If you were reading along during the 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life review, you learned that your thoughts create your experience. If you weren’t, then you can learn more about that in the posts from February 26 – April 17.
In those posts, I expounded on author Tommy Newberry’s book which proported practicing Philippians 4:8—thinking about things that are noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of prais. That has been especially difficult lately. There are lots of things swirling around in our heads that are worrisome, difficult, frightening, annoying, and more!
Another principle he points to in living a joy-filled life is that you cannot think two thoughts at the same time. You, likewise, can’t get rid of a negative thought by telling yourself not to think it. That, after all, requires you to repeat the information you want to banish. Replacing negative thoughts with their positive counterparts is required to change your mindset, outlook, and mood!
One negative thought pattern that may have tormented you during the past few months is guilt and shame. Reliving all the mistakes you’ve made in the past can be a great way to explain to yourself why you are feeling so miserable now and guarantee that you’re stuck in that place. Maybe it’s a way to make sense of the pandemic and the societal upheaval we are all experiencing. Perhaps it’s simply a distraction from those things. Thinking about the times when bad things happened that might have been under our control in the middle of bad things we can do nothing about might be a coping strategy for some.
While it might be a way of exchanging thoughts of current problems for ruminating over big or small misdeeds from the past, guilt and shame are harmful to your emotional health and stop you from enjoying life. They saps the energy you need to confront the giants you are facing today.
Of course, you can’t just stop a bad thought. You need to start a new one. But what?
If you have accepted Jesus’ offer of reconciliation with God by believing in Him as your Savior, you can begin with Romans 8:1(NLT): So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
I can hear you saying—just as clearly as my own mind talks to me—“Yeah, but, I’m a special, unforgiveable case! Do I really even belong to Christ?”
Yes, you do.
The Bible says that if you don’t have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of you, the Gospel is nonsense. If you believe in Jesus and worry about your worthiness for such a great gift as salvation, that is proof that you belong to Him (1 Corinthians 2:14). That would not make any sense to a non-believer.
In addition to Romans 8:1, here a few verses that will give you ammunition against those condemning thoughts:
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12 NIV).
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14 NIV).
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 ESV).
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 ESV).
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV).
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31 KJV).
This is just the tip of the iceberg of verses that proclaim you are clothed with the righteousness of God, a new creation, loved and forgiven. Revelation 12:10 tells us that it is our enemy, the devil, that accuses us day and night before God, but Jesus is the advocate who intercedes for us (Hebrews 7:25). He said, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life (John 10:10 NLT).
Don’t burden yourself with guilt and shame over things from the past. This robs today of its joy and power. The Bible reminds us that each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34), no use to borrow from the past or the future. James tells us that when we resist the devil and submit ourselves to God, that wily foe will flee (James 4:7). In this case that would mean, reject his condemnation and stand on the truth of your forgiveness and right standing with God.
He loves accepts and accepts you just as you are. Warts and all.