I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd done something wrong. My parents had taken my sister and I on a cross-country trip during our Junior High years; but I felt chronically guilty for much of it. I remember driving along a West Virginia highway in our rental car, feeling like the principal had caught me smoking in the bathroom.
But I had done nothing wrong. There was no sinful choice or shameful act to point to. My hyper-sensitive conscience was creating a smear campaign designed to discredit my integrity. A higher susceptibility to guilt and remorse can also be one of the characteristics of a highly-sensitive or "high-reactive" person. I was being forced to take the stand in the absence of any proof of guilt. In fact, if you asked my parents, they would have agreed, "No...Jim didn't do anything wrong. I'm not sure why he would think that."
The truth was, even the most staunch Southern Baptist could have examined my motives and actions then and found nothing immoral - but I was convinced there was something I'd done wrong. During the months we traveled across country, the oppressive guilt remained like a hall monitor scanning the halls for the wayward student.
What I call "Generalized Accusation Disorder" - this entrenched and unjustified belief that I was guilty of something, anything- stole my childhood joy in those long months. I'll never get that time back.
Accusation is designed to disable.
Accusation will disable a person more quickly than almost anything else. It's no wonder the enemy of your heart favors it as his preferable toxin.
Even in my late fourties now, I'll experience a similar sensation when watching a crime drama: "That's where you'll wind up someday, Jim. Just like the man who compromised his integrity one too many times. Someday, you'll cross that threshold as well ...and the iron bars will slam shut behind you."
Or, that vicarious guilt I feel when a close friend gets divorced because he's shattered his family through an affair that neither he nor we saw coming: "Jim, what makes you think you're stronger than your own friend? Why would you be able to resist sexual temptation when he couldn't?"
Accusation's deceptive voice:
Accusation will disable the truth about your good and noble heart faster than anything else. Why? Because it comes disguised as "humility" and a "contrite heart." Accusation wants you to believe that, "therefore, by the the grace of God, go I." Accusation creates suspicion: "Is your heart really as noble as you think it is? Are you really a 'new creation' possessed by the goodness of God?"
Accusation masquerades as healthy remorse or "good guilt." Though healthy remorse and repentance are often truly helpful, accusation is a trick of deception. It's message: "Your heart is the problem. There is more than the act of sin here...because there is the condition of sinfulness."
It is a lie. Your enemy will even have you believe it is the Spirit's own voice of "conviction." Even if you have sinned, Generalized Accusation Disorder will have you camp there in the mess, rather than celebrate a new God-given purity and noble goodness waiting to be released from your new heart.
Ally, not enemy.
Trust the goodness of your God-given new heart. Your heart is now your ally, not your enemy.
*The book I wrote, RECOVER YOUR GOOD HEART, may be particularly helpful for those of you who have suffered with "Generalized Accusation Disorder."