North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose

Guilt can hold a very powerful influence upon us. Sometimes it’s like a dark cloud that just won’t go away. Many people live with guilt when they don’t have to. Let’s consider guilt for what it is. Sometimes a person will assume responsibility for a negative event even when there’s no basis for doing so. A guilty feeling implies that you’ve done something you shouldn’t have or failed to do something you should have. Guilty feelings are real and should not be ignored. Feelings of guilt can be a call to action; being sorry for committing sin. Note what Eve did: She looked, she took, she ate, and she gave. The battle with sin is sometimes won or lost with the first look or first thought. We would win over temptation more and prevent guilt if we would take the Apostle Paul’s advice and run from those things that produce negative thinking (2 Tim. 2:22). But guilt can also be positive when it leads us to try and correct our mistakes or to seek out forgiveness and reconciliation.

After Eve sinned, she involved Adam. When we do something wrong, often we try to relieve our guilt by involving someone else or by blaming someone. Like toxic waste spilled in a river, sin swiftly spreads. Your sin and mine always affects others whether you realize it or not. After sinning, Adam and Eve felt guilt and embarrassment over their nakedness. Their quilt made them try to hide from God. Guilt is good when it’s recognized as a warning signal God placed inside you. It goes off when you’ve done wrong. You might even call it conviction or a guilty conscious. Nevertheless, the worst thing you can do with guilty feelings is to try and eliminate them without eliminating the cause.

Sometimes guilt and regret are treated as equals. A wellness expert once told me remorse and regret stems from awareness that you’ve hurt yourself or another person. Remorse and regret stem from blame-worthy behavior. Guilt stems from a sense of self-blame and is often based on distortions of our thoughts. This becomes the devils playground. Distorted thoughts are tools Satan himself uses against us. Distortions underlie our guilt and one of these thoughts is that you’ve done something wrong, when in actuality you haven’t. Put things in perspective and ask yourself if whatever you are blaming yourself for is really so horrible or wrong? Maybe you’re magnifying yourself out of context. Maybe you need to share it with a trusted friend or counselor to get an objective opinion.

Another distortion of thought is labeling yourself as a “bad” person who can’t do anything right. Satan will go to hell and back to get you to believe this! Reject it! For he knows if you don’t believe in yourself and the good things God has planned for you (Jer. 29:11) you will never reach the potential for yourself. And perhaps never ever start or attempt to enjoy the richness of God’s great blessings. Guilt will also come to you when you inappropriately assume responsibility for something you didn’t cause. Psychologists call this personalization. Don’t let Satan stunt your spiritual growth and maturity by believing his lies about you. The Bible says this about Satan: “…the devil has nothing to do with the truth. There is no truth in him. It is expected of the devil to lie, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

Another distortion that leads to guilt is the irrational use of “I should of” statements. We all have to live with the full-knowledge we’ve made some bad decisions or neglected to do something we know we should have. Don’t allow yourself to dwell on this fact, but try to accept it, and if possible, take actions to correct the situation. If it’s a situation that has long since taken place, understand guilt doesn’t make you aware of something new nor help you change. Free yourself of the guilt and “press on” (Phil. 4:12).

How do we rid ourselves of the gnawing accusations from our subconscious? It’s important to know we don’t cure guilt in our lives by ignoring it or rationalizing our behavior, but by setting our heart on God’s love. When you feel the barometer of guilt begin to rise within and you feel defeated; connect with Jesus. “…God has made a way to make men right with Himself…men become right with God by putting their trust in Jesus Christ. God will accept men if they come this way” (Rom. 3:21-22).

Trusting Christ means putting your confidence in Christ to forgive your sins, to make us right with God, and empower us to live without guilt and to live the way He taught us. God’s solution to guilt is available to all of us regardless of our background, decisions, or past behavior. Christ will free you of guilt, if you let him: “…because of this, those who belong to Christ will not suffer the punishment of sin. The power of the Holy Spirit has made us free from the power of sin and death (and guilt)…” (Romans 8:1-2).

Sin and guilt will destroy you, but there is hope in Christ. Jesus has declared us “no longer guilty” as a permanent state, because he has taken on our sin. He died on the cross, so that our soul might live forever. The Bible says, “Our heart may say that we have done wrong. But, God is greater than our heart. He knows all” (1 John 3:19-20). Hang your guilt on this—God is greater than all your sin. Find a church where you can take your family and celebrate this fact!

This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and a 1LT Chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at

Posted by on May 19 2013. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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