Lately, without getting into specifics, I've done (and got caught) doing something I know/knew was wrong. After being caught, I've prayed and stopped, but feel a deep guilt/shame every time I think about it no matter what I do. I've repented very much so but just can't seem to get loose from this feeling, and it's horrible. Anyone have any tips for relieving this terrible feeling, in a biblical way?
I remember a situation like this in my life. I came to the realization that it was me, not God, that who could not forgive. I had let myself down and needed to forgive myself. His grace is great and He forgives all that call upon Him and accept Christ's atonement. It was during a worship service where Isaiah 6 was preached, that I came to truly understand that if He had forgiven me, I indeed was forgive. I let the guilt and shame go and received His unfailing forgiveness and restoration. Isaiah 1:18, "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool."
Here are some ideas.
1) Confess your sins one to another, that ye may be healed.
2) Catholics have the rite of confession, which adds an explicit statement of the absolution. So if you aren't Catholic, you could confess to a clergyman, or try the public rite of confession liturgical churches do toward the beginning of the service.
3) Having read some of the verses that show that he is faithful to forgive, to remove our sins from us as far as the east is from the west, then ask yourself: who am I going to believe about whether I'm guilty: God, or my feeling?
The feeling mechanism, if it's like mine, is about thinking you're cool if you worked hard and didn't screw up, and bad otherwise. God's economy works otherwise. The best day when you didn't screw up is still way too sinful for God (without the blood of Christ) and the worst day of repeated stumbles is still white as snow (washed with the blood of Christ). Our goodness/badness simply doesn't register when compared to that; it's like dirty rags. So: is it humility to think you're guilty when God says you aren't, or to believe what God says even when you don't feel like it? There ya go.
4) See what God has to say about it
May God help you work this out!
There is a strong segment of Christians who preach the notion of worm theology; that is the belief that we are miserable, wretched and vile creatures and can expect nothing but misery in our lives. Hogwash!
We are exactly what God made us to be: human. In so being we are going to make mistakes, lots of them. Some will be minor others major. Some will hurt the ones we love very much. We adapt to these failings, learn from them and, here's the kicker, we MOVE ON! And don't be too surprised if we move on the the next freakin' mistake!
In short, give yourself a break, unless, of course, you're the second coming and therefor somehow better than the rest of us (but honestly you don't come off as delusional). Own up to what you've done. Talk to others older and hopefully wiser, it may be not as big a deal as you are making it out to be. Ask God to walk with you as you try your best to be a better man of God. But you have gotta walk! There is just too much of God's beauty in the world to get overly self critical and not notice it, appreciate it, or be thankful for it.
Thanks a ton, guys. Did a bunch of reading this morning as well as reading your replies and I'm feeling much better.
So glad to hear it!
What you are feeling is satan trying to get his grip on you. What did you say? You said you repented. Gods wiped your slate clean and has forgotten about it. You haven't, why? Because that is satan trying to get his claws on you and he is going to do ANYTHING he can to keep your soul from going to Heaven. Satan and Jesus both have a death grip on us, both wanting our souls. Jesus has did his part in your matter, forgiven you. Now satan is doing his part--whispering in Tylers ear that you are unworthy, real Christians don't do that, shame on you; he is going to constantly remind you of this and try to put as much guilt and shame as he can on you--in hopes of casting doubt on yourself in your own mind. Tyler, God has just as much love for you at this moment as he did for you-before you were even born. Whatever you did you have repented of and he has forgiven you. All is ok between you and God. Don't let satan continue trying to make you feel bad and guilty and shameful. Because we ALL are tempted Tyler, I am, your peacher is, your parents are; everyone is. The bible says ALL fall short of the glory of God, so we all sin, but whatever your sin is--its the same as every other sin, looking at porn, killing, evading taxes, stealing, whatever-God looks at all sins as sin, you should have no more shame or guilt in what you did than disobeying the law and changing lanes without using a turn signal. No sin is above another and you repented and God has forgiven you. Now go shout at the devil to get out of your head and stopping trying to come between you and your dear Savior. Go rejoice because God is forgiving, has mercy on you and loves you Tyler. If God created only you Tyler-God still would have given His only begotten son for you-because he loves Tyler that much. And I care for you too guy. I'm saying a prayer especially for you, and this is yours alone. We are to be there for one another, bare each other burdens so I'm right there with you guy. Don't let this get you down.
One particularly damaging error in a lot of modern pop-theology is the idea that God's action is what you feel or "experience" it to be. Keep in mind that the fact that you feel guilty doesn't mean that God hasn't forgiven you. Don't let your own personal struggles threaten your faith in God's forgiveness.
When it comes to feeling better about things, I try to view my own feelings of guilt as an internal push to do something more productive. I try to devote more energy to doing something good... and usually in a direction opposite from what I did wrong. Don't think of it as redeeming yourself, but it's always good to improve yourself.
You should also rest assured that, as bad as it feels when it's happening, we've all been there. And we've all done some pretty bad things. Sometimes we're kind of terrible, sometimes life's kind of terrible... sometimes the world is kind of terrible. But, we ride it out, and we "look forward to the Resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come."
There's a Jewish principle I heard that the dark side -- devil -- not sure if it's Satan per se, but close enough -- first tries to keep you away from God with the sin. Then he tries to keep you away from God by telling you you're not forgiven.
The truth is the pain of what you have done will always be inside you. I did some awful things in my teen years that still hurts to think about. Just remember, God forgives our transgressions and puts them as far as the east is from the west. I know that is hard to relate for us humans as we have these things cross our minds out of nowhere. Don't let the pain get to you though. If your heart is right, God knows this. Just learn from your mistakes and repent, as you said you have done.
Paul murdered Christians, and then became one of the great Bible figures. Even Paul himself explained in Ephesians 3:8 - Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.
He knew he was a sinner and problably not even worthy to preach the word, but he also knew of God's grace. Just keep God close to your heart, the healing process will take some time.
An"ecumanical" joke book that came out shortly afte Vatican II averred that concerning guilt, Catholics owned it...so, either quit beating yourself up (He did give us free will, which implies the ability to make some spectacularly wrong choices.), or start sending your rental payments to the local diocesan office.