Good Guilt vs. Ghost Guilt


By Dean Smith

Romans 8:1 (Amplified) 1THEREFORE, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit.

(NKJ) 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,[a] who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit

Can your neighbor give away your house to their friends? Can you give away your pastor's car? Well, of course you can't. You don't own them. Naturally, you can't give something away that you don't own. Since all true forgiveness comes from Jesus Christ; before you can give Christ-inspired forgiveness, you have to receive it for yourself first. The age old question is what comes first, forgiving other's or forgiving yourself. It's like the question about the chicken and the egg. We could argue till the cows come home, but there's one thing for sure, we will never maximize our God-given potential to love and forgive if we don't actively receive His love and forgiveness.

We have a tendency to feel guilty about our sins well after we confess and repent. When we feel guilty after repenting we know it is our own insecurities or works of the adversary to keep us in bondage. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. God may convict our hearts and minds of sin which is supposed to lead us to repentance and freedom.

Ever feel guilty for a sin you've already confessed to God? Does a sin you committed in the past bring back horrible feelings of condemnation? We can spend most of our lives trying to make up for our sins from the past. We read the Bible more. We go to church more. We act nice more often than not. We attempt to be in right standing with God by doing good works. God desperately wants us to know that it is exclusively by our faith in Jesus that puts us in right standing with God (Romans 3:21-22). He doesn't want us to do more stuff.  He wants us to receive His love and have faith in Him. Then, we find ourselves doing more good works for God out of a love for Him, not because of a guilty conscience.  Are you feeling guilty as a parent for making mistakes with your children? Do you feel tormented by your downfalls as a spouse or former spouse? Is there a friend who may never forgive you for the problems you caused? 

God wants you to know that you don't have to feel guilty about your sins once you have confessed and turned from them (1 John 1:9). If you sin and feel guilty, it may just be God convicting you in hopes of leading you to repentance. 

John 16:8 [8] And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God's righteousness, and of the coming judgment.  What a blessing that the Holy Spirit shows us the area in our lives where we get off track, out of His will, and into areas of sin. That's called good guilt because it is intended to lead you back to an intimate relationship with God.  If you're feeling thoughts of guilt and condemnation and you realize that you haven't confessed to God and repented from that sin, that's just God's good guilt brought on by the Holy Spirit nudging you out of sin and into God's good and perfect will.

If you feel guilty over a sin you've already confessed and turned from, then you are experiencing ghost guilt. It may seem really scary and make you fearful and shameful, but it's not based on the reality of God's promises. It's based on your experience on this earth. Ghost guilt is just that. It's brought on by a lack of faith in the blood of Jesus or demonic torment to keep you from experiencing the freedom we have in Christ. Ghost guilt lurks around in the recesses of your mind, hiding out and scaring you every time a certain memory pops up. Here's the thing, Ghost guilt is just a mirage like the ghosts at the haunted house at Disneyland. It feels very real and it hurts really bad but only because we put our faith in the fact that we can't be forgiven for what we've done. Romans 5:20

(Message) But sin didn't, and doesn't, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it's sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. We feel guilty after repentance because we put our faith in our feelings and not in Jesus. It's time for Christians around the world to stop allowing our ghost guilt to have power in our life. Those who have accepted Christ as their Savior should no longer live with self-condemnation (Romans 8:1). Ghost guilt could be the very thing that's hindering you from prospering in God. It could be the barrier that keeps you from an intimate relationship with Jesus, with others, and with yourself. Romans 5:20

If you're living with ghost guilt, I encourage you to pray right now that God will help you surrender it to Him. When you are free from ghost guilt, you will be able to receive more of God's love and accomplish more for His will. This will lead you to a better life of joy and peace.
Today's Exercise

Give yourself an examination and ask yourself what sins you are feeling guilty about, but you've already confessed them to God and repented. After finding the Ghost guilt in your life, take the time to surrender it to God and replace it with your full faith, that Jesus nailed your sins to the cross and everywhere in your life where your sin abounded, God's grace abounds even more. 



Father, right now in the name of Jesus, I ask that you would show me the areas in my life where I'm feeling guilty for that I've already repented for. Lord, I decree that as I confess my sin, you are faithful and just to forgive me my sin and cleanse me of all unrighteousness. Right now, I surrender my ghost guilt to you. I turn from that ghost guilt and I stand in faith and in the reality that your sacrifice on the cross has set me free and that there's no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.