Are You Living With Guilt That Doesn’t Belong To You?

Have you ever had someone say to you, “What kind of Christian are you?!? I thought Christians are supposed to help people in a crisis.” These words of condemnation can pierce the heart of one who has a desire to please God.

Sometimes parents put guilt on their children. One young girl told her mom that dad was sexually abusing her. Mother’s response, “Don’t you dare tell anyone about this! Do you want to be the one to send your daddy to prison and leave us with no food and no place to live?”

Living with guilt that doesn’t belong to us is a problem that robs Christians of the joy and freedom Jesus offers. Romans 8:1 states, “There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” But this simple promise seems like an illusive dream to those living with guilt.

Guilt from Others
Beth grew up in an alcoholic home, even the dog drank beer. Her parents gave her beer when she was only six years old. All through her teen years, alcohol was her constant companion. After high school she joined the Air Force. Then her mom met Christ, a commitment that grew deeper each year.

Beth came back home a drug addict and soon became a mother with two small boys. She used guilt to get money from her mother, “Look at the way you raised me! The way I am today is your fault!”

Guilt pierced the mother’s heart-and she often gave Beth whatever she asked for-money, assistance for the two small grandchildren, bailing her daughter out of jail.

Many times those we love the most are placing guilt on us that doesn’t belong to us. Some are experts at making you feel guilty if you don’t rescue them in their times of crisis.

Guilt from Your Past
Some of us don’t need any help from others to be flooded with feelings of guilt and condemnation. We look at our past failures and condemn ourselves. We have men and women coming to Teen Challenge who remember how they got other young people hooked on drugs. That guilt is multiplied when they see those young people die because of their addiction or become infected with the AIDS virus.

Ralph came to Teen Challenge after twenty years of drug addiction. He made several attempts to get his girlfriend into Teen Challenge. He felt tremendous guilt because he got her hooked on drugs. His newfound freedom in Christ was smothered in depression as he recalled the days of his past.

Does the guilt grow stronger the more you try to grow closer to God? You may face the repeating memory of past sins, and each time the movies play in your mind, waves of guilt and condemnation flood your heart.

But are you living with guilt that doesn’t belong to you?

You say, “Look at what I did! I deserve to feel guilty. I knew better, but I did it anyway.” So you pound yourself with guilt and condemnation. It may be guilt for recent sins or for sins of the past.

What does God say about this guilt? Romans 8:1 makes a simple declaration—“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

So why the confusion?

Christians live with guilt that doesn’t belong to them?

We live by our feelings instead of God’s truth.

When we feel the flood of guilt, we assume God agrees with our feelings. “I deserve to carry this guilt. Look at what I did!

How terrible!”

Does God use Guilt?
Oh yes. Guilt from God is a consequence of unconfessed sin. He uses it as a loud warning signal in our heart that we have a sin problem.

The solution is simple, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV) The words of Jesus reinforce this, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36 NIV)

Once we have confessed our sin, God will no longer use guilt or condemnation to remind us of ourpast. He wants us to enter His freedom, His peace-completely free of condemnation.

The familiar and much loved promise of John 3:16 is followed by this powerful declaration. Jesus said, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned.” (John 3:17-18a NIV)

True guilt is designed to lead us to repentance which leads us to God’s peace in our hearts.


Copyright © 2000, 2006 By David Batty. Used by permission.
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Tunya Adams – Making A Difference In Cynthiana, Kentucky

We are overjoyed to introduce Tunya Adams, our Living Free Ministry Award recipient for 2016. We love to highlight community servants and Tunya and her team are having much success using Living Free in her church plant and local community. We had the opportunity to speak with her about her start, her vision, and her advice on making an impact in your community.

When did you first become involved with Living Free?

Actually we began praying about getting involved with Living Free (Turning Point at that time) over 15 years ago. To become leaders, we were required to do the one day training and the Insight 10 week class. During that class I learned so much about myself and the needs of our community, but it wasn’t until 2008 that we did another training as a part of our Church Plant when we saw it take off. So we’ve been doing Living Free of Harrison County since March of 2009.

When did God begin to give you a vision for something more in your community?

When we started our Living Hope church plant in 2007, we knew we wanted to reach out to those hurting with addictions, but didn’t truly see the mission and vision until we opened up the church in the downtown area of Cynthiana. We were in the middle of it all.

God blessed our Living Free Ministry with His favor in our judicial system and community. We began to disciple and help people stuck in addiction and by 2016 we had helped over 163 individuals.

What were some of the steps you took to begin your Living Free Ministry?

We covered our efforts with prayer for many years, then our initial step was to start making contacts in the community so we could have a referral base. That’s when we started seeing God’s Favor. We met with any pastor, business or community leader that would listen to us.

What were some of the obstacles you faced?

The greatest obstacle was the spirit of religion here in our community. We have over 70 churches in our city with a population of 20,000. And that sounds great until you realize nothing has changed in most of those churches for 50+ years, so the people that attended and left those churches are just burn out on religion.

So we had to educate and demonstrate over and over that it’s about a relationship not a religion. Most churches still don’t see a need for this discipleship ministry, however the secular community has welcomed us with open arms.

What advice would you give someone who is looking to make a difference in their community?

  • Get to know your community’s needs. Don’t just assume you know them.
  • Schedule meetings with leaders, business people and religious leaders.
  • Get involved in your community before you start bringing anything to the table.
  • Prepare the people working alongside you, but go slow and prepare to stay awhile. Our community had seen many things start up and fall to the wasteside within a year or two. In order to earn the trust of the people, you have to have longevity.
  • And prepare for the success as much as you prepare for the setbacks. For example, don’t forget to celebrate the little victories out loud and to others. We sometimes can focus on just the setbacks and loose site of the ones we are truly helping. Not everyone will accept your help or care for your success in other people’s lives. But once you understand that, you won’t focus on the ones who reject your mission but on the ones we are ready to accept.