Guilt is a negative emotion that we all experience. Guilt destroys us from within and causes us to do and say things that we wouldn’t have done otherwise. The Bible is replete with examples of the harmful spirit of guilt and how it ruined the lives of thousands.
Here are three examples of guilt and sin from the Bible.
1) Jesus had warned Peter that, “the cock shall not crow this day before thou shalt thrice deny thou knowest me.” After Jesus had been delivered to the council and Peter was outside watching the events unfold, two people identified Peter as being an associate of Jesus to which Peter denied each time. When a third person recognized him Peter said, “Man, I know not what thou sayest.”
“And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.” (Luke 22:54-62)
Image that amongst the hundreds of people there persecuting Jesus at that time when the cock crowed Jesus slowly turns and looks Peter eye to eye. Imagine the guilt that Peter must have felt.
2) Judas sells out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. “When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:1-5)
Guilt overpowered Judas and he committed suicide.
3) David, going against the express desires of God decided to count all of the people of Israel and Judah. David even went against the council of his most trusted advisors. After nine months the counting of the people was over. Instantly the guilt of what David had done came upon him.
“And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.” (2 Samuel 24:10)
David instantly felt guilty for what he had done. The end result was that the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel for David’s sin and guilt killing thousands.
Peter, Judas and David all sinned. Guilt was the immediate consequence to their sin. Their reaction to the guilt ranged from tears, suicide and a severe reaction from God. Sin and guilt destroy and kill.
Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount said the pure of heart shall see God. “Pure” means to be free from sin and guilt.
Guilt is a motivator. It moves us to act and react in a manner we would never had done otherwise. Guilt is a negative emotion that destroys from within and drives us to destroy from without. Things motivated by guilt, even when they are good things, will never satisfy or quench the fire within caused by guilt. In fact, the doing usually exacerbates the problem.
Guilt is something we hang on to. To rid our self of it is as simple as letting it go. In so doing we release all of its destructive power. God has given us the spirit of “power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). He has not given us guilt and fear.
“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:15-16)
Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D has determined 5 causes of guilt. She reveals that the spirit of guilt affects the body in ways that go beyond emotionally, but physiologically as well.
Guilt Cause #1: Guilt for something you did.
Guilt Cause #2: Guilt for something you didn’t do, but wanted to.
Guilt Cause #3: Guilt for something you think you did.
Guilt Cause #5: Guilt that you’re doing better than someone else. This is called, “Survivor’s guilt.”
Guilt number 4 is one many church members experience, especially folks who are new to Christ and are all full of energy and the Holy Spirit.
Guilt Cause #4: Guilt that you didn’t do enough to help someone.
For example, you’ve offered days and weeks of your free time but, again, you find you can’t continue to do so. The guilt now starts to get to you and you try desperately to figure out ways to help them despite the toll it’s taking on you. Psychologists use the term “compassion fatigue” to capture this feeling of burnout.
Compassion Fatigue symptoms are displays of chronic stress.
Chronic stress is the response to emotional pressure suffered for a prolonged period over which an individual perceives he or she has no control. It involves an endocrine system response in which occurs a release of corticosteroids.
Corticosteroids are a class of chemicals that includes the steroid hormones that are produced in the adrenal cortex of vertebrates as well as the synthetic analogues of these hormones. Corticosteroids are involved in a wide range of physiological processes, including stress response, immune response, and regulation of inflammation, carbohydrate metabolism, protein catabolism, blood electrolyte levels, and behavior.
So you see guilt can lead to physiological problems effecting the immune system, inflammation and how your body metabolizes and processes food and nutrients. 22 percent of Americans suffer from extreme guilt and stress.
So what is the answer? Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).
If we will simply, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7).
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Galatians 5:1)
Take on Jesus. Cast all of your sin and guilt unto Him. Everything will be alright.
Guilt, the destroyer