Becoming Free of Guilt

According to Wikipedia, “Guilt is an emotional experience [a feeling] that occurs when a person believes or realizes—accurately or not—that they have compromised their own standards of conduct or have violated universal moral standards and bear significant responsibility for that violation.”  It is what we feel when we believe we have done something wrong.

One of the most critical distinctions in human experience is the ability to discern between true guilt and false guilt. 

True Guilt

From a Christian perspective, when we sin, the Holy Spirit convicts us and we experience true guilt (true guilt for true sin). 

  • When we repent of that sin, we are then free of it, and the Lord remembers it no more.
  • If we sin against another person and humbly ask that person for forgiveness, we are then free of that sin and the guilt that comes with it, regardless of whether that person forgives us or not.
  • If that person refuses to forgive us, then they have sinned in the eyes of the Lord.
  • Of course there may be consequences for our sin, such as being sent to prison for robbing a bank.
  • This is why Christians experience such tremendous freedom – because of this mechanism to resolve conflict, become free of sin, and therefore become free to enjoy the joy of the Lord.

False Guilt

False guilt comes from other people or from our culture.

  • Although the guilt may feel the same, it is false and has no sound basis.
  • From another person, it may be in the form of “should” – you should do this or you should not do that. 
  • Or it may be in the form of accusations or I win scenarios.  The other person may even mean well, but it is still false guilt as they try to get you to do something.
  • An example of false guilt from culture include taboos against minorities speaking out – not “staying in their place” in society.

Dealing with Guilt

  • Sometimes the best way to recognize false guilt is to step back and reflect on statements or behavioral patterns of people we interact with.
  • Questions to ask:
    • Is it really true?
    • Is the guilt based on true sin against the Lord and other people?  If so, repent quickly to get rid of it, and you will be free. 
  • If you struggle with some sin (and there are many), ask the Lord to help you deal with it.
  • To deal with a person who is projecting false guilt on you, make sure you have your spiritual armor on (Ephesians 6:10-20), and seek to respond with compassion, love and truth.  Ask the Lord how best to respond.

Political Ideologies and Truth

  • Political ideologies are important elements of culture and therefore sources of guilt.
  • Political ideologies, such as the isms (communism, socialism, capitalism, scientism, democracy, left vs. right, Democrat vs. Republican, social justice vs. classical justice, BLM, etc.) are WORLD VIEWS – a set of perspectives on how to see the world.  In many respects they are the color of glasses we wear as we encounter the world.
  • While each of them contain some truth, none of them are totally true.  And it is truth that will set us free.

Mark Peterson