“In whom we have redemption … the forgiveness of sins.”
— Colossians 1:14
Have you ever felt so guilty you couldn’t look someone in the eye? Guilt is tremendously motivating. While the possibility of feeling guilty may not stop us from doing something wrong, once we feel guilty, we’ll do almost anything to avoid being found out. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of the famed fictitious detective Sherlock Holmes, once played a terrible practical joke. He wrote an unsigned letter and mailed it to twelve prominent men. It said, “All is discovered. Flee at once!” Within forty-eight hours all of them had left the country. Guilty.
Though people in our society rarely use the word “sin” in conversation anymore, we can’t get rid of guilt, and it has a powerful effect on us. Guilt weakens and destroys. It can create a sense of anxiety—a nameless, unknown fear. It can produce a depression that hangs over our heads like a black rain cloud. It can make us feel unclean, soiled, worthless. It can give us such a poor self-image that we become our own worst enemies. Guilt can even create physical illness; after David sinned with Bathsheba, he said, “My bones grew old through my groaning all day long” (Psalm 32:3).
There is a difference between guilt and guilt feelings. You may have bad feelings even though you’re not guilty. Psychiatrists may help you get rid of guilt feelings, but they don’t know how to handle guilt. Many of them don’t even like the word. They use “confused” or “mixed up priorities” instead. But the Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). Our guilt is so permanent, it seems engraved in granite. We cannot blame it away. We cannot push it down or trade it for another emotion.
We can get rid of our guilt in only one way—by asking Christ for forgiveness. Do you need to ask His forgiveness for something today? Confess to Him, and unburden your heart. Allow Him to wash you perfectly clean.