Summary: Guilt holds you down, and guilt holds you back, and it doesn’t have to.
Getting Past Your Guilt From Your Past
May 1, 2005
If we could somehow step on a scale today that measured the weight of our spiritual baggage, some of us would break the machine. So many people are groaning under the strain of the baggage in their spirits. That weight is called guilt. We all have it to some degree, and some are in the super heavyweight division. Your guilt is like a cancer eating you up on the inside, unless you do something about it. Some of you have become numb to the pain and energy your guilt causes you, and you have gotten used to dragging your stuff around, into every relationship, every challenge to try something new, and every chance to move forward with your life. Guilt holds you down, and guilt holds you back. It’s kind of like wearing ankle weights; at first, you’re keenly aware of the extra weight, but after awhile, you forget that you’re wearing them, even though it slows you down. You just get used to the “new normal”. There’s a lot of guilt in this room today, and I promise I haven’t been reading your e-mail; I just know that to be true because we’re all human, and we all have done stuff to make us guilty. Boy, aren’t you glad you came today to hear that? I bet that makes you feel really good about yourself.
Here’s some very good news:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, Romans 8:1 (NIV)
Webster’s says this about condemnation: it means “to declare guilty, to inflict a penalty upon, to doom, to declare unfit for use.” The Word of God says NO condemnation for those who are in Jesus, who have trusted Him to remove their sin and guilt.
Any time you read the word “therefore”, you should ask yourself, “What’s it there for?” the first seven chapters of Romans lay it all out: holy God, sinful man, coming wrath, perfect Savior, Jesus Christ crucified and risen, made right by faith, made holy by faith. Then Paul says, in view of all that- he sums up the message of God’s love: "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." That’s the essence of who Jesus is and what He did. That’s the central, foundational message of God’s love to the world. This is the good news we announce. This is what we share, with the nations and the neighborhoods: No condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. How does that sound? I bet that sounds really good to those of us who are ridden with guilt.
How do you get past your guilt from your past?
1. Stop beating yourself up
You know what they say; guilt is the gift that keeps on giving. We keep guilting ourselves, and we make ourselves feel lousy. We condemn ourselves, and criticize and berate ourselves and say, "I shouldn’t have done that!" And we condemn and condemn ourselves. Instinctively we try to pay for our own guilt, but it just doesn’t work; it backfires.
My guilt has overwhelmed me; like a load it weighs me down.
Psalm 38:4 (NCV)
There are a lot of forms of self-punishment. Illness is one- you can make yourself sick. Depression can be a form of self-inflicted punishment. You wallow in your pity until you can’t get out. Maybe this is you- you setting ourselves up for failure, because you fell this is your just reward. Just ask a counselor how often they see that in dating relationships. Have you ever heard somebody say, "I don’t deserve to succeed.” That’s saying, "I’m guilty, therefore I’ll fail." The ultimate form of self-punishment is suicide. Suicide is now the number one killer of college students and the number two killer of high school students. Why? Because people feel condemned even at that young age.
We have to begin by seeing that we can be our own worst enemy. Beating yourself up doesn’t fix your pain. It just reopens the wound. Through Christ, we can find the relief we’re looking for. We don’t need to beat ourselves up. Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross so you could stop nailing yourself to a cross. Jesus Christ was crucified so you could stop crucifying yourself. Ask God to help you stop hurting yourself.
2. Stop letting others beat you down
Is there some one person in your life that is keeping you stuck in your guilt? If you have someone like that in your life, you won’t have to look far to find that person. It’ll be someone close- chances are it’s a parent, a sibling, a girlfriend or boyfriend, a spouse or ex-spouse.
You have the authority and the ability to end the misery. The may never change what they say or do to you, but you can change how you respond to them. Determine today that you will not let anyone steal what rightfully belongs to God- the determination of your value. Only God can say what you’re worth, because He is your Creator, and He says you are His own.