Guilt is a horrible thing. At least in my life it was and is at times. One thing compounded another thing in my life. One and one ended up being hundreds of things that placed guilt in my heart. Then not trusting people and feel horrible about me. I was going to write down a lot of what went on as a child, a teen, and for many years to come…but my story is not your story and we all have one. Maybe my story would help you or maybe it would bring things up that you, yourself, do not want to remember from your own life. If only we could just take an eraser and wipe our minds clean.
Growing up maybe you had missed opportunities, missed love, missed friendships, missed relationships with your parents, relatives, siblings, and someone special you wanted to be in your life but you blew it. People didn’t understand why you acted a specific way but you knew no other way to act. So much missed because you didn’t know how to deal with the pain in your soul and if you spoke about it who would believe you or even care? Some things are just better left unsaid if they would hurt someone else. Sometimes, if we tell someone the truth we would find out that they would hate us for the thing we said or did. People might dismiss your pain but it is your pain and it is real. How lonely we can feel in life no matter who is around us. Maybe no one understood you. As I said, I have no clue what you did or didn’t do growing up, in your teens or in your grown-up years. My story is my story and it holds great pain in me, but yours most likely does for you as well. We all have a story, things we would like to forget, but life goes on. My stories could break your heart and your stories break mine as well. We lived through it and now we feel the guilt of it even after a long time. I can tell you one thing though I never felt good enough to even be a member of my own family. How many things did we do in life we didn’t even know why but just did? Couldn’t anyone see we were crying out for help? Why didn’t we ever feel good enough? Why didn’t someone reach out and help us? Maybe they just didn’t know or understand how deep our pain was. After all, they could have their pain to deal with we know nothing about.
Oh, the guilt! Maybe even oh, the lies…. whatever the case may have been for any of us…it came with guilt. Sometimes way more guilt than a young person should ever have felt in life all put together. Maybe you even were punished for the things you did or didn’t do. Maybe you even deserved them…but they didn’t see your heart and what you were feeling now did they? Punishment is one thing and we deserve punishment for things we do, but sometimes people hurt us and we just couldn’t talk about it so maybe many of us acted out in rebellion. Maybe not even rebellion…just we had to do something to get attention even if it was bad attention. Can you even remember the way your parents or others looked at you when you disappointed them….it felt like a knife in your heart.
We are human! Well, part of humanity even. Guilt is that awful feeling that hits us in the pit of the stomach when we know we have done wrong, and we’ll do almost anything to get rid of it. I say almost because it has seemed even when we confess our wrongs…that ugly feeling just keeps popping its ugly head up again. Always seems to come too when things might be going well in your life.
Adam and Eve, God’s first two people He created, established a human pattern that continues to this day. First comes the cover-up. Then the play the blame game as we try to justify or rationalize our actions. We think that the more we can blame someone else, the less guilty we will feel…but that doesn’t fix it now does it? Of course not in the depth of our being.
Sometimes we try to escape from guilt through immoral activities such as alcohol, sex outside marriage, lying, stealing, cheating, drugs, vengeance, or a thousand other things. Maybe we even treat others like we somehow were treated as a child. Or we run to psychiatrists—but secular psychiatry has tried to solve the problem of guilt by saying there is no such thing as sin. Just ignore that guilty feeling, we’re told because it has no basis in reality. We try, but somehow we just can’t pull it off. Why not? Because sin must be dealt with even when the sin we did wouldn’t have come if our life was all peachy keen. Peachy is keen…where did that come from? We can’t go on blaming our parents, our neighbors, our friends, our siblings, our teachers, or whoever it was…we need to deal with this once and for all…godly! We might have been afraid of the consequences we will face of what was done to us or what we might have done to another…but I’d say that our minds being in bondage was a punishment. We can’t make people love us or like us. We can’t make people be our friends. We can’t make anyone understand us. Most people are a bundle of the mess they just hide the junk better than we do.
We can’t escape these feelings by ignoring them because God built into our natures a knowledge of right and wrong—a moral code. God’s Word speaks of the moral conscience, which exists even within those who are not aware of His laws. Very few people don’t have a conscience. Maybe a serial killer, rapist, etc…some people just are pure evil and love hurting people for the sport of it. They are sick in the head…but even they can meet Jesus.
Are you aware of sin?
There has never been a civilization on earth that didn’t have laws—rules about right and wrong. The thing though is many of those civilizations were so corrupt and evil that many people didn’t know if something was right because they were taught wrong. However, in every civilization, some good people did have morals and did right even though everyone around them did evil. Many in those civilizations might not have known God but they knew something in their conscience that made them do right over wrong. People might have hurt us or we might have hurt others but God is the One we offend when we sin, and only He can provide a remedy for our sin and guilt.
Jesus is the Answer to our Guilt
Jesus came to earth to die. He was the Substitute for you and He was the substitute for me—He took our punishment so we could be forgiven and made right with God. But what we don’t always understand is that God also wants us to be free from guilt. We learn this from His Word. However, I will add…to this was not easy to do or believe. After all, I lived this life. I know how I was hurt, what I did, what I didn’t do, and what people did to me. In my mind, God could forgive me…yes, but my guilt…my guilt…that guilt…still hung on and to this day it eats at me at times and overwhelms my heart because I can’t go back and fix anything. How I wish I could, how I wish you could also. Guilt is a horrible thing to hang onto. Just being real here folks because we are human and we deal with guilt in our life.
God wants us to have a clear conscience when we confess our sins
Having a clear conscience should be easy when we are saved…but is it always easy? It should be but it isn’t. We are human and maybe we just don’t fully understand that when God sets us free in our conscience we should take it, but just don’t feel we are…because how in the world could God forgive us for that/those things. We know God’s word says that when we confess God is faithful to forgive us and in our hearts, we know He does because God can’t lie….We know that through Christ, God has wiped our record clean. He wants us to know it, and to live in that freedom. “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Heb. 9:14). We read He forgives us and we know He can’t lie…yet, for many, it is hard to believe that God will wipe our slates clean.
We are sinners. Yes, I am, and yes, you are. We might not want to be, we try not to be, but no one is perfect except God no matter what people might tell you. Some people do way more sinning than other people, but all sin makes us fall short. However, God has given us a way out of our sins so we are clean. Confess them and repent (turn from them) and we are set free from them. The world though is not so forgiving. God can forgive us whatever it is, but people don’t always forgive, nor do they forget….so if anything comes up…somehow they love to rub our past in our face.
God demonstrates to us that when we confess/repent that He forgives us. He even accepted sinners who are or were horrible people (in our eyes). We wonder how God could forgive anyone who is so evil (mass murders, child rapists, drug dealers, traffickers, and the list is pretty endless, yet He can and does if that person turns from their sins and confesses.) That does not mean they don’t pay for their crimes here on earth, but God does forgive when the heart is right. We say how could that be? Well, how can He forgive us? Sin is sin and sin has consequences. We might not think someone should be forgiven if they are a horrible person that did horrible things, but we aren’t God and God sees their heart and who they can become, and will deal with the justice part. Even the worst of the worst of people can change. I’m glad I am not god…for I wouldn’t be fair in judging, but our God is fair. He can take the worst of the worst and turn their soul toward heaven. Be encouraged by that because we all need to get right with God and be forgiven.
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s eternal solution for human sin. When we trust Him, He not only forgives our sins, but He also cleanses our conscience of guilt. What happens to our sins? Once God has forgiven them, they are:
- Out of sight: “You have put all my sins behind your back” (Isa. 38:17).
- Out of mind: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Jer. 31:34).
- Out of reach: “You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea” (Mic. 7:19).
- Out of existence: “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isa. 43:25).
Our sins are gone, removed from existence, with God, as if they had never happened in the first place. We can start our new life with a clean slate. And God gives us His Holy Spirit to empower us with new strength. Have you been trying to make it on your own? Perhaps you have done things that have filled you with guilt, and you think if you’re sorry enough and if you do enough good things, you can make up for the bad. No way! So we see all this, we hear all this, yet we just can’t let it go…for how could God possibly love us after the things we did or said? He does and He can. Our part is to believe it. Why……………………..why can’t we sometimes let it go and just believe the truth of God’s word?
God shows us kindness, love, and mercy! But have we trusted our kind and loving and merciful God alone to forgive and to save us? If you haven’t, then we need to talk to Him in our hearts and tell Him we are through trying to earn your salvation (you can’t earn, buy, or bargain for it). Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness, eternal life, and a cleansed conscience. There is no other way. (Lord, take away all of the guilt we just keep hanging onto to)
When a believer sins, something happens that has to be dealt with. The sooner the better for sure. Our relationship with God cannot be broken, because we are His children by birth, but our fellowship with Him is injured and broken and we need to immediately deal with it. We need God in our lives and we need to be on the side of God doing good things.
When we are feeling guilty over the things we have done wrong in our life we don’t do the things we should be doing. We don’t pray as much, study God’s word as much, hang out with other Christians, etc. We have a guilty conscience and these things do point to the fact that our fellowship with God is injured. Because God loves us, God wants our fellowship with Him to be restored. And He has provided a way for us to continue being cleansed from guilt for sins we commit after our salvation. The apostle John tells us how it’s done: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).
Do you admit to the Lord when you sin? Do you ask Him to forgive you? Are you trying to change your direction to align with His word? Do you ask God to give you the strength to be an overcomer? We don’t always follow God’s directions for our cure for forgiveness. Sometimes we wait a very long time before agreeing with God that we have sinned. All that time guilt can eat its destructive way into our conscience.
God knows all about our behavior down to the littlest thing we say or do that does not line up with His word. Sometimes we go a long time with what seems like we have no conscience at all. But our God in heaven loves His kids. He wants us to have a good conscience and do things right. He does want to forgive us but to be forgiven we must confess we are sinners and turn from our sins. That is how God deals with us when we sin. God doesn’t let us get away with sinning forever. There are consequences if we don’t repent. We can’t go on stifling our conscience and ever think it is okay with God. We must listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Jesus paid the price for us so that we could be forgiven. Isn’t it time to now do things His way and stop trying to live our own? “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer” (Ps. 32:3-4). We should feel guilty when we do wrong. We feel this way so that we can change and make things right with God. How many of us see sin in the life of everyone else but look the other way when it is our sins?
Do you want your sins removed? Repent!
Don’t even try to make excuses for your sins. Don’t blame other people. Admit what you did, and why you did it, and ask God to forgive you. No matter who we sin against the ultimate offense is against the Lord. Always remember that there are choices of either right or wrong, and there are consequences for our actions. One act in our lives that caused us to sin can have a lifetime of sorrow over it. It can have a lifetime of pain, broken relationships, and so on, but the worst is to have a broken relationship with God.
Do you forgive yourself? Are you sure?
There are times in our life that we can feel lonely, rejected, unloved, and so on…when those times come many turn and do something they shouldn’t and wish they hadn’t but they did whatever it was and now they have a relentless conscience. Even when they confess their sins to God and repent them (turn from them) it is hard to believe that God would clear their conscience, so they won’t forgive themselves. God says they are forgiven yet they still try to punish themselves in their mind. When we are at our weakest the devil strikes in ways that tempt us to do things we never thought we would. Little by little, we fall under the attack when we should run to God and get the strength to overcome.
Even if you confess to the person that you hurt by your actions, and even if they forgive you, sometimes the guilt we feel inside tears us apart. We did something we never thought we would do and it hurt people we cared about…then depression comes, anxiety, not trusting others, and every other feeling we should have let go of because God says when we confess our sin He will forgive us. Doesn’t seem to matter what we do, how much we pray, how much we study, how many people we try to help…there it is…the guilt. It is ourselves we don’t forgive.
We can confess our sins over and over. But then I read Hebrews 9:14 to her: “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” Why don’t we even realize that by not accepting God’s forgiveness somehow we think we are a better judge than God Himself? Listen carefully here: We were each born with a sinful nature, and every one of us has (1 John 1:9 says, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness). We all can commit any sin in the book. I think it is time everyone to go back to what 1 John 1:9 says one last time and to agree with God that your actions were sins. Then tell God you accept His forgiveness and His cleansing of your guilt. We must act with our will to apply what God’s Word says. Then He will eventually take care of our emotions.
What can we do to cleanse our conscience? I take it one day at a time. You might need to do this also. Oh, I have my moments, but I’m healing. I study God’s word, give Him praise, learn of Him….and talk to Him in prayer. Hebrews 9:14. says, “New Living Translation
“Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins”. That verse can change your life. Claim it a million times if you must. Hang it up somewhere and every time you start to feel that guilt…read it and claim it in your life. It can change your life. The guilt can become less and less and you can move into the forgiveness that God meant for you all along. Maybe you have confessed over and over, but don’t think you deserve to be forgiven and have a cleansed conscience. The missing link is the act of the will to accept what God offers: We accept God’s forgiveness with an act of the will.
Guilt keeps us from serving God. Yet God can even use the sins we have committed to making us more effective in our work for Him. Only when we refuse God’s provision for forgiveness, cleansing, and a new beginning are we incapacitated by our past sins. That’s why we need to remember: That Satan wants us to be immobilized by guilt. We have an enemy whose main purpose is to keep us from serving the Lord. In Scripture, he is called the “accuser” of believers. If you continue to feel guilty for forgiven sins, you are hearing the voice of the enemy, not the Holy Spirit. Satan is a liar. Reject the fiery darts he shoots at your mind by holding up the shield of faith in the finished work of your Savior, and the devil will flee from you. If guilt is the obstacle that has kept you from growing in your spiritual life, won’t you lay down your burden at the cross? Accept God’s forgiveness. Let Him cleanse your conscience. And commit yourself to live in obedience to God’s Word and to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who lives within you. Your burden of guilt will be lifted—once and for all.
Hebrews 9:14. says, “New Living Translation
“Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins”.
Go to the cross and lay your burdens down…do it now!