A thread on guilt:

Guilt can be a tricky thing.

Objective guilt is actual guilt.

Subjective guilt may or may not be actual guilt.

Here's a simple way to think of the difference between 'objective' and 'subjective':
'Objective' is out there, outside of the self, corresponding to an actual state of affairs.

'Subjective' is in here, in your thoughts or feelings, and may or may not correspond to an actual state of affairs.

Now, think through this with me.
1)One can be objectively or actually guilty, without subjectively thinking or feeling guilt.

2)One can subjectively think or feel guilt, without objectively and actually being guilty.

3)And one can be objectively or actually guilty, while subjectively thinking or feeling guilt.
Both 1 and 2 are bad, while 3 is good. So let's talk about the sources of guilt in order to get back to 3.

Left to right and then inside we can list the sources of guilt as Satan (and demonic forces), the Holy Spirit (with his inspired word), other people, and our conscience.
Let's start with Satan. Satan is the accuser, the slanderer of believers, the double-tongued.

Satan can appeal to an objective state of affairs to prove guilt. That is, Satan's accusations can be true or false.

Satan makes an appeal on a subjective level through the conscience.
Other people can mimic Satan with accusations, slander, and a double-tongue. Here again, they can do so while appealing to an objective state of affairs to prove guilt. Or they simply make something up, sometimes based on their own subjective or objective guilt (projection).
But oftentimes brothers and sisters have someone's best interest in mind too. We need help to discern guilt. We all have blind spots. We can't see them. That's why they've earned that name. We need others to help us see them. That's one of the reasons God gave us the Church.
The conscience is especially tricky. We tend to conflate our conscience with the voice of God. But it's not. Yet, God speaks through the conscience as well.

One can have a 'guilty conscience' and suffer from scrupulosity.

One can have a 'seared conscience' and be a psychopath.
All of this is simply to say that your conscience is not infallible, and needs to be conformed to the word of God. You should never sin by going against your conscience, but you need to know whether or not what your conscience says to you is actually true. It isn't always true.
Much more can be said about the conscience, but that's not what this thread is about. So let's move on.

Recall that one can be objectively or actually guilty, without subjectively thinking or feeling guilt.

We don't want that.
One can subjectively think or feel guilt, without objectively and actually being guilty.

We don't want that either.

So what do we want?
When we are objectively/actually guilty, we want to subjectively think and/or feel guilt. When we are at this place, our guilt and shame are working for us, not against us. They are, in this fallen world, functioning like pain to point to a problem; to say something is wrong.
This brings us to the Holy Spirit, the potential source of guilt I skipped over earlier. We don't want to quench or grieve the Spirit. That means we don't want to ignore the sin he convicts us of in the Scriptures he inspired. Word and Spirit go together.
This all seems unnecessarily complex, since I'm suggesting that the conscience, other people, and even Satan can, in part or in whole, agree with the Spirit in certain instances. So how do we know whether we're objectively and actually guilty? Well, we listen to the word of God.
So even if Satan, other people, and our conscience condemn us of sin, but the Spirit of God does not, we go with the objective word of God, not our subjective sense of guilt. Something is certainly wrong, when we feel guilty, but it may not be due to any sin on our part.
That doesn't mean that we take our guilt lightly. The opposite is the case here. Thinking through this has been helpful for me in times past, and I hope is of some help to you today. There is a grief from guilt that leads to depression and death, and another that leads to God.
We want the second, not the first.

We need the imputation of Christ's righteousness. He died for our sins and was raised again. Through faith in him, though sinful, we are counted just. Though filthy, we wear the clean clothes of Christ. The sins we fight against are forgiven.
Obviously, much more can be said. We haven't gone into details of justification and sanctification and the like. The point I offer is simply this: if you struggle with guilt, take it to the Lord. You could actually be guilty, but you might be listening to lies.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

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More from @clbolt

14 Sep
Let’s talk about the tactics of discernment ministries (thread):

Years ago, I became bothered by the tactics some of my theologically conservative friends, acquaintances, and others began to employ.
Their tone mimicked that of conservative (political) talk radio and sensationalist tabloids. Now, I’ve never been a fan of talk radio or tabloids, so I’ll admit I was a bit biased against the tone from the start.
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"The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. 3/8
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