"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1).Because all of us are susceptible to stumbling ~ none of us is perfect ~ we are all susceptible to feeling guilty. If we are ever going to be able to manage our feelings of guilt and have victory over them consistently, we will have to learn how to manage and deal with them in biblical ways that lead us to freedom, as the verse above reminds us.
Dealing with Guilt: The Options
What options do we have when we are plagued with feelings of guilt?
- We can allow our thoughts to continually condemn us.
We can blame ourselves over and over, and replay the tape of our wrong actions in our mind.
- We can try to shift the blame.
We can blame our circumstances, contemporary society, or our lack of knowledge or strength.
- We can try to drown the guilt.
One major cause of addiction is overwhelming feelings of guilt, and there are many addictive behaviors available to us today.
- We can punish ourselves.
We can decide that we don't deserve any happiness or fulfillment by abusing our body, denying care for our personal health, or refusing to pursue educational or career goals.
- We can face the music and move on. Face the music and move on ~ six little words that represent some significant mental work and discipline, but it is the only option that makes sense!
Dealing with Guilt: A Plan
We will need a plan for guilt management because this is not going to happen overnight. We will need to be intentional about this because our good intentions will take us nowhere.
Here are principles for managing guilt that will apply to every kind of guilt that might plague us ~ whether it be true or false, major or minor, long-term or short-term, intermittent or constant ~ and they will help us take positive biblical steps toward dealing with our guilt.
- Accept Responsibility
We must accept the responsibility that is ours, without excuses, and openly and specifically confess to God the sin that caused the true guilt. We may or may not have emotional feelings of relief after such a prayer, but if we pray in faith, then our guilt is gone.
- Change Our Thought Patterns
Now we must learn to live in the truth that our sin has been forgiven. We must confront negative thought patterns not by merely telling ourselves to change those patterns, but by being prepared with a biblical method for bringing our wrong thoughts under control.
"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5).We must fill our minds with right thinking so there is no room for wrong thinking. Bible truths and promises are the best replacement thoughts, so if we choose to memorize a few verses, we can have a ready response to negative thinking patterns.
- Praise God for Victory over Our Guilt
We must talk and live as though this victory is complete, for indeed it is complete in Christ. We must defeat the negative attitudes and feelings with a megadose of praise.
- Praise through Thanksgiving ~ thank God for his goodness!
- Praise through Song ~ music is a wonderful avenue of praise, so simply sing praise to God.
- Praise through Adoration ~ recite the wonders he has done in creation all around us and in our own lives!
- Praise at All Times ~ become intentional about praising God throughout the day.
- Praise in Corporate Worship ~ be involved in a good church where we can praise God with others.
- Praise in Advance ~ praise God in advance, knowing God will fight for us.
Making Your Own Plan
There is no question God can deliver us from a life plagued with guilt. We can be set free so that our lives glorify Him. Are you ready to break free? It's time for you to write your own plan so you can become more intentional and biblical in confronting the guilt you struggle with, and live FREE!