Guilt, what a condemning word. The world calls it a moral emotion that occurs when a person believes or realizes—accurately or not—that they have compromised their own standards of conduct.
Stephen Phinney | IOM Contributing Author
Their heart is false; now they must bear their guilt. The LORD will break down their altars and destroy their pillars. (Hosea 10:2)
While their worldview has some truth, the Bible holds a more potent view. The word comes from ashem – deriving from shame. Furthermore, it implicates punishment and eternal condemnation. It is a state of offending God.
Years back, I was counseling a young man who suffered from overwhelming guilt. No matter how dedicated he was to read the Word, praying, or sharing Christ with others, the result was guilt – it wasn’t good enough. He was enslaved to doing good to get good. But in God’s reality, he was doing good to cover shame while hoping to gain God’s acceptance. Being a fairly preceptive counselor, I knew there was a hidden regret that hid in the dark corners of his conscience.
I firmly believe in the manifestation of the Spirit called the Word of Knowledge. While in a particular session, the Lord put the word murder in my mind. With that, I simply said, Tell me about the murder. He replied, you don’t think I did it, do you? After a difficult discussion, he confessed that his wife murdered her first husband. He was not only aware of it, but he was also a part of the coverup. He suffered sleepless nights from the night of the murder to the day he was in my office – fearing she would kill him in his sleep.
Furthermore, he worked relentlessly to gain the favor of God by doing all the right things to get back into God’s Grace. Through this horrid ordeal, his wife served her term in prison. Shortly after her imprisonment, he ended up in a pile of fleshly sins. It started as a sad story, but it ultimately showed this young man the power of this giant and the magnitude of its deceptions.
My experience is when we encounter people who suffer with relentless guilt, a hidden sin is buried deep in their minds, the type of sin that condemns and forces the belief that they do not deserve redemption. Every time it surfaces, they do something “good” to continue paying for that sin. Yes. Those suffocating with daily guilt believe they need to pay for their sins.
Guilt is the invisible giant that taunts and haunts weak-minded people, which includes most of us. This giant can weigh down a human mind like no other giant. It terminates life slowly and methodically, leaving its prey with condemnation and self-judgment. More commonly than not, this giant pushes for suicide, homicide, or a mixture of both.
Most people view suicide as a self-inflicted death blow resulting in death. While this is certainly true, the most common form of suicide is self-punishment.
I studied the behavior of a lizard found in the Amazon. It is known for taking one bite out of its prey daily. Once the prey is dead, it would leave it to other jungle creatures to have their meal. This lizard would keep several victims in this cycle on any given day. The giant of guilt functions in a likeminded way.
Guilt is a slow killer of believed redemption. This giant works for Satan himself. He is instructed to take a bite out of our conscience whenever redemption shows signs of hope. Since this giant knows that hope lives and breathes in Grace, he attacks at the perfect moment of a flash thought from the past. Then he speaks the most unholy words into our conscience, “You need to make another payment for THAT sin.” The problem with this stinky thinking is the debt is never paid. Folks, this is how slavery works.
For a moment, let’s review the Judas story. The entire time he was one of the twelve disciples, Satan whispered in his conscience words that might have gone like this. Jesus is a liar, He doesn’t mean what He says, and it certainly won’t help a guilty man like you. We don’t know what Satan said to Judas, but we know the outcome. He sold Jesus for a few coins, got consumed by guilt, and hung himself from a tree – suicide. Most associate Judas’s guilt resulting in suicide. However, that is not the full Truth. By Judas selling Jesus, he became responsible for the murder of the Son of God. Judas’s betrayal and business deal ignited Jesus’s pathway to the Cross. Guilt always involves self-punishment and murder in one form or another.
Suicide & murder are out of control in culture because of guilt.
Remember when king David lusted after another man’s wife? How can we forget? While the Judas story is a pictorial of a demon-possessed man, Jesus calling him a man of the devil, David’s story reveals what happens to a man of righteous nature.
Men are known for doing deceptive things, even evil acts, when their passions flare up. In David’s case, it all started with his guilt over adultery with the wife of one of his warriors. Fearing she might soon be " with child," David attempts to bring Uriah off the battlefield to have relations with his wife. As integrity would have it, Uriah declined. Now in fear mode, David thought he would do things according to the Law to make a sinful thing not so obvious. He first killed the woman’s husband by a clever sleight of hand. He put the husband on the front lines of the battle, fully knowing the odds of him surviving were next to none. Sure enough, he is killed. Then he takes this man’s wife and marries her. I’m certain that David was deceived into thinking he didn’t kill his new wife’s husband; the enemy did that in battle. Secondly, David did what the Law declared and married the woman he previously adulterized according to Hebrew marriage customs officially. However, God saw the plot and judged David according to his heart. Guilty!
Evil men have less work to plot their evil ways. They see it and take it for their own. Righteous men have a much more laborious process to cover their evil, as in the case of David. These men or women must lie, deceive, and plot their evil to look righteous. In this, we discover how difficult it is to convince “believers” of their evil doings.
Furthermore, we can see the statistics of why “Christians” lie more frequently than unsaved individuals. Unsaved evil people lie little unless it involves a crime. However, so-called Christians must work relentlessly to appear righteous to cover the things they experience guilt or conviction over.
The thing about guilt is it hides behind silence, sorrow, and secrecy. The giant of guilt deceives believers to remain silent about the things eating away at their souls. The soul carries a hidden sorrow they believe cannot be shared with others. As expected, this produces a nasty habit of secrecy. And secrecy locks the door to the mind – not allowing anyone to reach them. This is why it leads to self-punishment or suicide.
If an individual is an authentic believer, Truth is always searching for a place it can call home. Truth is designed to activate confessions. Confessions purify the soul. After a confession, blessings are released in the mind of the believer.
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. (Psalms 32:1-2)
Forgiveness is needed to remove guilt. That happens at salvation. After the person becomes born-again, guilt is permanently removed. Conviction takes its place. Since guilt means you pay for your own sins, guilt is appropriately applied to all unbelievers. This is the “why” non-indwelt individuals must go to Hell to pay for their own sins. Guilt is also an Old Testament method of gaining obedience to the Law. Conviction is a New Testament privilege. Which means someone else paid the penalty for one's sins that produce guilt. Those who receive the indwelling Life of Jesus in salvation no longer suffer from the imagination of guilt – only conviction. I use the term imagination because, as for authentic believers, guilt is a figment of their imaginations. However, conviction for the believer is real and needed.
The admission of conviction for a particular sin is imperative for all indwelt believers. Jesus wants us to accept full responsibility for our sins, not pay for them. Responding to the Holy Spirit from within regarding conviction removes the temptation to fall under the deception of the giant of guilt. We are called to state our sins, then immediately thank Jesus for forgiving us when He was on the Cross. I don’t believe the believer should beg for forgiveness but rather thank Him for the existing forgiveness. There is a big difference between the two. Joy in the Lord is immediate, and peace quickly follows after responsibly responding to conviction appropriately.
Appropriating conviction restores active fellowship with the indwelling Life of Christ through the Holy Spirit. Nothing is between you and the Savior. No silence, sorrow, or secrecy needs to exist. As in all relationships, these three deplorable deeds destroy intimacy. Jesus is all about intimacy with His Bride. It must be stated that intimacy is the result of obedience. When obedience and intimacy are not joined, intimacy quickly devolves into lust. And lust gets us in big trouble.
Here is the golden key. A clear conscience delivers peace at the moment. It also helps us to focus on the future of Christ. When the human mind stops being obsessed with its plans and shifts to the future of Christ, redemption keeps the giant of guilt at bay.
The giant of guilt carries a big stick. This giant is massive in size. He is more oppressive than all the giants put together. We cannot fight this giant alone. Without using conviction properly, he will return time and again. Since we humans get tired, the giant of guilt frequently wins in most cases. However, by releasing Jesus from within, this giant loses every time. It is time for us all to confess and grow up unto the Lord. We need to refute silence, sorrow, and secrecy. After all, the Holy Spirit sees all, even in the dark recesses of our minds. No stone is unturned for the unsaved or the authentic believers.
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