This is how you can get past guilt
I can’t believe I did that! I am a failure. I can’t really be a Christian. They would never like me if they knew what I’ve done — who I really am. I am damaged goods.
Sound familiar? We’ve all experienced crushing guilt about something we’ve done. Guilt that convinces us we’ve blown it so badly there is no coming back from it. Guilt that allows what we’ve done to define who we are.
I’ve regretted and felt guilty about yelling at my kids, hurting people close to me, lying, and most painfully sexual sin.
What is it for you? What makes your stomach churn when you think about it?
Did you know guilt doesn’t come from God? Conviction does, but guilt doesn’t.
What’s the difference between guilt and conviction?
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).
What Guilt Is
- Guilt means “I am bad.” Guilt marries our actions to our identity. We believe because we failed we are failures. We did something bad, so we must be bad.
- Guilt comes from Satan. Satan wants us to believe we are what we’ve done. He tells us the lies that Jesus can’t forgive us, we can’t have a relationship with Him, and if we do, He could never use us.
- Guilt leads to death. When we allow guilt to fester in our hearts, it can lead to the death of our dreams, our willingness to live out our calling, our joy, and our relationships. If we believe we’ve gone too far to be saved and don’t receive Jesus’ gift of salvation, it leads to eternal death.
What Conviction Is
- Conviction means “I did something bad.” Conviction focuses on our actions not our identity. Doing something bad doesn’t mean we are bad.
- Conviction comes from God. God convicts us of our sin because He loves and wants the best for us. As our Heavenly Father His purpose is to save us, not to make us feel bad.
- Conviction leads to repentance and salvation. The purpose of conviction is to convince us of our sin and cause a change of heart that leads to a change in behavior. And, to convince us that we need a Savior.
Understanding the difference between conviction and guilt matters because believing the lies of guilt affects the way we see ourselves and the way we see Jesus.
We are sons and daughters of Jesus, and our identity is found in Him. We are not who our guilt says we are. We are not what we have done. We can allow conviction to change us, let go of our guilt, and live in the freedom of the identity Jesus gives us.
You are not what you’ve done
Jesus is the great “I Am” (John 8:58). As His sons and daughters, when we make “I am” statements about ourselves, we are really making them about who we are in Jesus.
Jesus paid for our sins on the cross, and the minute we start a relationship with Him, we become a new creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here” (2 Corinthians 5:17)!
We can let go of the guilt and the negative “I am” statements we make about ourselves, and replace them with the truth of who Jesus says we are in Him. I am a new creation. I am loved by God (John 3:16). I am forgiven (Ephesians 1:7-9, Romans 8:1).
Jesus removes our sin “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12), and remembers it no more (Isaiah 43:25).
If God forgets our sin and doesn’t let it us define us, then why do we dwell on it and give it the power to tell us who we are?
If there is sin in our lives that God is convicting us of, let’s repent of it and then move on. Today is the day we let the guilt go and live in the freedom that we are not what we’ve done, we are who Jesus says we are.