Guilt is “the fact of having committed an offense or crime.” By that definition, no one is not guilty. Guilt is the result of wrong doing. Everybody has done something wrong either legally or morally. (For example, I believe that every driver is guilty of speeding. During my lifetime, I have driven over the speed limit. You have too. And that makes us both guilty of speeding.)
So since everybody is guilty of something, how can we get rid of our guilt. There are 2 human responses to guilt: shame and remorse.
1) Shame is feeling embarrassed about what other people may think about your wrongdoing. It tries to protect your image by covering up guilt in 4 ways: 1) by denying any wrongdoing; or 2) by playing the blame game and thereby attempting to excuse wrongdoing; or 3) by comparing with others and thinking that your wrongdoing is okay because it’s not as bad as someone else’s; or 4) by justifying by claiming that your wrongdoing is not really wrong because of various pseudo-reasons.
In the classic example of guilt, Adam and Eve responded to their wrongdoing with shame. They attempted to cover up their wrongdoing by hiding from each other and hiding from God. Then they moved into the blame game: “Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent, and the serpent didn’t have a leg to stand on.”
Shame is not a very effective way to deal with guilt. It is like drinking poison and then either denying you did it or blaming you actions on your state or mind. Neither response will counter the effect of the poison. Fortunately, there is a 2nd and much more effective way to deal with your guilt.
2) Remorse is feeling genuinely sorry that you did wrong. It openly admits to the wrongdoing accepting responsibility and refusing to blame. Remorse humbly apologizes to the offended party or parties and asking for forgiveness. Remorse resolves to not commit the offense again and then makes every effort to follow through. Remorse even makes amends as far as possible.
Remorse is a very effective way to deal with guilt. It is like drinking poison and then promptly telling someone that you did it and what exactly you drank, and then asking them to rush you to a hospital. This response most likely will counter much of the effect of the poison and probably save your life.
So save yourself! When dealing with your guilt, choose remorse instead of shame!
“If we walk in the light, as He (God) is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” –John the Beloved