Dealing With Guilt


The world is full of people who are quick to make judgements and accusation is a skill that most people have mastered well. And since most people have a closet full of regrets, there is never going to be a shortage of accusers around.

We have all been on the guilt trip, motivated or pushed along the way by accusers but the problem with the guilt trip is that it is a dead end, it’s not how God intended us to live.

When we read in Genesis that God made man and woman, he actually created them, and they initially lived naked. And the Bible says, “They didn’t feel any shame.” Genesis 2:25. And we need to understand that shame is not a part of how we are designed to live by God.

It wasn’t his ideal for us but notice how soon accusation entered the human situation after sin entered. As soon as sin entered into the human story, the spirit of accusation followed, and we all began pointing our fingers at each other.

Now the only way I know to stop taking the guilt trip is to start following Jesus. Because he has the only words that I know that can silence even your worst accusers.

Remember the story of the woman who was allegedly caught in the act of adultery, in John 8:2-11? Jesus says to the woman, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” John 8:10. The King James Version uses these words, “Woman where are those accusers of yours?”

If God doesn’t want us living with shame, then who does?

We know that some people have become experts at shaming us with accusations because we may hate to admit this, don’t we, husbands and wives, fathers, and mothers that shame is a powerful way to control people and to manipulate them?

And so, we know how to shame each other, and the truth of the matter is we have often become experts at accusing ourselves. Nobody shames us more than the shame we heap on ourselves.

But I want you to know that behind all of the guilt and the shame, others have put on us or that we have put on ourselves, stands Satan, Revelation 12:10.

In other words, Satan is behind us and accusation. Satan wants us to be like the woman, embarrassed and ashamed in the course of condemnation. And like her, our acknowledged guilt leaves us powerless to silence our accusers.

What are we going to say when our accusers point out our sin? We can’t even silence our own conscience. We have all stood where she stood. And even though we have asked God to forgive us, the charges of our accusers still ring in our ears.

Now this is not from God. When the memory and the pain of sin in our past keep coming up and haunting us and weighing us down, that is not from God. That is not from God because God is not going to haunt us with something that he has already forgiven.

It is coming from somewhere else. Our memories and our emotions, make us vulnerable to assaults from the accuser. This happens to all of us. We can be taking a shower, driving down the road in our car; we could be cooking our dinner. And suddenly we are overwhelmed by the painful memory of things in our past, things that we want to put back in that closet, but they come out again and we feel ashamed.

Now why does Satan bother to accuse? Because I want us to know that accusation cannot affect our standing with God. If we are standing in Jesus Christ and our sins have been forgiven, Satan can accuse all he wants but our relationship to God hasn’t changed.

I want you to understand something about Satan. He accuses us not because he believes he can steal our salvation. He accuses and condemns because he knows he can steal our joy and our effectiveness as a witness.

An Illustration

I remember one time I was eating a meal and spilt something on my shirt, but my wife assured me that she could probably get it out. So, she soaked it and did all the things that she knew to do.

And when she was through, she gave me that shirt back, it was almost invisible. You would really have to strain your eyes up close to barely make out the circle of where that stain was.

And people would look at that shirt later and they wouldn’t even though there was a stain there in the first place, but I knew it was there. I could see that stain from ten yards away, it was big, bold, and ugly, and that shirt stayed in the closet.

That is what Satan is trying to do to us. Even though God has washed that stain away, Satan wants to say, “I can still see it, can’t we see it? Everybody can see it.”

Because he wants us to stay in the closet. And that is why he accuses and he’s not going to let up, so why don’t we give up? I want us to know something, we can’t silence our accuser, but Jesus can.

Did you notice how quickly Jesus moved in to shield this accused woman from the accusing crowd? John 8:7. And he takes the attention off of her and he puts the attention on himself.

Which is exactly what he’s going to do when Satan accuses us. Because if Satan is behind us in accusation, Jesus is between us and condemnation.

Now we might be thinking to ourselves, “Well her accusers spoke the truth!” and aren’t shame and condemnation, the just consequences of sin? Now this is particularly important.

I want us to realise that Jesus has no intention of defending or excusing her sin. He has no intention of excusing our sin. He doesn’t even ask her side of the story. She must have had a side of the story, I want to know where the guy is, and how can he not have been caught.

But Jesus doesn’t even get into all that. So, we ask, “How can he show mercy then?” If this woman is justly condemned, how can he show mercy to her without contradicting God’s justice? The answer is, that he can stand between her and condemnation because he was willing to pay her penalty.

By his work on the cross, Jesus has forever condemned the spirit of condemnation. And so, this woman who came fully expecting to meet a judge and deserving to meet a judge left knowing a saviour, Romans 8:1.

There is really only one way to deal with accusation and that is to understand and trust the gospel. Because if we are going to be able to resist a spirit of condemnation and stand against a spirit of accusation, we’re going to have to know and believe with all our hearts the good news.

Jesus Took Our Guilt And Shame Upon Himself

Forgiveness is available because Jesus took our guilt and shame upon himself. Condemnation does have grounds to assault us. Satan does have conclusive evidence that we have violated God’s law.

When he accuses us of sin, he is not lying. He is the father of lies and he’s good at it but when it comes to making a case against me as a sinner, he doesn’t need to lie.

He has evidence, all that he can use. My defence lawyer, the Lord Jesus Christ, does not plead extenuating circumstances, he doesn’t argue for my innocence. The good news is that Jesus substituted his own sinless life for ours and took upon himself everything our sins deserve.

I want us to understand on the cross; Jesus took everything your sins deserved, Romans 3:23-25. When I say everything, I mean more than just the penalty of death that our sins deserve, Jesus took upon himself all the guilt and all the shame that our sins deserved.

He took all of it. He took everything that is ugly and painful and shameful about our sin on himself on the cross. That is something about the cross we really need to understand. One thing we have done, is we have so centralised the cross, that we have emptied it of its shame, Hebrews 12:2.

Now you might ask, what is more shameful than standing in a bed sheet in a court of men caught in adultery? I’ll tell you; it is hanging naked on a piece of wood in front of the world. That is what the cross was. The Living Bible says, “He endured a shameful death on the cross”.

Jesus didn’t just take our penalty for sin on the cross with him; he took all the guilt and all the shame that ever needs to accompany our sin upon himself on the cross.

Now if that’s what he did, Satan wants to come along and say, “Yeh, he paid for your sin. Oh, but the shame of it, you’ll have to carry it forever.” Don’t let Jesus tell you, you own something if Jesus took it. God’s idea is still that you live without shame.

Satan wants to send the bloodhounds of condemnation and accusation on our trail. He wants them to follow us all our lives, barking, accusing, and chasing.

But the blood of Jesus has washed that away. There is nothing left for them to follow. That is truth that we need to believe today, and let our hearts believe it. His blood does not just wash away the record of our sin; it washes away the stain of our shame.

It’s All About Jesus

One reason shame haunts us is that it is a struggle to accept the gospel of grace, that’s why Christians for just over two thousand years have been so vulnerable to legalism.

To believe that we have got to do something to help God, or to make a deal with God, work out something so that we can deserve this incredible deal that heaven keeps talking about.

For just over two thousand years of Christian history, legalism and judgementalism have always gone together. Where there is a spirit of legalism, ‘we’ve got to earn our salvation’, we will always find an increased spirit of accusation.

What do people do who just cannot accept grace? I will tell you what they do; they start to bargain with God, don’t we?

Oh God if you could just forgive that one, I promise I won’t miss church again, even Thursday nights God, I promise, just take care of that one. God if you would cover up that one, I will even teach in Sunday school. And our favourite, Oh God, and I promise that I will never, ever, ever do that again. And if we do, what happens to the shame factor?

Now we may not have seen ourselves this way because most of our life, maybe we’ve gone to church, we’ve been a decent moral person. But you have got to see ourselves right now, like that woman, in that court covered in a bed sheet because that’s who we are.

She did not have an offer to make Jesus, and we don’t either. We do not have anything to offer God. We have one hope and that is just to accept the offer that God made.

Salvation isn’t based on our ability to improve ourselves. It is based on the capacity of God to keep his promise. It is based on our capacity to trust in the merit of Jesus, Ephesians 1:7.

We need to understand that when we say salvation is free, we never ever mean that it is cheap. That is something that a lot of people struggle with.

God paid the greatest price in eternity to make us this offer. And the price that God has paid is a rebuttal to which our accuser has no answer.

If salvation were up to us, guilt and shame would be our constant companion and the voice of accusation would constantly ring in our ears. But it’s not up to us, our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

Jesus Has Authority

The Gospel is reliable because it is given by the One who is in authority. My favourite part of this story is the way the accusers back down in the presence of Jesus, John 8:9.

It is amazing how many people are ready to accuse. What Jesus taught in this story is that there are a whole lot of people who are not qualified to condemn who are ready to do it, right?

And the only man who ever lived who is qualified to condemn doesn’t do it. He doesn’t even accuse the accusers. He stands between us and condemnation.

And did you know that every time the accuser speaks against us, Jesus stands to defend us? He has got something to say that shuts the accuser up.

Satan says, “I’m guilty.” Jesus says, “It’s paid for.” Romans 8:34. Now whose testimony are we going to let carry the most weight in our life? I’ve got to tell you; I believe in letting Jesus have the floor when he stands to speak.

The Comforter

God gives us a comforter, John 14:16. And one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit when the accusations and condemnations start to come down is to remind us of what Christ has done and even to speak to our hearts the kinds of words that the son speaks to the father.

Take a moment to read these wonderful promises from Him, Hebrews 10:17 / Psalm 103:12 / John 8:11 / Romans 8:1.

I wonder when Jesus said, “Woman, where are your accusers, has no one condemned you?” And she said, “No one Lord.” John 8:10-11, I wonder maybe for the first time she included herself. He totally silenced her accusers. And he wants to do the same thing for you.


The question is, who are you going to listen to? When that voice of accusation begins to point its fingers at you, you’ve got to ask, “Who am I going to listen to?” Whose got the answer for this spirit of condemnation?

I want us to decide today that we are going to refuse to let the voice of the accuser drown out the promise of a saviour.

I want us to say to ourselves that we are not going to live our lives in a closet. I want us to say that we are not going to let our lives be weighed down by the shame that Jesus took with him to the cross.

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, Romans 8:1. If you want to get off the guilt trip, then you need to get to the cross.