And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. ~ Romans 8:28 — NLT ~
Have you ever felt the devastation of guilt? Do you know what it is to be weighed down by the heaviness of regret for not doing the things you should have done? Have you experienced the anguish that comes from a guilt-ridden conscience, because you did the wrong thing? Have you ever felt the endless torment of knowing that you not only let yourself down, but even worse, you failed God?
I’ve known that pain, and I felt as though the guilt and shame would kill me. I’ve known what it is to lose all hope, because the guilt and shame that I carried convinced me that I was unlovable, and that my sins were unforgivable. And though others showed me much mercy, and tried to comfort me, telling me that I hadn’t failed God, in my heart, I knew better.
You see, even though things may seem right in the eyes of man, it doesn’t change the fact that they are wrong. Even though others tried to console me, and even though they saw no wrongdoing on my part, I knew I had sinned against God. Therefore, I did what I had always been taught to do as a Christian. I confessed my sin to God.
But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. ~ 1 John 1:9 — NLT ~
Have you ever confessed your sins to God and still felt the heavy weight of guilt and shame? Have you ever questioned whether you truly are forgiven? Do you know what it is to doubt your own heart? Have you ever seen the error of your ways and wondered if your whole life was a lie?
That’s how I felt. Do you remember the scripture where Jesus describes what will happen to some who did many things in His name?
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” ~ Matthew 7:21-23 — NKJV ~
I was so wracked with guilt that I wondered if I was one of those who had prophesied in His name, and yet never knew Him. Was I mistaken to believe that I was a child of God? Had I been presumptive in assuming that I was saved? I had believed some things that I’ve since discovered weren’t true. So now, what could I do?
I could start anew. I could go back to the One True Source of all wisdom. I could look to God’s word, and find life.
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. ~ Hebrews 4:12 — NLT ~
So, how can you mend a heart that has been shattered by guilt and shame? How do you rid your heart from the doubts that have been sown within it, by that same guilt and shame? You go back to the basics…
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.~ Romans 3:23 — NLT ~
As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous— not even one.~ Romans 3:10 — NLT ~
According to God’s word, I was no different than everyone else. I had sinned, just as everyone else has sinned. Therefore, although my guilty conscience said otherwise, according to the scriptures, which are God-breathed, I was no worse than anyone else… and it goes without saying that I am certainly no better.
16 “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. ~ John 3:16-17 — NLT ~
9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. 11 As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced.” 12 Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on Him. 13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
~ Romans 10:9-13 — NLT ~
I do confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord. He is the Lord and Master of everything. And He is certainly the Lord and Master of my life. And yes — I DO believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. I believe it with my whole heart.
And yet, how could I know for sure that I was truly saved and forgiven? Have you ever needed reassurance? Have you ever been so consumed by the guilt and shame, that you just needed some assurance that you were indeed saved and forgiven?
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9 — NKJV ~
17 So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ. ~ Romans 10:17 — NLT ~
Do you see? When the time comes that we have failed God and ourselves, so that we are riddled with guilt and shame, causing us to doubt whether we can be forgiven, and whether we are truly even saved, that is when we must have faith in Christ. And this faith is not something we can earn by being good enough or by doing enough good deeds. This faith in Christ is quite simply a gift given by our gracious Almighty God, and the more we hear His word spoken aloud, the stronger our faith grows.
Now, I won’t tell you that going to church will save you, because the church can’t save anyone. And the scriptures make it very clear that salvation is a gift from God. However, I will tell you that when you gather together with your brothers and sisters in Christ, your faith will grow.
24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. ~ Hebrews 10:24-25 — NLT ~
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. ~ Proverbs 27:17 — NLT ~
You see, when I was so addled with guilt and shame, my natural instinct was to pull away from other believers, for in my shame, I didn’t feel that I was worthy of their love, and worse yet, I didn’t feel worthy of God’s love. And so it was, that by pulling away from other believers, my faith began to weaken, for I had no one to pray for me and with me. By hiding myself away, I had no one to encourage me and speak life to me, and I became consumed by the fear of dying.
And yet, though I was brought low, God, in His infinite mercy and grace, never let me go. He never forsook me. You see, it was also during this time, that He was leading me to leave the fellowship that I had been a part of for more than three years. I no longer belonged there, and at the time, I felt as though that was my punishment — to no longer belong in His house. But I was wrong.
I no longer belonged in that fellowship, because God was calling me elsewhere. A sister in Christ had been placing posts on Facebook about the church that she had been attending for quite awhile, and I felt the Spirit leading me to go to this house of worship, and yet, I was hesitant, because the weight of my guilt and shame left me weary and fearful. What if I still didn’t belong here either?
And yet, I still felt a pull to go to this church, and one thing was for sure… I was sick and tired of being sick and tired! I hadn’t gone to worship with other Christians since before Thanksgiving, and I was hungry! I was hungry to worship and sing to God corporately with other believers, and I was hungry and thirsty to hear the word of God spoken. And so, two Sundays ago, I determined that I would attend worship service at the church my friend had been writing about for so long.
Beloved reader, do you know what it’s like to walk straight into the will of God? Do you know how good it is to receive confirmation and encouragement from His sweet Holy Spirit… to know that Jesus really does love you? I knew that I had stepped right into His perfect will for me that Sunday. The worship was like honey to my lips. And the preached word pierced right through my broken heart, as the Lord began to mend it with this message about guilt and God’s forgiveness.
You see, beloved reader, the scripture that says, For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” is true. During this whole trial, I called on His name, and He saved my life from the pit. But it wasn’t enough to merely rescue me, for you see, His love for us is much too great to stop there. That’s why He not only forgives our sins when we confess them to Him, He also cleanses us from all unrighteousness. He heals the brokenhearted. Beloved reader, He healed my broken heart. And if He did that for me, He will certainly do the same for you. Just do as I did, confess your sin, and call upon His name — JESUS!!!
Cheryl A. Showers