Are you haunted by past sins or weighed down by feelings of guilt? Dr. Stanley teaches if you are a child of God, He doesn’t remember your sins anymore. Be reminded of Christ’s sacrifice for your sins and the true freedom that allows you to live guilt-free. For more messages from Charles Stanley, including this week’s broadcast, go to

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male announcer: In Touch,
the teaching ministry

of Dr. Charles Stanley.

Reaching the world
with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Next on “In Touch,”
“When We Feel Guilty.”

Dr. Charles Stanley: When you do
something wrong and you know

it’s wrong, how do you feel?

Well, you feel guilty.

But let me ask you this, have
you ever had the same feelings

when you didn’t
do anything wrong?

Oftentimes we do.

Guilt is something all of us
have to deal with in our life at

different times and some people
know how to deal with it and

some people don’t.

If you don’t know how to
deal with guilt it can be very,

very devastating to your life.

And many people go through their
lives hindered because they

don’t know how to
deal with guilt.

In one meeting there were
about five hundred people.

They took this survey and they
said–they asked the question,

“What do you experience
when you feel guilty?”

And the answers came back like
this: punishment from God,

God is going to punish me for
something I’ve done in the past,

God is going to judge me, I’m
going to have an automobile

accident, my baby’s
going to be born deformed,

things are just
going to go bad in life.

The other group of
answers were like this,

depression, a sense
of worthlessness,

low self-esteem, shame.

The other group of
answers came like this,

rejection and isolation.

Now all of those feelings
are devastating feelings.

And to think that people go
through life feeling these to

some degree or the other
so much of their time.

So, I want you to
turn, if you will,

to one verse of Scripture.

In Ephesians chapter 1
and the seventh verse,

you’ll recall that he has
told us what our relationship to

Christ is, how
we’ve been chosen.

He says in verse 7 that in
Him, that is in Christ: We have

salvation through His blood,

the forgiveness
of our trespasses,

according to the
riches of His grace,

which He lavished upon us.

And I want us just to think
about those that verse and a

half there.

“The riches of His grace, which
He’s lavished upon us” through

the forgiveness of our sin.

The riches of His
grace, not our performance,

not our behavior, not our
promises but the riches

of His grace.

Now one of the best ways and
probably one of the first steps

in overcoming any difficulty is
to understand what causes it.

And so, I want us
to think about,

a few moments this morning–in
thinking of this whole idea of

struggling with guilt, I want
us to think about the source of

this guilt.

That is, where did it come from.

You say, “Well, anybody
knows where it came from.

It came from sin.”

Well, if all guilt found its
source in sin it would be real

simple to deal with it.

But that’s not true.

All feelings of guilt do
not come from an act of sin.

Feelings of guilt come from
different aspects of our life

and different things.

And so, I want to
begin by simply saying,

according to this
passage here, he says we,

listen, we have
redemption through His blood,

we have forgiveness for the
trespasses of our sins and it is

all, he says, the
result of God’s grace.

Now, if it is the result of His
grace one of the things we have

to deal with in this whole
issue of guilt is the fact that

sometimes one of the reasons we
feel guilty has nothing to do

with sin.

It has to do with
our wrong view of God.

And it is amazing how we can
have a wrong and erroneous view

of God and think that something
is wrong and keep judging

ourselves all of our life.

So, I want to begin with
my own life at this point.

I was saved when I was about
twelve years of age and when I

was saved God was
real distant from me.

I do remember that.

He was up in heaven.
I was down here.

And those early years of my life
I felt some sense of distance

anyway because not having a
father and not having some man

that I could come to and go to
and unburden my heart and feel

like that somebody really loved
me and cared for me, God was,

somehow, very distant.

I just–I would pray to Him.

I believed in Him.
I trusted Him.

But somehow, He was way
out yonder somewhere,

and I was down here.

And most of my time was spent on
trying to get Him–being sure He

listened, being
sure that somehow,

I was getting through.

And so, a year or so went by
and–I won’t ever forget this.

One day I was at home by myself.

We lived in a
basement apartment.

I was taking a bath.

And it was a very
small bathroom.

And when I
finished taking a bath,

I stood up to get out of
the tub and to go dry off.

And so, hanging
just beyond the tub,

maybe about like this, from
the ceiling was one of those old

black cords and one of those
brass colored looking holders

that you screw
the light bulb in.

You had to reach up and hold it
and turn the little black knob

to cut the light off.

Well, I’m standing in
water a little over my ankles.

I reach up to grab
that light socket,

which would have been
an absolute disaster,

to turn it off and
the telephone rang.

Well, normally you
would just turn it off

and go answer the phone.

But rather–I can
still remember this.

Rather I just got out of the tub
and went and answered the phone.

Rang about four
times when I oh–

picked it up nobody was there.

It didn’t click.

Nothing happened.

Well, I didn’t think anything
about it until I walked back to

the bathroom.

And just there was the door
framing this light bulb hanging

down and part of the tub.

And it’s like I looked
right at an electric chair.

All of a sudden, for the
first time in my life,

I knew that God
just wasn’t in heaven,

that God was down here.

And, all of a sudden, for
the first time in my life,

God became very, very
real to me because I knew,

at that moment, He was
involved in my life.

Because nobody
was on that phone.

God is the One
who rang the phone.

Now, He may have rung
it through someone else.

Doesn’t make any difference.

He got it rung to save my life.

Well, I would like to able to
tell you that that settled the

whole issue between God and me
and how close and intimate He is

but that’s not true.

Because years went by and I
still felt the same kind of

distance from Him, though at
that moment I realized that God

was not a distant God, that He
was a God who was involved in

our life.

And so, rather than being
remote, I knew that somehow,

He was involved.

But in spite of that I just
didn’t feel that closeness,

that real
intimacy to Him because,

you see, you get your
image of God from your father.

And so, my image was that He
left me very early in life.

And second image I had of a
father was that he was cruel and

harsh and hard and difficult
to deal with and not very

complimentary about
anything in life.

And so, my whole view
of God was distorted.

It isn’t something I asked for.

I didn’t ask to grow up in
that kind of a situation.

I didn’t ask for my father to
die at the age of nine months.

I didn’t ask for any of that.

That was just something
that was given to me,

that was granted to me.

That’s just something I had
to deal with in growing up.

So, when I went to church it was
condemnation and judgment and

the wrath of God.

And so, I grew up with all of
these things having been given

to me.

So, this God that I first
understood in life was–

first of all, He was remote.

He was distant.

Secondly, He was taking
notes, keeping records.

And His favorite phrase
was, “Thou shalt not.”

And so, if you can
imagine thirteen,

fourteen, fifteen, sixteen
or so trying to be holy.

I’m here to tell
you it didn’t work.

And I tried and I wanted
to be obedient to God,

do what God said do but I was
striving all the time to live up

to this standard that first of
didn’t quite understood–didn’t

quite understand.

Nobody ever said, “You’re
to do the following things.”

It was all the things I–not–
I was not supposed to do.

And so, I’m simply
saying all that to say,

somebody gave me the
wrong view of God.

I didn’t ask for it.

I didn’t find it in the Bible.

They just gave it to me.
Now listen.

When somebody gives you a
wrong view about something,

what it does, it
colors your thinking.

And so, my whole grid system
about God was that He was harsh,

that He was hard to please,
you could spend the rest of your

life trying to please Him.

If you pleased Him good enough
you’d go to heaven and now you

top all of that off with
believing that you could die and

be lost and go to
hell and, friend,

I’m here to tell you, God
was a cruel taskmaster.

I think about all the people who
went to that church and those

churches for years and
years and years and still do.

And you know what
they’re living in with?

They’re living with
a sense of guilt.

If you ask them, “What did you
do today that

was absolutely wrong?”

Most of them probably couldn’t
tell you anything they did today

that was wrong.

“Well, why do you feel guilty?”
“Well, I just do,” why?

I can tell you why, because
they were given

a wrong view of God.

And that’s why I am
so grateful to God,

in my own heart, that not only
has He straightened out my view

but He keeps on teaching
me and lifting me in my own

understanding and
relationship to Him.

And as He has over these years,
He has liberated me and freed me

from that
intangible, untouchable,

some kind of ethereal guilt
out there that

has no foundation whatsoever.

A second thing that I would
say is a cause of guilt that,

oftentimes, people struggle with
and it’s devastating in their

life is that the message of
grace is missing in their life.

They’ve never been
taught the grace of God!

Now the grace of God is God–

we say His
undeserved favor toward us.

It’s His graciousness and
kindness toward us without

regard to our worth or
our merit or, in fact,

in spite of what
you and I deserve.

That’s the grace of God.

So, if you’ll think
about it this way,

that the grace of God and
guilt do not go hand in hand.

And so, oftentimes the problem
in people’s lives is they don’t

understand grace.

Now they sing it.

You imagine
singing, “Amazing grace,

how sweet the sound, that
saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost but
now am I’m found,

blind but now I see.”

And all the wonderful verses,
and there are a lot more verses

to that song than is
in your hymn book.

And so, it’s wonderful song.

And so we sing it.

We say it’s amazing grace.

The amazing thing about it is
that God forgives you and me in

spite of what we are and the
fact that we don’t deserve it.

But in our thinking, oftentimes
we still think we have to

deserve it.

And sometimes I’ll be counseling
with someone or sharing with

them and they’ll say,
“But you know

I know I don’t deserve it.”

Listen, deserving has nothing
to do with the Christian life.

Grace has nothing to do
with what we deserve.

It has nothing to do with what
we merit or what we are worth.

It has to do with who God is.

And that’s what this
verse is all about.

He says the forgiveness of our
sins did not come through merit.

It came through the
riches of His grace.

Now listen.

There are a lot of men who
are preaching salvation today.

And if you ask them, “Are you
preaching the grace of God?”

“I am.”

Yet here’s what they’ll say, “If
you want to be saved here’s what

you’ve got to do.

You’ve got to
repent of your sins.”

Which says, “You must do
something before you can have

God’s favor.”

And so, oftentimes, men preach
and I hear this all the time,

preach repentance

as a means of salvation.

He says–Paul said it this way,
“If thou shalt confess with thy

mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and
believe in thine heart that God

hath raised Him from the
dead, thou shalt be saved.”

Repentance is what I do as a
result of what God has done for

me at the cross.

When I receive the Lord Jesus
Christ as my personal Savior

what do I want to do?

I want to deal with those issues
in my life that need to be dealt

with and I want to walk away
from this and walk away from

that and walk away from the
other because of what is in my

heart not to get
something in my heart.

And so, oftentimes, the
message of grace is missing.

And so therefore a
person says, “Well,

if there’s any sin in my
life, I am guilty before God.

God is displeased.”

Why does He call us children?

Because He knows we’re going to
falter and fall and we’re weak

and we’re going
to make mistakes.

Salvation is what God
gives to me as a believer.

And repentance in the life of
the believer is something we do

because we don’t want anything
in our life that shouldn’t be

there because of what
is–because of who is living in

our heart, and that is the
person of Jesus Christ.

So, the message of grace is
missing in the lives

of many people.

I remember when I was first–
when I first went to seminary.

I went to this church–
I won’t ever forget this.

Every Sunday the pastor
preached morning and night,

how to be saved,
how to be saved,

how to be saved, how to saved.

After about a month of
that–about two months of that I

said to Annie, I
said, “You know,

I think I’m about as
saved as I can be.

And I don’t think I can
handle much more of this.”

And so we left and went
to some other church.

Now people ask me sometimes,

“Why don’t you preach
more on salvation?”

Well, if you’ll listen real
carefully it is always a part of

the message.

It is always a
part of the message.

But suppose I got up
every Sunday and said,

“You need to give
your life to Christ.

You need to be saved,
you need to be saved,

you need to be saved,
you need to be saved”?

Do you know why sometimes
that happens in churches?

Because pastors–and
I hate to say this.

I’m just being honest.

Pastors want to get a lot of
people saved because it looks

good on the record to
baptize so many people.

And so, they just preach
salvation and preach salvation

and preach
salvation and what happens?

People sit in the pew and starve
to death and do not grow and are

not discipled because they are
not instructed how to live the

salvation God has given them.

And so what happens?

They live with a sense of guilt.

And somehow the message of grace
is a missing message in far too

many churches.

And so people grow up feeling
guilty because they did this and

they did that.

And so, instead of understanding
that God’s forgiveness and

kindness and graciousness to us
is in spite of what we are and

in spite of what we do–does
that mean that God just winks

His eye at sin?

No, He does not.

But our guilt was placed on
Jesus at Calvary once and for

all, two thousand years ago and
you and I have been

declared not guilty.

Now, a third reason I think
people struggle with guilt is

because they don’t
know what to do with sin.

They don’t know
what to do with it.

Well, what do you do with it?

You simply confess it to Him.

“Father, I know that I
have sinned against You…”

Now listen.

Not confess,
plead, beg, plead, beg,

pity party, beat up on
yourself, feel guilty,

the worse you feel
the better you’ll feel,

I’ve got to beat up on myself.

You know what the problem is?

It’s real hard for you and me to
humble ourselves before God and

admit, “Lord Jesus, you
took all of my guilt.

My pity party won’t do any good.

I can confess–any time
after the second time

is a waste of time.

Anytime I talk about
repentance after one time

is a waste of time.

You took it all at Calvary–you
take–you paid the sin debt

absolutely in full and my
confession and my repentance is

to get my heart back in right
relationship with You and to get

this estranged feeling I have
from You straightened out and

bring us back
into oneness again.”

That’s what confession,
repentance is all about in the

life of the believer.

And so how does a
person get saved?

They get saved by placing their
trust in the work of Christ at

Calvary and receiving Him
personally as their Savior.

And, repentance is something
that we do having received

Christ as our Savior.

Now, as a believer, sure we get
convicted of sin and we want to

walk away, we want to repent,
turn away from those things that

don’t please Him because of what
He’s already done in our heart.

And so, when I think about
how people are harassed by the

devil, they don’t know
what to do with sin.

He says, “If we confess our
sin, He’s faithful and just to

forgive us.”

To release us from the feelings
of guilt and release us from

these feelings of
estrangement we have from Him.

Listen, once you are saved by
the grace of God nothing can

separate you from God.

But if you believe it can,
you’re going to live like it

can, you’re going
to feel like it–

like you’re separated from Him
and you’re going to–

you’re just going to be
covered with guilt!

They don’t know
what to do with sin.

And so, they just
can’t, somehow,

believe that, “You mean to tell
me that if I just ask God to

forgive me?

If I tell God about my
sin that I’m forgiven?”


“I don’t deserve it.”

“How could He do it?”
Cross, that’s the only way.

And see, He doesn’t
intend for us to live clouded

and shrouded over with guilt.

There is no joy in that.

Well, a fourth reason is people
can’t let go of their past.

They just can’t.

Even though they ask the Lord
Jesus Christ to forgive them of

their sin or however they pray
that, what happens is they just

can’t let go of it.

Even though they ask God to
forgive them and they’ll turn to

the Bible and say, “Well, yes, I
guess what I said–here’s what I

asked the Lord to do and here’s
what He says and I know He has

because He said He would do it.”

And somehow, it’s like
molasses on their back.

It’s just still
hanging on there.

Turn back, if you
will, to Isaiah 43.

Isaiah 43 and I want
you to notice this verse.

In the twenty
fifth verse, He says,

“I, even I, am the
one–” now watch this.

This is God speaking.

“I, even I, am the one who wipes
out your transgressions, your

sins–” what’s the next phrase?

“For My sake.”

Whose sake?
His sake, not our sake.

He says, “I, even I am
the one who wipes out your

transgressions for My own sake,
and I will not remember–” what?

“Your sins.”

He says the–he says
in another passage,

He says they are separated from
you as far as the East is from

the West.

Now listen to me.

If God says, “I’m not
going to remember them,”

what am I doing
bringing them back up?

I’ll tell you why.

Satan uses our
past to harass us.

It is one of his
choicest tools to harass you.

Listen, not only will he harass
you but here’s what he’ll do.

If he can grab enough stuff out
of your past back yonder that

you’re ashamed of or guilty
of or whatever it might be,

some failures in your life–if
he can get enough of that going,

here’s what he’ll say to you,
especially if you’re a gifted,

talented person, “You
can’t be used of God.

God’s not going to use you.

Look what you did in the past.

Your past is still there,
and God still remembers it.”

No, He doesn’t.

Then why am I remembering it?

Because it’s Satan’s choice tool
to harass and discourage and

depress and bring

Listen, if you’ve lived year
after year after year–and

suppose it’s something you
did as a teenager or in your

twenties or something
and now you’re seventy,

eighty years of age and
somewhere that thing is still

back yonder.

This big, black
something back there.

Listen, that’s what the blood is
all about that is wiping out all

the black stuff in
your life back yonder,

those holes back
there, those incidences,

those sins, those things back
there that caused

you trauma then.

And you are, oh,
loaded down with guilt.

Friend, when you came to
Jesus Christ and you said,

“Father, I know that I’ve sinned
against You and I’m just–

I’m asking You to forgive me
on the basis of the cross.

I thank You for it.”

Even if you didn’t thank Him.

Maybe you were just
asking Him, “Lord,

I’m just asking You to
forgive me for what I’ve done.”

How many times do you
have to ask a loving,

heavenly Father to forgive you
for something He has already

provided for at Calvary?

One time.
One time.

And so, we live with this sense
of–it’s a false sense of guilt

we can’t let go of the past.

And I think especially of young
people who get themselves in

trouble in different ways.

Somehow they–you
say, “Well, now,

are you saying there are
no consequences to sin?”

I’ve never said that.
There are consequences to sin.

But now listen.
Here’s what I want you to see.

Sin by its very
nature has consequences.

That isn’t God.

Now we have to separate this.

Listen now.

The consequence of
a sin–for example,

if I walk out in front of a car
and I get hit and break my leg

that isn’t God breaking my leg.

That’s a consequence of not
looking where I as going.

If you and I sin against God
there are certain sins that bear

certain consequences.

That’s just the way life is.

And so, no matter what happens
to a person if they are saved by

the grace of God, listen, they
are living under the canopy of

the lovingkindness
of Almighty God.

And, listen, God who knows
the consequences of sin,

He’s the One who’s always
cautioning us and telling us,

don’t sin against Him.

You know why?

Not because He says, “I’m
going to judge you if you do.”

But because He knows
the consequence of sin.

And so, you and I have to
realize that no matter what’s

happened in
people’s lives back there,

what has happened in your life
God has forgiven you, and you

must let go of that.

God has let go.

But He says, “I
don’t remember it.

Separated as far as the
East is from the West.”

That’s why you and I can stand
before holy God and He says that

He has made you
and me righteous.

You know why?

Because He has
washed the past away.

We’re living, at this
moment, in this day.

And so we are clean
and pure before God.

Another reason that we struggle
with guilt is because somehow,

we feel like we’ve missed God.

Now there are a lot of
people who have the feeling,

“I believe that God called me
back yonder some years ago to do

something for Him.”

Well, what did He
call you to do?

“Well, I’m not sure.”
Now listen carefully.

God never calls you to do
something for Him in general.

“I want you to serve Me.”

God’s going to call you to do
something specific.

Now here’s what happens.

Let’s say that we
give an invitation,

especially in missionary
conferences and so forth.

And you’re standing there
and the Spirit of God’s really

convicting you about your
willingness to surrender to Him.

And God wants you to
walk this aisle and say,

“I want you to fully surrender
your total being to Me,

that you’ll go anywhere, do
anything I ask you to do.”

“Oh God, I’m not
sure about that, mmm.”

So you don’t come.

So you live with this guilt.

“God called me to missions.

I didn’t go.”

God didn’t call you to missions
on that occasion.

He called you to walk the aisle
to make a commitment of yourself

to Him, a public commitment that
you’ll do whatever He called you

to do.

And He may have called you to go
back to your business and be a

godly witness!

Now you didn’t miss God’s call.

You may have disobeyed
Him when He said to you,

“I want you to walk that aisle.

Here’s what I want you to do.

I want you to commit
yourself to Me

that whatever I call you to do.”

Well, then just tell Him,
“God, You challenged me

to commit myself
and I didn’t do it.

I know that was an absolute
sin against You not to do it.

That was rebellion on my part.

And I just want to ask You to
forgive me and

thank You for Your forgiveness.

Now Lord, here I am.

What do You want
to do in my life?”

Let’s say that He did
call you to some specific task

and you didn’t do it.

Life’s over.

You say, “I can’t ever be
what God wants me to be.”

Well, if God had called you to
preach the gospel or to be a

missionary or something like
that when you were twenty and

you are now forty-five years of
age or somewhere there abouts

you say, “Well, how can I ever
go back and do what God called

me to do?”

You can’t, you can’t go back and
do what He called you to do, but

you know what you can do?

You can confess the fact that
you’ve sinned against Him by

being rebellious and wanting
your own way and asking Him to

forgive you of your sin and
thanking Him for it and saying,

“Lord, I fully surrender
my entire life to You.

I know that You can
pick up the pieces.

You can pick up what’s broken.

You can take me at this point
in my life and You can set me in

the center of Your will for this
point in my life and this time.

And God, I’m committed to
doing whatever You say,

wherever You say.”

Do you think God’s going
to say, “Too late, too bad”?

Now your boss may say that
but God wouldn’t say that.

You know what
God’s going to say?

“I knew you were coming
to Me sooner or later.

I’m sorry you had to go through
all this suffering and heartache

and pain for disobeying
Me but you’re forgiven.

Now let’s put it back together.

I’m going to set you
on the right track.

I’m going to show you what I can
do with something that’s broken

and messed up.”

God delights in
fixing things, fixing people,

putting them back together,

giving them a new
beginning to start all over.

I don’t care who you
are, what you’ve done,

where you’ve been you can’t name
anything that out sins the grace

of God.

You can’t do it.

You see, everybody’s
messed up somewhere.

Anybody here not messed up?
Anybody here has never sinned?

Anybody here who hasn’t done
something they wished they had

never done?

You know what?

There’s no such thing as a
person who wished they hadn’t

done something and who
wouldn’t like to go back

and change something.

Thank God we, listen, we
don’t have to go back.

We just have to go up and watch
Him change our life, amen?

That is the grace of God.