Is it just me or does some of the guilt we have because of past sins/mistakes never seem to go away? There are somethings in my life I would like to just forget, but thanks to guilt I keep re-living them. Can’t we just move on?
I feel like Paul lived with a sense of guilt over his life as a Christian-murderer. Is guilt useful in our walk with God? If it is, I’m gonna freakin get taken up in a fiery chariot!
Guilt doesn’t seem to be an emotion God would use though. It doesn’t really spur us on as much as it cripples us to move forward. Using our guilt to change our lives and the way that we live is good for us. Allowing our guilt to turn to shame is where the problems come in. The Scriptures never want us to be shamed. Shame turns us away from God. Look at Cain in Genesis. Shame overtook him and when God came to speak to him, he turned away in shame and allowed his guilt to turn inside of him and take him where he didn’t need to go.
Even though guilt can be good for us, I don’t think it is healthy to have guilt that never leaves us. Guilt can ride on our backs like a monkey that doesn’t seem to get off. This is another problem. When God forgives our sin, he forgives and forgets it. There is no need for us to hold onto the guilt from our mistakes. So why do we? Is it because deep inside none of us feel worthy to be forgiven? Is it because we find a God that can forget our mistakes and sins against him almost too good to be true? Yes. We can’t/don’t forgive ourselves because we can’t comprehend a God who desperately wants us in spite of our flaws.
Guilt never seems to go away because we hold on to it. For me, the pain in some way feels good because it is a deserved punishment. My mistakes can’t be walked away from so easily… or so I want to tell myself. Again, as you can see this is flawed thinking. God doesn’t want our lives marred and tainted to the point that it cripples us from living for him. What good is guilt that cripples us and makes us unable to live a peace-filled life of joy that he has called us to?
The fundamental answer to the question is this: We (I mean I) don’t let God take it away. I want to keep it for myself. I feel I don’t deserve to relief that God offers me regarding my guilt. God want to take my guilt away from me. He doesn’t want me to suffer through guilt on my own.
The two most classic examples of guilt and human response to it in the New Testament are Peter and Judas. Judas sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. He obviously regretted (felt guilt) the choice when he tried to give the money back to the priests. When he couldn’t absolve himself he killed himself. Peter denied Jesus 3x in the courtyard and then ran out crying like a little girl. He was later reinstated at the end of John’s gospel and given a job to do. Peter came back to face his guilt head on and let Jesus take it away from him.
The key to overcoming our guilt is to face it head on and allow Jesus to take it away. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God… not even our guilt.