“Guilt.” It is not a pretty word. We often avoid it or cover it up in any way possible. However, since guilt is an intricate part of the human experience – a critical part of our existence as both broken and forgiven people – we would be remiss to ignore it. Guilt is a complex phenomenon that requires us to dig beneath the surface to understand how it influences our lives, particularly as believers in Jesus Christ. This article will explore several truths about guilt and expose the great deception with which Satan attempts to thwart the progression toward redemption in the life of the Christian.

Three Truths about Guilt

1. All People Experience Guilt

The first truth is that all humans experience guilt at one time or another. Guilt typically arises from the inherent knowledge that we have failed to live up to the moral code we believe to be right, whether it is the voice of our conscious or the Law of God. We feel guilty when we sense wrongdoing has taken place in our lives, even if the actions are seemingly small. We are fearfully and wonderfully made to feel this emotion as a guidepost to our conscience, calling us back to a place of obedience and righteousness.

As followers of Christ, we can sometimes operate under false assumptions that our salvation eradicates every trace of guilt. But Scripture makes clear that this is not the case. Romans 2:15 tells us that Gentiles, too, have an innate moral understanding, demonstrated by “the work of the law written in their hearts.” The apostle Paul’s words show that the guilt experience is not restricted only to Christians. Rather, it is a universal feeling that arises in all human beings.

2. Redemptive Work Requires Addressing Guilt

The second truth is that the redemptive process involves acknowledging our culpability and receiving forgiveness in Christ. Jesus came to save people from their sin, as well as its deleterious effects, like shame and guilt. In Scripture, the most poignant expression of Christ’s work on the cross is found in Psalm 32, when David writes, “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered” (Psalm 32:1). Again, in Isaiah 53:5 we read, “But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins; punished to offer us cleansing of our sinpenance, and we are healed.”

When the Great Redeemer takes our sins upon Himself and suffers the wrath of God on our behalf, the covenant of grace is fulfilled, and the Father accepts us into His perfect family once more. With that said, the Christian journey demands that we continuously return to our saving Lord to deal honestly with our shortcomings, recognizing that our standing before God is perfect, yet our character may still need sanctifying. This continual practice of self-reflection is part and parcel of the redemptive process.

Therefore, God does not seek to eliminate the discomfort of guilt completely – but redeem it. He uses the emotion of guilt and the healthy self-awareness it brings to generate repentance. The work of redemption includes, in part, addressing our guilt, understanding that our perfection lies in the cross of Christ, and striving for sanctification.

3. The Enemy Usurps True Guilt for Evil Purposes

The final truth is that the Devil often perverts the legitimate experience of guilt for his nefarious gain. A primary weapon in the arsenal of the Adversary is accusation. He excels at reminding us of our past mistakes, even as believers, to wreak havoc in our lives and separate us from the love of Christ. By accentuating our guilt without the corrective grace of forgiveness and redemption, the edevil seeks to twist the message of Jesus into his own message of hopelessness. He wants to convince us that God cannot or will not forgive us, driving Christians toward the pit of despair and away from the amazing truth found in Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

The great deception, therefore, is that the Devishisuits to reframe redeeming guilt as eternal condemnation, and in so doing, the enemy keeps us from the healing arms of Christ, robbing us of the hope of sanctification. It is of paramount importance that we hold on tightly to the truth of Scripture regarding the provision of salvation in Christ and the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. To do otherwise is to submit our souls, however unintentionally, to the perverse ambitions of Satan.


When we better understand the relationship between guilt, redemption, and the great deception, we can progress in our faith toward the life God designed for us. As we work to loosen the hold of guilt from our past, we should embrace that all humans experience this feeling, that the redemptive process requires us to address guilt, and to never forget that the Devil is unscrupulous in his ploys to use it against us. May the truth of Christ set us free, removing the fear and anxiety that comes with guilt, while also allowing the deep workings of the Gospel to root out the sin that lies beneath.

For Further Reading:

  • Keller, Timothy, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith. New York: Penguin Group, 2009.
  • Lewis, C.S., The Problem of Pain. London: HarperCollins, 2002.
  • Packer, J.I., Guilt and Grace, Revised & Updated Edition, (Addison, TX: Practice Publishing, 2012).

Reflect and Discuss:

  1. What are your thoughts or experiences regarding the relationship between guilt and Christianity?
  2. How has the Bible taught you to understand your experiences of guilt as a believer?
  3. How can individuals protect themselves and others from the great deception of Satan through a proper understanding of guilt and redemption?
  4. Are there any specific parts of the Biblical narrative that seem particularly helpful in understanding the role of guilt and healing in a Christian life?

Written by Billy Clarke, MABC. Published Date: June 12, 2020. Image Credit: Unsplash.com.

Topics: Guilt, Redemption, Sanctification, The Work of Christ, The Adversary. For Quick Access: BLCL024. Updated July 27, 2020: Replaced 'Graduate of The Master's Seminary' with 'MABC'.