How can I control guilt, conviction, and condemnation?

Question: “What causes guilt and condemnation and how can I control guilt, conviction, and condemnation?”

Bible Answers

Have you ever felt guilty? Guilt can feel terrible. What you did keeps playing over and over again in your mind, and you are filled with regret and “if only.”  

Two kinds of guilt

There are two kinds of guilt in the Scriptures. One is God’s conviction and the other is Satan’s condemnation.


There's Godly sorrow regarding sin in our life, which is known as conviction.  It is from the Holy Spirit, and Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret (2 Corinthians 7:10). Once a person repents of their sins, the guilt is lifted and they feel relieved and joyful as their sins have been forgiven.  For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more (Hebrews 8:12).  

…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience (Hebrews 10:22).


The other kind of guilt is Satan’s condemnation and accusations.  Satan loves to badger and torment God's people by reminding them of their past sins and by convicting them of their sins even though God has forgiven them and has chosen to forget their sins.  The devil’s condemnation tears us down, makes us feel unworthy, worthless, and guilty, but is strictly a lie from the father of lies, Satan.

The thief [Satan] comes only to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10).

While conviction is cured by repentance, curing condemnation can be more difficult. Condemnation can be: 1) the devil attacking us by claiming something we have done is a sin when in fact we have not sinned and telling us there is nothing we can do about it.  2) Or it can be the devil attacking us about a sin that we have committed and convincing us there is nothing we can do about our sin, that we are just worthless sinners.  3)  It can be the attack of the enemy after we have repented and God has forgiven us, trying to convince us that we are so bad and worthless that God will never forgive us.

False guilt can be a symptom of unforgiveness.  In Matthew 18:23-35, Jesus tells us how important it is to forgive those who have wronged us. Unforgiveness and bitterness, defiles a man (Hebrews 12:15) and this includes bitterness and unforgiveness against ourselves.

When a person has repented of their sin(s) but continually feels guilty, they are facing a stronghold. A stronghold is a lie that is believed, which results in an incorrect thinking pattern and is usually accompanied by an incorrect perception of self or God. People who have a stronghold of guilt rarely see God’s forgiving nature and they don't see themselves correctly. If a stronghold of guilt exists, then the feelings of guilt will not disappear until the strongholds are torn down by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). Through God’s mighty weapons of warfare [His Word], to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:4-5).  

One of the major reasons so many of God's children are living defeated lives is because of guilt. Guilt is one of Satan's biggest weapons against us. It tears us down, it makes us feel worthless, robbing us of our faith and confidence in Christ Jesus.  Jesus came to cleanse us and set us free from the guilt of our sins.  If you want to live a life of victory, you need to have a conscience free from the guilt of your past.  They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience (1Timothy 3:9). After repenting, if we still feel guilty, we need to forgive ourselves and give God our guilt to heal.

Moving beyond condemnation

1.  If the problem is unforgiveness, we must completely forgive that person and give that person to God to deal with as He sees best. If you haven't, you must also forgive yourself. If the problem is a sin (and unforgiveness is a sin), then take it to the Lord in repentance, asking the Lord to forgive you, and He will. If you pray sincerely, you need pray only once about that particular sin (unless you commit the same sin again). We are forgiven at once when we confess with all our heart (Psalm 32:5).  If you have hurt others, and they are available, you need to ask them to forgive you. They may or may not be willing to forgive, but that is not the issue; the issue is that you ask them. Since God has forgiven you, you have no guilt or condemnation for God has washed you as white as snow.  

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7). Know that God has completely forgiven and cleaned you.

2.  The apostle Paul in Romans 8:1 says that There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  What does this mean? He gives us the answer in Romans 5:8, …but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.   The word “for” in this verse means “in our place.” Jesus came and died in our place. He was our substitute. Because of His love for us, He paid the penalty for our sins so we could be free from guilt and condemnation and be reconciled to God. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). Enjoy God’s peace.

3.  We give our hurts, pains, and problems to God and trust Him to handle the problems in His perfect timing. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him (Romans 15:13). In prayer, believing, ask God to help you and He will.

The Lord is close to the broken hearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed (Psalm 34:18).

I cast all my anxiety on him because he cares for me (1 Peter 5:7).  When you start rerunning your old condemnations in your mind, take them and cast them on Jesus, because He cares for you.

God tells us that we are to love God, love our neighbors, and love ourselves (Mark 12:31). You are God’s beloved. He loves you, and tells you to love Him, others, and to love yourself.

4.  If you feel condemnation after you have repented, then Satan is attacking you.  Praise the Lord; He has given you power and authority to overcome Satan and his attacks.  

Click to learn more about your authority over Satan.

…for greater is he [Jesus] that is in me, than he that is in the world [Satan] (1 John 4:4).

I give you authority to tread … over ALL the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19).

In my name, they will cast out demons (Mark 16:17).

God has given you the authority, in the name of Jesus, to command the guilt and condemnation to go.  There is no reason to let condemnation continue.  Whenever you get a condemning or negative thought, you can say, “Thought, in the name of Jesus, I command you to go now.”  Then think on the Lord.

5.  Rather than looking any longer at the old problem, start looking at Jesus.  Rather than spending time beating yourself up for what God has already forgiven, spend your time praising God. Picture God’s blessings rather than the problem.

If nothing seems to work, you may have a spirit of guilt or a spirit of condemnation that needs to be cast out.  While most do not, a few have evil spirits hanging around them like a thick black cloud, constantly making them feel dirty, unworthy and guilty. You may need to find a pastor who operates in the gifts of the Holy Spirit and seek deliverance by having the evil spirit cast away.  This may be harder than you would think, as a majority of the pastors in this country to not operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit and because they have not learned about them, they deny the gifts.

Having asked God to forgive you, having cast all of your problems on Jesus, you have no reason to feel guilty or condemned.  Rather you are free to look to Jesus and to love Him and yourself.

Next Section - What can I do when frustrated and fearful?

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