Posted in 1John, Hebrews

Dealing with Guilt

“The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.” Hebrews 10:1-2

My daughter Christina and I were driving to church early one Sunday morning to help with setup when our windshield started to fog up. I immediately put my glove out to wipe away the clouds when she quickly informed me that I was only going to make it worse, and that we needed to wait for the defrost to do it, which she then turned on high. After just a few minutes, we could see clearly and there weren’t any man-made marks that a glove often leaves.

It makes me think of how we often deal with the blinding fog of guilt. The quickest reaction to guilt in most Christians is to try to compensate for it by doing more. I feel I did something bad so maybe doing something good will please God and the bad feeling will go away. Pray more, read more, work more, serve at church more; we just want to feel forgiven again. Actual guilt, which has come because of the Holy Spirit convicting us of sin, will never disappear in this way. You only end up burying it under a bunch of religious works that lead to feelings of fear, rejection, and condemnation. We become spiritually blind when we react to guilt this way even though we still genuinely love the Lord.

Only the blood of Jesus is sufficient to remove the guilt of sin. Trying to work it off is actually us bypassing the blood that was shed on the cross. It may get stuff done, even Christian stuff, but in the end it only does us harm. When genuine guilt comes, instead of reacting quickly with performance, we need to wait for the Spirit to point specifically to the sin we need to repent of. We then need to confess it to the Lord and allow Him to wash the sin, guilt, and shame away, so we can immediately be restored back to a state of righteousness. Is it really that easy? Listen with your heart to 1John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”


Pastor at City Church in Madison, Wisconsin