When I’m feeling guilty for something I’ve done or neglected to do, I find I’d rather resolve it my way than accept God’s forgiveness and grace. It’s said the devil will try to copy anything of God’s. He will even try to copy the conviction of the Holy Spirit on my life, but instead of it being true conviction, it’s contempt.
Conviction means I’ve done something wrong, but contempt means there is something wrong with me. It’s when we say: “I hate myself” instead of saying: “I hate what I’ve done.” Sometimes I trick myself into thinking I’m being humble when I berate myself or think that by condemning myself it will keep me from doing wrong again. But in reality contempt is the devil’s counterfeit for true conviction. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).
Godly sorrow or conviction is intended to bring us to God to confess, repent and accept God’s forgiveness. By coming to him, we find wholeness. Sometimes I find it difficult to admit my need of God. I’m tempted to condemn myself for my shortcomings instead of relying on the grace of God.
Looking at the life of David, we notice that when confronted with his sin, he never gave excuses: “Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD'” (2 Samuel 12:13). By acknowledging sin, I open my heart to receive God’s forgiveness.
The alternative to godly sorrow is contempt or worldly sorrow, which leads to hating ourselves, poor self-worth, and perhaps even depression. It’s a dead-end road. 2 Corinthians 7:10 describes it as death.
So I find that God’s way of dealing with guilt is much healthier than mine. Actually his plans, his agendas, his timetables are always healthier than mine!