Guilt does not want you to be free. Guilt keeps you focused on your failure, your weakness, where you don’t measure up, and where you’ll never be good enough. Guilt creates on obsession with self that enslaves and brings even greater disappointment and heartache.
In part 1 of the blog, “9 Dangers of Living With Guilt”, we looked at the first 4 dangers of living with guilt. Today we look at the remaining 5. As we do, we stand at the cross of Jesus Christ and marvel as it shows us that God never intended for us to live with guilt.
5. Guilt will make you miserable
Guilt brings pain. It has no power to bring about life, love, and freedom. Guilt looks away from the cross and drives me inward with despair.
In a very personal moment of writing, the great leader of faith in the New Testament writes about his struggles with guilt. The more he focused on always trying to do the right thing and avoid doing the wrong thing, the more misery it brought.
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Romans 7:15 & 24
This is not how Jesus intended us to live! This is not a commentary on life with Him! This is a description of what life is like when we live under the guilt of having to do good before we can have the favor of God!
It wasn’t the end of the story.
Paul goes on to describe the release that he experienced because of the full forgiveness and acceptance from Jesus.
Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus… For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 7:25 & 8:1, 3-4a
That is the commentary of life with Jesus! No condemnation! No guilt! All is paid! All is forgiven! The end of misery! The beginning of real life!
6. Guilt will cause you to misunderstand the voice of God
God’s voice always points to His Son. The Holy Spirit brings glory to the Son. They direct all to what happened at the cross. They point to forgiveness, love, and peace there.
But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. John 15:26
There is another voice that speaks to the soul. It is a voice that attempts to mimic the voice of God. That voice wants you to believe that when he speaks that you are hearing from God. And he is good at what he does. The difference however is that he speaks with accusation. He points out your failure with no hope. He reminds you of what you’ve done wrong. The final book in Scripture tells us about him.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony Revelation 12:10-11a
Accuser is his name.
With accusation comes guilt, shame, the need to punish, the weight of not being good enough. This is not the voice of God. The voice of God speaks with the tone of the cross. Where there is sin there is grace. Where there is great sin, there is even greater grace.
The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:20-21
It takes time to learn to distinguish the two voices. We must learn the difference. The Father speaks and it leads to life! The Accuser speaks and it leads to despair.
7. Guilt will affect how you relate to others
Those who live with the weight of guilt in their life will pass their frustration on to others. Because they live under pressure, expectation, demands, guilt, fear, and intimidation, they soon find themselves unknowingly relating to others in the same way.
- They measure what’s done for them vs. what they do for others.
- They are easily hurt and disappointed at what others have not done for them.
- They push others away with their demands and obsession with attention.
- They find it difficult to give when others are giving to them.
- They feel a need to point out others failures.
8. Guilt will make its slave
Guilt can never make you free. Guilt makes you look for ways to feel worse. Guilt seeks out others who will remind you of your failure, your faults, and what you ought to be doing. Guilt leads to more guilt.
In a very sad narrative, the second letter to the church leader Timothy describes some women who are consumed with guilt. As a result of carrying around guilt they are gullible and susceptible to people who will take advantage of them. Guilt so enslaves them that even though they look for ways to be closer to God they only find themselves further away. They never arrive at the truth of what Jesus did for them to enjoy – complete forgiveness. Guilt never lets you out of its hold. Guilt reminds you of your inability and failure. Guilt keeps you enslaved.
For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:6-7
9. Guilt will keep you enslaved in habits
Guilt does not want you to be free. Guilt has no power to make you free. The way to freedom over destructive thoughts, actions, and habits has to come through something bigger than guilt. That power comes to us when we experience the grace of God! As we discover the depth of God’s love for us, the immensity of the forgiveness we have received, and the treasure of being made righteous by Christ, we have a new life force unlocked in us.
Guilt wants more guilt. God wants us to be free.
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin Romans 6:6
We gain freedom over every habit as we see ourselves as one with Jesus:
- loved like He is loved by the Father
- treasured like He is treasured by the Father
- accepted like He is accepted by the Father
- favored like He is favored by the Father
- righteous like the Father sees Him
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:11
We are invited to walk about with great freedom in the wonder of Jesus Christ. The more we walk about in the vast, lavish treasure of Him the more we find ourselves free from giving in to sin.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16
Guilt will not want you to believe these truths. Guilt will tell you these cannot be true. Guilt will not want you to be free from guilt. The greatest thing you can do today is believe; believe in what Jesus did for you; believe in who Jesus is in you; believe in who you are in Jesus.
Shut out the voice of guilt in your life.
Hear the voice of the Father!
You are free!