When we experience guilt, it should overcome our conscience thus prodding us to take action for whatever deed that is causing us guilt. Genuine guilt will lead us to sincere repentance. When our repentance is from the heart, it allows us to experience the faithfulness of God “to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9; Italics mine for emphasis). This gives us freedom to boldly walk in God’s grace—His grace is His unmerited favor toward us.
I love this scripture, which shows how God exonerates our guilt, “He [God] will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea,” (Micah 7:19 NKJV; brackets mine for clarity).
The word subdue, gives me a picture of God wrestling down our sin like crocodile Dundee wrestling a crock, bringing it under submission.
Once God has subdued our sin—through our faith in His Son's death, He heaves it deep into the ocean. Our sin, and the guilt that accompanies it, are gone completely. Did you know that according to geology.com, “The greatest ocean depth is 35,840 feet (10,924 meters).” That’s deep! However, I propose that the ocean God has in mind is deeper still.
When we take action to resolve our guilt we gain freedom, forgiveness, and oddly enough favor with self and God. When we hang on to our guilt, it creates an unrelenting troll inside us—one that will not allow us to cross over the not-guilty-bridge to our liberty in Christ.
You’ve heard, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” . . . (Romans 8:1-2)? But being guilty for a reason we’ve already been forgiven for, is like giving the troll custody of our freedom—with which he is able to flood our conscience with condemnation as he pleases.
On Being Guilty
When our troll is granted permission to flood us with condemning guilt, this causes us to wallow in shame and regret—and in doing so heaps on us unnecessary baggage harmful to our emotional and spiritual well-being. At times we might fool ourselves into thinking we’ve made peace with our unrelenting troll and God; yet, we have not—and that is evident by the way we live or by our thinking that can consume our soul.
My theory is, our troll is clothed with legalism and legalism feeds our guilt. Legalism says we must be this or do that: attend church three times a week, pray unceasingly, be kind always—there is no allowance to be human. Every thing about our Christian life must be perfect. This develops a mindset that pushes us to “work” to prove we are flawless or it will show our faith as futile—even when we know it’s our faith in Christ, which saves us. Our righteousness is not found in our humanness—it is only found in and through the sacrifice of Christ (Read Philippians 3). When we neglect this truth, we feed our troll who is feasting on our freedom, faith, and joy as we strive to be something we think we should be, thus fertilizing our guilt.
Why do we Continue to Feed Our Troll?
I’ve thought of ten possibilities:
- Not understanding and accepting the entirety of God’s grace
- The need to feel punished
- The feeling of unworthiness
- The continued thinking, “I’m bad”
- Taunted by our past
- Taking on the guilt of something that happened to us (rape, incest)
- Shame, I wish I’d not done that
- Regret, Why did I do that?
- Unable to let go
- Not knowing/reading/memorizing scripture
How to Know we are Held Captive to Our Troll
You might be thinking I don’t wallow in my guilt. I’m not feeding any troll.
So let’s take a quiz:
- Do you lack inner peace?
- Do you feel you don’t measure up to others?
- Do you think about the past, often?
- Do you regret what you’ve not done or have done?
- Do you find your spiritual life stunted?
Perpetual guiltiness keeps us in an unending battle of wishing and wishing we didn’t or we should have. In this wishing, the ability to experience total freedom in Christ is shadowed by the over powering troll—who charges us a hefty fee to cross the bridge to freedom; therefore, keeping us under his accusing finger.
I believe that the Holy Trinity’s desires are that we would no longer be “burdened again by a yoke of slavery,” (Galatians 5:1). When we continue to indulge our guilt, we become its slave. It ties us to the past, rather than the future where God’s grace erases all evidence of I wish I didn’t or only if . . . allowing us to defeat the troll and cross the bridge into new areas of God’s blessings.
What could we be Guilty About?
This is a good question to ask yourself if you are overcome by guilt all the time.
What am I guilty about? Is it?
- Past sins I can’t forget
- Present sins I can’t overcome
- Something I think I ought to be doing but don’t
- An expectation unfulfilled
- The choices of others
How do we stop paying the troll’s tax to cross the bridge? Could it be a simple matter of our thinking, our knowledge and understanding of God’s total grace in our lives?
Here are ten suggestions to stop paying a toll to your troll:
- Praise God that you’ve been forgiven every time your troll or Satan reminds you of your past or present wrongdoings or flaws
- Thank God that you are a new person in Him
- Remind yourself that the blood of Christ covers a multitude of sins—past, present, and future
- Remember that you cannot change the past, only the present
- Meditate on how God, through Christ, has changed you (or can change you) from within
- See your whole self through the eyes of God, who sees you only through the eyes of His Son
- Remember you asked for forgiveness and are forgiven by God—your sins are 35,840 feet under the sea and then some
- Rehearse who you are in Christ
- Accept facts not feelings, Christ died for your sins, period
- Walk in grace—not judgment of self—only Christ is perfect and we are not Him
- Your joy
- Your prayer life
- Your freedom in Christ
- Your knowledge of who you are in Christ
- Your desire to become all that Christ hopes for you