The slide from guilt to shame is a dangerously slippery slope. Guilt seems to place us where “sliding downward” is a common outcome of its vice. Guilt and shame are no strangers and have blurry lines of distinction from one another.
Guilt Does Nothing To Help Us In The Now.
It’s an emotion sinisterly drawing us back into a past, holding us there, with no power to move us on. Guilt’s natural slant is a decline, leaving us slipping and sliding backward and downward into the past–while the real power to do anything is only in the present.
Guilt’s Self-Serving Agenda
Guilt focuses primarily on the person feeling guilty (self). If I’m feeling guilty, I am more concerned about feeling good again than I am about the destructiveness of the problem or the way I may have hurt someone. The sad reality is that feeling guilty never made anyone feel any better. Guilt only serves to self-serve more guilt.
Guilt Is The Evil Imitation Of Godly Sorrow.
I’d argue there’s a big difference between “feeling guilty” and “feeling sorry.” When I’m sorry, I’m more focused on making amends with others and not just with feeling better myself.
The deceptive notion when we’ve messed up is that guilt is somehow what we deserve; the price to pay is feeling bad. But, feeling bad is the best that feeling guilty can ever really produce. And how is that useful in any way? There is a more helpful alternative called Godly Sorrow.
Godly Sorrow is about a renewal of the heart and life that moves us beyond feeling bad or guilty, to becoming entirely a different kind of person. In fact, it seems to invite us to experience freedom from guilt altogether…
“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” ~ Hebrews 10:22
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret…” ~ 2 Cor. 7:10
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation! Old things have gone, and look–everything has become new! It all comes from God…” ~ 2 Cor. 5:17-18
Reclaiming Innocence: That’s The Gospel (Good News).
The gospel is not fundamentally like guilt–an endless reminder of all the ways that you have messed up. It’s about the promise, potential, and possibility of reclaiming innocence (guilt-LESS-ness offered by God in Christ) inspiring our lives into things like hope, joy, wonder, and renewal.