“Guilt is an inner sickness I have wrestled with all my life.”
Pulling away and getting alone can bring us face to face with the unholy trinity, Fear, Doubt and Guilt. They crouch in wait to occupy the quiet spaces of the day. For many of us, the dirty game is to stay one step ahead, not allowing time enough to hear their oppressive voices whispering in the brain. So we keep it fast and loud. There are people who cannot even go to sleep at night without music blaring, unable to stand silence. Demons live in the silences.
Effectual is the murmur of guilt within the softhearted. All are guilty of secret sin; pride, lust, selfishness, addictions, ugly words. And no amount of striving and perfect living can purchase a quieted conscience. Through experience, I can say many people who are drawn to fasting struggle with a guilty conscience. Guilt is an inner sickness I have wrestled with all my life. Truth is, although there has been great healing, my old nemesis still raises his ugly head, speaking in a language all too familiar, penetrating defenses hitting the core of my self-respect and faith. The easy solution is to plunk myself down in front of the TV and drown out accusing words. Last thing I feel like doing is warfare.
Guilt disables spiritual growth and is a deceptive form of self-indulgence, creating an obsessive inward focus. A guilty conscience leads not to repentance but repetitive I’m sorry’s, not for God’s sake but our own—a desperate attempt to feel better and clear away the dark, sorrowful shroud surrounding the heart. Guilt makes us over-sensitive to others, reading accusation into every word or look, creating paranoia, and as a parent, that can be extremely damaging to a home.
Greatest of all, guilt separates us from God—naked, hiding behind the bushes of shame. Big, holy God—little, sinful man. Perfect Father—inadequate, filthy-rags son. Down through the ages, Religion has reinforced guilt in a multitude of ways. Huge, monolithic sanctuaries fit for the presence of God, reducing man to awed ants. I’m just an old sinner saved by grace. Heard that one before? Right from the pit of religion. Truth is, we are a new creation, created to house the righteousness of God. Grace has been given to save us from the shame of sin, not to remind us how sinful we are! Guilt comes from the same place as religion—Hell, and does nothing to draw us closer to God. Conviction, yes—guilt, no!
The demon of guilt is only one example of the dirty little voices we run from or try to drown out. Fasting helps slow emotions and thinking down so you can begin to recognize what is going on inside. How many motives and relationships are tainted with these inner lies? Christ came to set the captives free. Free from shame, guilt, remorse and fear resulting in a beauty and cleanness of living where works of service are done in peace and laughter of heart, a celebration of freedom living.
Fast, and come face to face with Fear, Doubt and Guilt. Rest from repetitious inner penance. Fast and remember for the last time the wickedness of past sins, seeing Jesus in the midst, taking on its shame, washing eternally clean a guilty conscience which leads to empty works of the flesh.
Fast and know the bottomless forgiveness of God so finally you can forgive yourself.
They do not die quietly, tentacles reaching into the subterranean rooms of character and will, tainting every motive of the heart. When you begin to face them, there is a risk of pain, especially if you are willing to go deep. It takes courage to go down to the bottom. Who knows what you may find down there? Faces from the past. Forgotten horrors in the root cellar of your soul. When going deep, you are not alone. Jesus, the Master of Grace, is with you, carrying every key to freedom.
Fasting is a repossession of your will, an act of courage. Its time to stop running and do business with God. The Promise Land will always inhabit giants, mouthy beasts warring against faith and resolve. They are all talk; the only power their words have is your faith in them.
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