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!
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.