April 30, 2012 journal, I am happy to quote Charles Stanley in his detailed message from the Atlanta First Baptist Church. I have been listening to him recently and he has a good basic knowledge and practical application of the Scriptures to our daily Christian living. Today Dr. Stanley teaches on how to achieve a victory over guilt from these Scriptures. :John 8:1-11: Genesis 3:7 | Psalms 51:4; 66:18 | Matthew 26:33-35, 69-75 John 2:25 "Everyone experiences guilt now & then, but for some people, it's a constant companion. Many times, they can't even identify a specific reason for feeling worthy of blame, but a sense of condemnation robs them of joy, assurance, and confidence. We must realize that this is not how God designed guilt to operate in our lives. The story of Jesus (Yesu) and the woman who was caught in adultery is an example of true guilt (John 8:1-11). She stood before the scribes and Pharisees without any excuse for her behavior. Everyone knew she had broken the Mosaic Law and deserved death. But when Jesus challenged those without sin to cast the first stone, all her accusers walked away. Christ said to her, "I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on sin no more" (v. 11). That's how Christ responds to sin. He's not in the business of condemning us but of removing our guilt and cleansing our lives. That is why, in order to spiritually benefit from guilt, we must under-stand where it comes from and how God uses it. What is guilt? Guilt can be defined two ways. The first is a state of having done something wrong or committing an offence, either legal or ethical. The second is a painful feeling of self-condemnation for having done something immoral, wrong, or sinful.It's important to remember that not all feelings of guilt are legitimate. Some are appropriate responses to wrongdoing, but others are just vague feelings of unworthiness without a definite source or reason. Good guilt is the result of disobedience to God and His Word. This painful and often uncomfortable emotion is actually a gift from the Lord. It's His way of warning us that we have strayed into dangerous territory and need to turn back to Him. To ignore these feelings and keep going will result in severe consequences. You could think of this type of guilt as God's red light in your life. When it flashes, He's looking out for you and wants to protect you from the hardships and suffering that always follow disobedience.Good guilt is true; it's a feeling the Lord wants all His children to experience when they ignore His commands. If sin no longer bothers us, we're on dangerous ground. But that's the way much of the world lives trying to avoid acknowledging their sins. That's why the 10 Commandments, the Bible, and even the church are offensive to some people. They remind them some-thing is not right in their lives. Bad guilt is the result oof wrong thinking, not wrong actions. We can actually believe something is a sin when it isn't. This mistake usually happens because of what we're taught, especially in our early years. For instance, some legalistic churches make their own lists of what they define as unacceptable behaviors, many of which are not biblically based. Always remember that bad guilt is caused by man rather than God. The Lord doesn't produce or use this kind of guilt in our lives because, instead of guiding people back to Him, a sense of bad guilt leads to anxiety, depression, insecurity, and sadness Remember, God's convictions are specific while Satan's accusat-ions are vague or generalized feelings of condemnation. When we believe the devil's lies, a sense of unworthiness hangs over us like a fog and prevents us from growing spiritually. and other times, we feel a sense of false guilt when we have not committed a wrong. Childhood abuses, tragic accidents, past failures, and falling short of the unrealistic expectations of others are just a few causes of false guilt. Even though we're not to blame, we can carry a heavy burden of self-condemnation for the rest of our lives. This sometimes leads people to believe that God is punishing them and that no matter how many times they confess, they can't be forgiven. What are the consequences of guilt? Good, bad, and false guilt can all produce the same effects: Fear of being rejected by God. Satan wants us to feel like we're in imminent danger of the Lord's judgment. His goal is to keep uus living in fear of all the bad things that could happen to us or our loved ones. n Strong feelings of anxiety. Guilt and worry work together to make us miserable. A driven personality. Often people who are burdened with guilt will work non-stop to over come the feeling. A divided mind. Guilt always hinders our ability to focus. Decreased energy. Persistent guilt is an emotional drain that leaves us feeling exhausted before the day even begins. A sense of self-punishment. We might think we deserve to be disciplined by the Lord and miss His offer of grace and mercy, insecurity. Guilt prevents us from enjoying God's protection, love, and provision. Hindered prayer. Satan is always quick to interrupt our prayer time with reminders of past sins. He is attempting to make us believe the Lord would never hear or answer our request n Broken fellowship with God. Sustained guilt blocks our relationships with the Lord and prevents us from hearing His voice because we'll always feel there is something between us. Depression. Unresolv-ed guilt often produces despair it's like a dark cloud that carries all kinds of penalties along with it. Feelings of unworthiness. We feel we are essentially bad rather than our action or deeds and forget how valuable we are in God's eyes. Shame. Although shame is to be expected when we disobey God, it's inappropriate if we're suffering from bad or false guilt. Strained relationships. A need to cover up sins and failures keeps us from loving and being open with others. physical illness. Eventually, sustained guilt takes its toll on our bodies. conclusion: No matter what the source of your guilt might be, release is possible. It all begins when you fully understand the substitutionary death of Jesus. He paid the penalty for your sins, and the moment you accept His offer, your offenses- past, present, and future-are forgiven. There is nothing more you need to do. From that point, you must honestly deal with guilt by determining the source. If you have sinned, confess it to God, repent, and turn away from it. Then, on the basis of what Christ did on the cross, you can know you are forgiven. Even though the consequences may remain, there is no longer any need to hang on to guilt. Instead, take your experience of release and share your testimony with others so they can find the same freedom in the Savior."