Living with Guilt
A life burdened under a load of guilt is not the abundant life that Jesus came to give us. Guilt steals our joy, hinders our productivity, interrupts our peace, harms our relationships, and worst of all, makes us self-focused. Guilt leads to dissatisfaction and discontent.
What is Guilt?
Guilt is both a fact and a feeling. It is possible to be guilty without feeling guilty. It is possible to feel guilty without being guilty. And, it is possible to be guilty and feel guilty. No doubt we have all experienced these three conditions.
- Being guilty without feeling guilty can be due to ignorance. The apostle Paul wrote, "My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me." 1Corinthians 4:4.
- It is possible to have a hardened heart that feels no guilt even when we are guilty. Hebrews 3:13 admonishes us not to be "hardened by sin's deceitfulness."
- Feeling guilty even when we are not guilty is a more common struggle for most of us. False guilt is caused by wrong thinking. We feel guilty because we allow ourselves to think thoughts that tell us it is our fault, whatever "it" is. We ignore the facts, we wallow in self-recrimination, and we send ourselves into a downward spiral of despair and discouragement without justification. That's because this false guilt is a feeling, not reality.
If you are a Christian, it is not God's will for you to live in guilt. Allowing guilt to continue to plague you is evidence that you are living a defeated life, and we Christians are called to live victoriously. Galatians 5:1 says, "It is for freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."
We must learn to recognize Satan's strategy and stand firm against it. It's time we discover that guilt is not meant to be part of our everyday living; it is not normal; it is not okay; it is not inevitable.