Guilt Versus Conviction
I have probably spoken with hundreds of people over my lifetime who struggle with guilt. And by “hundreds” I mean Christians. So many believers are living with guilt over their sins of the past and those that they still battle with, however there is a world of difference between human guilt and the conviction by the Holy Spirit.
Guilt is like Satan accusing the brethren before the throne of God, day and night (Rev 12:10). Even though we are forgiven we are naturally not perfect. Guilt says that we are worthless, hopeless, and have no chance to be saved. We have too much baggage to possibly be saved, even by God. Guilt says, “Who do you think you are! What makes you think that you are a Christian…just look at what you do?” Guilt takes us away from God. Conviction is different. Conviction points us to God and of our need of forgiveness. When we sin, and we all do (1 John 1:8), we feel God the Holy Spirit showing us that we need to go to God and ask for cleansing, which He promises to do (1 John 1:9). We will feel convicted about our sin but not guilty over our relationship with God.
Do you have unnecessary guilt? God’s grace is available to you. God has forgiven you… now you must learn to forgive yourself. Thank God for the conviction of the Holy Spirit which points us to our need to go to God. Guilt makes us feel afraid and unworthy to go to Him… conviction makes us run to God for a cleansing. Guilt wants to make us severe the relationship with God… conviction makes us want to run into His presence for forgiveness. Guilt leads to condemnation… conviction leads to repentance. That’s a huge difference. If you know the difference, you would do well and have more peace of mind.
And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. John 16:8 (NASB)