You live you learn, you love you learn,
You cry you learn, you lose you learn,
You bleed you learn, you scream you learn.
The most important life lessons you will ever learn will be from bad decisions you make. Time and experience can be excellent teachers when you actually learn a lesson from your poor decisions. I wholeheartedly believe that good judgment comes from experiencing the consequences of your bad decisions. If you have a difficult time making decisions, or always blame your bad outcomes on others, then you have not learned anything. If you have not learned anything, you will continue to have negative experiences that will cause you to make more poor judgments.
You can only learn from the error of your ways if you recognize the fact that you messed up. Many people remain in denial, tending to place the blame on others. The minute you take responsibility for yourself, the learning process will begin. When you admit your mistakes, you hasten your learning development. The only way to prevent making a mistake a second time is to learn from it the first time. If you don’t, you will make the same error again and again until you are forced to learn.
The lesson lies in the way you interpret your errors. If you keep repeating the same pattern, how can you ever expect your results to differ? It is much more beneficial to face the mistake than to escape from it. Looking at mistakes and working toward understanding them will promote progress and insight.
It is normal to feel bad about an error you made. This can come in the form of guilt, shame or regret. An acquaintance of mine who is an addictions counselor told me there is no room for shame in recovery. To feel shame is to suffer humiliating disgrace or disrepute. Shame tends to lie to you, telling you that you’re worthless to the core. Someone who feels shame becomes mired in condemnation, which severely hinders your progress.
A good friend of mine, who is a reverend, reminded me that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:1) It is important for Christians to know there is a huge difference between the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the condemnation of the devil. The Holy Spirit works to convict you and push you away from the ensnarement of sin and toward God. The condemning spirit of Satan, however, works to push you away from God, leaving you more prone to hopelessness. Satan will try to convince you that you’re no good, and that God will never forgive you.
The devil wants to keep you away from God by making you feel shameful and condemned. As soon as you confess your sin you are forgiven, and your sin is forgotten. Hebrews 8:12 says, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” God immediately purifies us from all unrighteousness. (See 1 John 1:9) If you’re being drawn closer to God, you’re feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit. But if you feel like hiding from God, and you begin to doubt His love for you, you’re feeling condemnation from the devil. Rebuke those feelings in the name of Jesus. Resist the devil and he’ll flee from you. (See James 4:7-10)
We need to keep in mind that God is strong and He does not tolerate sin. Yes, He does judge us, but He is a fair judge. He always wants to draw us to Himself. Satan’s purpose is to pull us away from God and stop our fellowship with other believers. God is straightforward and direct, but Satan is sneaky. 1 John 3:19-20 says, “We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God.” (NASB)
2 Corinthians 5:17 declares you to be a new creation. You are a totally new person because of what Christ has done. The old you has passed away. The person who was defeated, the person who sinned, the person who didn’t radiate the beauty of Christ, is dead. You are someone new. A completely different person to the one who, like all of us outside of Christ, had reason to feel ashamed.
Satan could accuse you as much as he liked for the sins of your neighbor, but the accusations would be meaningless. You would ignore them because you know you’re not your neighbor. Likewise, he can accuse you as much as he likes about the person you once were, but you can ignore it. The old you is dead. You have a whole new identity. The new you, the person you now are, is pure and holy and righteous, and is filled with the Holy Spirit. No one likes being slandered, and that is what Satan is trying to do. But it’s a case of mistaken identity. He is accusing the wrong person. He is trying to make you feel condemned. He wants you to give up hope. But the person he’s accusing is dead and buried with Christ. Just ignore him.
If, after God has forgiven you, you won’t forgive yourself, you are implying that you have a higher sense of justice than God. Anyone having the brazenness to make such an accusation is on dangerous ground. You are also implying that Jesus is inadequate. That he didn’t suffer enough for your sins. There is nothing wrong with feeling guilty when you’ve done something bad, but if you feel shameful or condemned then you are missing the miracle of the Cross.