Thursday, August 25, 2022

Guilt and Forgiveness (1 John 1)

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins" (1 John 1:9a).

When the believer carries a burden of guilt, he becomes paralyzed in his duties and weak in his prayers. Even though God has promised that He has forgiven the sins of His children, Satan tries to accuse them and make them doubt.

How does a Christian escape despair? First, he must learn to distinguish the accusations of Satan from the convictions of the Holy Spirit. He must dwell on the promises of God so his faith will not waver when Satan knocks at the door of his conscience. When Satan accuses, the result may be overwhelming fear that drives you from God. You become despondent as Satan rips all vestiges of assurance from you. He reminds you of sins already forgiven and whispers that your sins are too great for God to accept your repentance. He tries to convince you that your sin as a believer is unpardonable. Such accusations may point you away from Christ, causing you to lose hope.

The convictions of the Holy Spirit are altogether different. When you sin, the Holy Spirit pricks your conscience, making you aware of God’s displeasure. Yet, when the Holy Spirit brings conviction to the believer, that realization does not drive you away from God but toward Him. The convictions of the Spirit point you to the Cross, reminding you that there is forgiveness in Christ for the contrite. The Spirit never reminds you or accuses you of sins from the past that have already been forgiven. The Spirit does not burden you with feelings of despair, but strengthens your faith by showing you the promises of God, the forgiveness He has given you in Christ. The Spirit offers hope to the Christian, not condemnation. The Spirit reminds you that even though you sin, you have an advocate in heaven who intercedes on your behalf. Even though the sin you have committed causes you much sorrow, the Spirit gives you the grace of repentance and reminds you that nothing will separate you from the love of God in Christ.

Where Satan brings bondage and fear, the Holy Spirit brings freedom and peace. When you sin, do not hide from God, do not be burdened with despair; rather go to Him, repent and enjoy sweet communion with Him at the Cross.

If you are guilty, even though you may feel that you are not, you are guilty. Likewise, if you feel guilty, but you are forgiven, your feelings do not change that forgiveness. Do you feel guilty about sins that have been forgiven? If you have sinned, repent and ask God for forgiveness and be assured that you are forgiven.