As we discussed last week, Christians feel guilty almost routinely. It is an important affliction that affects our lives and our view of God. Last week we examined the problem. Today let us discover the solution.
What is the biblical response to feelings of guilt?
Guilt is not required – For a true believer who is saved by grace alone the answer is simple ‘Don’t.’ Why is this? Let’s take it to the source, the Bible.
The Bible does not teach guilt for the believer. I find no scripture in the New Testament epistles, the part of the biblical text that provides us guidance in our Christian lives, to feel guilty for acts of sin or any other reason.
As an example, I’ve been fortunate to have studied the Bible in Greek (the original language of the New Testament) for over 25 years and realized several years ago I did not even know the Greek word for ‘guilt’! Since I used this example several times, I ended up memorizing the word (ἔνοχος, enochos). However, my loving wife, noted that, in the few times the word is used in the New Testament, it is not done so in the way that Christians use it, as their response to sin.
Christians are forgiven by Christ’s gracious sacrifice for us by faith; His offering was fully sufficient to cover all our sins. It is given to us as a free gift. Guilt is not part of the package (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:23-26).
God wants our obedience – This is the New Testament response to sin, is simply to obey and become the worthy servant that God wants us to be. In this way we can get good things done such as spreading the gospel and serving others, while not being self-focused, tied up in knots over insecurity of salvation, wondering about our relationship with God, and burdened by our guilt (Romans 6:12, 6:16, 12:1).
So if you feel guilty, what steps should you take?
- Make sure you are a believer – (1 Peter 1:10) Otherwise, assure that you recognize your glorious salvation is based completely on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross by faith alone and not mixed with works. There is nothing that you can do to help God save or keep you. He does it all!
- Realize you are secure – God provides protections, both legal and morphologic, by declaring us righteous, adopted, sealed by the Spirit until Christ’s coming, and changed irreversibly into a new person. (Ephesians 1:4-5, 1:13; 2:8-9; Romans 3:23-26; 6:2-9; Hebrews 6:1-8).
- We are forgiven – Certainly, in our precious relationship with God it makes sense to recognize our day-to-day sin with regret. However, we must realize with God that those sins graciously are forgiven already by Christ’s sacrifice.
- Access – We have bold access to God! Our only limitation is ourselves by sin that would keep us from approaching God or hindering our prayers (Hebrews 4:14-16; 10:19-22)
- Realize the truth about guilt – The Bible doesn’t tell us to feel guilty but it tells us to have joy and peace.
I hope this information helps. As my wife and I often say about our Christian life, ‘We should live by facts (i.e., the Bible) and not emotions.’ Believe scripture, and not your emotions that you or others place on yourself. God is great and gives us such wonderful biblical wisdom to enrich our lives.
Thanks again for visiting this blog. I look forward to having you back next week.