Lord, I am such a failure. I messed up again! Can’t I ever do things right? These are feelings we all have from time to time. Sometimes they are so true; other times we are just too hard on ourselves. So what are we to do with these feelings and how do we overcome them and move on without feeling paralyzed?
First, we need to discern where the feelings are coming from. Did I sin, and the Holy Spirit is bringing conviction? Or did I make a mistake accidentally, and Satan is bringing false guilt? The Holy Spirit is within us to convict us when we sin. He lets us know exactly what we did that was against the Word or will of God. We need to pray, “God, show me where I have sinned.” If we pray this prayer and we don’t receive conviction, then we are cleared before God. Then the thoughts are coming from Satan.
Satan is wily! He is the Father of Lies. And he will plant thoughts of guilt and shame in your mind if you don’t combat them with Scripture. Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 10:3-5:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”
There is a spiritual war going on! If you are walking according to the word and in fellowship with God, then you are on the front lines, but you have weapons that are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses! No battering ram in your backyard? No trebuchet parked in your drive? That’s okay. You have something far more powerful – God’s word!
The fortresses are often unbiblical and harmful thinking patterns. They are false beliefs – beliefs that were put within you from childhood. The voices of your parents or teachers that tore you down. God’s word is truth. When we hold these false beliefs and false guilt up to Scripture, they come falling down. For example, I was always told that if someone were fat, then they were ugly and therefore did not have as much importance as others. I have gained weight. I look in the mirror and see that I am overweight. My thoughts immediately go to the “fact” that I am unlovable. But! God’s word says that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. That I am a child of the King of Kings! Which am I going to choose to believe? That will set the tone for my day. Satan wants me to believe his lies. I am going to choose to walk in truth.
Looking at 2 Corinthians 10: 5, we see Satan’s weapons – speculations, lies, and pride. Speculations are the “if only, I should have, what if” thoughts that we cling to. We must put the past in the past, recognize that in Jesus there is therefore no condemnation (Romans 8:1), and choose to believe and walk in God’s truth. Often I have to tell myself, “That was then, this is now.”
Shame is a byproduct of sin. When Adam and Eve sinned, they became ashamed and covered their bodies. When we confess our sins, god is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) With that forgiveness should come the release from shame. If you are still experiencing shame, then tell Satan to go away! Shame has no place in a Christians life after confession and repentance has been made.
I have worked with a couple of young ladies that got pregnant before marriage. They have been deeply repentant and have been given a clean slate from God, and yet other Christians still judge and want these girls to feel ashamed. I decided that if God forgave them, then who am I to still hold their sin against them? God’s grace has been extended to me that I might extend grace to others.
Finally, we overcome by recognizing that even though we are inadequate (2 Cor. 3:5), that God is adequate and will equip us in everything that He desires for us to do (Hebrews 13:20-21 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
So, when those thoughts of failure, inadequacy, insecurity, and shame rise up, “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” Confess any sin and stand against Satan and His lies with the truth of God’s word.
Search for Significance by Robert McGee
The Lies We Believe by Dr. Chris Thurman