One of the heaviest burdens a woman will ever carry is guilt. Most of us who know the weight of guilt and shame. Sometimes it is because of something we have done and other times it is because of something others have done to us. How often have you done something that you are ashamed of and been overwhelmed with guilt? And how often have we carried that burden around for days or weeks or even years?
A lie that we all to often believe is that this shame and guilt is a form of punishment from God. That He wants us to carry the burden of guilt as a form of penance because we have been bad. But this is far from the truth.
There are two kinds of guilt that theologians talk about and that we all deal with:
1. Felt Guilt
Here is the uncomfortable truth. If we do something wrong we should feel guilty about it. I should feel the painful pang of guilt on days where I am unkind in my words and tone towards my family. It should bother me. My conscience should poke me and let me know that that kind of behavior is not alright. When we are mean, ungracious, unforgiving, hard, harsh, selfish, lazy, prideful, immoral (the list could go on, but I think you get the point), we are not honoring or glorifying God or acting in a way that is becoming of someone saved from God’s judgement and wrath. The natural consequence of sin in the life of a believer is the felt conviction that we did wrong.
While ungodly behavior or wrongdoing should bring with it the feeling of guilt, that feeling serves a purpose beyond itself.
The purpose of felt guilt is to grieve us over our sin, move us to seek the forgiving and restoring grace of God, and endeavor to walk in the way of holiness. This guilt is a gift, not a punishment. It is an aid to the believer who responds to it well.
2. Actual Guilt
Felt guilt is an experience of internal conviction. Actual guilt is a spiritual state of being with condemnation for our crimes.
David Platt points out that, from the beginning of the Old Testament, God is constantly delivering His people out of shame and restoring their honor. As a matter of fact, the first promise in the Bible is a promise of deliverance after Adam and Eve had sinned (Gen. 3:15).
That promise was fulfilled on the hill at Golgotha, where God took our guilt and shame and placed it on Jesus.
I love the song that says …
O Christ, what burdens bowed Thy head!
Our load was laid on Thee;
Thou stoodest in the sinner’s stead,
Didst bear all ill for me.
A Victim led, Thy blood was shed;
Now there’s no load for me.
Written by Anne Cousin 1864-1906, sung by Amanda Greene
Our actual guilt before God is what Jesus took upon Himself on the cross. This means that, on the deepest level, we are no longer guilty before God. We may feel those pangs of guilt when we do something wrong throughout our day and life, but ultimately that shame and guilt CANNOT condemn you. Your ransom has been paid, your sins forgiven, your guilt removed and your life restored.
Do not believe the lie that the guilt and shame you experience is a punishment from God. Jesus has been punished in your place.
Instead, the shame and guilt we experience are natural consequences for doing something we shouldn’t have done. It should be a reminder that we are not perfect but have a perfect Savior who not only was punished for that sin, but is there to give us the power to overcome, grow, and change.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
This is a great and powerful verse that we should know inside and out so we can fight against that lie that shame and guilt are our punishment. Not only has our slate been wiped clean, but it remains clean all because of the beautiful and undeserved sacrifice of Jesus.
Looking to Jesus,
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