I have this as my screen saver on my computer. Take a few minutes to study it. Do any of the words hit a sore spot in your life? Do past things like guilt, hurt, regret, fear, anger, shame, hatred make your life unmanageable? Are there other words that come to mind? Are there things from the past that get carried into your life day after day?
Let’s take one of these words and see what God’s Word has to say about it.
Guilt… as a noun…the fact or state of having committed an offense, crime, violation, or wrong, especially against moral or penal law; culpability: “He admitted his guilt.” a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.
Sometimes the guilt of our past actions brings pain because we have not dealt with it by owning the guilt of our actions and then taking our mistakes to the Lord…1 John 1:8…If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Denial impedes our spiritual, emotional, and relational health. It holds us captive to the past!
Satan loves when this happens! Don’t let Satan get into your mind…. telling you that God can never love you…or forgive you.
The next time Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future!
The Law…shows us our sins. It reminds us that on our own we can not fix the problem. The wages of sin is death…. separation from a Holy God. As a sinner, we stand guilty before the Lord! If left there, we would be hopeless!
And yet…that’s where the Gospel comes in. Jesus’ sinless life and sacrificial death fixed the problem. He purchased your forgiveness….repaired the relationship…removed the guilt….restored our standing as children of a Loving God!
Let me tell you a true story that happened some time ago: A young boy’s father died in a car wreck when he was twelve years old. He read it in the newspaper before anyone got word to him to tell him about it. When he saw that picture of the family car smashed-up on the front page of the newspaper… and read that his dad had died in that accident, he was thrust immediately and painfully into the shocked numbness of deep grief.
Strangely, one of his very first feelings were those of guilt. He had remembered how some months before at a family picnic he was showing off with a baseball. At one point he got careless and threw wildly; it hit his dad in the hand and broke his thumb. The young boy felt horrible. He said to himself, “What a terrible son I am! I have caused my dad great pain.”
It seemed that was all he could remember after his father’s death—the pain he caused his dad. Finally, the young boy went to see his pastor and told him about the deep feelings of guilt about breaking his dad’s thumb.
The young boy… well, let me tell you in the boy’s own words, he said: I’ll never forget how my pastor handled that. He was so great. He came around the desk with tears in his eyes. He sat down across from me and said:
“Now, Jim,” that was the boy’s name, “you listen to me. If your dad could come back to life for five minutes and be right here with us… and if he knew you were worried about that, what would he say to you?”
“He would tell me to quit worrying about that,” Jim said. “Well, all right,” the minister said, “then you quit worrying about that right now. Do you understand me?”. “Yes sir,” he said… and he did. That minister was saying: “You are forgiven. Accept the forgiveness… and make a new start with your life.” The young boy did make a new start. And many years later, he served a 9,000-member church: St Luke’s in Houston. The young Boy? James W. Moore, the author of over 30 books on Christian living. We just celebrated Christmas (the birth of our Savior)…but forgiveness and renewal is what Easter is all about. The Risen Lord comes back to life… and assures the disciples that they are forgiven.
Peter had denied his Lord three times. Thomas had doubted. All the disciples had forsaken Him.
But Christ came back, forgave them, resurrected them. He came back to share with them… He comes to you today to share with you the joy, the encouragement, and the forgiveness that was purchased for you on the cross.
Sound good? Of course, it does! How do you get rid of the guilt…and receive God’s Joy and Peace?
Well, If you want to free yourself from your past, just ask God to do that! 1 John 1:9…If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
I like to look at Paul (the writer of many of the New Testament books). Talk about a guy who could have wallowed in the guilt of his past…Talk about sinning!!! In his “Saul days”… when he persecuted Christians and God’s church. But listen to what he says in Philippians 3:13-14… Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Assess the things from your past that haunt you…confess them to the Lord…receive His forgiveness…repent, and turn away from those sinful thoughts, words, actions…and if possible, make amends to those you have hurt….and you will be free to move forward! Just like we see in
Isaiah 43:18-19… “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
Always remember that the past does not define you…it’s what have you learned from the past…and who (or whose) are you today…by the power of Christ living in you. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18… Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
A side note: shame and guilt are 2 different ideas… Guilt comes from a negative evaluation of one’s behavior. When we sin, we feel guilt for what we did. Shame on the other hand arises from a negative evaluation of the self… It is when we let our actions define who (whose) we are…Let me remind you that you are a forgiven child of God! Satan will whisper lies into your ears. He will say “shame on you!!!” and try to convince you that God is disgusted with you. Don’t listen to him…God loves you despite your past! God makes you new each day, to accomplish His plans in and thru you.
- Go back and look at the words in my opening picture. How are you doing with past guilt? Talk to God about it.
- Who do you need to forgive? Who is carrying guilt over something they did to you…perhaps years ago. Tell them you forgive them. Connect them to Jesus. Tell them about God’s forgiveness, Love, renewal.
- Ask forgiveness from those that you have hurt by your past words and actions.
- Let go of the past…live in the present…Find joy in the one who holds the future!!!!!
A laugh for the day….One year my uncle decided to cheat on his income taxes. The problem was that he later started to feel so guilty that he couldn’t sleep. After thinking about it for a while, he sent an anonymous cashier’s check for $100 to the IRS along with a note that read:
To Whom It May Concern,
I cheated on my taxes and now I feel so guilty that I have not been able to sleep for weeks, so I’m sending you this check for one hundred dollars. I hope you forgive me.
P.S. If I still can’t sleep after one week, I’ll send you the rest of what I owe.