I’m disagreeing with my editor about the word guilt. Are feelings of guilt productive in the believer’s life? Does God use guilt to motivate us into righteous living?
Adam and Eve were frolicking naked in the Garden of Eden. God would come down in the afternoon and they would visit while sipping on lemonade. (I picture them living in the southern part of the Garden.)
They felt no shame (Genesis 2:25).
But then Adam and Eve did this thing. They ate from the forbidden tree. Their eyes were open. And suddenly they realized their nakedness. Shame and guilt entered into the world.
What did that shame do? Did it lead Adam and Eve to God? No. It led them to cover and run. That is what guilt does. It leads us to try to cover up our mistakes and with feelings of unworthiness, we try to hide from God.
Guilt does not motivate us to run to God but from God.
Guilt and shame keeps us in bondage. They keep our sins in the dark. But when we realize we are forgiven and that the sin we are trying to cover was actually removed by Jesus’ blood, that sin looses its power over us. Guilt dissipates
According to Hebrews 10, Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient to remove our guilt.
Any area in which you feel guilty or shamed, I encourage you to visualize the blood of Jesus washing it away – because it did. Know you are forgiven. Then run into the presence of God. Let His love and acceptance overcome all feelings of guilt.
We were not designed to bear guilt or shame. We were designed to carry the glory of God!
Guilt doesn’t lead us to repentance. His kindness (free forgiveness, removal of sin, unconditional love, acceptance) leads us to repentance.
“The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared.”
Hebrews 10:1-2 NLT