By: Norm Rasmussen
When we do wrong, God wants us to realize we’ve done wrong. Not only does He want us to realize we’ve done wrong, but He also wants us to admit to Him that we’ve done wrong. God wants us also admitting to others we were wrong, when we’ve hurt them and it was not called for, whenever it’s possible to do so.
Guilt is a healthy emotion God has given us to have a sense of right and wrong. However, lingering guilt can be a pathway to tormenting mental and spiritual bondage, and God wants us to be extremely aware and wise in how we deal with guilt.
Guilt is God’s way of telling us we have stepped off His pathway of peace. The Holy Spirit convicts us to admit our wrongdoing, then asking for and receiving God’s forgiveness to get back on God’s path of peace.
Let’s say it a different way. When we’ve done wrong, because the emotion of guilt tells us we’ve done wrong, Satan doesn’t want that guilt leaving you or I. He wants us to stay under a thick cloud of guilt (which can include shame) just as long as he can keep us under it. He is able to get away with it if we don’t know our rights as disciples in Christ, or we don’t believe those rights.
Let us always remember something that is very important: Satan condemns – the Holy Spirit convicts. There is a HUGE difference, but it is often difficult to discern condemnation verses conviction for a new born babe in Christ.
Satan wants us to feel condemned when we miss God’s mark. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our wrongdoing, thereby allowing our guilt to be a positive means to motivate us to quickly acknowledge our wrongdoing, and executing forgiveness as quickly as possible as needed, thereby being free from guilt to move forward spiritually.
SATAN’S GUILT HAS NO HOPE TIED TO IT
Satan’s guilt has no hope tied to it. Never forget that. He also likes to tell us, “Forgiveness is never enough! You need to suffer to prove to God you are worthy of being forgiven!” Satan will take our guilt and twist it into a means of accusing us in any number of different ways. He is able to do this if we don’t know our legal rights as disciples of Jesus Christ, nor operate in Godly wisdom.
One of Satan’s most ruthless ways of locking a person into guilt and shame is to have a young person sexually abused repeatedly by an adult – preferably the child’s father. If the child refuses to cooperate, the father (or whoever the perpetrator is) will usually use fear to keep the child silent, and then even try to convince their victim it is his/her fault in the matter. Some children can be so starved for love and acceptance and physical affection that they may even show a willingness to be abused, just to receive some “quality” attention. (So will some adults, unfortunately. A crippled child that never heals emotionally usually becomes an emotionally crippled adult. Most addictions stem from being crippled emotionally in various ways during our earlier years, as does rebellion in us, which is why it can be so hard to want to please and obey God). Then when the time comes when the abused person tries to escape from future abuse, demons will either speak through their abuser, or speak directly into the mind of that child, that THEY were the one who was mostly responsible, or fully responsible, for this all happening in the first place. When the abused victim believes that lie, they will carry and bury that lie deep within … sometimes their whole lives, sadly – crippling them emotionally, spiritually and possibly even physically, without them even realizing the poisonous effects of believing Satan’s lies.
If you are holding onto guilt and shame from your past, even if you were partly guilty for whatever happened … please let God free you from it. It is a spiritual poison designed by Satan to kill you, my friend, and in one way or another, I can promise you it WILL, if you keep it buried, as Satan would want you to do.
The most common way of being freed from it is to tell a trusted person about it. Usually a trusted Christian, who the Holy Spirit can use to help guide you into wholeness.
God has given disciples of Jesus Christ this precious declaration in His Word, nailing condemnation before it can have a chance to bear demonic fruit:
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1)
What God wants us to receive from Him regarding this declaration of warning on one hand - yet the means by which we can be freed from condemnation on the other - is that when we deal with guilt by our fallible human reasoning, (which is how Satan tricks us), condemnation will not leave us. But when we walk according to the Holy Spirit’s way of dealing with guilt, we will be set free from condemnation before it can get it’s demonic claws in us, and we are then utilizing God’s means of being set free from condemnation.
How then, do we walk according to the Spirit, when guilt is telling us we missed the mark; when we’ve sinned, or sinned one too many times? We use our legal rights as disciples of Jesus Christ. We use the “legal contract” – the “book of the law” God has given us to be freed. What is this “legal contract” God has given us to be freed from the snares of Satan? The Holy Bible. Proper understanding and proper application of God’s Word.
Let’s lay a solid sound foundation for applying the Word of God when we address the issue of sin and guilt, through a couple of questions and answers, and then give some follow-up afterwards to support our answers:
Q: Does God
forgive all past, present and future sin concerning a disciple of Jesus Christ?
What scripture assurance/s do we have to make such a claim? 1 John 1:9 is the key scripture passage that assures us that we can guarantee ourselves that if we acknowledge our sin to God – ask His forgiveness for it - He will forgive us for it – instantly.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9).
Q: Can I commit
the same sin one too many times, no matter how many times I’ve committed it in
the past, and is it possible God might choose to stop forgiving me for it?
Nowhere before or following 1 John 1:9 does it state that God will quit forgiving us “if we’ve sinned one too many times.” You cannot find one place in the scriptures where God clearly states that He can reach a place where He chooses to stop forgiving born again Christians. Satan wants to try to twist scripture out of it’s intended context and meaning to refute this fact. (I’ll address that a little later).
God wanted to make certain we get a proper understanding of 1 John 1:9 by giving us Matthew 18:21-22, which reads:
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
Jesus isn’t talking about math here. He’s not saying that once you’ve forgiven someone 490 times, you can stop forgiving them. The implication in Jesus’ answer is that we never STOP forgiving someone, no matter how much they sin against us. He’s implying that we keep forgiving 490 times 490 times 490 times …
But in this answer, Jesus is saying the same thing about God. God never stops forgiving us, as long as we keep asking Him for forgiveness when we sin, and acknowledge to Him (and others when necessary) that we were wrong for what we did.
Putting it just in a little different light, God does not tell you and I to do something He isn’t willing Himself to do. Meaning, if God tells you and I that we should never stop forgiving someone who sins against us, when they ask us for forgiveness, then we can expect the same out of God regarding ourselves. If I have to forgive those who offend me a bazillion times bazillion, He must too, otherwise He would be putting demands on us that even He would not do, which truly would make Him a hypocrite, God forbid.
In understanding Satan’s tactics, Immediately Satan will bring to mind three other passages of scripture to try to negate 1 John 1:9. The first one is found in Mark 4:28-29 (NKJV):
Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter;
But he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation” – because they said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
What is the accurate meaning of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? Most Bible scholars say that it addresses two areas:
1) It is outright rejecting the truth of what God accomplished through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, and His subsequent death, burial, and resurrection. It is simply saying up to the point of one’s death, “I’m not interested in what Christ did on the cross. It has no relevant meaning for me.”
2) It is possibly offending the Holy Spirit by trying to convince others that what is truly the workings of the Holy Spirit through a dedicated vessel of Jesus Christ is the working of demonic powers. This was what many accused Jesus of doing: operating under the power of Satan, which was what triggered Jesus to make the statement He made in Mark 3:28-29. (Nevertheless, God does want us discerning accurately good from evil, and in Christian circles, there is a lot of spiritual perversion that is not getting discerned accurately. Accusing the Holy Spirit of engaging in evil is a great offense to Him. Relying upon Him to enable one to discern evil is a whole different arena, and God wants us fully relying on Him to discern evil when it is in our midst, or in the midst of others).
Another passage of scripture that Satan tries to twist out of context is found in the book of Hebrews. This is one of Satan’s favorite scriptures to quote to unknowledgeable Christians when it comes to forgiveness of sins in their life. Hebrews 10:26 (NKJV) reads:
For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.
To receive accurate understanding of this passage of scripture, one must start reading all the way back to the second chapter of Hebrews. By the time we reach chapter 8, we see that God is addressing issues of the Old Covenant verses the New Covenant.
Hebrews 10:26 was primarily addressing people who clearly reject the truth of the Cross once they’ve heard it. At the time it was recorded, it was addressing Jews who still wanted to remain under the Old Covenant law as a means of having their sins covered. (The Old Covenant law never promised Jews that their sins would be forever forgiven. It made provision to cover their sins with a degree of God’s grace, but not totally: not like the sacrifice of Christ on the cross fully accomplished for them, nor for you or I).
However, I believe Hebrews 10:26 was also a warning to Christians as well at that time, and a warning to Christians today. Anyone who believes that the New Covenant is God’s acceptable way to be saved from our sins, but then starts adopting Old Covenant practices (either again, or for the first time), to “enhance one’s salvation” – or “to make one’s salvation more assured and/or secure,” or “more pleasing to God in some way” … is in serious danger of having the grace of God lifted from their life and the possible losing of their salvation (if they were ever truly saved in the first place, and only God knows that). Acts 15:5-11 & 21:17-26; Galatians 2:21; The whole of Galatians 3; 5:1-4 – just to mention a few key scriptures addressing this matter.
You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. – Galatians 5:4
An impart key to helping see that Hebrews 10:26 is addressing matters of Old Covenant verses New Covenant is found in final wording of Hebrews 10:29, which is: “…And insulted the Spirit of grace?” When a person adamantly refuses to accept the truths of the New Covenant and continues to refuse to accept them, they are in serious danger of insulting the Spirit of grace.
What God wants us to understand about this above portion of scripture in Hebrews 10:26 is that the context in which it is being used centers around the Old Covenant law verses the New Covenant grace of God. Regarding people who were aware of the Old Covenant law given by Moses and believed that was STILL the only way one’s sins could be covered … once they had heard the Good News of the Gospel, (that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ was now the only acceptable way to have one’s sins covered and forgiven, and the Old Covenant way was now made obsolete, because the new Covenant had replaced it ), and they refused to believe the New Covenant truth replaced it … they were now guilty of a sin God would not forgive them for on the Judgment Day, if they didn’t admit their wrong before dying and agree with the New Covenant truth that the shed blood of God (Jesus Christ) on the cross is the only way now God will declare us: “Not guilty! My Son Jesus paid the full penalty for all your past, present and future sins by taking My wrath for your sins upon Himself when He went to the cross! You’re a free person. Enter into the eternal joy of the Lord!”
I feel to say this again: Hebrews 10:26 was not given to us to address present and future sin in a disciple of Jesus Christ, with one exception of course. That exception is if one turns either to, or back to, adopting Old Covenant practices and beliefs, and eventually rejects the New Covenant completely – this is what God is warning us of.
Regarding all other sins a Christian can commit, if it somehow was addressing those kinds of sins … not ONE of us would ever make it to heaven!The reason being, that would mean we would have to somehow reach a place of never sinning again while here on earth before dying, and that is not reality!
Every Christian will be committing sins of one kind or another right up until their death, for the most part. (Hopefully fewer tomorrow than yesterday, and not serious sins at that, but that’s not the point). There is no such thing as sinless perfection in this life, (though some will disagree with me, which is their right). We’re all to strive to be Christ-like, but none of us this side of eternity will stand before God and tell Him we’ve attained sinless perfection by our own striving. The only thing God is going to look for when we stand before Him is whether there is any paint on us -- Red paint! It is the shed blood of Jesus that saves us; nothing else.
Here is another favorite scripture verse of Satan. He loves to have other Christians quote it to us, out of context:
Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. (1 John 3:9)
Let’s use a little common sense in understanding this scripture passage. Go to any church on this planet on a Sunday morning and ask if there is anyone there who believes they can’t sin, and if so, to stand up and identify themselves. Everyone will remain seated, if you have a church full of honest people.
Do you consider yourself a Christian? If so, do you believe YOU can sin, or do you believe it’s impossible for you to sin?
Through just some common sense logic and reasoning, we should quickly see that the wording used here in 1 John 3:9 needs to be understood in the context that a person who is truly born again does not make it a regular practice to sin. He won’t because he or she is walking too close with the Holy Spirit – knowing how much it will grieve God if we do sin. However, that in no way precludes that we can’t sin, or will never sin. It simply means that we don’t continue practicing sinning – we don’t continue engaging in sinning - like we did before we were truly born again.
Yet we must also realize that it sometimes takes years before one or more major strongholds of sin can be put to death in the life of a born again Christian. Just because a drug addict is delivered of his/her addiction once they become saved does not mean that they won’t give into temptation to fall back into that sin ever again. If you’ve dealt much with Christian addicts, once delivered from one’s addiction no way assumes one will never fall back into that addiction ever again. God gives grace for situations like this, and we must never become too judgmental or so predisposed to doctrinal stances that we forget that “mercy triumphs over judgment.”
Beyond understanding all of what God wants to reveal to us regarding forgiveness to deal with guilt and shame, another key to helping stay free from the bondage of guilt and shame is to learn all one can about God’s nature, and all one can about Satan’s nature. God’s nature is love, mercy, compassion, kindness and forgiveness, (though He’s also the God of justice and wrath against evil, and we must never forget that). He’s the God of second, third and fourth chances in this dispensation grace we currently are in. No matter what we’ve done after we’ve become a disciple of Jesus Christ, God will restore us back to Him in good standing if we’re willing to admit our wrong to Him and do everything we can to not let it happen again. Even if it should happen again, He’ll never stop taking us back. (Satan of course never wants you believing that to be the truth, especially if you’re in a severe backslidden state with Christ).
Satan’s nature is to take a hardened sinner and help them become totally dead to guilt and shame. It is possible to obtain. God tells us in scripture that we need to be very, very careful about what we believe and do, because if we continue to remain hell-bent on sinning, He might well let our heart become so hardened to guilt and shame that it no longer convicts us of wrongdoing when we engage in it. That’s a very scary state to be in, because indications are, that person may be destined for hell upon death, without having a clue. Becoming deadened to what sin is and the consequences of sin is not a good state of mind to enter into.
Though I can’t prove it scripturally, I have to believe there is no demon who feels remorseful – guilty – for making disciples of Jesus Christ miserable. Certainly Satan wouldn’t. Any capability to experience guilt for offending God in any way had to have died in those fallen angels a long, long time ago.Satan’s nature is also to rob, steal and destroy, as Jesus tells us in John 10:10. Satan’s nature is to focus his greatest attention on true Christian believers, and find ways to rob, steal and destroy their relationship with Jesus Christ in some fashion. The bondage of guilt has robbed disciples of Jesus Christ of more peace and joy than probably any other tactic Satan has used against Christians, simply because they either weren’t aware of the promises of God for them in the Bible, or didn’t believe them if they were aware of them.
If you’re going to stand before the earthly judge who has the power and desire to rob, steal and destroy your quality of life, you BETTER have a lawyer representing you who knows the law well, otherwise the prosecutor will use that lawyer’s ignorance to gain advantage of you. Satan does the very same thing.
The Holy Bible is the source for Christians to know what their legal rights are when dealing with God. In an earthly court, when the judge tells you just prior to be sentenced to imprisonment, “Sorry, but your ignorance of the law is no excuse” – the same analogy can also be applied to Christians.
The one thing you can take to the bank regarding Satan: He wants to keep you as ignorant and/or confused about the Holy Bible as He can. All scripture passages contained in the Holy Bible need to be properly interpreted before they can be properly applied. Satan is a master at assisting people in misapplying scripture passages. From his perspective, he has everything to gain and nothing to lose by doing so. I can’t encourage newborn Christians enough to use this writing to help them learn how to more wisely understand and apply the Word of God:http://www.apologeticsindex.org/b02.html
Don’t let Satan baffle or confuse you when it comes to guilt and forgiveness. Outside of the very Word of God itself, forgiveness is the most potent weapon God has given us to break the bondage of guilt and shame. Use this weapon as often as is required, like 7 times 70 times …
Before concluding, we need to also understand that forgiving someone who has hurt us does not necessarily absolve them from being punished for their wrongdoing. If you kill my child in cold blood, God wants me to forgive you for doing so, but that doesn’t assume I’m to try to convince the judge you should not have to go to prison for it, and even receive the death penalty for it, if the judge so decides to give it to you.
You may be the wife of a husband who takes out his anger on you and beats you time and time again. God wants you to forgive him for doing so, but that does NOT mean you’re to keep allowing your husband to keep beating you after that. (God’s wisdom dictates that you get away from a husband like that, and also get your children away if he’s doing the same to them). Remember, God is a God who forgives, but He’s also a God of justice, and also a God of wrath against evil.
In conclusion, God clearly wants us desiring to remain free from sin. To not make that our constant daily goal is in reality saying to God, “It’s too hard for me to walk in the Spirit. I’ll just settle for walking in the flesh.” Yet on the other end of the scale, the reality is, to think that we will walk in total obedience to God all the time like Jesus did is deceiving ourselves as well. If it were possible, we would then never need Jesus after that, would we?
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BREAKING FREE FROM THE BONDAGE OF GUILT AND SHAME
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