When I was 16 years old I asked my mother, “If I am saved then why do I sin and feel so guilty about it? How am I supposed to be good?” I struggled with feelings of guilt, shame and condemnation for several years in my Christian journey. At times, I was absolutely crushed and felt like I was constantly failing.
Have you ever felt this way? It’s not that you don’t care when you sin. It’s definitely not that you want to sin. You genuinely want to please the Father. Yet you keep struggling, particularly with that besetting sin (Heb. 12:1, KJV). Over and over again you vow that you will stop. You cry out to the Father “Why do I keep doing this? I’ve been praying about it!” You’re disappointed in yourself and feel as if you’ve let God down, yet again.
The Word of God has unlimited power to help you deepen your relationship with God, overcome guilt and then consistently say no to sin.
Conviction Comes for a Good Reason
We are called to live a holy life (1 Thess. 4:7, KJV) so it is natural to feel bad about sin. As a born again Christian, you feel remorseful and sin can weigh heavily on your conscience. So how do you feel guilty and ashamed, but not condemned? By not relying on your emotions or feelings. You may feel bad but the Lord does not condemn you when He’s saved you.
The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. Therefore, we are to accept conviction and any negative feeling as Godly sorrow that leads us to repentance. God has already told us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23, KJV). No man is without sin. That’s settled. So let go of that tremendous amount of pressure you put on yourself to live a life of sinless perfection. Release it right now. Believe and receive this with childlike faith.
Do I Deserve Forgiveness?
When God called me into ministry, how I felt about sin was one of the first things He wanted to address. I felt guilty, ashamed and like I was so worthless. I didn’t deserve forgiveness. Often times, I did not ask for it because I believed that I deserved the consequences of my actions. I could not walk in the fullness of Christ carrying that burden.
He led me to Romans 6-8. I must have read those chapters a hundred times. I was confused in part because I was leaning to my own understanding (Prov. 3:5, KJV). Instead of trying to understand it with intellect, I should have been seeking God fervently in His Word and for His divine revelation and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
I was determined and persistent to understand Romans 6-8 so I pursued and submitted to Him. He humbled me in this way, moved me out of the way and prepared my heart. I heard a message by Joyce Meyer discussing this very topic and my spiritual eyes and ears were opened. I received the revelation from the Holy Spirit. “I have power over sin. My Father secured this when He died on the cross and rose from the dead. He is my ruler, not sin.”
Shut Down the Pity Party
Now I was ready to learn His ways and embrace the truth. God revealed that how I felt meant nothing. How I performed meant nothing. My feelings and performance were simply works of the flesh in that I was trying to change myself and stop sinning. I had not fully surrendered, allowing God to change me. He made me this promise, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6, KJV). The most significant part of this scripture is that He would do it, not me.
He delved deeper by showing me that I was choosing to dwell on my own emotions and self-pity instead of Him. Being caught up in the guilt I felt about my sin kept my mind on myself. I had to shut down the pity party in order to keep my mind on Him. I’ll admit that it was hard to get to a place where I could say these things about myself, but I just had to let go of my pride.
The great Apostle Paul said, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,” (Phil. 3:13, KJV). Was I willing to accept this precious gift of freedom from the law and power over sin (Rom. 6:14, KJV)? Yes I was. I did not want to carry the weight of guilt, failing, shame or condemnation anymore. It was paralyzing. More importantly, I now understood that my Father sent His son to carry this weight for me.
The Word of God is A Powerful Weapon
He instructed me to use the Word as my sword. When the enemy tried to attack with accusations, I used the Word as my weapon and believed God when He said, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1, KJV). I was promised an eternal life with Him and the power to say no to sin in this life.
This is a critical moment. You are faced with the fact that you have sinned. Emotions are running high. The enemy is whispering lies into your ears. You’re overwhelmed with feelings of guilt and/or shame. But now is the time! Will you choose to believe that while you may have sinned, you are not condemned?
God told me that it was imperative that I be prepared. I was led to find scriptures that addressed my specific struggles and say them out loud. “I am not my own. I was bought at a price. I offer my body as a living sacrifice.” Will the enemy try to defeat you? Yes. Will he try to convince you that the living Word of God is not true because you’ve sinned? Yes. Will he try to silence you? Yes. But you have been set free from sin so speak!
Did Jesus not speak the living Word when the enemy came to tempt Him? The truth of God’s Word was a direct response to defend against the smooth sounding lies of the devil. In faith, follow His example and speak His Word to yourself and Satan, as well as believe it. You are already an overcomer of your sin through Christ.
Find Confidence & Joy in Your Salvation
Then finally, the breakthrough! When you consistently believe God’s Word, you remain steadfast and are no longer a slave to your emotions or feelings. Because you are God’s child and your name is written in the Book of Life, you don’t feel guilt or shame to the point of condemnation or beat yourself up anymore. He’s made this real to your heart and nothing can shake it. You have been freed from the power of sin! You simply ask for forgiveness, repent and keep pressing toward the mark. When temptation comes at you again, your stronger faith will help you persevere.
You may think to yourself “How do I know this will work?” because you’ve struggled with this for such a long time — so did I. But His grace, the guidance of the Holy Spirit and believing that what He says is the only truth got me through. I refuse to entertain guilt and it is only through Him that this is possible. He’s given you the power to refuse it too.
Let God’s Love for You Carry You
Now I know this and I want you to know and receive it too. God delights in you (Ps. 149:4, KJV). You are the apple of His eye (Zech. 2:8, NIV). The next time the enemy tries to attack, set your mind and believe these wonderful truths!
Your Father is absolutely in love with you. There is never a time when he doesn’t want to hear from you, especially if you’ve sinned. He doesn’t condemn you. He gazes upon you with such tenderness and care. He is your best friend and wants to fellowship with you, discuss your day, laugh with you, and tell you secrets. Continue to bask in His presence and love and by default, you will sin less and less throughout your walk with Christ.
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