I second guess myself a lot. Doing a rather harsh self search is second nature for me. Guilt has not been my friend. Most of the time, it rules with an iron fist, dominating my senses to the point where it is all but impossible to hear from God.
Yes, there are those who need guilt to be more active. Without a conscience, man becomes sick. But guilt that is generated by self is a tyrant. It possesses a person so completely that there is very little room for God to work.
Life is in Christ. Life is hearing the voice of God and knowing the voice of God. Many people think that human generated conviction is the voice of God. This voice of self responds to things like ego and reputation. It overreacts and crushes into powder the dignity of a person. Even this crushing is seen by some as evidence that it is the voice of God. After all, God has called us to die to self (Matt. 16:24-25).
God doesn’t do that to us. He knows how to confront. To challenge. Even harshly at times and yet the harshness has the feel of the gentleness of God. His voice can be very sharp and yet still have the ring of love. That is the voice of conviction. That is the voice of guilt that has been brought by God.
Too much of the time, my guilt is not like that. I am a highly analytical person. As such, I have faith in my ability to see—to understand. I have a stubborn faith within myself that I should “know.” And when I don’t know, I berate myself for it.
As a perfectionist, I cannot tolerate my own errors. I have that tendency to take the reins and to try to dominate self into a better place. When I am in that place, I cannot hear God. If I am not hearing from God, I am not growing or getting better. I am in the grip of the flesh, no matter what kinds of religious solutions my flesh is proposing.
It was hard for me to accept my blindness to me. I think deep thoughts. I have a high level of discernment and am often able to give others the insight they need to get better. I should be able to see me and to walk myself through to a place of victory. Wrong.
Proverbs 16:2 says, “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the spirits” (NKJV). So much of our self correction is just that. It lives in the shadow of the blindness of self. It either berates self or excuses self, but it seldom gets it right.
The voice of God does something completely different. It doesn’t just say, “You are wrong.” Conviction does that. But it also sends with that voice an empowering presence that says, “With My help, you can do this.”
The conviction of God does not grind a person into dust. It doesn’t stir up a spirit of fear. It catches a person’s attention and holds him in a place where he can’t squirm his way out of it. That is, God holds him there if he will allow God to do that kind of holding. It is like a child in a temper tantrum getting to a place of stillness. Finally able to hear something and to process the words.
Then come the words of Jesus, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11b, NKJV). Guilt/conviction that comes from God is empowering. Maybe not immediately. Sometimes, if a person has not had a conscience, the person needs to be held in that place of owning for a bit. The child has to be restrained until he hears—until he sees the damage he is doing to God and others. But when that seeing comes from God, there is a sense of “I can do better. With God’s help, I don’t have to keep doing this.”
“Go and sin no more.” Spoken at a human level, that is a heavy mountain that just landed on me. And it crushes me. But when it is from God, somehow it is empowering. Are you living under the crushing load of human generated guilt, or are you being set free by God? When self is the source, guilt is debilitating. Is the primary voice within you the voice of God?