Freedom from Guilt, Part II
"Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, 'I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.' And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone."1
In continuing our two-part series on guilt, we explained yesterday that genuine confession is the way to resolve true guilt.
More than likely you are familiar with David's sin of adultery with Bathsheba and his ordering her husband, Uriah, to be killed in a vain attempt to cover what he had done. The only person he fooled, of course, was himself. What he did wasn't hidden either from God or his own conscience. In today's Scripture it shows how he struggled with his guilt but then when he confessed it, he felt free from his guiltóand greatly relieved.
Resolving false guilt and shame aren't as simple to overcome because neither one of them is guiltóregardless of how they feel.
As we said yesterday, false guilt comes from early conditioning, usually from parents, but it can be caused by legalistic religion too. To overcome this issue one needs to re-condition his thoughts and feelings. It starts with recognizing what is true and what is false. When feeling guilty, ask yourself, "Am I really guilty? Did I really do anything wrong?" If not, tell yourself, "No, I didn't do anything wrong and I am not guilty." The more you do this (with strong feeling), in time the more you will be able to slowly recondition your feelings and thoughts.
Also, if you are feeling guilty and are confused, share your feelings with a trusted friend or counselor to confirm whether your feelings are valid and based on reality. Don't share with anyone whose purpose is only to make you feel good regardless of whether you did wrong or not. That will do more to hurt you rather than help you.
If you struggle with shame, you will also need to re-condition or re-program your feelings and thoughts about yourself. This takes time too. Again, you need to share (confess) what you have done and/or how you feel even if you haven't done anything wrong to a safe, trusted friend or counselor, and as they love and accept you just as you are and don't "shame" you, in time, little by little you will learn to accept yourself with all of your faults and be free from those wretched feelings of shame. This takes considerable time and persistence, however, because we don't undo years of false conditioning overnight.
Confession not only to God, but also to the right person (a safe non-judgmental person), at the right time, for the right reason is foundational for healing. As James wrote in the Bible, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me grow to the point where I am free from false guilt and shame, and be genuinely sorrowful for my sins. Thank you again that when I confess my sins to you, you fully forgive me. Help me to forgive myself and, with your help, overcome sinful actions. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Psalm 32:4-6 (NLT).
2. James 5:16 (NIV).
All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.