I was having one of those “as we drove along” conversations with Titus 2 ladies the other day. We’d had some difficult situations through the week and I took this captive-audience time to talk to them about guilt. As I shared with them, it is a totaly wasted, unnecessary negative emotion for a Christian. Guilt is an emotion that arises from feeling condemned. That is not from God, but from satan. When we know ourselves as the beloved daughters and sons of God that we are, when we have done something wrong we will feel the nudging conviction of the Holy Spirit and our response will be godly sorrow for having sinned. And that will lead us to confession and repentance and brings reconciliation with God and others. This is the ministry of reconciliation that we have…. with God, within ourselves, and with others because of our belief in the atoning, redeeming work of Christ.
I’d had a lengthy conversation with someone about “false guilt”….the kind that we heap on ourselves……and the ganging-up that satan does by further attempting to reinforce it. It is indicative of having failed to thoroughly grasp and receive the gift of God’s forgiveness, his grace and his mercy through the sacrifice of Christ. The words in our head will be accusatory and general in nature, focused on our fraudulence, unworthiness, and failures…..haranguing and jeering…..and making us feel the need to run and hide.
When we understand and embrace God’s true character, we no longer have to be subjected to guilt…..Instead, we can go quickly to godly sorrow, grieving our sinfulness, confessing promptly in response to the specific, gently coaxing, Word-infused, illuminating reminder of our wrong by the Holy Spirit.
Emotional literacy classes to better understand one’s self, Scripture lessons on God’s character and the promises, proclamations, prohibitions, and principles his Word prescribes for life, as well as learning how others handle temptations, mistakes, and failures help these women grow in grace and wisdom. They begin to realize that “perfect” in God’s eyes is a state of being in Christ, living into God’s will as we understand it, and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide one in making better decisions based on what they’re learning. We do our part by believing in Christ and disciplining ourselves to live in Christ. That gives the Holy Spirit access to our hearts and minds for Christ to live in us. It is not a matter of never making a mistake. But of knowing what to do to move toward God instead of away from him when one does. If one is living a life of authentic, accountable fellowship with God and others, the recognition or reminder of one’s sin does not get wrapped around her like a coiling, crushing snake that tries to suffocate her soul and spirit with burdensome guilt. The correcting work of the Lord is recognized for what it is and the stain is washed away as effectively and thoroughly as cleaning one’s hands before a meal. Disciplining oneself to seek the Holy Spirit’s illuminating work within her heart daily, or even more frequently, assures that any temptations that have lured one into sinful responses are dealt with promptly. And, if one has to question whether or not her response has been sinful, it probably has been and needs the cleansing work of the Spirit. Remembering you baptism daily. Every time fresh water flows over any part of your body, remember the cleansing work that is daily being done in your soul, too. Christ made it possible for all your past, present, and future concessions to temptation to slide right off……just like the easy removal of the residue from a high-priced gourmet pan….or the easy-wash character of a quality fabric…..you will never wear any lasting stain or spot. Let the guilt go.