I just had a conversation with someone who is struggling with guilt and shame because of a sin committed. I am very familiar with the bondage of guilt and shame. I have spent many years not understanding what walking in the freedom of forgiveness feels like. If the enemy can keep us focused on our shame, then he can keep us from walking in the freedom of what Christ did on the cross. Anyway this is what I shared...this is what I've learned....
One of the first things you need to know is that God loves you. I know you may be saying, “But I do know that”. We often know it intellectually but because of guilt and shame we don’t feel it’s true. Satan wants you to believe the lie, to feel as if God has turned His back on you because of sin. But the truth is, God does love us. Regardless of what we have done or where we have come from, He loves us with an infinite, incomprehensible love.
Sometimes I have found myself thinking, but if God loved me why wouldn’t he intervene? Why won’t He stop us from making a wrong choice, put a block in the way or something! It’s that terrible thing called free will! God does not want slaves who are forced into obedience. He desires…He covets the voluntary love and obedience of sons who love Him for himself.
Could it be the same reason Jesus didn’t send Peter home instead of letting him follow along to Ciaiphas’ courtyard and the betrayal that would surely follow? God sees something redemptive even in letting us fail. He seems less concerned about our mistakes than how we respond to them. Do they lead us away from trusting in our own strength or wisdom, to seek what it means to put our trust in him? If so, then he finds our failure worth the pain they cause.
So how will you choose to respond to sin? Truth says that God has provided the sacrifice that is needed to cover our sin, guilt and shame and allows us to know him as he really is. We needed a sacrifice for our shame so that we would be fee to have a relationship with God again. At the cross, God provided the undeniable proof of just how much he loves us. Romans 8:1-2 says Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
God can and does forgive our sin no matter how great the sin. There is no sin too great for God to forgive. Ps 130:3-4 says “If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.”
Often when I am struggling with guilt and shame I will spend time in the Psalms and pray them back to God. I love Psalms 51, it was written by David after Nathan came to him and confronted him with his sin of adultery and murder. The beginning of the Ps 51 David mourns over his sin and confesses he has sinned against God, He asked God to cleanse him and make him white again. Once restored what does David say in verse 13? He will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will turn back to you. God wants a broken and contrite heart (vs17). God desires a godly sorrow of our sin that leads to repentance a turning away completely of a sinful life.
Speaking of David, he is one of my favorite characters. When David was still a young man God called him. God said “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.” (1 Sam 16:12b) And David followed God, was obedient to him and God watched over him giving him victories and made him king. God had a plan for David in 2 Sam chapter 7 we read where God choose David to begin the building of the Temple and his offspring will finish it. God was going to use David in a mighty way. David’s sin did not come as a surprise to God. David commits adultery and murder. But does God then say, “great now I can’t use you?” Of course not . Once confronted with the sin David says “I have sinned against the Lord!” (2 Sam 12:13) David pays a great price for his sin, he loses his son. There are always consequences for sinful behaviors-always. In Acts 13:22 it says of David “he is a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” Then in Heb chapter 11 David is listed among those that are commended for their faith. So you see God can use us even if we commit what we believe is an awful sin. David was called before his “great” sin and used of God afterwards. Moses was called of God before murdering an Egyptian and used by God afterwards. Do not let Satan convince you that you can not be used. He will try to render you powerless by using guilt and shame.
Once we confess, He is faithful to forgive. But then we have a responsibility to walk in a manner worthy. We need to walk in victory over sin and not let it have power over us any longer. You are no longer a slave to sin. Through Christ you have been set free. Our old self has been crucified with Christ so that sin might be done away with, so that we are no longer slaves to sin. Anyone who has died to sin (flesh) has been freed from sin. (Rom 6:5-7) Sin is no longer our master. (Rom 6:14) We can experience victory over sin because of what Christ did on the cross. We have victory over sin through Christ alone. Trying to have victory on our own will never work.
Every time we choose to give in to the flesh, rather than yielding to the Spirit of God, we allow sin to gain mastery over us. On the other hand, every time we say yes to the Spirit, we give Him greater control of our lives.
When we make repeated choices to obey sin rather than God, we establish habit patterns that are extremely difficult to break (but not impossible)-we choose to live as sin’s slaves. For a while, we may find ourselves trying to do right, then failing, trying and failing, trying and failing. That is when the devil begins to convince us that it can never be any different, that we will always be enslaved to that sinful habit. We think, What’s the use? I’m just going to blow it again! I’m going to be defeated by this the rest of my life!
The truth is, through Christ’s finished work on the cross, we can live in victory over sin. Satan is no longer our master, and we no longer have to live as slaves to sin.
The truth is, you and I are powerless to change ourselves, for “Apart from me,” Jesus said, “you can do nothing” (John 15:5)
If you are in Christ, the Truth is “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness (Rom 6:18)
God’s ways may seem too restrictive sometimes and we may feel that we just want our own way “to have fun” and as I have said before it comes down to a choice. We are free to choose, but we are not free to choose the consequences. Choosing disobedience and sin will bring bondage. The only way to be free is to realize that true freedom comes from obedience to Truth. We must act on Truth and flee from temptation. Are you really serious about God? Do you really want to follow after Him? Then you must run as fast as you can from sin and its temptation and run into the arms of God. Pursue God, make wise choices, stay away from those that would entice you to sin. (Prov 1:1-33) and Proverbs 4:14 says "Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. AVOID IT, DO NOT GO ON IT; TURN FROM IT, AND PASS ON! v23 KEEP AND GUARD YOUR HEART WITH ALL VIGILANCE FOR OUT OF IT FLOW THE SPRINGS OF LIFE!"