Joyce Meyer - Say Goodbye To Guilt
How many of you are already aware that you spend a lot more time than you should feeling guilty and condemned? Anybody? Okay, well, I know I sure did for a lot of years of my life, and it took me a long time and a lot of the word of God and the Holy Spirit dealing with me for me to begin to realize just really how absolutely useless it is.
Today, I want to talk to you about how guilt and condemnation traps us and keeps us in the same place, and so we feel guilty about the things that we're doing wrong but then as long as we're in that guilt, we can never really stop doing them and make progress. In order to grow spiritually, we must learn who we are in Christ, that by his great, amazing grace and mercy, he has not only forgiven all of our sins, but he has given us his very own righteousness. We have right standing with God legally because of the blood of Christ, even though we still do things wrong.
So, imputed righteousness is a gift from God that then enables us to learn how to walk in that right standing and gradually, over a period of time, do more and more and more things right because we've been given righteousness. God never expects us to produce something that he doesn't give us as seed of that first in our lives. How could God possibly tell us to be patient if he didn't put a seed of patience in us? We have no ability unless God give us that. How could he possibly tell us to walk in peace in the troubled world that we live in if he didn't give us a seed of peace?
And I think it's very important for people to understand as a believer what you already have. The moment that you're born again, I mean God downloads seeds of his own character into our spirit. We have God living on the inside of us and the Bible says that we have the fruit of the Holy Spirit, not an unholy Spirit, but the fruit of the Holy Spirit, love. You have an ability to love people and I do too. Joy, our joy does not have to be based on our circumstances, we can have a joy that's found only in God. Peace, patience, all these wonderful fruit of the spirit. Self-control, what do you think about that one? Humility, meekness.
So, there's no point in going around saying, "I can't control myself," because we do have self-control. We might say, "I don't want to control myself or I'm not strong enough yet to control myself," but we need to confess, and I believe in doing it out loud, what we already have as a gift from God. "I am the righteousness of God in Christ. I am patient". Well, you say, "No, you're not". Well, but I am. In here, I am and I'm just working with God to get it from in here to out here where it can actually do somebody some good. So, you are fully loaded and equipped to be a dynamic influence in the world today. You just have to believe it, believe it.
And so, this guilt thing is a trap. Have any of you ever been on a treadmill and it's been going rather fast and you felt that you wanted to get off but you couldn't get off until you found some way to shut the thing off? Anybody ever had that experience? And you even felt like you were gonna fall and that's the same way guilt is. It's like a treadmill that just keeps us going and going and going, but it accomplishes nothing. What does guilt accomplish? It is a trap. It presses us down into our problems rather than lifting us up out of them.
And I don't know that everybody has the problem with guilt that I had but I tell you what, it was a nightmare in my life. Being abused as a child by my dad, I always grew up feeling like something was wrong with me and something was my fault that really wasn't my fault. And all you have to do is get rooted in that kind of thinking as a child and boy, it can really play havoc with you in years to come.
I mean even if you have parents that say, "What's wrong with you? Why can't you do this? And why can't you do that"? And especially comparing you to other siblings, or teachers who do that, or friends who do that. There's not very many of us that get to young adulthood without the devil having works through one or several people try to make us feel really bad about ourselves and to make us feel like that there's something wrong with us, that somehow we need to fix but we don't even really know what it is, let alone how to fix it, so we just kind of go around feeling generally bad about ourselves. And anytime that we do that, it is impossible to enjoy life and it is impossible to grow spiritually in our walk with God.
So, sometimes out of misery, we finally come to a place where we surrender our life to Christ, we receive him, we're born again, but we still live in misery if we don't understand that we're going to make mistakes, God knew that, that's why he sent Jesus. No one can manifest perfection as long as they are in a fleshly body, but one of the things we can do, and should do, and must do is grow. Thank God I don't have to do as many dumb things as I did 30 years ago and I'm not even doing as many dumb things as I did 5 years ago, or even a year ago. And I'll telling you, I'm declaring this time next year, I'm gonna be better than I am right now. And you are too.
And that's what God cares about. Get that through your head today. He looks at our heart. And so, when we opened with the scripture on Thursday night about pursuing holiness without which no one will see the Lord, that's kind of a scary scripture. But see, God has helped me to realize that the operative word there is pursue. It's pursue. Pursue means to crave and to go after with all of your might and all of your strength. So, let me tell ya, God is not a sideline in our life. He is not a Sunday morning thing. He is the mainline, everything. In him we live, and move, and breathe, and have our being. Without him, we are nothing and so we pursue him like someone who is addicted and craving more of God's presence in our lives all the time.
So, wherever you're at with God right now, I want you to make a decision, "Yes, I am quite a rascal but I'm sorry, I want to improve. God has for forgiven me completely and he has forgotten my sin. He has removed them as far as the east is from the west so I'm gonna stop remembering what God has forgotten, and I'm gonna stop talking to him about things that he doesn't even remember. I'm not gonna talk about my past, I'm gonna talk about my future because Jesus died for me to have a great future". Amen?
I don't know exactly how I'm gonna go about this but I'm going to some way, somehow spend more time, and I'm looking for creative ways to teach people the vital, desperate importance of spiritual maturity. After we're born again, the next most important thing is to spend the rest of your life growing, pursuing holiness and Christ-likeness. Now, I'm just gonna look at a couple scriptures we looked at last night because I think they're important as a foundation. It never hurts us to hear them twice and then we're gonna go on from here.
Matthew 5:48, "You, therefore, must be perfect," boy, that's scary, unless you have the amplified. "Growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height, the virtue, and integrity as your Heavenly Father is perfect". So, he's saying look, let's just say that for the sake of talking about it for a minute, let's just say that God's right there at the podium and he's perfect, so he's my goal. He's my standard. And I'm over here and I'm quite imperfect but I reach out to him and I say, "I'm sorry for my sins". So, he says me from my sin. He comes to live on the inside of me and because God can't be anywhere that's not perfect and holy, he has to clean me up inside before he can come to live in there. Amen, you with me?
And so, God, by his grace and mercy, cleans me all up on the inside and then he's standing there the rest of my life going... And so, I spend the rest of my life moving toward his perfection, learning how to talk right, learning how to think right, learning how to have a right attitude, learning how to treat people, learning how to be obedient to God. And I'm excited about it. It's not a burden to me. It's not something I dread or resent, I am excited about it. And the only way that I could learn and grow is if I'm wide open to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
"Dear God, please show me what is wrong with me. Please don't let me live in deception thinking that I've got it altogether and judging other people for everything I see wrong in them. God, please don't ever leave me alone in my mess". The worst thing that can happen to any one of us would be for God to leave us alone and for us to stay the way we are and never change.
So, when you go to church and you hear a message that convicts you, or you turn on a TV program, or you put in a teaching in one of your recorded devices, or you're reading the Bible and you're convicted, that is the best news that you can possibly have but don't let conviction become condemnation because if you do, you take this beautiful thing that God is trying to do in your life and you let the devil have it and work havoc in your life.
How many of you know what I'm talking about when I say you get convicted and then before you can turn around, it turns into condemnation? That's a nightmare. Be excited when God shows you that something's wrong with you. That's going over really good. Don't make me do this 12 times. Come on, in revelation it says that God only chastises those whom he dearly and tenderly loves. And the amplified says he tells them their faults.
Why in the world are we always so concerned with what's wrong with everybody else? Let's let God deal with us. You can't change anybody else anyway, so stop spending your life trying to do something you can't do but you can work with the Holy Spirit toward change in your own life. Ephesians 4:15. Now, this thing about truth, you will know the truth, the truth will make you free. But I say this all the time, it's not the truth about somebody else that will make you free. "God, help us walk in truth," that should be a daily prayer. "Help us, Lord, walk in truth. Show me truth". "Rather let our lives lovingly express truth in all things speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into him who is the head".
Well, that's laying it out clearly. He says, once we are in love with the truth, now we can begin to grow up in all ways into everything. The Bible warns us about deception. 1 Peter chapter 2, verse 2, this is scripture day, I'm gonna see how many I can throw at ya. Amen. Thank you. 1 Peter 2:2, "Like newborn babies you should crave, thirst for, earnestly desire the pure unadulterated spiritual milk," that means the word of God, "That by it you may be nurtured and grow into completed salvation".
Now, what does that mean? Okay, that means that we're gonna take these things that God has done in us. Everybody say, "I am the righteousness of God in Christ". But I could stand and say, "Well, yeah, you don't act right". But then your answer back should be? Your answer should be, "Well, I'm not where I need to be, but thank God I'm not where I used to be. I'm okay and I'm on my way". Amen?
Yes! I'm so happy. People say, "Well, I'm going through. I'm going through this". Well, you know what? One day God said to me, "Thank God you're going through. You're not stuck in the middle". I mean people in the world can't even say they're going through. They don't even know the way out but we do. Grow into completed salvation. So, what that means is I spend my whole life, yes, this is a lifetime commitment. Don't say things like, "When am I ever gonna stop seeing things wrong with me"? Never, never. But it just reminds us how good God is. It reminds us how amazing he is to want to be in relationship with us.
Philippians 2:12-13, really long in the amplified Bible but worth reading. Verse 12, "Therefore my dear ones, as you have already obeyed my suggestions, so now not only with the enthusiasm you would show in my presence, but much more when I am absent". And so, I guess I could say today, you know, you're pretty enthusiastic when I'm here preaching to you but now when I leave, I want you to show this same enthusiasm when you're home by yourself and God starts dealing with ya. Amen? "Work out, cultivate, carry out to the goal and fully complete your own salvation".
Now, that doesn't mean work for your salvation, it means to work with God so what God has done in you can be worked to the outside of you. I love this, so it says here, work out, you know, I work out three times a week and when I started, I didn't have any visible muscle but I had muscle somewhere in me. I had the ability of muscle. They were just little, teeny, tiny baby muscles but now man, I got some stuff going on here, see. I mean I am solid but it's come from 10 years of working out.
And if I want to develop my spiritual muscles and I want to stay strong, you know what? I could lose all of this in about 3 months so therefore I gotta keep working out, and keep working out, and keep working out, and that's why as believers, we've gotta keep staying in the word, keep staying in touch with God, keep being around other believers, keep confessing the word. For the life of me, I don't know how anybody that's on fire for God could ever be bored as a Christian 'cause I don't know about you, but God's got something going on in my life all the time. Work out your own salvation. And then this tells us how to live carefully.
So, "Work out, cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete your own salvation with reverence and awe, and trembling, and self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchful against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit his name". And I love verse 13 'cause if I only read 12, I'm really tired. Verse 13, "Not in your own strength," hallelujah. "Not in your own strength". "For it is God who is all the while effectually at work in you energizing and creating in you the power and the desire to will, to work, and to live for his good pleasure".
So, here's the thing, and it's just really kind of amazing. So, there's God being perfect and here I am, now I'm born again and I got these little rumblings down in here that, you know, I want to change. I'm starting to get convicted about things that I used to not get convicted about at all. And so, the Holy Spirit's dealing with me and he's calling me to him, and calling me to him. And it's gonna be this whole lifetime thing. So, now if I'm not careful, what I start doing is trying to change.
You say, "Well, isn't that what you're telling us to do"? No, what I'm saying to do is to yield, yield to the work of the Holy Spirit. I can't change myself, but I can study the word. I can't change myself, but I can hang out with some people that might have a good influence on my life. Amen? I can't change myself, but I can want to change and I can pray that God will change me. I can depend on his grace because here's the thing, the minute that we start trying to do what God has asked us to do without asking him to help us, now he's offended. "Nope, you're not gonna do it without me. It's either gonna be me or you but it's not gonna be both of us".
So, when I'm telling you today to change, please don't go home and try, go home and believe. Amen? Go home and spend more time with God, hang on the vine. Have you ever seen an apple tree or some kind of a fruit tree going around...? No, the fruit comes out on the branches and all the branches do is hang on to the vine. Jesus. "Oh my God, I just so much want to be like you and be obedient to you, God. You gotta help me, help me, help me, help me". Now, that doesn't mean that I don't put out any effort but it's not a fleshly effort, it's an effort in the power of the Holy Ghost and every step of the way I'm saying, "God, I need you," that way then we know that God gets the credit.
In 1 Peter 5:10 it says, "And after you suffered a little while, the God of all grace will himself complete you and make you what you ought to be". Well, why do I have to suffer first for a little while? Why in the world is that there? And this is what I feel like God is showing me about that scripture, when we ask God to deliver us from something, even though it's his will and the desire to change came from him, so I'm really just praying his will back to him, why doesn't it happen right away? Because sometimes God wants to give us a period of time to just suffer, that's the word the Bible uses. So, when we do change, we know 100% that it was God. Amen?