Are you in an emotional battle over guilt? Is your guilt the loving prod of God used to convict, correct, and conform your character—especially when you’ve gone astray? Or do you battle feelings of shame, disgrace, and disgust—especially when guilt strikes your heart?
True guilt is your friend—a godly companion in your conscience who whispers truth and motivates you to change.
False guilt (shame) is a relentless foe—an inner enemy that produces sorrow . . . worldly sorrow . . . superficial sorrow that ends in death!
“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10)
True Guilt—A Gift?
True Guilt . . .
- Is a gift from God, motivating you to change
- Reveals that we all are guilty of sin
- Is concerned about developing your inner character
- Communicates God’s care and concern for you
- Does not make excuses for itself
- Encourages your real feelings to surface
- Lovingly shows you the hurt feelings of others
- Is accompanied by a desire for you to change
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)
Where Does False Guilt Come From?
False guilt is based on self-condemning feelings: when you blame yourself, even though you’ve committed no wrong, or when you continue to blame yourself even though you’ve confessed and turned from your sin.
False guilt is that inner voice saying, “Shame on you!” This guilt causes negative attitudes about ourselves and makes us feel “unforgivable”. It produces a deep sense of unworthiness, leaving us paralyzed by shame.
“How should I respond to false guilt?”
The next time the viewing screen of your mind begins to replay your repented sins, realize that this taunting comes from the enemy, the accuser, to discourage you. Ask yourself:
- “What am I hearing?” (Accusation.)
- “What am I feeling?” (Shame.)
- “What are the facts?” (I am fully forgiven.) Use Scripture as your standard to determine true and false guilt. (see below)
If you have received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and since the Savior died to take away your sins, choose to focus on God’s truth. Turn Romans 8:1 into a prayer: “Thank You, Father, that You don’t condemn me and don’t want me to condemn myself. These feelings of false guilt are not valid because I have accepted Christ’s sacrifice and have turned from my sins.”
“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
You Can Live Guilt Free
Many Christians who know that God has forgiven them still feel weighted down with shame and self-condemnation. Focus on these verses to find victory!
God has forgiven me.
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)
God has purified me.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)
God will not remember my sin.
“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:12)
God will not bring a charge against me.
“Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Romans 8:33–34)
I am free of my past.
“Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:18 –19)
I am not condemned by God.
“He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)
I have peace with God.
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” (Romans 5:1)