discerning guilt

This morning, I woke feeling better, emotionally, than I have in a very long time. I don’t know why I felt different, but I did. I felt centered, focused… at peace. A song lyric from my childhood echoed in my mind as my eyes opened, “Start the day, forgiven. Start by trusting in the Lord.” I asked God what I should read this morning and I felt He led me to Beth Moore’s book, Praying God’s Word. Now, I’ve never read the entire thing. I’ve stuck to a few chapters, the ones I purchased the book for in the first place… Pride, Idolatry, Food-related strongholds…etc. This morning, I decided to look down the chapter list and see if something jumped out at me… and boy did it.

“Overcoming Ongoing Feelings of Guilt”

So I turned to chapter 9. Two things seemed to press upon my heart and squeeze. The first, was when Beth described a scenario where a death row inmate was pardoned, but the warden came and talked the inmate into staying in the cell because, after all, the criminal deserved the punishment. Her point being, the man had been forgiven, set free, the door stood wide-open, but he stayed. What surprised me wasn’t Beth’s words, but rather my personal reaction. I instantly thought, “well, he is guilty, he shouldn’t be free. He doesn’t deserve a pardon.” And then I thought, “How honorable of that man to accept the punishment he deserved, to pay for what he’s done rather than take the easy way out.”

As I sat, mentally condemning this imaginary person, I felt a gentle conviction from the Holy Spirit. “Yes, beloved, and you don’t ‘deserve’ forgiveness either… yet I offer it to you. You don’t deserve to have someone else pay for your sin… yet My Son did just that. You’ve been pardoned, and you sit in that pit of captivity day after day. Do you think yourself ‘honorable’ for choosing to remain captive? Do you believe you can actually pay for what you’ve done? Because I assure you, dear one, paying the price for your sin was not ‘the easy way’ for Me.” (Girl swallows hard)

The second thing relates to the first. What is my perception and relationship to this particular sin (food worship/idolatry, self-image focus/idolatry with a twist of pride)? Do I actually view it as “small” on the sin scale? I mean, no person is going to come to my house and arrest me for “using a brownie” instead of fully relying on God. I’m not going to be put on death row for longing (and striving) to be like the images I see on TV, or in magazines…etc. Do I secretly treasure them because, “it’s who I am” and I get some level of enjoyment from them? And at the same time, do I also believe that I deserve to remain captive to these behaviors since I do “cherish” these sins in a way?

Beth begs the question of whether or not we’re truly repentant. If we aren’t, then she says our guilt is actually conviction from the Holy Spirit. That’s something we do want. On the other end of the spectrum, if we are truly repentant (whether we “feel” it or not), then the guilt is the enemy’s attempt to keep us sitting in a state of captivity because if he can’t condemn us to hell (those who have been saved by the blood of Christ), then he’ll try to convince us to live like we’re condemned.

Did you process that? I feel I need to take a deep breath and do some soul searching… or better yet, let God search me and renew a right spirit within me. I want godly sorrow over my sin, and I want to live like a free person. What a waste to possess freedom but live captive.

Is the guilt actually conviction… or is it condemnation? Lord, help me to discern the truth.

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” ~ Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV)

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One thought on “discerning guilt

  1. Pingback: of lies and truth | Brick by Brick

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