For Christians, sin is not a way of life. Rather, it’s a mistake. An Accident. It’s something that should never happen. But Oops – sometimes it does! So what do we do when we feel the guilt that follows sin?
Oftentimes when Christians sin, the after-problem is not forgiveness, but guilt. I personally believe, that feeling guilty when we sin, is still a sign that we love God, a sign that we didn’t like the fact that we sinned. However, prolonged guilt is what must be corrected. In our state of innocence, we feel sorry that we wronged God. We wish we never did what we did. Sometimes we even punish ourselves compensate for what we have done wrong. Seems fair enough, from our human eyes. But have you ever taken a moment to stop and ask: How does God view it? How does God judge my sense of guilt when I sin?
It is my prayer that as you read this article, the Holy-spirit may open your eyes and speak the message you need to hear from him today.
While as Christians, we should never comfortable with sin, it is healthy to feel guilt when we do sin. In-fact, if you are a Christian and you do not feel guilt after sin, then it’s very unhealthy. . The problem begins when we stay in the position of guilt for too long.
There are two main causes prolonged guilt: (1) Self-Righteousness: Not understanding fully God’s Redemption plan (2) Ego: focusing on ourselves and not on Christ. We lose our boldness to pray, it’s a sense of condemnation, it draws us even farther away from God and this is what the devil enjoys. The devil knows that as long as we remain in this state, we won’t get help. We begin to think ‘‘can we ever be forgiven’’? We begin to think “God must be mad at me!’’
But No He isn’t. He knew you could mess up so he made enough provision for it. He made enough propitiation of your past, present and future sins. If God only forgave our past sins and not our present and future sins then we were never saved or redeemed. Because we are humans, we are frail but He knows our frame (Psalms 103:14)
It is one thing to know we are forgiven, but another thing to accept and believe the forgiveness. A lot of people are living continuously in guilt not because God hasn’t forgiven them, but because they haven’t accepted the forgiveness which they need to forgive themselves.
Looking back to my childhood, it would be impossible to count how many times I offended my parents, they would correct me by giving assignments and often times I was flogged, but guess what It didn’t reduce their love for me. Well, I didn’t earn the love by my acts, so I can’t lose it by my actions. As usual, whenever I did something bad, I felt guilty. I would ask for my parent’s forgiveness, receive forgiveness and didn’t choose to remain at the state of guilt. And I continued to enjoy the love showered on me by my parents. So are we supposed to be with our heavenly father. When we sin, we ask for forgiveness, and he is faithful and just to forgive us, then we must receive the forgiveness and embrace the freedom from shame and guilt.
“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, it is finished; and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30)
Jesus said that ‘it is finished’. And yes it is indeed finished. He forgave us and made us righteous. It’s a finished work. Completed. Done. we can’t add to it by our self-righteousness and we can’t subtract from it by our acts. It’s done. He made us righteous and told us to walk in this righteousness, not try to attain righteousness by ourselves. To overcome prolonged guilt, we have to know we have been forgiven.
Below are some few points I believe can be helpful for overcoming continuous guilt. This has helped me over the years, and I believe they will be of great help to anyone.
- Speak with Someone (Believer)
“Therefore Confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray one for another, that ye may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent Prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much”
(James 5:16 AMP)
Every believer should have their own company. As a Christian, there must be someone in your life that can confront you when you are wrong, no matter the level or position you have attained. When faced with guilt, it is recommended you speak with another believer you know has good understanding. Someone you know you can be vulnerable with (your pastor, mentor, spiritual-friend etc.). I would also be available if anyone wants to speak with me. (E-mail: email@example.com).
Guilt lasts longer because people try to cover up their sins, nurture the wounds of guilt by themselves, but oftentimes this doesn’t work. Do what the above scripture says. Open up to someone. Seek counsel. Let prayers be made for and with you, this may also help in breaking sin addictions.
I believe someone who is matured spiritually will be able to handle your secrets.
- Worship in Songs
Worshipping God when we face guilt, causes our focus to shift from ourselves and to God. We behold his majesty, meditate on His love for us, and think about his Righteousness. I personally love to sing songs by Hillsong and House-fires. I also recommend many other spirit-filled songs that bring our focus on God’s love for us. As we meditate on this, we gain strength to come boldly once again into our father’s presence.
- Dare to Call Him Father
Over the years, I have discovered that the times I have struggled with sin were the times I have not had a good fellowship with the Holy-Spirit in the past days. When we fall into sin, we lose our boldness to pray or worship, we lose our sense of righteousness. We can’t come boldly into His presence any longer as we do. But the point is, we can’t continue that way and hope that the wounds guilt brings will be healed. We have to dear to call him father again, then the author condemnation and guilt, the devil will stop accusing us.
The story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11 – 32), is a good example of this. The boy realised what he was done, he was sorry for what he did wrong, but he didn’t stay there, he took a step, he went back to his father.
“I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee” (Luke 15:18)
“And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him (Luke 15:20)
The boy decided to arise and go back to his father and interestingly despite his sins, his father still loved him and while he was on his way, his father who had always been waiting for him, ran out to him, showed him love and restored him back as His son.
Today, we also need to take such steps. Today, I say despite the prolonged guilt you might be facing, dare to pray, worship and sing. Call him Father. God’s love again his demonstrated to us just like this prodigal son in Luke 15: 11 – 32 stated above.
He loves us even when we mess up. At the point of death, Peter made a lot of promises to stay with Jesus till death (Luke 22:33) but he couldn’t. He denied Jesus three times. Peter went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:62). I am sure at this point he must have felt guilty, he must have felt unworthy but yet when Jesus rose from the dead this was an angel’s instruction,
“But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goes before you into Galilee: there shall you see him as he said to you” (Mark 16:7)
The angel was careful to mention Peter’s name specifically, knowing that Peter would doubt his worthiness to be called a disciple. God was still saying ‘Peter, you are forgiven and you can stop feeling guilty. Thank God, Peter was still greatly used by God to do awesome things to advance the gospel. This was only possible because he did not allow his guilt to hold him back. .
My dear friend, God loves you and He says “You are free”. You do not have to feel guilty. He is inviting you to come up to him and leave the place of your continuous guilt.
I Call You Blessed
Written by Samson Afolabi
Feel free to join the chat, ask questions and also share your insights and resolutions.