“Nothing so wretched as a guilty conscience.”
“All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.”-Romans 3:23
We sin. All of us. It’s in our human nature to do wrong. It doesn’t mean we are [all] bad people, it just means we are human. It is what it is…the best of us actually care when we know we’ve messed up, and as a result, experience guilt.
While I recognize that some who read this do not subscribe to Biblical principles…I ask that you stick with me on this one…I believe you still will be able to relate.
So, 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I believe this, and do in fact confess daily because I know I mess up…daily. Again, human.
So at least twice now, I’ve been in prayer and confessing to God about things I know that I’ve been doing that I shouldn’t have…both times I felt like I was just going through the motions. I was admitting my wrongdoing, but didn’t feel the guilt of it lift. So normally, when I pray about things, I feel an emotional, spiritual, mental, and sometimes even a physical lifting of the burden. These times, in particular, I realized why I was still feeling the burden of guilt…I wasn’t ready to quit.
Let me see if I can be a bit more clear about what I’m trying to convey without telling all my business…
We will say I was stealing cookies out of the cookie jar. I know for a fact that stealing the cookies is wrong, but they’re so good. So I keep admitting and asking forgiveness of stealing the cookies, but I know, when the opportunity presents itself again, I’m going to take more cookies.
My guilt wasn’t being lifted because I knew in my heart, that I wasn’t ready to quit doing what I knew was wrong.
Finally I said…”You know what Lord, I know this is wrong, and I’m really not ready to quit…but I want to want to quit. Change my heart and my desires.” We don’t have to put on a front in prayer…God already knows what we think and feel. When we attempt to mask what we truly think and feel, we are only hindering ourselves…we certainly aren’t tricking God.
I’m sure all of us have done something that we’ve felt guilty for doing, whether we believe the Bible to be true or not. The thing is making up in our minds to move forward, exercising discipline and restraint to prevent ourselves from continuing unhealthy behaviors that may turn into habits. Be honest with yourself (and anyone who may be directly affected by your choices), and say “hey, I’ve done this thing, and while I know it’s wrong/harmful, I enjoy it…but would like to stop.” I mean, as cliche as it is…admitting you have a problem really is the first step to rectifying it.