The Definition of Guilt
and How To Deal With It
(Summary of Forgiveness Study)
A dictionary definition of guilt might be something like: "the fact or state of having done wrong."
This is a quick summary of the
6-part study on Biblical forgiveness
- the real solution to guilt. It is intended both as a summary and as a quick read for those that might not have time to read the whole study. I hope, if you read this, you will be encouraged to read the complete study. Further down on this page is an opportunity for you to
share your experiences, thoughts or feelings
about guilt and forgiveness and read what others have said.
Guilt is much more than a fact or state. Feeling is very much involved. Usually, there is a feeling of estrangement or separation from the person that we have done the wrong towards. We feel as though we are out of favor with them and we suppose that they must feel angry towards us. There are often feelings of shame as well.
Shame is different than guilt.
Think about your own experiences with guilt and forgiveness and you will realize that, indeed, forgiveness is a two-party transaction. There are always two individuals involved. With God, we just tend to think that we ask for forgiveness and, if God feels like it, He forgives us and only then has forgiveness happened. The process is just a little more involved than that but it is a beautiful truth that will give you a much better definition of guilt, will make you feel a lot better about the process and will help you considerably in dealing with your feelings of guilt.
Our translations from original languages sometimes do not retain all of the original meaning. That has happened here. There is a Greek word - charizomai - that refers to forgiveness as felt by the forgiver - the one doing the forgiving. On the other side of the two-party transaction, there are two Greek words - apheimi and apoluo - that describe what is happening in the person being forgiven. If you go through the complete study which sorts out the use of the words, you will have a much better understanding of how it works. You will understand the deficiency of the standard definition of guilt.
God loves everyone He has created far more than we can imagine. He always forgives every sin in the sense that He does not hold our sins against us. He is not angry with us. He does not love and care for us any less. Charizomai (often translated forgiveness) is the original Greek word that describes His feelings of forgiveness toward us.
Whether you feel it or not, whether you even know it or not, God forgives you. You don't have to earn that from God, just accept it. When you realize His love and acceptance then you will feel forgiven in your heart. That - what happens at your end of the forgiveness process, in your heart - is described by the words apheimi and apoluo. Remember, a child does not have to earn the love of his parents - it is freely given.
Jesus, who always said and did what was consistent with
His Father's character,
as He was being crucified, said "Father forgive (apheimi) them." He wasn't asking His Father to feel like forgiving them (charizomai). Rather, He was asking that the soldiers mistreating Him could be lead to feel forgiven.
Of course, there is another aspect to forgiveness - the legal one - that involves our acceptance of the payment for the penalty of our sins. This is often described in terms such as to
blot out (remove the record of) sins. But when we have a better understanding of God's love and His accepting attitude towards us it makes it easy to also accept Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf so that our sins and guilt are covered in a legal sense and we then have the free gift of salvation and a title to heaven as well as a clear conscience.
Share Your Forgiveness Story or Question With Others
If you have read the pages on this site about forgiveness (or just this short explanation and definition of guilt) and would like to share your thoughts and insights, please use the form below. If you have been encouraged with a better understanding of God's forgiveness, please encourage and bless others.
Or, perhaps you have a question - I will try to provide a Biblical answer.
Submissions may be edited for clarity, grammar, spelling etc.
What Other Visitors Have Said About Forgiveness
Click titles below to read complete contributions from other visitors to this page...
Mikhael Ben Yisrae-Levi "Messianic Jew" Not rated yet
You say that Elohim "G-d" will Always forgive Every Sin, How do you explain Matthew 12:31 about Blaspheming the Holy Spirit, and Matthew …
Sin Equals Ill Health Not rated yet
It would seem from several examples you used and other verses that sickness, disease and all sorts of afflictions are based on or come from our sinning. …
Feeling that God May have Rejected Me Not rated yet
I am a young fellow in Kenya, East Africa. I am so much inspired with your work. Please, I am going through lots of pain in life and I am feeling that …
Thank You Not rated yet
Comment: Thank you for this exposition. Just after reading this I know better about forgiveness and guilt. My teaching of the concept has not being …
Does God Hear? Not rated yet
Does God hear? Can God really hear our prayers for Forgiveness?
Answer: Yes, God can hear all our prayers. He can even "hear" our unspoken prayers. …
Does God Keep Forgiving? Not rated yet
Would God forgive my sins even if I keep going back to do the same things I pray for forgiveness for? How do I stay away from sexual immorality?
Can God Forgive Anything I Do? Not rated yet
Does God forgive every sin? Now I need God to forgive my sin of the past.
Answer: Yes, Chika God can and will forgive any sin. The really good news …
The Enormous Power of Guilt and Shame Not rated yet
My favorite part of this series is part 5, and the section 3 where you are talking about Col. 2:13-14 and the “certificate of debt” being taken “out of …
My Experience Not rated yet
I have personally gained a much greater understanding of and appreciation for the love of God by studying what the Bible has to say about forgiveness. …
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