What does the bible have to say about guilt?Is it bad to feel guilty?Is guilt bad?It depends. Guilt based in truth can lead sinners (including sinners who call themselves Christian) to accepting their need for a savior.However, guilt based in false accusation can remind or condemn saved people of sins that have already been transferred to Christ and put to death with Him.This type of guilt comes from the Accuser (Satan) and denies Christís atonement for our sins.It can tempt true believers to forsake their inheritance of salvation for their spirit, deliverance for their soul, and healing for their body.They forsake it because they feel so guilty that they assume all or one of these 3 promises of Godís salvation do not apply to them.This is a worldly, not godly sorrow. It leads to death via renouncing your salvation by agreeing and relating more to Satanís work in your life than Godís.


Godís law brings guilt or godly sorrow which leads to repentance.The purpose of the law is to lead us TO Christ Ė not AWAY from Him because we relate more to our feelings of guilt and shame than to Him or His way of dealing with it on the cross.We can take our guilt and shame TO God because He has won our trust by dealing with it on the cross.He removed guilt and shame along with the sin that caused it.He is not holding a true Christianís sins (like guilt and shame) against them.


Romans 8:2 New International Version (©1984)
because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.


The teaching about righteousness establishes how righteous:

  1. Christ is by showing you (through Godís law) your sins that he paid for on the cross.
  2. you are since Christ is in your spirit and is blending with your soul and body.




The purpose of Guilt


Everybodyís guilty

Everyone except Jesus Christ (John 8:46) really is guilty.


James 2:10
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
(Whole Chapter: James 2 In context: James 2:9-11)


So everyone except Jesus Christ is guilty before God of sin.What is sin?


1Jo 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.


Anyone who claims to have not sinned, is a liar, because we all have, and we all do.


1 John 1:10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.(Whole Chapter: 1 John 1 In context: 1 John 1:9-11)



Dealing with guilt

ďIím not that guiltyĒ

People donít like to feel guilty.


Psalm 38
2 For your arrows have pierced me,
and your hand has come down upon me.
3 Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
my bones have no soundness because of my sin.
4 My guilt has overwhelmed me
like a burden too heavy to bear.


They try to deal with their guilt in unbiblical ways.One way that people try to deal with their guilt is by comparing themselves to others who appear to be guiltier before God than they are.Jesus confronts this directly:


Luke 18

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about[1] himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'
13"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'
14"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."


Matthew 21:32
For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
(Whole Chapter: Matthew 21 In context: Matthew 21:31-33)


Jesus was not concerned with who is ďmore guiltyĒ.He knew that we are all guilty, and on our way to Hell, unless we repent.He shifted the focus back to that fact.


Luke 13:4
Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them -- do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish."
(Whole Chapter: Luke 13 In context: Luke 13:3-5)


Kill the messenger

People generally do not like to deal with their guilt constructively.Instead they get mad a people who bring it up.Those who crucified Christ told his Gospel-preaching disciple:


Acts 5:28
"We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name," he said. "Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man's blood."
(Whole Chapter: Acts 5 In context: Acts 5:27-29)



Get some counseling

One person who angers many by bringing up their guilt is the Holy Spirit:


John 16
6Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt[1] in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:


Like a good counselor, He brings it up:He wants to help you deal with it.He convicts them of their guilt for the sins they have committed and not repented of.If they agree with him about their guilt, then they can receive His grace.If they disagree, they spurn his grace, or harden their heart.This is dangerous.However, some people go even further.If they donít want to deal with their guilt, and get mad at the Holy Spirit for bringing it up, they may want Him to go away and not return.They might think that guilt is BAD and that the devil, or some evil force is making them feel guilty.So they are attributing the work of the Holy Spirit as BAD work, or the work of the devil.This is what the Pharisees were doing when Jesus warned them thus:


Mark 3:29
But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin."
(Whole Chapter: Mark 3 In context: Mark 3:28-30)


Nor would such a person want to be forgiven.They are not willing to admit their guilt:How could they be forgiven?


If they wanted to, they could be forgiven by responding to the gospel.But they donít want to.Thatís why this sin is unforgivable.(Note to reader:If you want to be forgiven of your sin, then you are obviously not committing this unforgivable sin.)



More light = more guilt


Hardening your heart can lead to committing the unforgivable sin, however.Our guilt increases the more resist the Holy Spirit:


John 9:41
Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.
(Whole Chapter: John 9 In context: John 9:40-42)


John 15:22
If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin.
(Whole Chapter: John 15 In context: John 15:21-23)


John 15:24
If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father.
(Whole Chapter: John 15 In context: John 15:23-25)



The solution for guilt


We can break this cycle by responding to the gospel, which is the only constructive way to deal with guilt.


How not to deal with guilt

Here are some common solutions for guilt that are not constructive:


  1. glossing over our guilt
  2. trying to ignore it
  3. repressing it
  4. blaming others (people or God)
  5. pretending it does not exist
  6. calling GUILT (if it is the grieving of the Holy Spirit, or Godly sorrow) evil instead of rightly calling our old-self evil.


Some of these techniques may seem effective, especially if you harden your heart to the point where you donít notice your guilt.This is actually a curse though, not a blessing.God puts his heavy hand on those He loves.


Psalm 32
4 For day and night
your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, "I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD "-
and you forgave
the guilt of my sin.

6 Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you
while you may be found;


Follow verse 6 if you feel guilty about living in deadly sin.It could be your last chance to seek the Lord while you can find Him.




Godly sorrow

You can deal with your guilt in a way that leaves no regret:By embracing the truth of your guilt before God, and repenting.


2 Corinthians 7
9yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 11See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.


Be sure that your guilty feelings lead to repentance. Otherwise, you may be partaking in a ďworldly sorrowĒ that ďbrings deathĒ.True repentance deals not only with your past sins.It deals with what you can change: your present and your future.Donít commiserate about your past.Do not entertain self-pity.Spend your time obeying the gospel instead.


Act 3:19-20 GNBRepent, then, and turn to God, so that he will forgive your sins. If you do,(20)times of spiritual strength will come from the Lord, and he will send Jesus, who is the Messiah he has already chosen for you.


Peter gave these instructions to a crowd who was feeling very guilty.He had just confronted them with the fact that they were guilty of crucifying Jesus the Messiah.Anyone would feel guilty if they had done that right?Well, you and I have done just that.


Guilt begs a solution

Only the Gospel can constructively deal with guilt because the Gospel is true.It is not afraid to face the facts.


Isaiah 1
17 learn to do right!
Seek justice,
encourage the oppressed. [1]
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow.

18 "Come now, let us reason together,"
says the LORD .
"Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,


God offers a solution by removing the guilt of your previous sins and empowering you to live right and TRULY keep your conscience clear, by doing right instead of wrong.


Job 27:6
I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.
(Whole Chapter: Job 27 In context: Job 27:5-7)


1 Peter 3:21
and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you alsoĖnot the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge[ 3:21 Or response] of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
(Whole Chapter: 1 Peter 3 In context: 1 Peter 3:20-22)


1 John 3:19 We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him 20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.



Those who follow the gospel can truly be cleansed from a guilty conscience.


Hebrews 10
Christ's Sacrifice Once for All
1The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming--not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, 4because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
   "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
       but a body you prepared for me;
    6with burnt offerings and sin offerings
       you were not pleased.
    7Then I said, 'Here I am--it is written about me in the scroll--
       I have come to do your will, O God.' "[1] 8First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made). 9Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. 13Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, 14because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
15The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
    16"This is the covenant I will make with them
       after that time, says the Lord.
   I will put my laws in their hearts,
       and I will write them on their minds."[2] 17Then he adds:
   "Their sins and lawless acts
       I will remember no more."[3] 18And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. 19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.




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