GUILT ALWAYS BRINGS FORTH AN ATTITUDE
If you saw the above photo without the caption, how would you describe the young man’s attitude? Guilt always brings forth an attitude that says, “I’m not fit to be used by God. What’s the point of praying anymore? God isn’t going to answer because I’ve totally messed up!”
Our foundations in life are extremely important; physical and spiritual:
“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the [unyieldingly] righteous do, or what has He [the Righteous One] wrought or accomplished?” (Psalm 11:3 AMP).
Making decisions based on guilt will shake our foundation or base. When we “miss the mark”, we need to know how to handle the sin right away, not allowing ourselves to be ‘super-glued’ to guilt; a cloud of condemnation hanging over us. Can you see a cloud in the above image?
“You can devise all kinds of ways to try to get rid of your guilty feelings. But guilt is NOT just a feeling or a personal problem” ~By Timothy S. Lane.
Do you ever feel guilty? That of course is a rhetorical question. Guilt feels terrible and what ever you did keeps replaying over and over in your mind. You are filled with regret and the “if only s.” And if what you did is public knowledge, shame and regret increase. The wider the circle of people who know what happened, the more you suffer.
NO ONE LIKES FEELING GUILTY OR SHAME
But what is GUILT? Guilt is what takes place when a person realizes their failure. And FALSE GUILT as described by Phil Barker is, “Feeling guilt for events which are out of our control and is often unproductive and detrimental.”
Although shame is an emotion closely related to guilt, there are differences between the two. SHAME can be defined as “a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety.” Others have distinguished between the two: “We feel guilty for what we do and we feel shame for what we are.”
Shame is often a much stronger and more profound emotion than guilt. “SHAME is when we feel disappointed about something inside of us, our basic area” ~ By Norman Bales.
Guilt is what takes place when a person realizes their failure.
“False- guilt” is what Satan is known to throw at us where sin has been repented of and forgiven. But he still wants us to feel guilty by seeing ourselves associated with past events in our lives.
“TRUE GUILT” versus “FALSE GUILT”
True guilt should prompt the person to repent and turn from their sin. Guilt is looking at the sin where shame is looking at yourself! There is a pattern shown on the several different meanings given on this subject regarding “Building Strongholds of GUILT and SHAME”. I did so because, if you allow yourself to hagah, the Hebrew word for MEDITATE: “to moan” as well as a variety of synonyms indicating verbal utterances (e.g., “utter,” “matter”, “growl”); “devise,” “imagine,” upon quilt, it will turn into shame. And guilt, if not properly dealt with will turn into a “stronghold” or a “house of thoughts” called SHAME.
DEALING WITH THE “STRONGHOLD OF SHAME”
If we continue to think about our past failures; a “way of thinking”, it will wear us down spiritually. It is the next thing the enemy aims at by getting a picture of ourselves distorted. Have you ever been at an Amusement Park’s Fun House? It’s where you walk in an isolated room with mirrors surrounding you on every wall. When you move about the room and see yourself, you get a distorted view. This is what Satan is aiming at. To get us to look at our past failures so much, we begin to see ourselves as failures. Anybody who has been thinking about their past “shortcomings” for long, is building the foundation for a house of thoughts; a “stronghold.” They begin to see themselves as dirty sinners and failures. It is the complete opposite of what they really are.
To deal with guilt and shame will take knowing the appropriate action to take. When we “miss the mark“; when we “fall short”; let’s not mix words here; when we sin. We need to understand the righteousness of God. It’s critical to avoiding the trap of guilt and shame; slipping into condemnation, not knowing and not understanding the love of God. Not understanding what the blood of Jesus accomplished on our behalf.
False quilt, that leads to shame is one of those things the Bible speaks of us; an imagination, a “stronghold” that must be cast down:
“For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds [nourished thoughts]. [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)” ~ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 AMP).
Before a “stronghold of guilt and shame” can be established we need to meditate on the Word of God in lieu of our guilt; past or present. Then we will be able to “lead every thought and purpose captive.”
An imagination is an image in your mind that is incorrect. It is seeing yourself as a failure when you are actually blood-washed child of God. That imagination needs to be dealt with and if not, it will lead to a stronghold of shame.
SHAME IS A RELATIONSHIP DESTROYER
There is a good reason Satan wants us to feel like failures and sinners. Shame is a feeling that keeps us from confidently approaching God’s throne of grace; having an intimate relationship with Him.
The Bible tells us of the blood of Jesus shed, so we can confidently come near in an intimate relationship with our heavenly Father:
“Let us all come forward and draw near with true (honest and sincere) hearts in unqualified assurance and absolute conviction engendered by faith (by that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness), have our hearts sprinkled and purified from a guilty (evil) conscience and our bodies cleansed with pure water” ~ (Hebrews 10:22 AMP).
God wants us to draw near to Him with a clean conscience, freed from dead works (Hebrews 9:14). Shame and guilt are based on deception which is opposite the truth. Worship is an intimate way in expressing our relationship with God. In spite of how we feel on Sunday mornings, the Bible is clear on how we should approach Him with clear conscience, purged from sin:
“Since the worshipers had once for all been cleansed, they would no longer have any guilt or consciousness of sin” ~ (Hebrews 10:2).
So how are we supposed to worship God in Spirit and truth, while imaginations keep hanging around in our minds contrary to the truth?
“God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality)” John 4:24 AMP.
Because of the differences between GUILT and SHAME (who I am versus what I did), people respond to each emotion differently. Guilt emphasizes what someone did wrong which tends to bring forth more constructive responses. Responses which seek to mend the damage done tied to beliefs in what is right and what is wrong; moral and immoral. When I was a child, my mom often spoke to me about “guilty consciences”, about doing the right thing in making my decision to do it or not. She had certainly set the guidelines! When we violate one of these guidelines given to us, it causes us to feel guilty for our actions. The result of guilt can be an important tool; the importance of maintaining standards of right and wrong in individuals and society. Guilt can often be used as a tool to overcome conflict.
Shame, on the other hand emphasizes what is wrong with ourselves. It is much more of an inward focus which leads shameful parties to feel poorly about themselves rather than simply the actions they have taken.
The result is often an inward-turning behavior–avoiding others, hiding your face or removing yourself from social situations. I once ask someone I knew, “Is everything alright? Haven’t seen you in church in a while and I miss you.” He responded, “I got some things I’m working to overcome and when I do, I’ll be back in church with my family.” Therefore, shame can be problematic, less constructive than true guilt. In fact, shame can lead to withdrawal from social situations with subsequent defensive, aggressive, and retaliatory behavior. It can exacerbate conflict which then leads to more guilt; the circle becomes unbroken and the stronghold remains.
PEOPLE’S BEHAVIOR IN COPING WITH SHAME AND GUILT
However, few get at the actual source of the stronghold; the emotions. The following list is but a few common shame-driven behaviors:
. Attacking or striking out at other people in an attempt to make them feel better about their shame, hoping that they will be lifted up while bringing others down. This behavior may produce short-term relief from shame but in the long-term, the stronghold of shame is only strengthened; they remain standing in place.
. Seeking power and perfection–trying to prevent future shame and making us feel more valuable.
. Diverting blame–blaming our faults on others to avoid the shame involved. This behavior fails to get at the core and fails to achieve in bringing down the stronghold.
. Being overly nice or self-sacrificing–trying to compensate for our shame and unworthiness by pleasing everyone else and proving our worth. However, that inevitably involves covering up our true feeling of guilt and shame, once again self-defeating and self-abasing.
. Withdrawal from the real world–essentially numbing ourselves of feelings of guilt and shame. Keeping us from getting upset by these sort of things. But the stronghold still exist; nothing has been done to address the core values and defeating GUILT and SHAME in our lives.
HOW DO WE GET VICTORY?
First, God’s smile is upon you!
Any pangs of guilt or fear you suffer from is simply an illusion. Like fearing there’s an intruder in the house when it was only the sound of the wind. The feelings might exist, they might be unpleasant but they are groundless and no correspondence to reality.
Just be sure; you must believe in the Scriptures that teach that Jesus and only He can remove your sin; by the blood He shed for you and me on the cross. Once you put your faith in God, trusting that He is infinitely wise and good and always has your best interest at heart. Resolve yourself to follow His leading on every matter regardless of how scary it feels. There has to be a simple decision made; a state of mind; a renewal of your mind:
“Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]” (Romans 12:2 AMP).