Happy February 2018! A recent new year, a new start. The new year promises so much doesn’t it? A determination, or decision to do better, to turn over a new leaf, to improve our bodies, our attitude, our life, our income.
Quite often, we use the new year as a means of concentrating on a problem in our lives that has been an issue for a long time. This is great, to finally come to terms with a besetting issue, whether it’s finding a relationship, a change of job or of career, or a determination to spend more time with the family, these are all good focus points.
The types of goals that we set at New Year are often accompanied by a dollop of guilt, sometimes a small dollop and sometimes a rather large portion. Guilt can be a great motivator and it can be a great de-motivator too. If guilt becomes your primary motivating factor, then effectively you’re being pushed into action by guilt and negativity, rather than being pulled into your future by hope and faith that the future hold great things.
Guilt can come in all shapes and sizes: I should lose weight, I should spend more time with the children, the children are spending too much time on-line, how will the divorce affect the children, I must stop drinking, I can’t tell anyone about my eating disorder. Guilt can become a habit in our lives that we become attached to, slowly, without us realising consciously. Over time, covering-up guilt become a habit and then there is this tension: we know we are hiding from the truth in some way but covering it up seems the safe option.
When I look back and reflect on my own life I can see how guilt and shame have played a part over time in affecting my choices and my decision. Not only can our choices and decision be negatively motivated by guilt (“I should do this or that”, “I suppose I ought to ring that person”, “I must make it up to my wife, my husband, my children”) but our mood for the day can be affected by feelings of guilt, which disables us from enjoying our day, weighed down as we are by the burden of guilt.
Derek Prince, in Lucifer Exposed, writes about guilt as being one of the main tactics of the enemy, Satan. He writes, “First we need to understand that Satan’s number one weapon against the human race is guilt.” [p.42 Derek Prince Ministries – UK] And it does seem to be a very effective weapon. But Jesus removed our guilt, on the cross, when he died in our place:
In Colossians 2:13-14 the author, Paul, writes,
“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And he has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” (NIV)
God makes it possible for all of our past sinful acts, including our guilt, to be forgiven. All of them, from the smallest to the biggest. If you are reading this today and you feel a sense of unease, a sense of nervousness, a sense of guilt, know this: that Jesus came to undo the works of Satan (1 John 3:8) to free you body, soul and spirit. To liberate you from the condemnation of guilt.
This, then should give us confidence and a challenge. Confidence that the past is gone, the slate is wiped clean. And a challenge, too. Now that the slate is wiped clean what will we do? Who will we call, who will we mend bridges with? What attitude in ourselves will we change, knowing that we are free emotionally, liberated from guilt?
It is still early enough in the new year, only just February!, to look at your goals, your deep wishes and deep seated desires. Look at them again in the light of God’s total forgiveness. Know that the past is gone, there is only today. Rewrite or rethink anything that you can see is motivated by a sense of guilt and replace it with positive language. As we stand at the start of today, we can face it knowing that through God’s love, and Jesus’ sacrifice, guilt has been once and for all removed from our lives.