So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”Romans 8:15

Psychology Today says of guilt, “Guilt and its handmaiden, shame, can paralyze––or catalyze one into action. Appropriate guilt can function as social glue, spurring one to make reparations for wrongs. Excessive rumination about one’s failures, however, is a surefire recipe for resentment and depression.”

Guilt almost always focuses on the negative, even though it can have positive outcomes. We’ve all been there. Dealing with feelings of regret, failure and fear over decisions we’ve made and choices from our past that haunt us daily. Those times when we’ve been awakened in the night by worry or come to a point during the day when we look around ourselves and ask the questions. How did I get here? How will I get out?

Guilt has been used for centuries to control behavior and to protect the status quo. “Wait until your father gets home!” too many of us remember hearing.

“If you don’t behave the police will come and take you away!” (I actually heard a young, frustrated mom say to her very two-year-old acting two-year-old. I shudder to think how that child grew up looking at law-enforcement.)

“If you don’t go to church and read your Bible you will go straight to hell!” (Okay, maybe it was never verbalized like that, but the message was clear.)

God hates divorced people and gay people and anyone that does wrong things. (One of my personal ‘UN’-favorites.)

The most unfortunate thing about guilt is that it has been used for centuries as a motivator by organized religion. I use the term ‘organized religion’ to clearly differentiate those systems from what we commonly refer to Christianity. Christianity can be a religion; in fact most people refer to it as a religion. In reality however, True Christianity is more about relationship than it is about rules and religion and…guilt. Every religion known to man speaks of personal responsibility and punishment. Only Christianity speaks of unmerited love and forgiveness.

The Apostle Paul, the Apostle of grace, writes in his letter to the believers in Rome, ‘We have not received a spirit of fear!’ (My paraphrase) That means fear motivated by guilt and remorse has no place in the heart of a repentant believer in Jesus Christ. The church may wield the sword of guilt to chastise us and keep us in line, but grace trumps that sword.

What a blessed truth. Guilt has no more hold on me, just as a child enjoys all the rights of being an heir. We no longer need to live under the oppressive hold of guilt in our lives. We are free. We are children of God and as such can address the creator of the universe as Daddy. What a blessed promise!

PRAYER: Father God, Daddy. I claim the forgiveness you have given me through your son, Jesus Christ. I will no longer allow guilt or shame to have control over me. I’m your child and eternally thankful for that. Amen.