This post was from a few days ago.... then Without Wax started a great discussion on guilt and I want to put some of my many responses on here:
- 1. Yes I believe there is a good guilt. Good guilt is a great tool used by the spirit to point out areas that we need to work on…even though guilt is painful - God is way more concerned with our transformation than our comfort.
- 2. However, when we ALLOW good guilt to turn into discouragement and are afraid of the pain/guilt and so never fully confront that issue - then it turns into bad guilt. Guilt is only as good as the action it causes.
- 3. There also is a bad guilt. Guilt planted to us by our peers, by the world, by satan quite frankly… Guilt that comes AFTER we’ve asked for forgiveness and repented is bad bad bad guilt. The spirit does NOT make us feel guilty once we have confronted the issue. Jesus gave us that opportunity… our sins/failures/guilts are wiped away and we start fresh daily. He allows us to have guilt but then have it TOTALLY gone. If we are living our lives feeling guilty about something all the time… we are leaving the devil an inch somewhere. Something isn’t right.
- Guilt was one of my biggest issues for SOO long, something I still battle so I’ve had a lot of healing in this area. I’ve learned that everything is going to be okay. Really, everything is going to be okay. That *I* am not in control, I am not perfect - my job is not to be everything to everybody - my job is to abide in Him and allow Him to be everything to everybody.
And as far as God being manipulative in 'using' this conviction/guilt feeling to 'make' us do good actions.... no I don't see it as manipulative... I see this conviction as a gift from the Spirit. Jesus didn't need to feel convicted because He was perfect. We need the Spirit and the conviction to keep us in line, right? To point out areas we need to be careful of, weaknesses. God is concerned with our eternal character... even if means giving us temporary pain/guilt/conviction, right? Then the discussion got into people using guilt as a manipulator and some more of my thoughts:
- I don’t think my parents used guilt or fear to manipulate me to good action…. BUT I believe they did put the fear of God into me (fear of God meaning reverance, awe, some sort of human understanding of His power and holiness) and I believe that it has been part of the reason why I want so badly for Him to delight in me and why I desire to please Him.
It wasn’t guilt they taught me about — it was just how incredibly awesome He was and how deserving He was of my best effort to be the best me I could be…. worthy of my focus and attention basically. I never felt ’scared’ like He was going to punish me though, I wasn’t made to feel guilty when I did mess up because they also taught me about Jesus and that it would be okay when I messed up… but having that ‘fear’/'awe’ is what makes me take the step forward to get back up when I mess up instead of moping around feeling guilt and feeling discouraged. I don’t know how they did it… but I sure am really thankful they instilled that in me… Proverbs 31:30
And THEN right in the middle of this discussion - I got an email from God's Daily Promises - and guess what it was about... guilt! Here is the quote from C.S. Lewis:
(1.) Remember what St. John says: "If our heart condemn us, God is stronger than our heart." The feeling of being, or not being, forgiven and loved is not what matters. One must come down to brass tacks. If there is a particular sin on your conscience, repent and confess it. If there isn't, tell the despondent devil not to be silly. You can't help hearing his voice (the odious inner radio), but you must treat it merely like a buzzing in your ears or any other irrational nuisance. (2.) Remember the story in the Imitation, how the Christ on the crucifix suddenly spoke to the monk who was so anxious about his salvation and said, "If you knew that all was well, what would you, today, do or stop doing?" When you have found the answer, do it or stop doing it. You see, one must always get back to the practical and definite. What the devil loves is that vague cloud of unspecified guilt feeling or unspecified virtue by which he lures us into despair or presumption. "Details, please?" is the answer. (3.) The sense of dereliction cannot be a bad symptom, for Our Lord Himself experienced it in its depth—"Why has thou forsaken me?"
C. S. Lewis in Letters to an American Lady
I just wanted to post this all here because I really don't know the answers to these questions and I want to ask God for more guidance/revelation in this area. It was nice to be able to throw out so many ideas and get some feedback though.