ours, except that ours are sinful. God destroyed sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. 4. He did this so that the requirement of the law would be fully accomplished for us who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. 5. Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6. If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace. 7. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. 8. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. 9. But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them are not Christians at all.)