I received the following question from a member of SMCC via Facebook Messenger this week. With their permission, I asked to share it, and my response, as a blog post.
"How come when I sin, regardless of how big or small, I feel too ashamed to pick up the Bible and feel pulled away instead? Is that normal?"
Not only is it normal, but it is actually a blessing. That feeling of guilt is the Holy Spirit making you aware of your sin before God. It does not feel good and you are reminded of how your sin separates you from God. The feeling of guilt is a gift from God to urge us to confess our sin, repent, and receive forgiveness. However, that urge to withdraw from God and His Word is a trick of our enemy, the devil.
Sin can be a vicious cycle of sin, guilt, shame, and despair. We sin and feel guilty and ashamed. We feel like we have disappointed God and are ashamed to enter into His presence in prayer, church attendance, and Bible reading. Because our guilt cannot be alleviated through the Biblical model of confession, repentance, and forgiveness, we seek to alleviate by some other means, usually more sin. This cycle will continue until we choose to approach God, confess our sin, repent, and receive the forgiveness only He can give.
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ... “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:31-32 & 34-36, ESV)
Jesus is not afraid of or surprised by our sin. He came from heaven to earth to boldly confront sin and its effects on humanity. The only cure to the cycle of sin is the blood of Jesus. Our guilt is taken away by the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross. We have forgiveness only because He died and took the punishment we deserve.
Humbly confess your sin to God and, if necessary, to those on earth you wronged in the process. Accept full responsibility for your actions and your guilt. Repent from your sin by committing before God to not do it again. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you help and strength as you put the works of the flesh to death. Receive the forgiveness of Christ that frees you from that oppressive feeling of guilt and shame.
If you are caught in the cycle of sin, I urge you to right now begin to pray. Confess your sin to God, determine with His help to not sin anymore, and receive the freedom that Christ died to give you.
"...if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36