Dealing with Guilt
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons so many of God's children are living defeated lives, is because of guilt. Guilt is one of Satan's biggest weapons against us. It tears us down, it makes us feel dirty, unworthy, robs of us of our faith and confidence in Christ Jesus. Jesus not only came to cleanse us from our sins, but also set us free from the guilt of our sins. If you want to live a life of spiritual victory, you need to have a conscience freed from the guilt of your past. 1 Timothy 3:9, "Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience."
Two kinds of guilt
There's two kinds of guilt in the Bible. There's Godly sorrow that leads a person to repentance (2 Cor 7:10), which is know as conviction and it comes from the Holy Spirit (John 16:8, "when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin..." - NASB). Once a person repents, the guilt lifts and they feel relieved and joyful that their sin(s) have been forgiven. Then there's another kind of guilt, and that's condemnation or accusations from the devil. Satan loves to torment God's people by reminding them of their pasts, and continually holding their sins before them even after their sins have been forgiven. This is condemnation and there is no good that comes out of it whatsoever. It tears us down, makes us feel dirty, unworthy and robs of us of our faith and confidence in Christ Jesus. It's a lie from the father of lies, and it needs to be ignored.
The difference between condemnation and conviction is explained in much more detail in the teaching Condemnation verses Conviction.
In this teaching, we will be dealing solely with the negative kind of guilt called condemnation.
Guilt is a door to the enemy
I have seen how guilt can be an open door to be tormented by evil spirits. False guilt is actually a symptom of unforgiveness in your heart that is directed at yourself. In Matthew 18:23-35, Jesus tells us how important it is to forgive those who have wronged us, and how we can be turned over to the tormenters (evil spirits) if we are unforgiving. Colossians 3:13 tells us to be, "...forgiving one another..." The phrase 'one another' in NT Greek translates to the word Heautou, which includes THEMSELF! Bitterness, regardless who or what it's about, defiles a man (Hebrews 12:15). Spiritual defilement is what makes a person open to unclean spirits. It is very possible for a person to be harassed by evil spirits or come under their power, just because a person has refused to forgive them self.
How guilt is cultivated and nurtured
Guilt is cultivated when you continually allow yourself to dwell and think about how badly you've messed up, your pasts, the sins you've committed, etc. The enemy loves to remind us of our past failures, so he can keep us thinking about them. The problem is, if we allow ourselves to fall for this trap, it allows the enemy to build what they call a stronghold in our minds.
Your best bet is to learn what is going on, and stop Satan dead in his tracks. Learn the difference between condemnation and conviction, and stop listening to condemnation. Condemnation comes from the devil, and it's meant to build strongholds in your mind and weaken you spiritually.
The stronghold of guilt
When a person who has repented of their sin(s) but continually feels guilty day after day, even after being told that their past has been washed away and their sins have been forgiven, is facing what they call a stronghold. A stronghold is a lie that is believed, which results in an incorrect thinking pattern. The stronghold of guilt is often not alone, it is usually accompanied with an incorrect perception of themselves or an incorrect perception of God (which are both strongholds in themselves). People who have a stronghold of guilt rarely see God for who He really is (including His awesome forgiving nature) or they don't see themselves correctly. They are new creations in Christ who's past has been washed away (2 Corinthians 5:17), but they simply don't believe it because they have a stronghold in their mind that needs to be torn down.
If this describes you, then I highly recommend reading the teaching on Strongholds.
How to deal with guilt
Step 1: Understand the nature of God's forgiveness towards you. The teaching on The Forgiveness of Sins is a great teaching to help you there.
Step 2: Repent of your sin(s) if you haven't already done so. They big key to being forgiven is repentance.
Step 3: Know that your past sins have been forgiven, and that you are now clean in Christ Jesus. Stop thinking about your past sins and start thinking about the new person you are in Christ. We are NEVER told to mull around our past sins, but rather to forget the things which are behind and press forward. (Phil 3:13, "...this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.")
Step 4: Forgive yourself! Jesus made it clear that we are to be forgiving, and that includes forgiving yourself. You need to release yourself from the bondage of unforgiveness. If God chose to forgive you, who are you to hang onto something that God chose to let go of? This is a major source of bondage, and I can't stress how vital it is for you to release yourself from your past. Colossians 3:13 tells us to be, "...forgiving one another..." If you look up the phrase 'one another' in that verse in the NT Greek, it translates to the word Heautou which includes THEMSELF! It is vital to be forgiving towards yourself!! Bitterness (the fruit of unforgiveness), regardless who or what it's about, defiles a man (Hebrews 12:15).
If a stronghold of guilt exists, then the feelings of guilt may not disappear overnight, because strongholds need to be torn down by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). A great place to start is learning how to recognize condemnation from the devil, and stop paying attention to it. One teaching that will show you how to recognize condemnation is Condemnation verses Conviction.
Once you know the difference between condemnation and conviction and can recognize condemnation when it's thrown at you, you need to guard your thoughts, and when you see condemnation coming your way, pay no attention to it. Treat it for what it really is... a lie from the devil. You can learn more about how to take control of your thought life in the teaching The Power of Your Thoughts.
If nothing seems to work, you may need to have a spirit of guilt or condemnation cast out. There are particular evil spirits that go around and hang around people like a thick black cloud, constantly making them feel dirty, unworthy and guilty. They usually thrive on strongholds of guilt though, so usually your first step to getting rid of this spirit is by tearing down the stronghold by which it's holding on. If you tear down the stronghold, and still feel like a black cloud is following you around, I would read the article on Seeking a Deliverance and pursue having it cast out.
There's a teaching that specifically addresses Strongholds that I recommend reading if you suspect you have one or more strongholds to be torn down.
The Blood of Jesus takes sin away
Hebrews 10:1-22, "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having a high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."
In the Old Testament, they used to offer sacrifices each year to cover the people's sins. The blood of Jesus does far more then cover sins, it takes them away. It removes them from your identity... it removes them from you as far as the east to the west! Psalms 103:12, "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us."
Revelations 1:5, "And from Jesus Christ, who... washed us from our sins in his own blood."
Psalms 103:12, "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us."
Matthew 26:28, "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Do you know what the NT Greek has to say about the word 'remission' here? "Forgiveness or pardon, of sins (letting them go as if they had never been committed), remission of the penalty."
Christ died so your conscience could be cleansed
2 Cor 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
Why do you think God wanted us to be new creations when we enter His royal family? Because He doesn't want your past to be a part of you anymore! He wants you to be washed clean from all your sins and wiped clean from your past!
Isaiah 43:25, "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins."
God knew that if He didn't forget our sins, they would forever be before Him, and it would hinder the closeness that He desires to have with us. Therefore, God Himself said that for His own sake, He chose to not only forgive your sins, but also forget them and cast them into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19).
Hebrews 9:14, "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"
Not only did God chose to forget your sins, but He also wants you to forget them as well. God's Word tells us to, "...draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." (Hebrews 10:22)
Worship is one of the most intimate ways in which we commune with God. Jesus tells us that, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:24) The truth is, if we have repented of our sins, and believe upon the blood of Jesus to wash us clean, then we are clean from those sins, and if we approach God in worship with a dirty conscience, we won't be approaching Him in truth. Hebrews 10:2 tells us how worshipers should have a conscience clean from sin, "...the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins." God doesn't want us hanging onto our pasts when we come to worship Him! He wants us to approach Him through worship from a conscience washed in the blood of the lamb!
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus tells us, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." If you look up the word 'labor' in the NT Greek, it basically means to toil under a burden. What kind of people are heavy laden and labor in their souls? People who are laboring under the burden of guilt. Jesus wants you to come to Him, and shed your old heavy burden of guilt. He died so you could be released from it... won't you make the choice to let go of it today?
Learn of the awesome and beautiful forgiving nature of God in the teaching The Forgiveness of Sins.
Learn how to discern what is conviction and what is condemnation in the teaching Condemnation verses Conviction.
Learn how to take control of your thought life to guard against strongholds and send the devil's accusations to flight in the teaching The Power of Your Thoughts.
Learn what a stronghold is, and how to tear them down in the teaching Strongholds.