September 23
What Is Guilt?

Romans 5:6-11

Guilt is something with which we’re all familiar. Oftentimes, Christians wear the feelings of guilt like a badge of honor, in some misguided effort to demonstrate humility. But this is a tragic misunderstanding that poisons the church and steals the joy of Christ from believers. We need to stop and ask the question, “What is guilt?”

The word itself rarely appears in English translations of the Bible. When the term does occur, however, it is often misapplied. In the context of the world, “guilt” means to experience feelings of remorse, depression, or rejection for something that occurred in the past. Scripturally speaking, however, “guilt” is used only to denote responsibility. The word is never associated with feelings of shame or rejection; instead, it is more of a legal term, as when a court finds an offender “guilty.”

What does this mean for the believer? Well, we should already know that we’ve been found guilty—we all have an enormous sin-debt that we could not pay. However, Jesus Christ took that guilt upon Himself at the cross, and He paid our debt in full. And if Christ has already paid our debt and released us from liability, we are no longer guilty. We have been tried and found forgiven.

Scripture never tells us to hide the joy of our salvation beneath a smothering blanket of guilt. Rather, we are called to rejoice in the glorious redemption in that Christ’s sacrifice made possible. For this reason, we can proudly proclaim, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Go, and be free today. 

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