This is the uncomfortable feeling of regret, remorse, shame, and self-condemnation that often comes when we have done or thought something that we feel is wrong, or failed to do something that should have been done. Often there is discouragement, anxiety, fear of punishment or rejection, self-condemnation, and a sense of isolation, all tied together as part of the guilt feeling.
They can stimulate us to change our behavior and seek forgiveness from God or from other human beings. But guilt feelings also can be destructive, inhibitory influences that make life miserable.
TYPES OF SUBJECTIVE GUILT FEELINGS
Appropriate Guilt Feelings: This is present when we have broken a law, disobey biblical teachings, or violated the dictates of our conscience and feel remorse in proportion to the seriousness of the act.
Inappropriate Guilt Feelings: These are out of proportion to the seriousness of the act.
All these show that guilt is pervasive and complex experience. It is important to always distinguish between objective and subjective guilt.
BIBLICAL TEACHING ABOUT GUILT
The Bible describes guilt in subjective terms. It is always refers to theological guilt. A person is guilty when he or she has broken God’s law. Biblical guilt and sin are often discussed together.
DAVID: Psalm 32
DAVID: Psalm 51
PAUL: Romans 7:18-25
HOW BELIEVERS SHOULD DEAL WITH SUBJECTIVE GUILT FEELING
It is true that the believer has no reason to have guilt feelings because Christ has paid for and forgiven our sins. Even so, we continue with mental self-punishment, dwelling on the guilt we feel over our sins or other actions.
We must not intentionally arouse guilt feeling in others in order to force them to change behaviours, prevent them from being proud, protect them from future sin, stimulate Christian growth or stimulate financial contribution. Unfortunately many teachers, parents, coaches and preachers do these.
Written by Dr. Godwin Ude