I am a Christian, but I cannot get rid of a huge burden of guilt that constantly weighs me down. What can I do to escape from this?
Answer: To answer this question you need to think about three other questions.
Firstly, irrespective of what you have done, you need to define who or what is generating this guilt? Your own conscience? People in your family or Christian group? Or God?
Our consciences are not always an indicator of true guilt: they may be misinformed and therefore misleading; they may be used by Satan to effectively disempower the grace of Christ.
The perceptions and expectations of our family or Christian group often produce feelings of guilt, but when they are inaccurate or unbiblical, and therefore invalid, these perceptions and expectations generate needless, unbiblical, false guilt.
Only guilt that is true guilt generated by actions or attitudes that God calls sin, is of eternal spiritual significance. At this point guilt is at its most scary; but it is also at this point of God-generated guilt, that it can be totally removed.
God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to take the just punishment for our sin. In this act of substitution he has thoroughly dealt with our guilt. He removed our guilt from us and placed it on his Son. Christ the innocent one took our guilt, so that we, the guilty ones may be counted innocent. From God’s perspective, all who are united to Jesus Christ by genuine faith are acquitted of all guilt.
Secondly, you need to clarify which or how many of your sins are covered by this acquittal obtained by the sin-bearing death of Christ. The ‘original sin’ passed on to you from Adam? Your pre-conversion sins? The post-conversion sins that you have confessed? The sins you have stopped doing? Or all, absolutely all, of your sin?
If your answer stopped with any of the first four of these you inevitably and repeatedly experience unresolvable guilt, for in your understanding the acquittal granted you on the basis of the cross of Christ is limited to a specific category or categories of sin. All sin not included in that category, is obviously not forgiven because, in your opinion, Christ did not bear its guilt.
Yet the Scripture affirms that ‘forgiveness’ is the present and permanent possession of the believer: in Christ ‘we have forgiveness’ [Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14]. In addition, God ‘forgave us all our sins’, wiping out all the records that were against us, nailing them to the cross of Christ [Colossians 1:13-14] – all of them, in the fourth decade AD, before any of them were ever committed.
As soon as a person received the Lord Jesus Christ, all that he did, all that he achieved through his death, was credited to that believer’s account: all sin is forgiven, all condemnation taken away, all true guilt removed so that its burden need never again weigh that person down.
All your true guilt removed. Forever. All your true guilt – never again to be held against this person by God. All your true guilt – past, present and future.
Thirdly, you need to ask yourself: Do I really believe this?
This is an incredibly unbelievable thing. A totally unexpected thing. A thing coming from a completely different mindset, a completely different worldview, a completely different paradigm than any other concept known to man: That guilt can be completely removed without any compensatory or meritorious action or payment on the part of the guilty one. No other religion teaches it. No cult promotes it. No human mind conceived it. Only this grace-based, love-based, mercy-based teaching that shouts at us from the pages of the Bible and whispers to us from each drop of blood falling from the cross: here God comes and, instead of the punishment I expect because of my guilt, he himself bears my guilt and my punishment. And sets me free. Free forever from this unbearable burden.
Thus the Christ says to us: “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” [Matthew 11:28]. CW