Many of us struggle with feelings of guilt. Some feel too much guilt. Others do not feel as though they are ever really guilty of any substantial wrongdoing.
In some cases, we know for sure that we have transgressed the law and are bracing ourselves to deal with the consequences. Others among us could not point to a single instance where they committed some wrong that has yet to be forgiven, however they continue to carry a sense of guilt. Still others would look at you funny if you even dared insinuate they may in fact be guilty of some nefarious act.
Guilt can be an emotion: “I feel guilty…”
Guilt can be a position: “You are guilty…”
How do we handle the feeling and fact of guilt?
First, it must be understood that guilt is incurred when the law of God is transgressed.
Isaiah 24:5-6 “The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched, and few men are left.” (cf. John 9:41; 15:21-25)
Second, it must be recognized that the grace of God via the blood of Jesus Christ has the power to eradicate our guilt.
1 Corinthians 1:4-9 “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Submission to Jesus, being united with Him in death and resurrection, means not having to fear being declared guilty by the Eternal Judge (Rom. 6:3-5; 10:9-10; etc.).
The prophet Isaiah is a good example of what happens when we see God’s glory and power and, in turn, admit our guilt before Him in all His holiness.
Isaiah 6:5-7 “And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!’ Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
If we know and obey the Heavenly Father and the Son, we will have a proper perspective on our guilt.