When you feel guilty, what as a Christian should you do to overcome it? Dr. Jim explains how a person can have the Holy Spirit help him/her to deal with their guilt and what the Bible teaches about guilt
Feeling guilty. How to deal with guilt?
Life is filled with choices and too often we do not make the best ones. There are times when we have purposely made choices that later proved to be very bad ones (and painful). As the decision plays itself out, we begin to realize that this choice was very sinful and damaging to us and to others.
The feeling that surfaces when we come to this realization is often called guilt. What I am about to explain to you is not intended to be a “clinical” discussion of guilt, but an explanation of dealing with it that I have learned in my own life as well as from being a Pastor.
Holy Spirit vs. Satan
I believe that there are 2 different actions at play for the Christian when feeling guilty. Satan wants to use our bad choices to tear us down, cause depression and have us give up hope. He wants to use it to cause us to have a defeated life where he can move us into cycles to repeat our mistakes. I believe that GUILT is of Satan and a negative.
On the other hand, we as believers have the Holy Spirit living in us. One of his roles is to CONVICT us when we are missing the mark of living life to the fullest in the way God knows is best. Conviction differs greatly from guilt in that it is an awareness of our mistake(s) with the intent to correct and make changes for victory. I see the motivation behind guilt and conviction as totally opposite.
“The price for ALL our sins has been paid”
Allow me to make this connection. God is very understanding and forgiving. It breaks His heart when we make bad choices, but He is not motivated to send any lightning bolts our way. He is the very best Daddy and His motivation is to convict us by showing the results of our choices. However, He then moves to restoration – if we will confess and move in the direction He points out to us.
I am not saying that God does not discipline us. The Bible is clear that like any good Father, He does this. I am merely pointing out the motivation behind the action.
1 John 1:9 tell us “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
How do we deal with these “feelings” of shame and remorse that we are feeling that are being used for guilt or conviction?
The first thing we have to be aware of is that the price for ALL our sins has been paid. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says “for you were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body”. The believer needs to claim the fact that Christ dearly paid the price/penalty for our sins!
When you find yourself wrestling with these feelings (feeling guilty), I invite you to remember that Christ has paid for EVEN this sin. Confess it to Him and accept His forgiveness. Then speak to Satan the fact that his accusations are being presented at the WRONG address. Tell him that Christ has paid the price for this sin and that if Satan wants to discuss anything about the sin/choice, he needs to take it up with Christ in Heaven. I have found great victory in my life in being able to do this.
(Another article about this theme: When Christian singles make wrong choices.)
Christ shared with the woman caught in adultery (John 8:11) after her accusers left her that He was not condemning her, and that she should go AND SIN NO MORE.
What Satan intended for your destruction (guilt), God intended for your restoration (conviction). Claim your position as a Child of God, rebuke Satan and learn from the experience.
Who could help you get rid of feeling guilty?
Most Bible teaching stops here. I suggest that there is yet another step. Just ‘purposing’ to not repeat the choice/sin again is not enough. You need to find out what ‘force’ was at play in your life that caused this to happen in the first place. If it was a temptation like all of us face, then you need to establish some accountability with Christian friends so that you have help in not repeating.
“Go and sin no more”
If the “force” is something much deeper in your emotions, it would be a great time to seek out a good Christian counselor. This counselor can help guide you for YOU to discover what the force is and cleanse it from your life. Without doing so you will very likely repeat very destructive cycles that bring more pain into your world. The services of a counselor are definitely needed if you find these feelings leading to depression over an extended period of time.
God IS the resource AND has provided many other resources for you. Seek Him to guide you to them. (Hint: Bible, church and Christian friends, etc.)