Summary: A sermon dealing with guilt, what it is, the two different types of guilt and how we heal from guilt and shame.
Spiritual First Aid
“Grappling with Guilt”
Have you ever felt guilt?
Have you ever been sitting or driving somewhere when all of a sudden you remember something you did or said that you shouldn’t have? Or maybe it was something you thought about that would bring shame if anyone ever knew?
And this overwhelming feeling of guilt comes flooding over you, and all you feel like is turning into a hermit and going somewhere safe far away.
And this is exactly what the enemy of our souls, Satan, desires most, because he’s the one who is manipulating the situation. But there is one thing that we need to know about Satan, and that is he’s a murderer, liar, and the father of all lies. (John 8:44)
But it’s just as true that while he is our accuser, he really doesn’t have to reach very far to find something to accuse us of, and that’s because we all stand guilty before God.
The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” that is, we all fall short of God’s holy and righteous standards for life. (Romans 3:23)
The Bible also says, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10 NKJV)
Notice that it says, “all have sinned,” and “there is none righteous.” This is universal, which means that everyone has this sense of feeling guilty. In other words, it’s a common everyday emotion, but when it goes unresolved it can do great harm.
Guilt and shame are deadly and can do great damage, not only to us, but also to those that are around us. Guilt makes us hesitant to embrace life to its fullest by causing us to avoid people, especially if we believe we’ve done them harm or wrong.
And in Mesquite, what this means is that you go shopping in the middle of the night, because in a small town you can’t go to the grocery store without running into someone you know or that knows the situation.
Yet, while I use these words guilt and shame together, there is a difference between the two.
Guilt stems from a failure on our part to meet certain standards of behavior. Shame on the other hand is personal. It’s a failure to meet our own standards. Guilt is about what we’ve done, while shame is about who we are.
The weight of guilt and shame is often quite heavy, often times too heavy for us to bear and it stops us from living the life God has purposed for us.
Guilt literally eats away at our time, and makes it difficult to concentrate and think straight, negatively affecting our productivity, not to mention our creativity.
But there is good news. God has a prescription for dealing with guilt and shame. There is a way we can have our record swept clean. There is a way our guilt can be erased!
The good news is what we know as the gospel.
Yet, before we can look at how the gospel can help with our guilt and shame, it’s instructive that we look at exactly guilt is, and the two types of guilt that exists.
What is Guilt?
The word “guilt” comes from the root word in Old English language meaning crime.
Guilt is the painful emotion people experience when they believe their actions, whether real or imagined, have violated a moral or personal standard.
Sometimes it’s goes back to our early childhood believing that somehow we didn’t live up to our parents’ expectations and live with this perpetual felling of guilt. Guilt also rears its ugly head when we believe we’ve harmed others through our actions and/or inactions.
Guilt and shame have been linked to some really messed up emotions. It brings about obsessive-compulsive disorder, a mental disease where people need to continually check things and repeatedly perform rituals. Guilt and shame are also associated with various anxiety disorders as well as an increased risk of suicide.
Guilt and shame paralyze us. They hold us in bondage, and until we learn how to deal with them, which we’ll learn in our section on healing from guilt, we’ll never break guilt’s chains and open the its prison doors to freedom.
Types of Guilt
To properly heal from guilt, we need to distinguish between genuine or positive guilt, and false or negative guilt. We also have to learn how to properly respond to the type of guilt we’re experiencing.
At the root of negative guilt is the false idea that God will never forgive us. It’s the belief that our sin is far too great. Basically it’s a failure to believe God’s word and the forgiveness He offers through His Son, Jesus Christ.
We need to understand what the Bible says about God, that He is not like you are I, that He doesn’t lie. Instead God keeps His word, and there is nothing we can do to change that reality. (Numbers 23:19-20) – If God has said it, then He will do it!