Step 4

Are You Experiencing True Guilt or False Guilt?Premium Content

We must differentiate between true guilt, and false guilt. Listen to how Paul differentiates between the two:

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness; to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.2 Corinthians 7:10-11


Before we investigate these types of guilt, I would like to give you an overview.

  • 1. True guilt. Corinthians calls this Godly sorrow in the NIV, or sorrow that is according to the will of God in the NASB.
  • 2. False guilt. Corinthians calls this worldly sorrow in the NIV, or sorrow of the world in the NASB.
    Within false guilt I see two categories:
      a. Deliberate pretended guilt.
      b. Imposed guilt. This is guilt that we, the world, and other people impose upon ourselves.
  • Let's explore.

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    Could You be a "Selfie?"Premium Content

    All right, I admit it. I'm on social media- Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and of course, my website. In this modern culture, that's the rule, not the exception. Virtually everyone I know is on social media - and even some of their pets, to boot. I certainly have posted my fair share of cat photos. It's a bit ridiculous how many profile pics are floating out there. Some are obscene; some are funny. Some are glamorous and some are downright narcissistic.

    Yes, narcissism. Here we go. It's an easy thing to get sucked into. In a world where promotion is the name of the game, how, exactly, does one navigate social media without a little (or a lot of, let's be real) promotion of self?

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    Are You Eyeing Some Envy?Premium Content

    A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones. Proverbs 14:30

    I love Sophia Loren; I love Jane Mansfield. So, when I saw a photograph of them together, the fan in me squealed. Perhaps you're familiar with the image. It's the two stars, seated together at a table at some Hollywood event. Sophia Loren's eyes look off to the side, staring at Jayne Mansfield's cleavage. Could this be, perhaps, an example of envy being photographed?

    We know both women are popular culture and beauty icons; they're sex symbols. Ms. Loren, to this day, is an embodiment of exotic beauty. How many of us have unsuccessfully tried to achieve that dramatic "Sophia look," only to poke ourselves in the pupil with the liquid eye liner?

    And, the late Ms. Mansfield's ample bust, supposedly measuring anywhere from 40D to 46 D, is frequently mentioned and even compared to that of Marilyn Monroe's figure. How many of us have stuffed our bras with tissue to look just like her? (Somehow, we never did).

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    What Kind of Friend Am I ?

    Proverbs 17:17 NRSV
    A friend loves at all times,
    and kinsfolk are born to share adversity.

    Prior to the giving of the Holy Spirit (in the New Testament), those who followed the Lord (predominantly Israelites) had only the capacity for earthly love, not for heavenly or agape love since they loved out of their own ability and not through the spiritual ability of the Spirit. However, there were still higher standards of behavior given. In the Law, the Lord required:

    "You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord." Leviticus 19:17-18 NRSV


    You shall love your neighbor as yourself. It was this law that was discussed by the lawyer and the Lord Jesus in Luke 10:

    Funhouse Mirrors: Distorted Body ImagesPremium Content

    When I was a little girl, I once went into one of those carnival funhouses with the mirrors. It was the one and only time I did so. I remember I didn't get very far. I took one look at my distorted series of reflected images and high-tailed it out of there so fast, you could probably see my streak marks hang in the air.

    Festive.

    Cut to about fourteen years later: I was nineteen or twenty years old when I was, once again, standing in front of multiple mirror images. Only this time, there was no carnival- and certainly, no fun. It was, instead, just me, choosing to stand and scrutinize myself in front of my three-way mirror, picking myself apart, via my disordered eating and body image behaviors.

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    Forgetting and ForgivingPremium Content

    Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee. Proverbs 20:22

    Do not be in a hurry. Let anger cool down. Say nothing and do nothing to avenge yourself. You will be sure to act unwisely if you take up the club and fight your own battles; and, certainly, you will not show the spirit of the Lord Jesus. It is more noble to forgive and let the offense pass. To let an injury burn inside and to think about revenge is to keep old wounds open and to make new ones. It is better to forget and forgive.

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    The Need for RepentancePremium Content

    ...repentance is the ultimate tipping point. It is the mechanism that puts genuine change into action in our lives and in our culture. It is what enables us to move beyond the past-and all of the mistakes of the past-and into the future with bright hopes and new dreams. Repentance is the fulcrum upon which transformation turns.

    One of the central messages of the Scriptures is a call to repentance. It is not to predict the future. It is not to offer new moral mandates. It is simply to declare the "words, statutes, and commandments of the Lord" that the people might "be overtaken and repent" (Zechariah 1:6). It is that they might "put on sackcloth and lament" (Joel 1:13). It is that they might "repent and turn" from all their transgressions "lest iniquity be their stumbling block" (Ezekial 18:30). It is that they might "return to the Lord" for "healing and restoration" (Hosea 6:1). This is the constant refrain of hope in the Scriptures:

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    Do You Want to Be Righteous or Right?Premium Content

    Do we want to be righteous... or do we want to be right? It seems, these days, that many people have difficulties taking constructive criticism. The fact is, our egos are so sensitive (so self-centered) that we want everyone to approve of us all the time, rather than accepting the kind of sacrificial love that comes from a friend who wants us to be right with God. And, oh my goodness, what turmoil wells up inside us when we are rebuked! We take it as a personal offense, rather than quietly wondering if perhaps it's really true and we should do something about it.

      A rebuke strikes deeper into a discerning person than a hundred blows into a fool.Proverbs 17:10 NRSV

    Friends don't let friends sin. That's the simple fact about Christianity. If we are true to our faith, we understand that everything here is temporal and our focus should be on the eternal. And the eternal is concerned with pleasing God.

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    Affirming My Assets

    If I feel that I am defeated and have lost confidence in my ability to win, I need to sit down, take a piece of paper and make a list, not of the factors that are against me, but of those that are for me.

    If anybody thinks constantly of the forces that seem to be against him or her, that person will build them up into a power far beyond that which is justified. They will assume a formidable strength which they do not actually possess.

    Biblical References for the 12 Steps (Long Version)Premium Content

    Note: all quotes are from the King James Version (KJV). If you have difficulty understanding the KJV we strongly recommend that you get a copy of a more modern language Bible such as The New Life Version Bible, New King James Version, New Revised Standard Version, Today's English Version, The Message, etc.

    Step One: We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and dysfunctions and that our lives had become unmanageable.

    --For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing:
    for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is
    good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil
    which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not,
    it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. Romans 7:18-20

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