Healing Damaged Emotions (Part 2) -- Victory Over Guilt
By Dr. Charles Stanley
Watch Victory Over Guilt video.
Key Scripture: John 8:1-11
I. Introduction: Everyone experiences feelings of guilt, but sometimes, they can’t even identify a specific reason for feeling worthy of blame. A vague sense of condemnation robs them of joy, assurance, and confidence, but that’s not how God designed guilt to operate.
The story of Jesus and the adulterous woman is an example of true guilt (John 8:1-11). She stood before the scribes and Pharisees without excuse. Everyone knew she’d broken the Mosaic Law and deserved death, but when Jesus challenged those without sin to cast the first stone, all her accusers walked away. He told her, “I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on sin no more” (v. 11). Jesus is not in the business of condemning us but of removing our guilt and cleansing our lives.
II. What is guilt?
A. Guilt can be defined two ways:
- A state of having done something wrong or having committed an offense.
- A painful feeling of self-condemnation for having done something we recognize as being a sin.
B. Guilt can be good, bad, true, or false.
- Good guilt is received when we disobey God. It is His “red light” telling us to stop doing something that is displeasing to Him.
- Bad guilt is the result of wrong thinking, not wrong action. For instance, some churches teach that going to the movies is sinful, but if a film is wholesome, there’s no need to feel guilty.
- True guilt is a painful feeling received as a result of doing something wrong. Examples of this include Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the garden, David’s desire for Bathsheba, and Peter’s denial of Jesus.
- False guilt is a painful feeling a person feels when he/she has not committed a wrong. For example, a child who is abused might feel guilty even though it was forced on him/her.
III. The Consequences of Guilt. All guilt—whether it’s good, bad, true, or false—can cause people to…
A. Fear rejection by God. Some people feel that God could never love them for what they’ve done.
B. Feel God’s judgment could be imminent. Many people live in fear that their loved ones or their jobs could be taken from them as punishment.
C. Feel strong anxiety. Guilt and worry work hand in hand to make people miserable.
D. Feel driven in life. Some people will work tirelessly in their own strength to try to overcome or compensate for whatever makes them feel guilty.
E. Have a divided mind. Guilt always hinders a person’s ability to focus.
F. Experience decreased energy. Guilt is draining that leaves people feeling exhausted before the day even begins.
G. Feel a sense of self-punishment. People who believe they deserve discipline often miss out on God’s offer of mercy and grace.
H. Feel a sense of insecurity. Those who feel separated from the Lord can’t experience His love, protection, and provision.
I. Experience a hindered prayer life. Satan is quick to make people believe his lie that their guilt means God will not hear or answer their prayers.
J. Experience depression. Guilt produces despair that hangs over people like a black cloud.
K. Feel shameful. It isn’t right to feel shameful for false or bad guilt; only being disobedient to God should make people feel this way.
L. Feel unable to have good relationships with others. Covering up sins and past failures keeps people from being loving and open towards others.
M. Miss the will of God. Without intimate fellowship with the Father, it is impossible to follow His direction.
N. Suffer from physical illness. Sustained guilt eventually takes its toll on people physically.
IV. The Release from Guilt. It begins when we understand the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross. Through our relationship with Him, we have the right and privilege and authority of God to confess, repent and be cleansed of sin. Jesus already paid the penalty for us. It is up to us to…
A. Face the guilty feelings honestly.
B. Identify the cause of the guilty feelings.
C. Confess and repent if it is necessary.
D. Choose to accept God’s full forgiveness based on the cross, not our feelings.
E. Recognize that receiving forgiveness doesn’t mean there won’t be repercussions. We might have to deal with the consequences of our actions.
F. Turn our mistakes into blessings for others and tell them what He’s done for us.
V. Conclusion: As believers, we do not have to live with guilt. So whether it’s false or true, we must deal with it in order to gain the happiness, joy, and peace the Father has for us and to be better able to fulfill His purposes for our lives. He’s ready to set us free from anything and everything that hinders our relationships with Him.