How To Be Free From Guilt

by Ty Gibson  |  May 2, 2014

The Bible knows what’s going on inside of you. It understands the complexity of the human being and penetrates into the deep mental, emotional and moral issues we all deal with. Notice, for example, this insightful passage from King David:

“My soul melts from heaviness; strengthen me according to Your word. Remove from me the way of lying, and grant me Your law graciously. I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me. I cling to Your testimonies; O Lord, do not put me to shame! I will run the course of Your commandments, for You shall enlarge my heart” (Psalm 119:28-32).

“My soul melts from heaviness?” You’ve been there, haven’t you? Maybe you’re there now. We carry internal weights. They’re not made of material stuff, but rather of heavy thoughts and feelings. That thing you said in a moment of anger that drove an invisible wedge between you and her. That deed you did when nobody was looking but now you feel dirty inside. Later in the passage David more specifically pinpoints the thing that’s killing him inside: its “shame,” which is the heaviest weight the human soul can bear. So heavy, in fact, that it makes him feel like his soul is melting. The heaviness is debilitating. It causes mental breakage, emotional crippling, even physical deterioration. Overall health and wellbeing are adversely affected when we carry guilt inside. The human being was psychologically designed for innocence, so as long as there is unresolved guilt within us our quality of life is compromised on all levels.

In the midst of his meltdown, David looks to the “word” of God for strength. He believes that the crushing power of his shame can be lifted by words from God. Why words? Actually, words are the most powerful currency in circulation. Words are powerful because they generate new trains of thought and shape new ways of feeling. God’s word, if allowed access to our hearts, will override the negative self-incriminating “tapes” that play over and over in our minds.

Life gets freer and better in obedience to God’s principles.

But David also senses that he is danger of slipping into what he calls “the lying way.” The fact is, we lie. All of us do. We tell ourselves things about ourselves and about others that accommodate our inclination to evade our guilt. The most common manifestation of “the lying way” is to deal with shame by judging others. If you are diminished in my estimation, I look better to myself than I really am. David sees in himself the dark tendency toward self-deception and he deliberately asks God to remove it from him. So should you and I.

Finally, David understands that living life in harmony with God’s commandments is liberating and expansive in its effect upon the human being. Within God’s law there is space to “run.” His law does not restrict our life-capacities, but rather increases them. Remember, under the influence of his shame David felt “heaviness,” as if his soul was melting away. But now he says to God, “You shall enlarge my heart.” Emotional capacities expand rather that restrict within God’s ways. Our range of relational mobility increases. We become more, not less. Life gets freer and better in obedience to God’s principles. “Subjection to God is restoration to one’s self—to the true glory and dignity of man” (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 466).

Ty Gibson Co-Director
Light Bearers
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  • Ian

    AMEN!!! What a great read! Really touching and helpful, thank you and God bless you… truly bless…

  • Lidia Moore

    Thank you! Beautifully said!

  • lboutros7777

    Great read Ty, spoke volumes to me, and I feel this article will help my son.

  • Valerie Perkins

    What a powerful article, and inspiring, encouraging. Thanks,Ty.

  • An interesting study revealed two reactions to wrongdoing: a shame-based reaction and a guilt-based reaction. The researchers pointed out that shame-prone people tend to globalize wrongdoing by saying, “I’m worthless,” and “You’re worthless.” In contrast, the guilt-prone person can feel remorse for a wrong done without lapsing into self-loathing. They can differentiate between self and behavior: “I didn’t wrong, but that doesn’t make me worthless,” “She did badly, but she’s still God’s child.” The shame-prone have more defenses and insecurity in relationships, but the guilt-prone tend to have secure, trusting relationships. Here’s a quotation from the study: “Guilt-proneness involves a working model of self that is humble about personal limitations; shame-proneness involves a more narcissistic working model of self.” Reference: Comparison of Two Group Interventions to Promote Forgiveness: Empathy as a Mediator of Change. Steven J Sandage, Everett L Worthington Jr. Journal of Mental Health Counseling. Alexandria: Jan 2010. Vol. 32, Iss. 1; pg. 35.

  • Kennedy

    Thanks Ty you have made my day

  • Ching-Wei Cho

    Thank you for this message. It untied from my old way thoughts!!

  • Maryann Lee

    Wonderful. Lord write your laws in our hearts.