Passages: Zechariah 3, Matthew 27:3-10, John 21
What do you do with your guilt? Like all emotions, guilt is a gift from God – but one that so easily turns from gift to curse. Properly, guilt reminds us that we have failed to live up to some standard. It’s not meant to be pleasant. But it is meant to bring us to a place where we repent, seeking forgiveness and turning from what we were doing wrong.
But what about when we’ve done that, and we sill can’t shake the guilt? Perhaps we’ve confessed, and still struggle with some sin. Perhaps we struggle not only with guilt, but also shame. We are so convinced that we’ve let God and others down. But we are not that big, we cannot let God down because we’ve never held him up. He’s the one who holds us up. He’s the one who sent Jesus to die for us. He’s the one who gives us new life, new purpose.
When we really boil things down, I am convinced that overwhelming guilt and shame continue for two reasons. Firstly, because we don’t let go of it. We set our minds on our sins and faults, feeding them. Secondly, and this is the big one, because we don’t really believe God means it when he says that he forgives us. We think that whatever it is we’ve done is too big; we don’t believe Jesus when he says he died for all of our sins. We don’t believe him when he says he’s making us new. We don’t trust him.
As I was writing this, this song started playing:
How do we know we’ve been forgiven?
How do we know that we have been made clean?
How do we know we’ll go to heaven?
How do we know we’ve been redeemed?
You have been raised, the tomb has been opened.
Nothing can take away our hope in you.
You have been raised.
You have been raised, the work is completed.
Hell and its powers has been defeated.
You have been raised.
Now we are free from condemnation.
There is no judgement let for us to fear.
We don’t have to wonder if we’re welcome,
you’re the one who’s brought us near…
The price you paid for us has fully been accepted.
Because of your shed blood we cannot be rejected.
We cannot be rejected.
How do we deal with our guilt? Confess our sins, accept God’s forgiveness, and allow God – work with God – to change our hearts and mind to be more like his. In my reading this week I found the following acronym, which I find is worth spending some time thinking through. It’s taken from https://goo.gl/D5PVH5:
Find the source of your guilt.
Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. (Psalm 51:6)
Own responsibility for your sin.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Realise God means it – believe!
Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him. (Romans 4:7–8)
Give up dwelling on the past.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! (Is 43:18-19)
Invest time renewing your mind.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put of your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds. (Ephesians 4:22–23)
Verify truth when Satan accuses.
No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD. (Isaiah 54:17)
Exchange your life for the life of Christ.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
Notice that God brings your feelings in line with the facts when you obey Him.
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. (Hebrews 10:36)
What do you do with your guilt? Try read Romans 8 today!