Dealing with Guilt

Dealing with Guilt

There’s no shortage of times when I’ve done something stupid and felt guilty afterward. Those times were often followed by feeling ashamed of myself and trying to figure out why I make such stupid decisions. Do you ever deal with guilt and shame?

Guilt is often that voice that tells you what you did was wrong. Shame is the voice that tells you what you did was wrong, and everyone knows it. Feelings of self-loathing and self-focus can follow it.

If you deal with them properly, guilt and shame can be great things. Here are two ways to deal with the guilt and shame in your life.

Choose repentance over remorse.

Remorse is not the same as repentance. Remorse is a strong feeling of regret and even sadness over something you’ve done. Which is good, but you can’t leave it there; otherwise, it will consume you.

Repentance is a heartfelt conviction from the Holy Spirit because of sin and your rebellion against God. It drives you to confess your sin to God, turn away from that sinful way of life, and turn towards a God-honoring way of life. It’s a whole mind, heart, and life change.

Let me put it this way.

Remorse feels bad and often focuses on self.

Repentance turns away from bad and pursues God.

In his betrayal of Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, Judas is a prime example of someone who stayed in the remorse stage but never made it to repentance. (Matthew 27:1-10) He tried to return the money when he realized what he did was wrong. But giving the money back wasn’t going to take away his sin. Only God can do that through repentance.

The Psalmist reminds us how to deal with guilt and shame when he says, “Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my Guilt is gone.” (Psalm 32:5)

Judas confessed his sin to the priests, but he didn’t confess it to God. 

Let Jesus take your guilt and shame.

After winning the World Cup in 1966, England’s Captain had the honor of ascending the stairs to receive the trophy from the queen. As he climbed the stairs, he became painfully aware of how pristine the queen was with her white gloves holding the trophy. And he became painfully aware of how dirty he was from playing on the grass field. So, he tried to wipe his hands on his shirt to remove the dirt.

No matter how much you try to wipe off your guilt and shame, it’s not coming off until you let Jesus take it. Jesus “personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)

When Jesus took your sin to the cross, He took all your guilt and shame with it. It was nailed there and buried in the grave, never to come out. 

What did come out was a brand-new life. And if you give your guilt and shame to Jesus, you can have one, too. The promise is that “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

No matter how badly you’ve messed things up, Jesus has a new life waiting for you, one free of guilt and shame.

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