I know what it is to feel guilty about something I’ve done (or neglected to do). It’s an awful, uncomfortable feeling! And it’s persistent – it just won’t go away! I also know what it is to stand before someone who is pointing an accusing finger at me for something I’ve done (or neglected to do) and know that what they’re saying is true – I am guilty! I wish those feelings were only feelings that I felt and experiences I’ve had as a child… they aren’t; I’ve been guilty as an adult. So we’re not just talking about feelings of guilt here – we’re talking about actual guilt – being “guilty as charged!” And it’s not just other people that can make you feel that way – The Holy Spirit is God’s agent to “convict” (or convince) us of our sin!
So I guess the issue is this: What to do about those feeling – how can a person deal with guilt?
Well, first of all, we need to “confess” (or acknowledge) our sin and ask God to forgive us (and others if we’ve wronged them)… Scripture promises, “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
But there is something else – something that only the Holy Spirit can do (interestingly the same Holy Spirit that convicts us of sin)! I read about it this morning during my time of “coffee with the Lord”…
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Apostle Paul declared: “There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1–4 ESV)
Incredible! Not only do we receive forgiveness from God, we have “NO CONDEMNATION” – either from God or from within! The Holy Spirit actually works within to lift the inner accusation and empower us to live a righteous, holy life free of guilt! We’ve just got to learn to live “according to the Spirit” – The way He would lead us, prompt us and empower us to live!
Now, I know there is such a thing as “irrational guilt” – persistent feelings of guilt that have no basis in fact for those who have already dealt Biblically with their sin and asked God for forgiveness. But the Bible even addresses that issue! “By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before Him; for whenever our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything!” (1 John 3:19-20 ESV) That’s when we take our stand, depend on God’s provision in Christ Jesus, claim His promise, resist the “accuser” (Satan), and depend on the Holy Spirit to work within us to bring “NO CONDEMNATION!”