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I Feel Guilty


Iím always feeling guilty, even if I donít do anything wrong. Iím never happy or satisfied with my performance or Christian lifestyle, even though in actuality itís not that bad. How can I stop feeling so guilty? Itís tearing me up inside.

Steve Answers:

The two most common ways to describe guilt are ďfalse guiltĒ and ďtrue guilt.Ē False guilt is feeling shame that youíve done wrong when you actually havenít. Thatís what makes it falseóeven though it feels very real.

In contrast, true guilt is feeling shame that youíve done wrong when you actually have. It comes from a conscience that tells you that youíve messed up.

True guilt is healthy. If somebody kills another person and doesnít feel any guilt about it, thereís reason to be concerned! If somebody lies and feels no guilt about it, thereís reason to be concerned.

If youíd like some Bible references to verdicts of guilt when people did wrong, check out Leviticus 5 and Numbers 5.

Now, to tell you glibly, ďStop feeling guilty when itís false guiltĒ wonít necessarily remove your feelings. And while it may be wise to ignore your feelings at times, to shut them off isnít a good idea. So how can you deal with your feelings of guilt?

First, study the facts and see if they influence your feelings. Youíll find some important facts about guilt in Romans 3:20-31. I suggest you read that passage.

Hereís my summary of it. All of us should feel guilty, because all of us are sinners. Yet God tells us that all our guilt is gone as far as Heís concerned when we trust Jesus with everything.

So hereís what we should do: Focus completely on Jesus, and our guilt is gone. Then, if we still feel guilty, we must rewind and go through the facts again: I am guilty (just like everyone else). God wipes away all my guilt because I trust Jesus. End of guilt.

Now, you can expect the devil to harass you and say you really arenít forgiven. But the devil is a liar, and thereís no need to be surprised when he keeps saying that weíre still guilty (see John 8:44).

When you think itís not fair for Jesus to take your guilt when youíve earned it yourself, youíre right! But thatís what God chose to do (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). So just marvel in Godís goodness.

Now, back to your feelings of guilt. Some people have a temperament thatís very judgmental (often directed at themselves even more than at others). Such people canít seem to help analyzing everything. And they can find the slightest thing wrong in something most people would think is completely right.

If youíre a perfectionist like this, you should continue to strive for excellence in all things. But forgiveness (of yourself and of others) must become an issue that regularly gets reseeded in your heart.

To get very practical, Iíd recommend that you pick out psalms that express your feelingsóas well as those that can transform your feelings. After you mark these, you may want to list them in the cover of your Bible for a quick reference. Remember, youíre forgiven!

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