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If you have a repeating feeling of guilt about something you have done or did not do, then taking a few minutes to acknowledge the repetitive thought and process it can help determine whether it is from God or from yourself. Here are some starter questions when we are dealing with seeming conviction over something we did: Was what I did a sin? If it was a sin, have I asked God for forgiveness? Have I repeated the sin since asking for forgiveness? What steps am I taking (prayer, accountability, avoidance, etc) to prevent the sin from taking hold of my life in the future? Is there any unresolved issue related to the sin, such as someone I need to apologize to or a debt I need to repay? If you are obsessing over a past sin you have been forgiven for and cannot think of a reason that the issue should not be resolved, then that is probably your own anxiety or an attack of Satan trying to make you doubt the full forgiveness of Christ. Here are some questions that you can ask if you forget to do something: What was the importance of what I forgot? Was it top priority, like feeding the kids, or was it something nice but not required, like doing the dishes? Was anyone negatively impacted by my omission? Have I made things right with them? Did I do the task/chore later? Was I able to reschedule? Was my expectation that I could do this task reasonable? Many times, our guilt in these areas is based on false benchmarks that we have set for ourselves. Perhaps we feel that we need to keep the house spotless, or hold ourselves to a certain weight, or fill our week with an unrealistic number of activities. In these areas, it is good to ask two more questions: "What is the eternal significance of this task?" And, "What is my motive for doing/not doing the task?" For example, it doesn't matter to a starving child who has never heard the gospel that the kitchen counter isn't sparkling clean. Keeping an orderly home certainly does have some significance (Bringing honor to the household, raising good children, being hospitable, using things properly rather than letting them go to ruin, etc). However, as Jesus showed to Mary and Martha, the physical should take a backseat to the eternal. If the dishes get left in a pile because you went to comfort a grieving friend, that's OK. Motive comes into play as well. If you hadn't done the dishes in a month because you were playing video games, then it is likely the Holy Spirit is would be convicting you of laziness. If you hadn't done the dishes in a month because you had pneumonia or broke your arm, then it would be anxiety. This thread has further detail on how to tell the difference between a legitimate concern, and a fruitless anxiety: https://ebible.com/questions/11083-what-does-it-mean-to-cast-your-care-upon-the-lord
I'd say that if the subject or action about which you're experiencing anxiety is something that you've previously recognized as wrong, confessed to God, repented of, and not resumed, then it would be safe to say that any continued distress you're experiencing is not a result of God continuing to convict you for it. In that case, you need to rely on God's promise to remove your transgressions from you as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). Even though God has forgiven you, are you perhaps continuing to experience anxiety over the temporal consequences of your actions? In that case, pray to God for His help and strength, if not in removing them from you, then in facing them and dealing with them, and in demonstrating day by day to yourself and others that you have made any personal changes needed to prevent recurrence of the issue in question. Have faith that God will honor your request. If there is no valid reason for your continued preoccupation with the subject in question, then I would say that any anxiety you are experiencing is not from God, but from Satan, and that you should rebuke him as Jesus did, and ask God for His peace, while making Him the focus of your thoughts.
Dear Sister in Christ, I believe this question can be answered with a session of sitting down and reasoning with ourselves. We are all sinners. Rom 3:23 However, when we come to the Cross of Calvary because the Holy Spirit has convicted us of something we have done to offend a most Holy God, we ask for His Forgiveness, the Precious Blood of Jesus is applied to that offence. Jesus was very clear about how His Father treated a little one that asked for something. Luke 11:11-13, Our Heavenly Father knows how to give good gifts to those that are asking for them! Forgiveness of sin is most certainly a good gift! Rom 6:23, Eph 2:8 So if we KNOW we have asked for forgiveness, we believe that Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice for our sins Heb 10:12 we are justified by faith in Jesus. This means the Blood of Jesus has covered our sin and it is as tho we have never committed the sin. Rom 5:1 Now since Jesus has forgiven us, because we knelt at the Cross of Calvary and asked Him to, His Father sees our sin no more because of the Blood of Jesus, we must therefore reason with ourselves that our adversary, the Devil is attempting to deceive us into believing a lie, namely that we should continue to berate ourselves for something we have been forgiven. God's Conviction brings you to the Cross of Calvary, the Blood of Jesus and on to Justification and PEACE! -vs- The enemy's lies is a constant circle that never brings you to Calvary, so you never end up with peace. Where I believe individuals begin to beat themselves up, is when they look at what they have done in life (sown) and they realize that sunflowers planted is not corn. God's laws are always the same. What you sow you will reap. However, the Father is still in Control over All Things! There are wonderful uses for sunflowers in the Kingdom of God! You can not possibly fail an Omniscient, All Powerful God! Isa 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isa 1:19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: Be Blessed Lena
All the answers I have read are good ones. I have a slightly different take. It does not matter. Either way the issue needs to be dealt with and either way the answer or solution is the same. Place it in submission at the feet of Jesus. Jesus doesn't just care about our sin issues. He cares about all our issues. Repent (sin or not) and humbly ask Him to take it from you. Then fear not! (Did you know there are 365 "Fear nots" in the Bible, one for every day of the week!) The reason I am saying it does not matter is if it is sin, than repentance is necessary. If it is not sin then the fact that you are holding on to it probably is a sin in itself. Of course, if the Holy Spirit is bringing it to remembrance, it requires immediate repentance, but if if is a product of your own (or demonic) imagination, would He not want you to deal with just as quickly?
Simply put, if you feel like the voice or feeling is yelling at you, being mean to you, or any other bullying tone or action, then it is anxiety. However, if it is simply saying something like, "You really did wrong here. That's not acceptable in God's eyes. You sinned against a holy God." Then that is probably the Holy Spirit. The Lord is not a bully. Don't try to feel guilty about sin when you're not. Just pray to God, saying something like, "I really do not want to do that again. (Or, " I recognize that I did wrong there.") I'm sorry Lord." If you have asked for forgiveness for your sins, then the Lord has forgiven you and forgotten all about it. There is no need to beat yourself up over it.
Just to add to the excellent answers above a benchmark for me is that if the conviction "guilt" is from the devil or my own anxious accusing conscience (for all practical purposes they are one and the same) it is never kind, loving, gentle, supporting, encouraging, affirming. God is firm, but never mean or cruel. There is a huge difference between genuine conviction and guilt. It is always accusational when the thoughts come from either ourselves or the devil. "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." (Heb. 10:22)
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