How Does A Christian Deal With Feelings Of Guilt?
Howard Coles, Coleford, England
Firstly, do not ever think that you are alone in having feelings of guilt. Most Christians, at sometime or another in their experience, despite having confessed and repented of sins which they have committed, continue to feel guilty about them. They ask the Lord to forgive, but still feelings of guilt persist and they just wish that they could undo the wrong that they have done.
However, to feel guilty, after sincere confession and repentance is not only a common Christian experience, it is also to misunderstand the greatness of God’s wonderful provision of forgiveness through Christ.
John confirms just how great this is in his First Epistle when he writes ‘But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us’, 1 John 1. 7-10.
So, these verses will confirm for us some very important facts concerning forgiveness:
- that upon confession of sins we can walk in the light with Christ and have unhindered fellowship with Him and other Christians;
- that it is deceit of self and a denial of truth of God to aver that we do not have sin;
- that once a sin is confessed, God is faithful and will forgive and cleanse;
- that this is all accomplished through the blood of Christ.
God wants us to know and enjoy the fact that we are forgiven but Satan no doubt wants us to continue to feel guilty. The book of Revelation says of Satan that he is the one who ‘deceiveth the whole world’ and he is ‘the accuser of our brethren’, Rev. 12. 9, 10, and what’s more we know he has been a liar since the beginning! John 8. 44.
But, however Satan may try to accuse us and make us feel guilty, God has countered this by declaring that we are as pure as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, for we are ‘made the righteousness of God in him’, 2 Cor. 5. 21.
We stand before God with no accusation outstanding for He has ‘blotted out the handwriting of ordinances (decrees of the law) that were against us, and which were contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross’, Col. 2. 14. The believer must be fully assured that because of the price paid by the Lord Jesus on the cross, God sees him as completely pure and holy, without any fault or blame before Him.
The believer must not therefore be unduly influenced by feelings, which are so easily changed. We must remember that nothing can change the facts in God’s word. This is where we must rest in faith.
So, when the believer has feelings of guilt and there is no basis for that guilt, that is no knowledge of unconfessed sin, then he must go to the truth of salvation contained in God’s word. This will assure him that he is loved by God, cleansed and forgiven by his heavenly Father on the basis of the blood of Christ and that there is no charge to answer.
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Saviour died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.
Count it as altogether accomplished in Christ!