Question:

Good day and may God bless you.

Please, I want to know why I am always feeling guilty over virtually everything I think or do. For example, if I look at somebodyís car and feel that the car is not beautiful, instantly I will begin to feel guilty and start saying to myself, in my mind that if I eventually buy the same type of car in the future that God will judge me and may send me to hell fire. Just this month, I walk in to my little niece's room and found her naked on the bed. She is about five and was about to be bathed by somebody. When I entered the room and saw her naked, I started feeling guilty. My mind started telling me that I should not have looked at her private parts the way I did, and that I am now guilty before God. Do I have to confess to my elder brother, who is the girlís father? †

I have a laptop which I used in the past for downloading and watching pornographic material. When I decided to stop this bad habit, I deleted all the pornographic material. But now I feel guilty whenever I am making use of this laptop. My mind keeps on telling me to give the laptop away, probably to a church. I feel that God will judge me based on the fact that I still made use of the laptop after deleting the pornographic material. Is this right? Even my phone -- I have in the past use it for immoral acts and now still feel guilty using it. I feel like giving it away to a man of God in order not to miss heaven.

Please I need an urgent reply as I am always confused. God bless you all.


Answer:

There seems to be two issues we need to discuss. First, guilt is a reasonable response when you know you have done something wrong. There ought to be sense of remorse over committing sin. However, notice that you are not judging right and wrong by what God said, which is the only standard of morality. Instead, you are deciding right and wrong based on your feelings; yet, God said that feelings are deceptive. "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered" (Proverbs 28:26). Your feelings can be manipulated, so they are not an accurate guide.

Instead, let's go through the three examples you gave and apply God's standards to each one. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6).

To make a judgment or decision about whether someone's car looks good or not is neither right or wrong. It is simply your opinion. A lot of people have the mistaken notion that Christians are not to make any judgments, but such is not found in the Bible. People misapply Jesus' statement: "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you" (Matthew 7:1-2). Judgment is not directly wrong. We have to make decision (judgments) throughout our lives. But a Christian must make sure that his judgments are righteous. "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:24). In Matthew 7, the warning is not to condemn others when you are doing the same thing yourself. "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye" (Matthew 7:3-5). Notice that Jesus did not say you could never correct another person. He said you need to correct yourself before you correct someone else.

But in your example, there is no moral judgment that is being made. You are giving an opinion to yourself. I would suspect that if someone disagreed with you and said the car is beautiful, you might wonder about his eyesight, but you would not be offended that he came to a different conclusion than you came to. To hold a personal opinion about what you prefer is not a sin.

When you walked in on your niece, your were rightly embarrassed about her lack of clothing. Even though she is too young to understand, you are old enough to know better. But being embarrassed is not a sin. Sin would involve lust, such as think about having sex with someone you are not married to. "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). This did not happen in your case. If you say anything to your brother, it should be along the line of, "Warn me when you about to give your daughter a bath, so I don't accidentally walk in on her again."

Unlike the first two, your use of pornography was sinful. "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God" (I Thessalonians 4:3-5). Here the lust is present where it was absent before. Thus, it is appropriate to feel guilt over the fact that you had sin.

Even better, you've taken corrective action in regards to your sin. "Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (II Corinthians 7:9-11). You are no longer looking at pornography with either your laptop or your phone.

When a Christian sins, the appropriate response is to repent and to go to God to apologize. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). Here then is your second problem. You don't believe what God said because you believe you must be punished in order to be forgiven. This is too is a common mistake people make. The role of punishment is to get an unrepentant sinner to acknowledge that he is in the wrong. Instead, you are looking at punishment as a way to purchase forgiveness from God. It is because you have decided you haven't paid enough that you assume that God hasn't forgiven you.

God isn't out to make people pay for their sins. Their sins have already put them into debt (Romans 6:23). What God is trying to do is rescue people from their sins. His goal is to get people like you to change, to repent. ""But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord GOD, "and not that he should turn from his ways and live?"" (Ezekiel 18:21-23).

God doesn't think like you and I think. He approaches the matter of becoming righteous differently than men would have devised. "Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it"" (Isaiah 55:6-11).

You don't need to be punished to be forgiven, you need to change to be forgiven. Start trusting that your life is in God's hands and that He cares for you.