Guilt can strike a most damaging blow to your sense of worth, leaving you feeling dejected, discouraged, and demoralised. Victims of childhood sexual abuse typically struggle with guilt even though they are not guilty of the abuse. A reason for the ongoing after-the-fact guilt is that they think or wonder whether they could have taken actions to lessen or stop the abuse. And because everyone has periodic sin (not doing what is right in God’s sight, whether in attitude or action), false guilt can get tangled together with true guilt.
Being pounded by prolonged guilt can strike a most damaging blow to your sense of worth, leaving you feeling dejected, discouraged, and demoralised. The problem with guilt is that it wears two faces – one is true, the other false. In order to know how to get rid of your guilt, you need to identify whether it is true or false. Then you can respond accordingly.
- False guilt is Satan’s way to shame you, condemn you, and produce disabling discouragement in you. Worldly sorrow produced by false guilt moves you to depression, despair, and death. False guilt arises when you blame yourself, even though you’ve committed no wrong, or when you continue to blame yourself after you’ve confessed the wrong and turned from your sin. False guilt is not resolved by confession because it is not based on sin but on false accusations aimed at making you feel unforgiven and unaccepted by God. “The accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.” Revelation 12:10. False guilt can be resolved by conferring with wise, objective persons – mature Christians – to help you determine whether the guilt you are feeling is false. If it is false guilt, remind yourself and your adversary, Satan: that you are not guilty or that you were guilty but have been forgiven by God. The Bible gives this assurance …“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
- True guilt is God’s loving way to convict you, correct you, and conform you into the image of Christ so that you will reflect His character more accurately. Godly sorrow over true guilt moves you to repentance, forgiveness, and freedom. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10. True guilt refers to the fact of your being at fault. True guilt requires payment of a penalty so that fellowship with God and/or others can be restored. True guilt can be forgiven by God as you admit you have sinned and confess your sin to Him. You can pray a prayer like this one: “Heavenly Father, I confess my sin of …… to you, and I am willing to turn from it. Thank You for Your forgiveness. I will rely on the power of Christ within me to overcome my times of temptation. Thank You for Your grace and mercy toward me. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.” When you deal with your guilt God’s way, God’s Word says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)