The Struggle With Guilt

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The Lord wants us to live free from guilt. If you experience shame, then it's time to ask Him for help.

1 JOHN 1:5-9

During a vacation several years ago, I found myself struggling to relax. Instead, condemnation afflicted me: Why aren’t you studying more? Shouldn’t you be witnessing and not just sitting there? Guilt kept me from enjoying life.

There are two types of guilt: biblical and false. The first originates with the violation of a scriptural law. This is not a feeling but a reality: We have sinned and should repent. The second, which includes feeling guilty after confessing a sin, is not based in truth or supported by the Bible. God has forgiven us, so there is no need to linger in shame.

People struggle with false guilt for many reasons. Legalistic teaching, for example, presents life as a series of rules that can never be followed to the letter; its adherents often feel bad about themselves. Next, self-reproach can derive from abuse or verbal putdowns during childhood. Another cause is perfectionism; it can flood a person with self-condemnation. And finally, low self-esteem has the same result.

Satan uses this false sense of shame to paralyze us. Inevitably, guilt leads us to doubt God’s love and salvation, which paves the way for fear and insecurity, and leaves us unable to enjoy life. It can also open the door to physical symptoms like depression.

The Lord wants us to live free from guilt. If you experience shame, ask Him to help you trace its cause. Then affirm these truths: You are special (made in God’s image and redeemed by Him), loved by the Creator of the universe, and forgiven. In the name of Jesus, reject any false shame you have.

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