Bible Study Helps and Lessons
By Pastor George Rice
Believe it or not, feelings of guilt are normal. Problems arise when people deal with guilt in a dysfunctional way or have no ideal how to deal with it at all. People have feelings of guilt when they realize that they have done something wrong or have sinned. Here are some things that the Bible says about guilt and forgiveness. Take the time to look up the following passages of Scripture.
1. Jesus said that part of the job of the Holy Spirit is to put us on a guilt trip - John 16:8. Therefore when we feel pangs of guilt for something we have done or said, it is the Holy Spirit working on us and the feelings of guilt are normal and healthy. Now what do you do the these feeling of guilt?
2. The reason the Holy Spirit puts us on a guilt trip is to bring us to the only One who can resolve the guilt and the wrong that caused the guilt - 1 John 1:8-2:2. If we are willing to confess our mistake to Jesus and the one(s) who were wronged by our mistake, we have the promise that we will be forgiven. Jesus does not want us to do wrong. But when we do, and we go to Him in confession, He is there as our Advocate.
3. If we are willing to ask for His help, He will protect us from behavior that leads to guilt. For example, He gives us the promise that He will keep us in His hands and no one will be able to snatch us from His protection, unless we deliberately separate ourselves from Him - John 10:27-29. We have the assurance the He can strengthen us and keep us from falling into sin - Jude 24, 25. Then He assures us that He will keep us from the evil one (Satan) - 1 John 5:18 (RSV, NIV).
4. The amazing thing is that God wants us to come to Him with our wrongs so He can remove the feelings of guilt. Micah says that God will cast our sins into the depths of the sea - 7:18, 19. Paul, quoting Jeremiah, says that God will remember our sins no more when we lay them at His feet - Hebrews 8:12. Isaiah says God will blot out our sins like a cloud - Isaiah 44:22.
5. After committing adultery and murder, David humbled himself before God, confessed his sins, and sought forgiveness. God forgave him. Believing that God had forgive him and freed him from the feelings of guilt, David said, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Bless is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, an in whose spirit there is no deceit’ - Psalms 32:1, 2.
6. To experience forgiveness and freedom from guilt, a person must recognize that this experience is rooted in Jesus’ sacrifice - Colossians 1:13, 14. At the cross we find the cleansing fountain that will wash away all sin and all guilt.
7. Because we are forgiven, Jesus says we must be willing to forgive those who have wronged us - Matthew 6:12, 14, 15. In fact, God’s forgiveness of our sins is dependant on our willingness to forgive those who have wronged us. Paul tells us to forgive others as God forgives us - Ephesians 4:32.
Remember that feelings of guilt are normal. In fact it is evidence that God loves you and the Holy Spirit is trying to bring you to an experience of peace. How you address the feelings of guilt is the answer to the problem. Follow the biblical model.
Here is a word of assurance from one of my favorite authors about guilt and forgiveness, “If you believe the promise,–believe that you are forgiven and cleansed,–God supplies the fact; you are made whole, just as Christ gave the paralytic power to walk when the man believed that he was healed. It is so if you believe it.
“Do not wait to feel that you are made whole, but say, ‘I believe it; it is so, not because I feel it, but because God has promised .’”–Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 51.