Guilt Is Not From God #LetItGo

letting_go_of_guilt

Sadly people who are spiritual often suffer with the most guilt, but what if I told you that guilt is never from God? Guilt is a human feeling, not a God feeling. Although God convicts us about certain actions we take or don’t take, He never “guilts” us into anything. It is against His nature to manipulate the human heart; He wants us to choose what is right because that is the desire of our heart, not because we feel obligated.

There was a time in my life when I felt guilty about everything. Growing up in the church can easily do this to a person. You see, “religion” and “spirituality” are two very different things but often co-exist. Religion weighs us down with rules, rituals, and obligations, while spirituality releases us to freely love, walk lightly, and take the liberty we need to enjoy life.

Guilt is a nagging feeling that quickly drains us, causes us to lose hope, and is never satisfied. When we give into guilt, we ask for more guilt. It never stops unless we refuse to accept it. At one point in my life I got it into my head that I needed to apologize any time I thought someone was upset, even if it was not my fault. I started apologizing so much that it actually starting getting weird.

Finally one of my friends was like, “Jory, stop apologizing, your are operating in guilt.” She was right. The feelings of constant guilt were plaguing me and I thought if I kept apologizing the guilt would subside, but it didn’t. It would just come right back. It would not let go. I was actually living in torment and I knew I had to snap out of it.

I went to God’s Word and found out some things that truly set me free. I began to chew on these verses every single day when I felt guilty about anything:

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)

Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything (John 3:20)

God started showing me that when He is not cool with my actions He will let me know and it will have nothing to do with how I feel. Instead, it will be a “knowing.” God does give of convictions, but they literally have nothing to do with emotions. Sure, I can choose to feel guilty when God gives me a conviction, but I can also choose not to feel guilty.

We don’t score extra brownie points with God if we choose to feel guilty when He convicts us, so why bother with such a negative emotion? 

A conviction is simply a “firmly held belief.” God may start to press it on our mind that we are doing something displeasing to Him, but He is not interested in you feeling bad about yourself. No, He wants to help you change the behavior so you can live even more freely and lightly.

There are only three kinds who make us feel guilty and those include ourselves, other people, and Satan. The enemy of our souls actually enjoys putting emotions on us that he knows are unhealthy for us. The Bible calls Him “the accuser of Christians:

…For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth–the one who accuses them before our God day and night (Revelation 12:10).

This means that our enemy literally goes before God often and makes statements like, “God, have you seen what Jory has been up to? Have you seen how displeasing she is to you? She is such an embarrassment to your Kingdom…”

Yet, God quickly replies, “Jory is clean because I have spoken my Word (Jesus Christ) over her (John 15:3).” There is nothing we can do to separate ourselves from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).

Here is the amazing thing about God; He does not get angry with us if we don’t practice first time obedience. He knows we are weak in our flesh and cannot do anything good apart from Him. He is patient with our flaws and knows that breaking bad habits and starting good habits is a process.

In church, we are often taught that God is a mean daddy who is going to whoop us if we don’t get in line immediately. Nothing could be further from the truth. God is so long-suffering and gracious with His children.

The LORD is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love (Psalm 145:8) 

Let’s stop allowing negative emotions to rule our hearts. Let’s live our lives the best we can, love others while still maintaining healthy boundaries, and show the world that our God does not place the heaviness of guilt on His children’s shoulders.

What if I told you to simply do what you want to do and don’t worry about it?  Did you hear me? This statement will set you free: Do what you want to do and stop worrying about it! 

God will not only let us know if we are doing something displeasing to Him; He will hold our hand and walk us through the process of change. It is His loving kindness that leads us to want to change (Romans 2:4); not guilt, manipulation or fear!

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1)

Let it go; guilt is not from God!

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4 Comments

  • Jory, I recently subscribed to your blog and I love your thoughts! The post that got me interested was the one about you predicting that complementarians will not win. Thought provoking!

    Your post today on guilt is just what I need right now. It’s hard to always know Paul’s intentions since his letters represent just one half of a conversation between him and the Corinth church for example, but what do you think about II Cor 7:10, where Paul describes the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow? I come from a fundamentalist background and currently am part of what I can only describe as “soft fundamentalist”, if you know what I mean? They are loosening their death grip on old ways of reading the scripture and no longer hurting each other “in love”, but they have yet to give up on a lot of the old traditional thinking on worship and gender roles. And guilt has been a huge part of our heritage. And this passage on godly sorrow was always interpreted as “good guilt”. Sigh, my husband and I are actively trying to change thinking in our congregation on the requirements of leadership structure and worship styles that I really think God does not require. My husband agrees with me, but he consistently tells me I come on too strong and don’t appear sufficiently loving to our church family when discussing this. I have been hurt a lot by our church’s teaching that women should always submit and be quiet, deferring to male teachers always. I have strong passion to hang on to the freedom that comes through Christ’s death and new life for us. But I feel so weighed down with my husband’s criticism. It makes me want to be quiet and detach from church emotionally. But I am kind of like you, my personality is not given to quietness and taking a backseat on tough discussions. It would just go against my very nature. And I feel like my husband is criticizing my very personality. I can’t function with this guilt. It is a significant problem in our marriage. I have tried to explain how his criticism hurts and makes me feel unsupported. But I feel like maybe it is a vestige of our heritage that deep down he thinks he is above me and should correct me for being too straight and lacking his diplomatic style. He denies this. I really am intending to be respectful and accepting towards people with whom I disagree, but he never seems happy with how I choose to speak.

    Anyway, I know you’re not a marriage counselor. Just seems that you and your husband may have a similar personality combo to me an my husband? How do you handle this difference of communication style? Was that time in your life when you dealt with constant guilt during your marriage? Or before?

    I understand you may not have time for this too long email. Thought I’d send it anyway. Even your prayers would be a help to me!

    Adrienne

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • Hi Adrienne.

      I am sorry that you are having so much inner turmoil and know that you are not alone. I hear from women all the time going though similar situations. It sounds to me that you and your husband both need to seek freedom which may mean finding a new church. Churches who subscribe to legalism have a very hard time breaking free as it is rooted within them. As ladies, we want to do church and spirituality with our hubby’s because that is what we think is good, but what if you found a new church that supported your personality and simply told your hubs that he is free to go to church wherever he wants. Not in a snark way, but in a, “I love you and would love for us to find a new church together, but I need to find freedom right now.” I too have felt guilty over things in my marriage and what has helped me is to choose to do my own thing when I need to, but equally offering that same freedom to my husband. I joke and say, “Everyone is allowed to do what they want.” Of course there are limitations in marriage (like, you are not allowed to cheat on me..lol), but I have tried to loosen my grip “let go.” In turn, my husband has grown less critical of me. Being our own person and “letting go” of control has brought us closer. Hope that helps a little. 🙂

      Oh, and about “godly sorrow.” I do think there is a time and place for such a thing, but this is an exception to the rule. Constant “sorrow” is literally not good for our health! But, God may want me to experience “godly sorrow” over a friend who has lost her way or a homeless person or a child who was abused, but only for a short time, then we are to give it to God. Be anxious for nothing – casting all our burdens on Him!

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