“Guilty” despite forgiveness?
Do you still have feelings of guilt, even though you already have received forgiveness?
The forgiveness of sins is a gift to us because Jesus redeemed us with His own blood. We must accept this by faith.
“[He] made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” Acts 15:9. When our heart is purified, we also get a pure conscience.
This happens by faith, and there is nothing we have to do to earn this. We receive it when we pray for it. If we have hurt other people by our actions, then we must be humble enough to ask them for forgiveness, if possible. The thief on the cross didn’t have this opportunity, but he had the right mindset, and that is why Jesus opened the gate to Paradise for him. Jesus accepted the thief’s desire in place of his works.
We can be plagued by our conscience and feel guilty even after we have received forgiveness. Why is this?
The devil makes us feel guilty
We have an opposer, the devil, who goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8) He sows doubt about everything that concerns God’s kingdom. He is the old serpent and the accuser of our brethren. He is a tormentor, and even when we have made things right, it is never good enough. This can be especially difficult for people who have a weak conscience. Peter gives us this exhortation: “Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” 1 Peter 5:9.
There is no point in arguing with him; we must simply fiercely resist him. The Bible promises that he will then flee from us. If he comes back, we must take a new stand, refuse all his accusations, and refer him to the One who gave His life for us—He who wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us. (Colossians 2:14)
God’s Word is the highest authority
“For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.” 1 John 3:20. We must not let the thoughts of our heart and our feelings be the highest authority in our life, because they are misleading. God is greater, and what He says must be the ultimate authority that judges the thoughts and intents of our heart. Even the devil must yield for this sword of the Spirit—the Word of God. Then Jesus’ peace enters in, and our burden becomes light. It is easy to let your own righteousness hinder faith, but God’s righteousness is greater, and we must yield to it.
A firm decision
A double mind is useless—then you will never be free from the devil’s accusations. Your decision to serve God must remain firm. Wrongdoings must be confessed before God (and people when necessary), and then you must turn away from them. (Proverbs 28:13) It is sorrow over sin that creates hatred against sin, and this gives us the shield of faith with which we will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. (Ephesians 6:16) Then we experience peace in the midst of the battle, and the evil one cannot touch us. (1 John 5:18)
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You might also be interested in our theme page about Overcoming sin.