What is guilt? Here are two definitions.
When we have offended someone, broken a law, or sinned against God, we are guilty and we feel guilty. This conviction over wrongdoing is not a bad thing. It is a good thing that God has put within us, a moral compass to drive us to the cross of Jesus for mercy, forgiveness and healing.
Your enemy, the devil, is a liar and the father of lies. Two of the ways that he lies to us are these: he tempts us to sin (telling us there will be no guilt in the sin) and he accuses us of things that we have already been forgiven for (telling us that we should still feel guilty even though God has forgiven us).
Jesus’ life, death and resurrection provided the means of your eternal salvation, the forgiveness of all your sin, shame and guilt. He died and rose again that you might live victoriously in this life and eternally with Him in heaven. And since the Holy Spirit lives in the heart and mind of every follower of Jesus, you have the power to overcome guilt on a daily basis.
1 How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! 2 How joyful is the man the LORD does not charge with sin and in whose spirit is no deceit! 3 When I kept silent, my bones became brittle from my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy on me; my strength was drained as in the summer’s heat.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not conceal my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and You took away the guilt of my sin.
6 Therefore let everyone who is faithful pray to You at a time that You may be found. When great floodwaters come, they will not reach him. 7 You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble. You surround me with joyful shouts of deliverance.
To overcome guilt, first you must receive the gift of salvation. Give the guilt of your sin to God. Notice that verses 1-2 above talk about how joyful is the person whose sin is forgiven! The first step to overcoming guilt is to run to the cross and find salvation.
To overcome guilt, thank God for forgiveness in the past. Do not carry that guilt into the future. Leave it at the foot of the cross. Verses 3-4 describe the weight that is felt when you try to carry your guilt. It hurts your bones. It affects you mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Verse 5 reminds you that God is the one who took away the guilt of your sin. The Bible also tells us that we can lay aside every sin and weight (guilt would be one of those weights) that we are carrying.
1 Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.
To overcome guilt, hide in God. Be set free from the weight of guilt by daily finding refuge in God. Now it may seem impossible to hide in God when He is the one you have offended most of all. He knows all about your guilt, even the guilt that you have hidden from everyone else. Like Adam and Eve who tried to hide from God after the weight of their sin overwhelmed them, we are often tempted to try to hide from Him. But truly the best place to be is in God’s presence.
When you take time to pray, listen to Him speak to your heart and mind, read His Word and truly abide in Him, you will find that He is the great burden-bearer. He loves you. He will give you rest. He will show the path to rest, to daily victory and to righteous living in accordance with God’s Word.
See John chapter 15 and also hear these words from Jesus:
28 “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
— My thanks to my friend Pastor Kevin Miller for a strong message on this subject at Hebron Church recently. His message inspired this post.