True Guilt: a God given vital catalyst for change, a turning point for freedom when “godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret”. True guilt is purposeful conviction for a yielded heart. The conscience that seeks deliverance or the believer that seeks restoration finds forgiveness in a loving Savior.
False guilt greatly differs from true guilt. It is a snare for the believer, without purpose nor possibility of freedom through repentance. False guilt charges a believer with undue responsibility for a situation or condition upon himself or others. When ‘strong suggestions’ find the weak link of our conscience, seeds of false guilt can grow into a harassing stronghold. The devil furnishes a miry quagmire. No one has a greater vested interest in disabling you and no one works harder to do it,
“…the accuser of our brethren, who accuses them before our God day and night…”
While the Holy Spirit applies the Word of God to bring conviction leading to repentance, false guilt often intertwines Biblical principles into situations for condemnation, leading to confusion. Jesus said, “Love your enemies” however we do so under His guidance, with His wisdom and His preparation of heart. “Love your enemies” but don’t open your door to the devil. The devil can quote scripture far better than us and with crafty motives, often to accuse and harass, finding the weak link of your mind and heart….
“Supervisor X has done you a lot of harm, he is malicious and vindictive. While he hasn’t changed, you have fought the spiritual battle and forgiven him. He has slandered you now and you have the opportunity to press charges and/or transfer to another area. “If I’m a Christian should I stay under Mr. X and show him love, “love your enemies”? Is it not unloving to file a complaint and transfer? The daily anxiety of working with him is crushing me…..but I must love my enemies…” Substitute ‘supervisor X’ with toxic relatives.
You and husband Bill have a heated argument. Bill leaves home in a huff, drives off in his car and is met with an accident, fracturing his neck. Now hospitalized and in great pain, you realize that it is YOUR fault…if only you had ‘submitted to your husband’ there would be no argument, there would have been no accident…..your fault….why didn’t you just submit to him, even though he was wrong? “Wives submit to your husbands….submit to your husbands in everything” if he loses his job due to this injury, it’s YOUR fault….
You and your wife take an extra day off for a spontaneous weekend away….when you arrive you get a phone call that your mother had a heart attack…you try to re-route back, is it too late? Did you REALLY pray before making these getaway plans? James 4:13-15…we shouldn’t even go to the next town without consulting the Lord. “I should have known, Mom didn’t look so good last time I saw her…I should have prayed before making these plans, my ‘life is not my own’….if she dies before I get there it’s MY fault, I’m not there at her moment of need….can’t even say good-bye….”
The devil knows how to tailor a fitting temptation and trap. If he cannot lure us into destructive sin, he devises schemes to impede our walk, rob our joy, and oppress our testimony to others. He will contort the truth and embellish culpability to ensnare us with false guilt. The focus on ‘self’ always diminishes the the trustworthiness and sovereignty of God.
Dan Vander Lugt aptly states, “False guilt cannot be neutralized by confession.” The devil’s accusations are “often vague, indefinite, and persistent…They throb like a spiritual migraine”. Pointedly he adds, “Satan delights in our anxiety and fear.”
Lord, I pray, let us untangle the tethers of false guilt and move forward into emotional freedom!
The only answer to onslaughts of darkness is exposing them to the light. Like destructive mold, the devil’s wiles grow best with time in sequestered darkness. Unfettered, reserved time of prayer brings the battle into the Lord’s presence for victory…
1. Speak the ‘accusations’ out loud to the Lord, even present your ‘evidence’ of guilt. Let the Holy Spirit unravel the poorly connected dots that hold the case against you. Wait upon the Lord with the assurance that: He wants to set you free from any entanglement. Refresh yourself with the fundamentals of ‘sin’, such as the Ten Commandments. Say aloud, “I am guilty of….” What? And the evidence for this sin is, what?
2, Pray aloud about that issue for which you ‘are responsible’, that calamity, that tragedy, that broken relationship. “Lord, it’s my fault this happened, and this is the evidence why…” Wait upon the Lord, let Him speak into the miry details as you present them to Him. Let the Truth take the flame out of fiery accusations.
3. Spend time in the unchanging, living Word of God. Refresh yourself with God’s conviction of sin for His followers, chosen ones such as David, King Saul, and even all Israel – the Lord addressed their sins specifically, seeking repentance. God never casts a vague dark cloud of innuendos and condemnation. We must increasingly grow in our knowledge of God’s character and ways to better discern what is spoken in our hearts and the source.
4. Unfold and expose your dark thoughts and accusations to a strong believer. Let them reflect the truth of God’s word in counsel. Wise counsel from a godly vessel can set you free with few words, “You have nothing to be guilty about!”
Jesus paid a high price for our freedom from sin and condemnation. “It is for freedom that Christ set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5:1) The devil works hard to rob us of this freedom by tempting us with sin, harassing us with old sins, and concocting emotional webs of false guilt. But, in the courtroom of accusations and condemnations, we have a mighty and all-knowing Counselor. The Holy Spirit is with us in every battle and every argument that besets us. His victories bring us closer to the Lord, making us useful vessels for service.
Lord, let this be our testimony….
(photo: Micea Cotina/Rex Features)