Many people struggle with overcoming Guilt in the Church and the world. Guilt is an awful counterfeit for the Holy Spirit. It brings condemnation to individuals and error to the Church by reminding you of what you have done wrong without providing a means of redemption. Guilt give us these thoughts on repeat and, for instance, says, “I should have known better.” It makes us feel as if we will never live down our mistakes and failures because we are unforgivable. Guilt might even motivate us to do the “right things” for the wrong reasons. Some are motivated by fear of judgement by other people or because of their belief that God won’t love them if they fail. At Be in Health, we see a multitude of diseases and problems coming out of Guilt issues—we see it essentially “eating people alive.”
The first step to overcoming Guilt is to establish that it is an evil spirit. It is not us, but it has joined us in our lives. Often, we have been trained by Guilt for so long that it becomes difficult to recognize its thoughts. We may even become addicted to Guilt. Guilt is not simply a defective way of thinking, and we can never rationalize away our Guilt. We can only begin overcoming Guilt when we recognize it is an evil spirit and say, “You are not me. I’m not listening to you.”
Guilt Coming from Unforgiveness
I believe a primary reason why so many people struggle with Guilt is because our households have not practiced forgiveness. I would say it’s the exception to find a home where people actually forgive one another. I suspect it is common to find homes where people remind each other of their past failures and hold it over each other’s heads. We were taught to keep a record of wrongs as a protection mechanism. We remembered everyone else’s sins so we could throw out their past failures when they hammered us with ours. It was the ammunition that fueled the war in our home.
Perhaps we assume that God keeps a record of our wrongs, too. Do we believe He will bring up our sins again after we have repented? Or do we believe He forgives us and the sin is gone? The truth is that God will not bring up our sins again when we stand before Him. Let us understand how remarkable it is that He forgives us. It is a miracle that He gives us righteousness, and we must not take it for granted.
We Must Forgive
So, if Guilt comes from being trained in Bitterness, how do we change our future outcomes? Jesus commanded us to forgive. We need to let go of people’s past sins against us even if they are unwilling to forgive us. Jesus told Peter, who thought he was being really spiritual when he asked if he had to forgive seven times, that he actually had to forgive 490 times.
21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Matthew 18:21-22 KJV
Jesus was basically saying the number of times we should forgive is beyond our ability to count. His next parable was also about forgiveness and the debt of unforgiveness. If we want forgiveness from Father God we must be willing to give it to others. If we have been living in Bitterness toward others we need to repent to Father God for following after unforgiveness toward others.
23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. 29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. Matthew 18:23-25 KJV
Forgiveness is the Solution
When ministering, we recognize unforgiveness when someone says, “You hurt me.” When I hear a person say that someone hurt them, that is Bitterness speaking out of their mouth. Dr. Henry W. Wright used to say, “pierced, but not wounded.” This means that we will feel pierced when someone says or does something awful or betrays us. But what we do in the next moment is the difference between Bitterness and freedom. If we internalize the hurt done against us, we have now fallen into sin and a spirit of bitterness or unforgivness join our life. They speak to us and remind of us that hurt until we repent to Father God. However, in that same moment, if we say, “God, as much as I don’t feel like it, I’m releasing this offense to you. Father, I’m letting it go. You are the Judge. I’m not the Judge.” This is how we find freedom—the answer is to forgive.
Forgiveness is the linchpin of understanding love. Love is not taking an account of wrongs done against us. God forgiving us is a huge deal. Apart from forgiveness, we would have a huge debt, also known as the curse. Some of these curses can be found in Deuteronomy 28.
So, we must evaluate how we behave as humans. I want to have freedom from Bitterness and Guilt and curses. Perhaps part of the reason why we struggle with so much sickness in our lives is because we’re not willing to forgive and receive God’s forgiveness. Are we willing to operate in faith and trust God would forgive anything we have done? We are completely dependent upon Him because our own best efforts and works cannot produce righteousness apart from Father God working with us by the Holy Spirit.
Another component of walking out of Guilt involves becoming free from Accusation. The Bible says we accuse others of what we, ourselves, do. It is one tactic to try and shift Guilt off of ourselves—to point the finger at another person. It’s a way to say, “Look over there,” so we can get the attention off our own misdeeds and guilt.
¹Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. 2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. 3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? Romans 2:1-4 KJV
When we are so outraged at another’s sin, it might be because we have just had discernment for ourselves. Perhaps we are doing the very thing we are accusing others of. But thankfully, we have a God who knows exactly what we’ve been through. And He leads us to repentance because He wants to remove the sin from us.
The Gospel must include a change of heart and the stopping of pointing the finger. We must stop hurting and condemning one another. The “good news” instructs us in how to love and care for others, how to allow God to be the Judge, how to allow His Word to convict our heart to change, and how to start embracing that forgiveness is a gift. The message of forgiveness brings transformation and sets us free from Bitterness, Accusation, and Guilt.
Elder, Hope of the Generations Church
This blog is an excerpt from a message called Overcoming Guilt from October 23, 2022. The entire message can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14WeK5b5DtY
Bonus! Free Printable Poster “Overcoming Guilt”