Is there any person who has never felt the pangs of a guilty conscience? I dare say there is none and for that reason a clear understanding of the causes, the consequences, and most importantly, the solution is of utmost importance for our lives.
The deviousness of a Guilty Person
In the book of Genesis Adam and Eve hid themselves after they had violated the command of God to not eat from the forbidden fruit. They ran from God because of the realization they had lost their innocence because of sin and as a result they became subject to its devastating effects of fear and guilt. Immediately after sinning they sought to hide from God, but it was to no avail.
That is what guilt makes you do.
Guilt makes you want to run from yourself. It makes you wish you were a different person. You’re left constantly confronting yourself with the same admonition, “I shouldn’t have done that.” Guilt makes you a victim within your very soul—and that is scary.
There is a warning in the book of Proverbs that merits our attention:
The way of the guilty person is devious. (Proverbs 21:8a NET)
This verse presents us a remarkable message. A person filled with guilt actually becomes devious. He takes the wrong path, makes wrong decisions, and has wrong motives. It seems like almost everything done by a guilt-driven person is wrong. Don’t you agree?
We have seen that a guilty person is on the run from himself, from God, and perhaps even from others. The enemy of the human soul takes one along a devious path, one which has been carved out by guilt. As a consequence, ironically, we may actually become the enemy of our own soul.
Guilt is the result of sin. It accompanies the fear one has as a result of violating the laws of God. Every single person has sinned and so everyone is in need of a cure from guilt.
Cure from Guilt
Now that we have seen the dangers of guilt it is most comforting to know that there are a multitude of verses in the Bible that demonstrate what God has done to liberate man from sin and guilt. One of these wonderful verses is:
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (Rom. 8:1-2 NAU)
This passage tells us that when one takes refuge in the grace of Christ Jesus and His redeeming work on the Cross that person is exempt from the legal punishment, including death, which results from sin. Such a person is saved not just from death but also from guilt and fear.
The same thought is also expressed by the apostle John.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (1 Jn. 4:18 NAU)
The love of Christ is neither conditional nor wavering. It frees the soul from fear. Christ’s love cleanses the guilty conscience. The perfect love of God removes all guilt from within the soul.
The apostle John tells us how can one receive God’s encompassing forgiveness in the following verse:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 Jn. 1:9 NAU)
That is a mind-blowing verse. Trust in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and freedom from fears and guilt. He is able and willing to release you from the burden of sins.
Guilt of a saved person
Even a saved person can subject himself to the miserable roller coaster ride of guilt. It results from a lack of faith in the saving grace of God, a grace which has already taken care of the sin problem, including guilt. As I have already hinted this may well be due to a person’s lack of understanding of the work of the Lord.
The Prophet Isaiah provides us with some wonderfully encouraging verses about how Christ takes care of these issues.
He took up our pain and bore our suffering. (Isaiah 53:4 NIV)
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds, we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5 NIV)
In Christ, a saved person is pure, upright, and freed from guilt. Christ already paid the price for our sins and bought peace for those who have put their trust in Him.