How To Deal With Guilt

how to deal with guilt
Guilt is overwhelming, but God can free us from it. We must learn how to deal with guilt biblically so that we don’t get overwhelmed by the stress, anxiety, and emotionalism it causes.

My guilt has overwhelmed me; like a load it weighs me down.

Psalm 38:4 NCV

The Bible says that guilt is an overwhelming and heavy load. That means the symptoms of guilt in my life will be:

  1. Feeling overwhelmed – overly stressed, anxious, and emotional.
  2. Feeling weighed down – burdened and heavy hearted. 

Do you see any of these symptoms of guilt in your life? When you feel overwhelmed and burdened, how often do you consider that guilt could be the source of your stress?

We must learn how to deal with guilt biblically so we don’t get overwhelmed by the stress, anxiety, and emotionalism it causes. 

Our relationship with God can replace our guilt with joy, purpose and forgiveness. And, when we learn how to deal with our own guilt biblically, we’ll be able to have relaxed and honest conversations with people around us as well.

How to deal with guilt by turning to God

Psalm 51 is a great chapter in the Bible about dealing with guilt. From this chapter, we can learn some important things about how our relationship with God can free us from guilt:

1. God wipes out guilt

Turn your face from my sins and wipe out all my guilt. Create in me a pure heart, God, and make my spirit right again.

Psalm 51:9-10 NCV

One of the most incredible things about having a relationship with God is that he can wipe out all our guilt. He wants us to talk honestly with him about our sins so that he can make us right with him again.

God also gives us a pure heart; he makes our desires and motivations pure. When we have a pure heart, we genuinely care about God and people around us Instead of using them to look or feel good. 

2. Our relationship with God gives us joy and willingness

Give me back the joy of your salvation. Keep me strong by giving me a willing spirit. 

Psalm 51:12 NCV

Turning to God to deal with guilt helps us have joy and a willing spirit.

  • Are you a joyful person? What do you think your joy level says about how you’ve been handling guilt?
  • Do you have a willing spirit? How willing are you to learn and grow? to pray? to listen to the input of spiritual friends? To serve God by helping other people build a relationship with him?

3. Our relationship with God gives us purpose

Then I will teach your ways to those who do wrong, and sinners will turn back to you.

Psalm 51:13 NCV

Our relationship with God gives us purpose. When we learn how to turn to God to deal with our own guilt, we will be able to teach others to do the same.

  • Are you able to teach and inspire other people to love God? 
  • When people spend time with you, do they leave more excited to be close to God? 

The Bible says that our relationship with God gives us a pure heart, purpose, a willing spirit, and joy. How much of these things do you get from your relationship with God? 

  • How much are you praying about the things that burden you?
  • How much do you pray through guilt and temptation?

Keeping things inside makes us weak

Happy is the person whom the LORD does not consider guilty and in whom there is nothing false. [3] When I kept things to myself, I felt weak deep inside me. I moaned all day long. [4] Day and night you punished me. My strength was gone as in the summer heat. 

Psalm 32:2-3 NCV

God says when we keep things to ourselves we will feel weak inside. We will feel weak emotionally and even physically. Keeping guilt inside saps our strength and makes us feel burned out. 

Do you tend to handle guilt by keeping it to yourself? How do you think this affects your physical and emotional strength?

Our relationship with God brings freedom from guilt

Then I confessed my sins to you and didn’t hide my guilt. I said, “I will confess my sins to the LORD,” and you forgave my guilt.

Psalm 32:5 NCV

God promises forgiveness when we are truthful, honest, and open about our sins. The word “confess” means to agree. So “confessing” your sins to God shouldn’t be an empty or heartless ritual. It should be a heartfelt conversation where you not only admit what you’ve done wrong but agree with God about how he feels about it. 

When you confess your sins to God, he promises he will forgive all your guilt. 

Pray and obey … so God can show you the way

For this reason, all who obey you should pray to you while they still can. When troubles rise like a flood, they will not reach them. [7] You are my hiding place. You protect me from my troubles and fill me with songs of salvation.

[8] The LORD says, “I will make you wise and show you where to go. I will guide you and watch over you. So don’t be like a horse or donkey, that doesn’t understand. They must be led with bits and reins, or they will not come near you.” 

[10] Wicked people have many troubles, but the LORD’s love surrounds those who trust him.

Psalm 32:6-10 NCV

Our relationship with God makes us wise, and he guides us and protects us our lives. If we are too stubborn to pray and be open about our guilt, we won’t experience forgiveness, freedom, wisdom, and guidance from God.

Do you obey God and pray when you feel guilty? Or do you get stubborn and resist God when he is trying to guide you to be open?

Our relationship with God replaces guilt with gladness

Let me hear you say, “Your sins are forgiven.” That will bring me joy and gladness. Let the body you have broken be glad. [9] Take away all my sins. Wipe away all the evil things I’ve done.

[10] God, create a pure heart in me. Give me a new spirit that is faithful to you. [12] Give me back the joy that comes from being saved by you. Give me a spirit that obeys you so that I will keep going.

Psalm 51:8-10, 12 NIrV

Our relationship with God frees us from guilt, creates a new pure heart in us, gives us joy and gives purpose. Are you grateful and joyful about your salvation and your relationship with God?

Learn to have relaxed, honest conversations with others

Speaking honestly is a sign of true friendship.

Proverbs 24:26 TPT

Honest conversations are an important part of spiritual friendships. When we are honest with God about our guilt, we will be able to have relaxed, honest conversations with other people too. 

  • Does your relationship with God overflow into calm, honest conversations with others? Or do you tend to be nervous, hidden, self-righteous, or overly reactionary? 
  • Do you overreact to sin like it’s an enormous scandal, or do you humbly turn to God for forgiveness and help your friends do the same? 

Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you. [12] There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us. [13] I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!

2 Corinthians 6:11-13 NLT

God wants us to speak honestly and open our hearts to each other. Do you create relationships where people feel they can be honest with you?

[8] Suppose we claim we are without sin. Then we are fooling ourselves. The truth is not in us. [9] But God is faithful and fair. If we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins. He will forgive every wrong thing we have done. He will make us pure. [10] If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar. His word is not in us.

1 John 1:8-10 NIrV

Our relationship with God gives us forgiveness, purity, joy, and purpose! Dealing with guilt God’s way allows us to be strong on the inside and have honest, relaxed conversations with our friends as well. 

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