Identifying False Guilt
While we may have legitimate sin issues in our lives that Satan plays on, sometimes we experience false guilt. False guilt is based entirely on a lie. It tells us we are to blame for something that was not our fault or that we played no part in. When we allow false guilt into our lives, it may lead to erratic behaviors to try to overcome it.
When we accept false guilt, we can also feel the need to constantly apologize and explain ourselves. It is as if we are responding to accusations all the time, often over things no one even said to us. The enemy is the accuser, and often this sense of guilt is a direct attack in the spiritual realm. Regardless of its origin, when we perceive people to be judging us, we can tend to respond in unhealthy ways:
- Becoming defensive and assuming people are accusing us of wrongdoing, even when there is no reason to assume this.
- Pointing out other people’s faults or wrongdoing to move people down to a level “below” us so we feel acceptable.
- Point to our “goodness” in an attempt to protect ourselves.
The problem with these defensive measures is that often, not only is the guilt not for us to own, but now we create problems through our shame-based reactions to others. False guilt hurts relationships and takes away our peace and sense of righteousness in Christ Jesus.
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death” (Romans 8:1-2 NLT).
If we struggle with feeling guilty all the time, it is important to pinpoint and identify the false messages. We must also learn to speak rational, Biblical truth back to those messages.
God uses conviction to make us aware of our need for change, so we can’t discount our conscience when we are doing something that opposes the things of God. We must never lose sight of the reality that God loves each of us. Everything He does in our lives, including His conviction, is to lead us toward freedom. How liberating it is to know that in Jesus Christ we never have to be defensive. We only need to offer ourselves up with honesty and vulnerability. While our natural inclination might be to defend ourselves, we must learn to stand in the shelter and protection of God’s word and declare, “I am who God says I am.” As we learn to believe this statement in our hearts, guilt will no longer hold any power over our lives.
Experiencing God’s Forgiveness
Most of us find it difficult to face failure in our lives. Failure isn’t the same as sin. As human beings, we constantly fail, fall short, and make mistakes. It is normal and necessary to fail in order to learn and grow. Even the moral failure of sin can still be a learning tool in our lives if we see it in the proper perspective and allow God to grow us through it. God sees us as His little children, and He understands that we are trying to take steps toward maturity. He’s not screaming at us – He’s encouraging us to get up, dust ourselves off, and go again.
In truth, God gives us plenty of room to make mistakes. He uses our mistakes to teach and train us. Even if people do reject us when we fail, God will never reject us (see Hebrews 13:5). We can find shelter under His grace while we are in the process of learning. And in that grace, we are fully loved, accepted, and approved of.
Receiving forgiveness opens the doorway to all future growth and healing in our soul and spirit. It also leads to an indescribable feeling of gratitude.
Have I Truly Experienced God’s Forgiveness?
Several things will become evident in our heart when we have genuinely experienced God’s forgiveness.
- We will thank Him, and truly understand that without God’s forgiveness we would be hopelessly lost.
- We will desire to move closer to Him and not run from Him. The shame of our sin made us hide from God; forgiveness draws us close to Him.
- We will know in our heart that we are completely accepted and will no longer feel as though He is in any way rejecting us.
If we’re not yet at this place in our relationship with Jesus, don’t be discouraged. Diligently seek Him through faith. God’s entire process of turning our brokenness into wholeness in each of our lives rests on our willingness and ability to receive His forgiveness.
Prayer to Truly Experience God’s Forgiveness
Father, I have heard that I need Your forgiveness over and over. But sometimes I struggle “feeling” forgiven. I pray that every barrier and obstacle that might keep me from fully embracing Your forgiveness – including my self-righteousness or self-condemnation – be removed from my heart. Please help me God. I thank you that Your forgiveness is my freedom, and that You desire to turn my broken pieces into masterpieces. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
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