Why Do I Feel So Much Guilt?

#2 in Q & A Series

Well, all of us are guilty. Feeling it and having the ability to do something about it is a gift.

There are lots of reasons why people feel guilt. Maybe you have done or said something wrong. Or maybe you have been influenced by your culture, family, or a non-New Testament religious organization that has you convinced you are not worthy. Regardless of the reason you are feeling “so much guilt,” the New Testament has the solution for you.

Guilt can be a motivation to improve our lives. In Romans 3:19, Paul writes that the purpose of the law “is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God.” Paul is saying that all of us need to take responsibility and not excuse our own ungodly thoughts, words, and actions. We all fall short of God’s ideal and need Christ’s righteousness for us to be in right standing with God.

Once his righteousness is in us, we experience great confidence. In I John 3:20-21, John writes, “Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence.” Feeling guilty is our state outside Christ or in disobedience to Christ, but as we abide in His righteousness, we are cleansed and gain great confidence in him. This is easy. It is a relief.

In Matthew 11:30, Jesus said, “For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

In II Corinthians 11:9, Paul said, “I have never been a burden to you, and I never will.”

I decided early in my ministry career that I wanted my Christian service to be like Jesus’ and Paul’s in this respect. Every ministry I have ever led has been structured to be an uplift, an encouragement, a relief to people. Life is difficult enough, we don’t need Sunday worship to be a burden as well. And on Sunday mornings when we as believers gather to celebrate the resurrection of Christ and, consequently, our own resurrections, we worship, fellowship, give, and publicly read the Word together. This is not the time to add burden to people’s lives. Our giving can be done freely, joyfully, and without pressure. That is why I am opposed to religious leaders imposing guilt in order to extract funds from fellow believers. Some construct godless, guilt-inducing ways to get believers to give more and more. I’ll not go into details, but fundamentally I think believers should give, and the leadership should budget accordingly so the costs of ministry do not excessively burden the worshippers.

Sadly, many Christians do not feel guilty because of the convicting power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, but because of leaders who impose guilt in order to control them. These types of leaders have been in the church from the beginning, and very often they are our most popular leaders. Paul warned Timothy about them by saying, “They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the confidence of vulnerable women who are burdened with the guilt of sin and controlled by various desires” (II Timothy 3:3-6). I notice these leaders scrutinize the weaknesses of others and present themselves as spiritually superior. Watch out!

Our modern Christian culture demands justice and public ridicule for some sins, while other sins are embraced. Immorality, theft, and addictions demand punishment. Judgmentalism, lovelessness, and blame, however, are lauded and can be marketed to the church . If our leaders promote certain sins, they can raise significant amounts of money to stop “those sinners.” This duplicity makes the one raising the funds appear spiritually superior highlighting the inferiority of others. Everything about this is contrary to the New Testament.

We should fund the Gospel, but we should probably ensure it’s an authentic New Testament Gospel. New Testament Christianity is an uplift to people. It lightens our load and offers a solution for guilt. The cross sets all of us free from the need to humiliate others, even the unrepentant. It’s just not our role. We offer dignity, confidence, and joy because of the love and righteousness of Christ. Remember the fruit of God’s Spirit within us is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Because of the reality of the cross, our lives are a Sabbath rest. I know, I know, the great evangelists say we should burn out not rust out. Well, let them. I’m going to take some time in my back yard and gratefully enjoy Him. I’ve lived long enough now, that I feel no need to be an expert in anyone else’s sin. I only feel compelled to let others know the freedom they can find in Him. That’s it. And that’s not hard.

If you feel guilty, then repent. Receive your forgiveness and be transformed, renewed, filled, and healed, so your life will improve. Now, smile a grateful smile, and rest.

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15 thoughts on “Why Do I Feel So Much Guilt?

  1. Dave Robinson says:

    Well said Ted!
    “Abiding and “Sabbathing” in Christ

  2. Pastor Ted it is so wonderful to see you evolve like you have been. Praise God. To hear what comes out of your heart is an honor. Thank you for extending yourself now in blogs. You are healing and helping more than you know!

  3. Barb Irwin says:

    It is such a wonderful thing that my relationship with my Lord and my relationships with others are built around His love and not guilt. My relationship is also built around repentance. Those are the things I have to share with others. It’s not my job to convict. It’s my job to give good news, not condemnation.

  4. Debbie Bernardo says:

    Very freeing!!!

  5. Ed Barker says:

    We have been set free forever from guilt and shame by the blood of Christ. So no one needs to ever feel guilty. If the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin, repent. The blood of Christ will wash away the guilt instantly!

  6. Bob Spurgin says:

    Amen! The cross is the great equalizer.

  7. Jeff Barnett says:

    Sometimes the Holy Spirit convicts us when we do something wrong. I don’t think this is the guilt I sense in the question. This guilt is vile. It is not of God. Based in false beliefs, it is the shame we heap upon ourselves when we have inner pain which causes us to believe that we are not worthy. Not worthy of anything; sometimes not even worthy of life. A good friend of mine says what we believe about ourselves is like the roots of a tree, growing beneath the surface and controlling the overall health of the tree. Healthy beliefs, healthy tree. Let there be no mistake. GOD has forgiven us! Your sins are removed as far as the East is from the West. This guilt doesn’t come from Him, He loves us. Remember John 3:16? For God soooo loved me, He gave His only son to die for me so I have the opportunity to be free of guilt and shame. Wow, do I deserve that? I can’t imagine I do but God sure thinks so. That is what makes it so special. Are you kidding me? Nope! He knows every hair on your head. He sees the sparrow when it falls, He sees to it they are taken care of. How much more so does he love me! Here is what I say. This guilt is often placed in our mind by unnatural events. Being raped, abused, unloved, etc. plant seeds that grow roots of guilt, shame, unworthiness, etc. which all make for a fairly unhealthy tree (and sometimes reproduces more of the same tree unless we break the cycle). We act out to ease the pain we feel. We look at porn, we drink, we take drugs, we become religious for the wrong reasons, we spend money, we eat, we do all sorts of things we don’t want to do because something chemical happens in our brain that causes that guilt or pain to go away, if even for a little while, only to be followed by guilt and shame because we are not the person we aspire to be which in turn means we are unworthy. Wait, isn’t that sort of where we started. Yep! One big vile, vicious cycle. How do we break this cycle? God has already given us the answer. If God is willing to forgive you…get this…it is OK to forgive yourself! Guilt gone! Instantaneously? Not quite but it does start a new root that over time chokes out the old ones, especially (as the song goes) with a little help from your friends, or a therapist. God loves you. Love yourself. If you need a friend, I am here, at St James Church.

  8. Else Drescher says:

    Feeling guilty is a very human condition connected to our values, the way we think and knowing right from wrong. We want to see repentance in our children and our spouses when they have done something wrong, and that is okay 🙂 That gives us a teachable moment and it gives us the chance to forgive one another and to ask the Lord for forgiveness.
    But when guilt starts wearing us down because we have suffered with it for a long time; then there’s a problem because we crucify Jesus all over again! We are saying that because we can’t forgive ourselves and that HIs forgiveness isn’t enough we have to live our lives in condemnation. Then all is lost!! Our Christian foundation is lost and our eyes is on ourselves and not Jesus. He is the alpha and the omega. The ONE who saves and that is why we call ourselves HIs followers. His love conquers all!

  9. When we have guilt the best prescription for guilt is to take it in prayer to our Father and allow him in His faithfulness to cleanse us and not to carry the guilt any longer. Jesus carried it to Calvary.At times He will lead us to ask or seek forgiveness from others when someone else is involved.

  10. Linda Wagasky says:

    This was well thought out and well written. Each of us needs to spend time reflecting how we are “working out our own salvation” and less time on correcting or judging the flaws of others.

  11. Janette Rose says:


  12. Robert Kelley says:

    You my friend have always been a Barnabas…Son of Encouragement. Fondest regards from me and Diana.

  13. Jacob frans gerpot says:

    Peace and love for the christians who do well.Let the word do the work.It is our task to believe and rest in Him. Some words of jacob frans_-_-Not every christian knows what Ted knows.Some christans need more peace and rest.Their need our prayers.I am my brothers keeper.god bless you Ted.

  14. Ted Flood says:

    Knowing and understanding our identity in God the Father through His word and Jesus as our example, is what frees us from our deficiency’s. Our identity is the determining factor in the freedom GOD has given us through His promise’s. Ted Flood

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