Estimated reading time: 6 minutes:)
One thing I’ve noticed about myself is that it doesn’t really matter if something is my fault or not – I will always feel guilty.
Of course, more times than not I’m the one at fault – and thus (in my head) worthy of the guilt.
But often when things aren’t even my fault, I still feel guilty for them. Maybe you can relate?
Someone says something rude to you – and instead of understanding what they said was hurtful and forgivinging them, you automatically assume you deserved the comment. Or something circumstantial happens, some tough situation – and instead of understanding unfortunate things happen sometimes, you blame yourself for the pain.
Let me tell you, this tendency toward guilt has really shown its colors in marriage. And I’m starting to realize telling myself “I’m guilty” all the time is a lie – one that needs to be broken.
Here’s the train of thoughts I’ve slipped into these last few months:
Something frustrating or hurtful or hard happens, something that isn’t my fault. And instead of walking through it with Nathan as a team, I take the burden of feeling guilty about it all by myself. Which makes me view myself as the problem. Which makes me want to remove myself from Nathan constantly, in order to protect him from the guilt and shame I feel.
It’s a slippery slope that leads to distance, misunderstanding between one another, and even more hurt than there was to begin with.
But believing I’m guilty has become such a habit – how do I break the cycle and stop believing I should feel guilty for everything?
Think about the last time someone apologized to you.
Not just “I’m sorry I made you feel like that.” But “I’m really sorry. Will you forgive me?”
When you forgave them, did you leave that conversation hoping they would still feel guilty for what they did? Have you ever honestly forgiven someone and later felt like “oh man, I really hope they just feel completely awful for what they did for me. I wish them the worst”?
Of course not.
It wouldn’t be true forgiveness if you still wanted them to suffer for what they did. And guilt is suffering. It is internal, it is quiet, but it is suffering.
When you think about it, we deserve to feel guilty (and much more).
We’ve sinned. We sin every day. I’ll be the first to admit I’m selfish, rude, impatient, dishonest, afraid, weak, broken, and hurtful. For all the horrible things I’ve done, I should feel guilty – shouldn’t I?
But here’s the catch: someone forgave us. And that someone was the only person who could forgive us and it mean anything. That someone is…
YHWH-Tsidkenu ~ The God of Righteousness.
We understand such a small picture of what forgiveness looks like here on earth. But if we can understand that a forgiver doesn’t desire for the forgiven to feel guilt – then we can understand a taste of how God feels about you.
God does not want you to feel guilty like this.
And it is true – He is Yahweh-Tsidkenu, He is righteousness itself. He hates your sin. He hates being hurt by us. And He loves when we come to him in confession, repenting for our mistakes.
But after repentance and forgiveness, guilt does no good. Guilt only builds a cage around a soul God already freed with His forgiveness. And He doesn’t want to see His children chained.
John 3:17 says, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
Whether you deserve to feel guilty or not – He does not condemn you.
So the lie “I am guilty” tells us this: God hates you and your sin.
But the truth is this: God hates your sin but loves you deeper than you could ever imagine. And He wants to save you from that sin and set you free.
You might be wondering (as I often do), “I get it, I get that I’m forgiven. But I can’t stop feeling guilty no matter how hard I try. How do I stop?”
Isaiah 1:18 says, “ ‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ ” says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.’ ”
Let me tell you, God is the most practical person I know. He doesn’t just leave us in the dark with empty platitudes. He gives us plans of action, courses to take, roadmaps to follow. And when it comes to our guilt, he says “Come now, and let us reason together.”
He knows that when you sit down with Him and talk, you’ll begin to understand how He’s already set you free from guilt. He knows the moment you “reason,” the moment you think logically, the moment you begin to accept that maybe “I’m guilty” is a lie – is the moment you start to see yourself the way God sees you: white as snow. Forgiven. Clean. Righteous.
And here’s the brutal truth:
Remaining in guilt is offensive to the cross.
Believing in every situation that are you are guilty – that you should feel terrible, that you are the problem, that you are the root of all this strife – is to reject the forgiveness Christ died to give you. It’s a punch to the gut when I view it like that.
What is the gospel? We were sinful, broken, and GUILTY – but Christ died on the cross and paid the price we deserve. He laid down His life in the place of ours. He gave His righteousness for our guilt and made us whole again. Don’t you see? Guilt was destroyed 2,000 years ago. We were set free from it before we were even conceived. And the guilt you feel today is an illusion, a temptation, a lie the devil so desperately wants you to believe because it nullifies the gospel.
Beloved: you are forgiven.
You don’t have to work to prove yourself any longer. You don’t have to pay the price for all your sins. You don’t have to go around, feeling like you owe everyone something for your mistakes throughout the years.
As Jesus says to the woman caught in adultery: “I do not condemn you. Now go and sin no more.”
Of course God wants you to leave your sins. Of course He wants you to choose Him every day like a perfect Christian. But when you don’t – He forgives you. There is no place for guilt here anymore.
At the end of the day, judgement is the Lord’s. And what are we doing when we remain in guilt other than judging ourselves? I felt convicted reading 1 Corinthians 4 the other day – in it Paul discusses how we can’t truly judge each other or even ourselves. God will judge each and every one of our hearts at the right time – He is the only one who sees into each heart clearly (because we can’t even see ourselves clearly).
So who am I to judge myself? Who am I to condemn myself? I don’t even have the power to do so.
It’s not easy to believe the truth – which seems kind of silly and ironic when you think about it. I’ve recognized these lies aren’t just beliefs I have about myself – they are addictions to an unhealthy way of thinking. Guilt has been my default for so long, and addictions don’t just go away overnight. They take a lot of work.
So I’ve been praying a lot. I’ve been asking God to protect me from lies about guilt. I’ve been taking those lies and binding them in the name of Christ, sending them straight to hell. You can’t stop fighting.
One thing that’s helped me is to ask myself “is this an opportunity to repent?” every time I feel guilt wash over me.
Often times, feeling guilty is a trigger response to something sinful I’ve done or something sinful someone else has done. Taking a moment to discern between the two is so important. If I do feel guilty for something I’ve done, I’m learning to stop and repent, ask for forgiveness, move on, and do better next time. There is no holiness in dwelling.
If I’m feeling guilty for a circumstance outside of my control or for someone else’s mistake, I ask God to set me free from the guilt and to offer myself to help in any way I can. Guilt will cause you to shut down; doing the opposite is to take action, provide encouragement and grace for others, and forgive others better.
To sum it all up, we have been set free from guilt. So do you truly believe “I am guilty” is a lie?
“There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” You are no longer guilty. You are forgiven. You are free.
Happy Saturday ~ thank you SO much for reading! Caio 👋