Summary: God wants you to be free.
It’s Sunday morning and the Praise and Worship Leader is exhorting the worshippers into the manifest presence of the LORD. This is what you have been waiting for all week; you’ve pressed through the cares of the week just to go to church this morning. You lift your hands to the Father and close your eyes and it happens: the flashes from last night in the bedroom with that other person, the lie you told your boss, the false answers you placed on your IRS return, the angry outburst, the X-rated movie, the whatever. You try to ignore the resounding memories, and you want to worship — but all you can see is the mistake from your past. While those around you are flowing in the Spirit, you stand there drowning in guilt. The enemy has temporarily succeeded in stealing your joy. Now instead of hearing from GOD, all you can hear are the facts of your mistake yesterday or last week.
You ask yourself, "I"ve repented; why is this still haunting me?" as you slowly lower hands and begin to sit down. Needless to say, every Sunday many Christians go through the same ordeal, dealing with guilt.
So what is guilt? My definition for guilt is the acceptance and acknowledgement of a sinful action. Bro. X describes guilt as this: "Guilt is one of the most useless emotions on the planet. What can you do with it? The only thing I do is remember the feeling and I don’t want to feel like that again. I examine why I feel guilty and what can I do to correct it."
Now I must say that I believe that guilt is a very useful emotion. It is by guilt that we are convicted of our sin and brought to repentance. The Holy Spirit convicts us of the sin in our lives; now that’s useful. However, the enemy uses guilt to bind us in shame and imprison us in the snare of iniquity.
The Bible does not mention the word "guilt" but rather the word "guilty." Guilty is an adjective that implies that one is "held in" or "bound by" or "liable to a charge" (Vine’s pp285). From this we can ascertain that guilt is then "a state of being guilty, bound by, held in liable to a charge." It is this charge that the enemy serves like a warrant on you every time you attempt to reach higher in the Spirit. Satan has judged you guilty and he continually wants you to live in that guilt. Now the Word of God declares, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
In short, that means we are no longer guilty once we confess our sins. If this is true (and it is), then why are so many of us "held in"? I believe this happens because we do not or have not truly confessed our sins. What does it mean to confess? In the context of 1 John 1:9, it means to admit oneself guilty of what one is accused of. With this inward conviction, you speak the same thing about your actions that God speaks about your actions. I also like to include a more personal meaning of confess: "to confess by celebrating." I really believe that we should not only be excited that we can receive instant forgiveness, but also rejoice in that God loves us enough to convict us through the Holy Ghost of our wrong.