A thought about guilt…
Posted on August 20, 2012
There is a common perspective that guilt is a method God employs to get our attention as we walk with Him. I want to challenge this perspective today from a biblical view point that I think will allow us to walk free, holy, and without guilt as a motivator for life and godliness.
Let’s begin by taking a look at Hebrews 10:19-22, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
Wow! Catch this. The blood of Jesus is intended to cleanse us from all guilt. If that is the case, why would we ever think guilt is a means or a method God uses to show us our faults and correct us?! God doesn’t use guilt or shame to bring us to a place of change. His kindness leads us to repentance and kindness is not indifference, its intimate.
Let’s look at another verse related to this subject of guilt, found in John 16:8-11, (speaking of the Holy Spirit) “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgement: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”
First, in verse 8 it states that the Holy Spirit convicts the world OF guilt, not BY guilt. What does this mean? I believe it means, people (who don’t trust Jesus yet) are carrying around guilt and shame because of sin and the open door it creates for the enemy to release his kingdom into their lives. Therefore, the Holy Spirit reveals to the world (through His people) the baggage carried that is no longer necessary for ANYONE to carry. He is revealing Christ in us as the new and living way for mankind to experience a new life while finding meaning and purpose. This is a huge difference from convicting people BY heaping guilt upon them to try to reform their ways.
Second, the conviction of sin is tethered to the fact that people don’t believe in Jesus not that people don’t behave themselves. We must see that all behavior is sourced in what people believe about God, themselves, and the world. Third, it state condemnation is tied to the fact that the author of lies, the devil, is already condemned. The Holy Spirit is actually convicting people that the enemy should not be trusted as he already stands condemned and can only give away what he possesses.
So, let us throw off the notion that God uses guilt to get His way. The truth is, He wants to lift guilt off of us so that we can run free, trust Him deeply, and walk as He did on the earth. This is not about performance, it is about truly being ourselves. For we truly are sons and daughters of God, made in His image and likeness, able to effortlessly bear the fruit of the Spirit and move in the power of God. This gospel is good news!