December 21: “Good and Bad Guilt”

9 Minute Read

Be Still

To the best of your ability, get rid of all distractions. Take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply, to quiet yourself in the Lord’s presence. Then, prayerfully ask the Lord to speak to you in this time and let Him know that you will be listening and will make whatever adjustments He will reveal to you.

Today’s Bible Reading:

Zechariah 1:1-21
Revelation 12:1-17
Psalm 140:1-13
Proverbs 30:17

Listen to the Lord

Slowly and reflectively read the following verses and listen to what God will say to you through them. Then, consider writing down any insights He reveals to you.

Revelation 12:10 (NLT): “Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, ‘It has come at last — salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth — the one who accuses them before our God day and night.’”

Reflections from Scripture:

In Revelation 12:10 (and the context in which it is found), we read of a title that God has given Satan. He is called “the accuser of our brothers and sisters.”

First of all, the noun “brothers” is often used in Scripture generically. Simply put, a masculine noun or pronoun may sometimes be used to refer to males AND females. It would seem clear that this is how the word is used in Revelation 12:10. That’s why some translations include “and sisters” while other Bible translations do not. Satan is the accuser of our brothers and sisters. No believer is excluded.

Next, we look at the word “accuser.” This means that Satan regularly points out our faults and failures. And it is always for the purpose of condemning us. If a Jesus-follower feels defeated and drops out of the race toward Christlikeness, Satan’s desire will have been accomplished.

To be sure, guilt is a good thing if it is short-lived. Just as physical pain is our body’s way of letting us know that something is wrong and needs to be addressed, so guilt lets us know that something is wrong and needs to be righted.

But, guilt should be short-lived. We should feel the pangs of guilt when we sin to be motivated to confess and repent of that sin to God as we make things right. The guilt feelings should dissipate when that happens.

Unfortunately, many people deal with guilty consciences for months and years at a time. They have confessed their sin to God and repented. They have even made things right with others who they wronged. But, they continue to feel guilty. 

Friend, if you have done everything you should do to get a clean conscience and you still grapple with the pangs of guilt, it would seem that Revelation 12:10 tells you who is working against you.

“… the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth — the one who accuses them before our God day and night.”

So, how do we deal with guilt? Let me give you a few points to ponder:

  1. If you have sinned, then confess it to the Lord (agree with God that it is wrong) and repent of it (turn your back on it with a desire never to do it again).
  2. If you have sinned against someone, then go to them and acknowledge what you have done and do what it takes to make things right.
  3. Realize that Jesus’ death on the cross on your behalf has made it possible for your offense to be completely wiped out. God has thrown your sins so far from Him that He will never, ever remember them again (Psalm 103:12) so that He will certainly never condemn you (Romans 8:1).
  4. Realize that “the accuser of the brothers and sisters” was ultimately defeated by Jesus on the cross, and his doom is sure. The one who despises you and desires for you to grovel in guilt is a defeated foe. Don’t let a toothless lion (1 Peter 5:8) be victorious over you.
  5. As you make things right with God and others (#1 & #2) and then realize some of the truths of God’s Word (#3 & #4), then appropriate it by faith. Believe it to be true. Make it true of you. Live in the freedom that they provide.

Guilt is a good thing, but only if it motivates you to make adjustments and get back on the road to holiness. It is horrible if it works to defeat you. God has provided a way for guilt to be dealt with. Why not live in light of the Truth so that you can live in freedom (John 8:32).

Spend Time in Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You for the gift of guilt. It enables me to realize that something is wrong that needs to be righted. But help me never to be consumed by guilt that can never seem to be resolved. That is of the devil. I pray this in Your Name, Amen.


Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on Facebook.

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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