Guilt and shame from our sin are very tricky things. Even though we may actually be objectively forgiven by the grace and mercy of God, we may struggle with subjectively feeling forgiven. In other words, although God may have declared us innocent through Jesus, we sometimes struggle with still feeling guilty here on earth. In moments like this, what are we to do?
- Make sure you’ve received the blessing of forgiveness. It may be the Holy Spirit weighing us down because we’re actually not yet forgiven. So, we need to first make sure that we have truly been forgiven. We are forgiven when we get real about our sin, let conviction over our sin break us, admit our sin to God, and ask God to forgive us.
- Trust truth instead of feelings. We have to remember that our feelings often cannot be trusted. They’ll mislead us. That’s why we must stand on truth. If the Bible says we’re forgiven, we’re forgiven. Trust truth instead of feelings.
- Stop trying to be holier than God. We sometimes say things like “I know God has forgiven me, but I just can’t forgive myself!” Really? Are you more just than God? Are you tougher on sin than God is? God delights in being merciful, which is holy as well. If God can forgive you, you should forgive you as well.
- Rebuke the devil. Satan’s goal is to oppose the people of God, and one of his greatest tactics is through accusation. He’ll remind you of everything you’ve ever done wrong in an attempt to get you feeling frustrated, neutralized, and rejected. You must recognize this strategy of Satan. In those moments, you need to rebuke the devil, “Devil, my sin has been removed from me as far as the east is from the west. Nobody can bring a charge against God’s elect because Jesus has done paid for my sin! Get behind me, Satan!”
- See your current consequences for sin as God’s grace. Perhaps one of the reasons you struggle with guilt and shame even though you are forgiven is that you are still dealing with the consequences. While being forgiven by God removes all heavenly consequences, it doesn’t remove the earthly consequences. The man who is jail for murder can be forgiven of his sin, but he must still serve his prison term. The woman who commits adultery can be forgiven of her sin, but she must still suffer through the process of regaining the trustof her husband. But, we must see these ongoing consequences as God’s grace. God loves us enough to let consequences of sin hurt us enough that we never want to do it again. God loves you enough to discipline you. See it as grace and love.
May you not only be forgiven through Jesus, but I pray that you also feel forgiven through Jesus! What a blessing it is!