Guilt is like a warning light on your car’s dashboard. It signals that something is wrong. Guilt isn’t intended to make us feel bad for the long haul, but rather to call our attention to the fact that something needs to be fixed. When we cover the light or ignore it and pretend there’s nothing wrong, or assume the light is malfunctioning, we avoid facing the truth of our guilt. Even when we recognize wrongdoing, we sometimes hang onto guilt as a way to punish ourselves. Sometimes guilt hangs onto us and we can’t seem to let it go. Real guilt comes from knowing that we’ve done something wrong which has hurt someone else or maybe oneself; but all sin hurts the heart of God. False guilt is when you feel guilty but don’t know what you’ve done wrong. It may be the result of someone else’s sin and being a victim of their actions. Victims sometimes assume they are partially responsible for what has happened to them. The only way to break free from guilt (be it real or false) is to allow God’s grace into the situation.
Scriptures – Ps 32:5, 38:4, 69:5; Jn 3:18; Ga 3:3; He 10:33; Js 2:10, 5:16; 1 Jn 1:9
My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. (Ps 38:4) But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong. (1 Jn 1:9) God, you know what I have done wrong. I cannot hide my guilt from you. (Ps 69:5) Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. (Js 5:16) Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. (Ps 32:5)
The equation of grace: If we confess our sins (our part) + God is faithful and just (God’s part) = forgiveness from sin and cleansing from everything we’ve done wrong. First we must confess. There is nothing more miserable than trying to hide something that cannot be hidden. God already knows whatever you’ve done. He’s waiting for you to come clean, confess your sin. Whether it is real or false guilt give it to God. Share your sin struggle with a Christian friend. There is healing and freedom in telling someone else. If you have confessed again and again and still don’t feel forgiven you need to have confidence in God’s character. He’s promised to forgive, and He keeps His word! Draw closer to God; get to know him better. When you do, your trust and faith will grow. His grace will free you. God doesn’t want you to live in fear and guilt. God is faithful! Receive His forgiveness. He wipes the slate clean. That doesn’t mean there won’t be natural consequences for your sin, but He will help you with that also. His grace will give you strength to make amends, seek forgiveness from those you have hurt, come clean about what you’ve done, and take steps to make things right to whatever extent you can. Accept His forgiveness and grace. Let Him release you from the prison of guilt. Your sins are gone without a trace; nothing left, only grace.
Have you ever tried to hide something you did wrong? Explain. How did that turn out? What do you do when your guilt light comes on? What is the affect guilt has when someone refuses to confess or can’t let it go? How do you deal with guilt that comes back over and over, after you’ve confessed? Have you experienced false guilt? Explain. Are you comfortable confessing to a Christian friend or do you prefer to go it alone? How have you found sharing to be helpful?
If you are harboring guilt, figure out if it is real or false. Ask a Christian friend to help you sort it out if you aren’t sure. Write it down on a piece of paper. Be clear. Ask forgiveness for your part. Burn the paper…and as it burns away, recognize that is just how God forgives… without a trace. Thank God!
Prayer – Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) by Chris Tomlin
Thank you God! “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free. My God, my Savior ransomed me. And like a flood His mercy reigns—unnending love, amazing grace.” Lord, allow your grace to flood my soul each day until I have no doubt that I am forgiven, washed clean! In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.