Sunday morning I showed up for church and settled into the back row, ready for the teaching slot.
The topic was guilt.
An interesting subject given my guilt related stomach punch moment in the church car park only four days previous.
The speaker was a woman, a counselor and a person I have enormous respect for, and I found the talk incredibly helpful . I’m sharing what she said, and what I learned, here today because I think an explanation of guilt from a counselor in a Christian context might just be helpful to someone else.
Guilt is our thoughts about our behaviours
This is not the same as shame. Shame is feelings about our identity – ‘because I did / didn’t do this thing I am bad’.
There is false guilt and true guilt.
False guilt comes when you feel guilty about something that is unnecessary eg I should have finished everything on my to do list today. Why should you? Who made that rule?
True guilt is when the Holy Spirit prompts your conscience to recognize that your behavior doesn’t align with God’s character
What do we do about guilt ?
Figure out what has caused it, and then decide is it false or true guilt.
If it’s false guilt – let it go.
If it’s true guilt – confess and repent. Ask forgiveness of God. Recognise that you didn’t do what you wished you had done.
What if I still feel guilty after acknowledging the wrong doing and asking for forgiveness?
You still feel guilty because you think that you should be punished for your wrong doing. Until you have been made to suffer in some way you don’t really think that it has been dealt with.
[This is me. I am waiting for the punishment. I am waiting for everyone else to realize that I need to be punished. This means that the way I live and behave and feel every day is affected by my guilty feelings.]
But I did do wrong, and I need to be punished. That would be justice.
Yes. But that is what Jesus was dealing with when he died on the cross. He was taking YOUR punishment.
So the punishment for the wrong doing you now have guilty feelings about, was taken when Christ died.
So someone has been punished for the wrong I’ve done but it wasn’t me. I don’t need to wait for the punishment to come. I’m supposed to ‘go and sin no more’. How do I do that?
Well that is the moment when we have to choose to believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus and all that it accomplished, or not. If we do choose to believe then any guilt we continue to carry is fault guilt and should be ditched.
It’s really that easy. It’s not God who beats us up with guilt, it is our own selves. God wants to bless us not to bash us.
There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ
linking with Lisha Epperson and Give me Grace