By Gena Barnhill @BarnhillGena
Pastor and author R. T. Kendall refers to false guilt as a sense of shame we carry in our hearts that was not placed there by God.1 We can accept false guilt by believing self-condemning thoughts when we don’t meet our expectations or the expectations of others. The enemy, our accuser, also plants lies in our heads so that we will carry false guilt.
The enemy consistently brings up our past and reminds us of our failures so that we will hang on to false guilt and turn away from God. The shame associated with false guilt has us believe we are inherently flawed. Shame focuses on who we are―our identity. True guilt focuses on behavior that we can change and receive freedom after confession.
I experienced false guilt many times when I accepted responsibility for other people’s behavior that was not mine to accept. I believed the enemy’s lies that I was not a good enough mother, sister, daughter, and friend when I was unable to please the people I was in those relationships with. Later, I realized I was not responsible for their happiness, and I renounced the lies I had believed about my responsibility.
We met people who said they believed God could never forgive them. Their false guilt and resulting shame led them away from God. Most people did repent for their sins, and they received God’s grace and forgiveness during inner healing prayer sessions. When they encountered the Lord in prayer, they realized their identity was in Christ and what He did for them. It was not on what they did.
When we sin, the Holy Spirit convicts us of the truth so that we will turn to God and accept His grace. God’s grace is greater than our guilt. Recognizing true guilt for our mistakes is freeing because we can repent and turn to the Lord and ask for forgiveness. We are never outside the reach of God’s love and mercy. He made a way for us through Jesus Christ who went to the cross to bear our sins.
If we truly accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and repent for our sins, Romans 8:1 says, There is therefore no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.
I John 1:9 says, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The Holy Spirit does not condemn us. The enemy condemns and wants us to believe that we are outside of God’s love and mercy and that God will never forgive us. The enemy wants us to have unrealistic expectations so that when we do not meet them we have false guilt.
Hebrews 4:16 says, Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace in time of need.
F– Fellowship with the Lord. Spend time each day talking to Him. The more time we spend with Him, the more we will recognize His voice. The more we recognize the Lord’s voice, the more we will be able to discern the enemy’s voice. The enemy condemns us while the Lord convicts us of the truth.
A– Ask the Lord for His direction throughout our day and forgiveness when we have believed the enemy’s lies.
L– Lean into the Lord daily and listen for His truth. He does not lie, and He will not let us down. He has our backs.
S–Stand firm against the enemy’s lies and related expectations. When we sense a lie from the enemy, call him out and declare that we are not partnering with his lies because we belong to the Lord.
E– Embrace our identity as beloved children of God. We are never outside the reach of God’s love and mercy. Thank the Lord for His grace and mercy.
Before I share a prayer with you, I would love for you to have an opportunity to chime in. What thoughts do you have regarding false guilt? How do you discern false guilt from true guilt?
Be sure to share them in our Facebook Group Healing Prayer Discussion.
We are all stronger when we learn from each other. Looking forward to your input.
1R. T. Kendall, How to Forgive Ourselves-Totally (Lake FL: Charisma House, 2007), 33.
Lord, you have made it clear in Your Word that you came to set the captives free and heal the brokenhearted. I want to be free of false guilt. Help me to know what responsibilities you have given me and what responsibilities are not mine to take. Forgive me for taking on burdens that you never intended for me to carry and for accepting false guilt when I did not think I could measure up. Lord, You told us that Your yoke is easy, and Your burden is light. Lord, I give you my false guilt and in return, I accept Your yoke. Amen.