GET ACQUAINTED: What types of trips have you taken recently? How are these trips different from a “guilt trip”?
SCRIPTURE: “Finally, they came to a place called The Skull. All three were crucified there – Jesus on the center cross, and the two criminals on either side. Then Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 3:33-34 ) [NLT]
Open your time together with prayer. NOTE: This is only a guide! Feel free to select the points you want to discuss and adapt them to your needs.
OBSERVATION: God did not wire us to carry guilt because it creates pressure and fear in our lives. We fear we might be found out or that we’ll be rejected by others. We fear retaliation or God’s judgment. If you’re still burdened by guilt, God has good news for you! You don’t need to carry it anymore. In this lesson, we’ll contrast our natural response to guilt with how Jesus wants us to handle it. Ask for a volunteer to read Luke 23:27-37 . What did Jesus do to pay for our guilt?
What do we usually do with our guilt?
- We bury it! Ask for a volunteer to read Psalm 32:3-5 and Proverbs 28:13 . What did David experience when he hid his sin from God? How does hiding our sin affect our lives and influence the choices we make? Why do we let our past continue to “haunt” us even though we know that all of our guilt has been forgiven?
- We blame others. According to Genesis 3:12 and Proverbs 19:3 , who is responsible for our wrongdoings? In reality, when we judge others, we avoid exposing ourselves! Share a time when God gave you the strength to share the truth about yourself. What was the result?
- We beat ourselves up. What guilt and consequences does David reveal in Psalm 38:4-6 ? A guilty conscience never knows when to stop. Why is it so difficult for us to let go of our fear, pain, and guilt?
How Should We Deal With Guilt?
- Admit it. According to Lamentations 3:40 , what should we do about our “ways”? Name a few things we do to avoid admitting our sins to ourselves or to God? How will stopping these behaviors help lead us to live guilt-free?
- Accept responsibility. Psalm 51:3 and James 5:16 both discuss methods of addressing our sins. What does each recommend? How will telling someone we trust about our sin help us to be released from its hold?
- Ask for forgiveness. What do 1 John 1:9 and Romans 3:23-24 tells us about how God will treat our sin? What we believe will influence our ability to ask for and accept God’s forgiveness. Take a moment and discuss this truth among your group members.
How Does Jesus Forgive Us?
Maybe you’ve asked God to forgive you, but you’re having trouble “feeling” forgiven. If we don’t understand complete forgiveness, every time something bad happens, we are prone to think, “God is punishing me.” Because we are human, forgiveness is our greatest need! Because Christ died for us, forgiveness is God’s greatest gift. Let’s look again at exactly how God forgives us:
- He forgives us instantly! The Good News Bible tells us in Isaiah 55:7 that, “God is merciful and quick to forgive.” He does not make us wait or suffer for a while first.
- He forgives completely! Jesus was nailed to the cross so you could stop nailing yourself. Read Colossians 2:13-14 and discover He died for ALL your sins! They’ve been wiped out, annulled as if they never happened. God has forgotten them, so you can too.
- He forgives repeatedly! Have you ever committed the same sin more than once? It’s God’s nature to be forgiving. Read Hebrews 7:25 to learn how often Christ acts as our mediator.
- He forgives freely! We can never earn or deserve God’s forgiveness. It’s a gift of His grace. Read Ephesians 1:7 and rejoice in God’s grace.
Should a believer ever feel guilty? Only for as long as it takes us to admit our guilt, accept responsibility and ask for forgiveness.
Prayer: “Dear God, you know everything about me. You already know the things I am ashamed of – the regrets, the sins, the mistakes, the unhealthy habits, the actions, and the attitudes I feel guilty over. Today, I admit that I need Your forgiveness. I agree with You that I have done wrong. I have sinned! I often do what I want to do rather than the right thing. I accept responsibility for my sins. I don’t blame anyone else. I’m not going to make excuses. I’m going to own up to what’s wrong in my life. I want to change. I want to live Your way. I want to follow and trust You. Jesus, thank You for what You did and said on the cross. I ask You to forgive me and take away my guilt. I don’t understand it all, but I thank You for paying for my sins on the cross so I could be forgiven. Today, in faith, I accept Your gift of forgiveness and salvation. Thank You for forgiving me instantly, completely, repeatedly, and freely. Please help me feel forgiven and to forgive myself. Amen!”