Less than compassionate demonstrators in front of a "Women's Health Clinic" might speak out, "Don't kill your baby" as a woman walks by. After the act is completed, what might be the most disheartening result? Imagine the soul of the fetus waiting in heaven for an opportunity to follow God's teaching of extending forgiveness to the mother. A true tragedy might be if out of guilt, the mother turns her back on God and rejects the opportunity to be forgiven.
1. Deny there is a God and maintaining that no moral wrong ever occurred. Denial may be the easiest way of dealing with guilt here on earth; however, there may be some serious repercussions if eternity does exist.
2. Allow the guilt to become overwhelming and lead to self-destruction. (When we give our hearts to Jesus, where in the contract does it say we can trade our focus on God for self pity and self-righteousness?)
3. Seeking self forgiveness through repentance before God.
After one repents, how does one separate from the guilt? Giving up self-blame may be easier said than done. If accomplished, the sadness for having committed the sin is likely easier to live with than guilt. A major difference between guilt and sadness is whether one accepts the gift of God's forgiveness. As mentioned in the prior chapter, God forgives completely.
When such thoughts appear rather than re-living that cycle of guilt, how about "thanking God for his forgiveness"? If forgiving yourself cannot be overcome through prayer, consider consulting a trusted mentor, or a professional counselor who is also a Christian.
In a multiple victim investigation, a police officer interviewed a young sexual abuse victim for the third time after she claimed nothing happened. This time, the officer emphasized that prior to the abuse, the victim had asked a friend for a ride home but was turned down. The victim recognized her attempt to avoid the situation, the self-blame disappeared, and she provided details of the molestation.
A good counselor can not only aid with coping skills, but also share insights while placing things into perspective.
Feeling overwhelmed, but not up to personal counseling? Consider that this day is not about you; it is about Him. Read the New Testament and pray. Seek the support of other Christians who have overcome a similar struggle and organizations which do the same. A prudent search on the internet may be "faith based ________ recovery". Volumes have been written on various struggles.
Why do we have to face temptation and guilt?
Simple answer: God created us this way. Have you ever become frustrated over a desire to change, but faults kept getting in the way? Then read over the New Testament and focus on how many times the disciples, who Jesus selected, were wrong. One such example was Peter, a man who witnessed Christ's teachings and matured to the point he was about to go into his own ministry. During the “last supper," Peter spoke of his loyalty toward Christ (Matthew 26:33-34). Christ then informed Peter, he would deny knowing Christ on three times during that same night. (Matthew 26:69-75)
Isn't it rather egotistical to expect one's abilities to be greater than those of the disciples? Next time that frustration builds, show some compassion towards oneself. God created us this way as a motivator to come to him in prayer with humility and a desire to turn toward his light.
Jesus teaches that sin can start within one's thoughts prior to physically acting upon the sin. Jesus taught, “You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:27-28 )
Sin and guilt can sometimes be avoided. Prior to considering performing a sin, create the habit of jumping into prayer when such a thought first arrives. Such prayer may begin with, "Dear Heavenly Father, allow my eyes to focus upon you." Then surrender to him what is on your heart.
Topics such as ego or self-righteousness may become more prevalent in one's prayer life when facing down issues which motivate temptation. More on Temptation.