True guilt is the uncomfortable inner awareness that we have violated Godís moral law. True guilt is produced partly by the conviction of Godís Holy Spirit and partly by our own conscience. The conscience is molded by many influences in our environment: what our parents taught was right or wrong, what they practiced(not always the same as what they taught), what our church taught was right or wrong, what church members practiced, what our friends and teachers thought was right and wrong, and so on. A Christianís conscience is molded also by what the Bible says is right or wrong, but even that is influenced by individual interpretation. No two consciences are exactly alike. Although the Holy Spirit is always right, our consciences can overlook something we do that is wrong. Our conscience, wrongly taught that everything is sin, will bother us even when we do things that God does not consider wrong. False guilt is feeling guilty for something that God and his Word in no way condemn.
Christians from legalistic churches often express feelings of guilt for things that the Bible in no way condemns. They may feel guilty for being tempted, for example. It is not sin to be tempted; is is sin to dwell on that temptation and yield to it.
Tournier calls true guilt "value guilt" and calls false guilt "functional guilt": A feeling of "functional guilt" is one which results from social suggestion, fear of taboos or of losing the love of others. A feeling of "value guilt" is the genuine consciousness of having betrayed an authentic standard; it is a free judgment of the self by the self. There is a complete opposition between these two guilt-producing mechanisms, the one acting by social suggestion, the other by moral conviction...... "False guilt" is that which comes as a result of the judgments and suggestions of men. "True guilt" is that which results from divine judgment...Therefore real guilt is often something quite different from that which constantly weighs us down, because of our fear of social judgment and the disapproval of men. We become independent of them in proportion as we depend on God.(Tournier 1962, 64-70)
People must understand that they have no right to condemn themselves; only God has that right and Christians should leave the judging and condemning to God alone. They need to set new goals for themselves that are realistically attainable, no longer comparing themselves to others more gifted than they are in specific areas. We should compare our performance with what we believe God expects of us. God does not expect his children to achieve sinless perfection in this life. But he does want us to seek his will in our lives to the best of our abilities.
For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.(KJV)
Obviously, Iím not trying to be a people pleaser! No, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christís servant.(NLT)
Satanís lie: self-worth=performance + otherís opinions
Introduction to Psychology and Counseling, Christian perspectives and applications
second addition-Meier, Minirth, Wichern, Ratcliff- copy. 1991