April 15, 2024

Why Do We Feel Guilty?

“And He…will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” John 16:8


God doesn’t try to alter our behavior by making us feel guilty. That’s not how God works. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin in order to restore our relationship with God and with others. The devil, on the other hand, makes accusations. He uses guilt as a tool of manipulation. So how do you know if what you’re feeling is conviction or accusation?


Well, the Holy Spirit convicts us of unconfessed sin; whereas the devil accuses us of every sin we’ve ever committed. The accuser (Revelation 12:10) brings up stuff from our past. He reminds us of things God has already forgiven and forgotten (Isaiah 43:25). The Holy Spirit is also specific, pinpointing the exact issue we need to confess and address. The devil accuses in general terms. He comes after our identity by telling us we’re worthless or no good.


You see, there’s a goal to both conviction and accusation. The enemy wants us to be consumed with doubt, despair, and guilt. If he can convince us that we’re hopeless or helpless then our godly influence is hindered. His goal is destruction (1 Peter 5:8). The goal of conviction is confession, which restores our relationship with God.


Confession is simply agreeing with God about our sin. He promises, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). And once God forgives sin it stays forgiven. Psalm 103:12 tells us, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”


Is the enemy trying to make you feel guilty about past sin? Ask yourself, “Have I confessed it and turned from it?” If so, then claim the promise of 1 John 1:9 in victory. Is the Holy Spirit convicting you of a sinful attitude or behavior? Then use 1 John 1:9 like a spiritual bar of soap!


And if it’s still unclear as to whether you’re feeling conviction or accusation, then ask God to show you. Pray Psalm 139:23-24, and let God expose that sin to the light—not so you’ll feel guilty or ashamed but so you can walk in fellowship with Him again.