Art Toombs Ministries 

Online Bible Commentary

The Nature of Guilt


John 19: 6 Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, "Crucify Him, crucify Him!" Pilate said to them, "You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him." 7 The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God." 8 Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid, 9 and went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, "Where are You from?" But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 Then Pilate said to Him, "Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?" 11 Jesus answered, "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin." (NKJV)


To whom was Jesus referring in the last sentence of this passage? Who was guilty of a greater sin than Pilate? 

Some would think that Pilate was guilty of the greater sin because he was the one who handed Jesus over to the crowd to be crucified. But Jesus says here that the one who handed Him over to Pilate was guilty of a greater sin (v. 11). 

There are three possible answers as to who was guilty of the greater sin. It could have been Judas, who physically handed Jesus over to the chief priest. It could have been the chief priest, Caiaphas, who handed Jesus over to Pilate. Or it could have been the crowd, the wicked Jews who wanted to do away with Jesus. The truth is that all were guilty, but “one” was guilty of a greater sin (v. 11). 

Guilt is a natural by-product of sin. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin. When we are close to God we should feel guilt, and the need to confess sins, repent and ask for forgiveness from God and from whom we have sinned against. God does not want us to feel guilt. God does not want us to sin. 

Some people never feel guilt and others feel guilt when they do not sin. Those believers who never feel guilt need to come closer to God through Bible reading, prayer, and Christian fellowship. 

Those believers who feel guilt when they do not sin are under attack from the evil one. Satan is often the source of guilt. Satan comes to destroy. He is the great deceiver. We can be in bondage to him when we believe his lies. 

This passage also hints that there are degrees to guilt. Pilate felt guilt, but someone else apparently felt more guilt because they committed a greater sin. Judas felt so much guilt that he immediately hung himself. Of course, that is never the solution. 

The solution is to recognize that feeling some guilt is natural and, in all cases, we need to confess our sin, repent, ask for forgiveness and come closer to God. Also, realize that the guilt we feel is just that, a feeling. And we don’t live by our feelings. We live by the truth of Scripture. 

Scripture tells us that Christians are not under condemnation. All of our sins have been forgiven; yesterday’s, today’s and tomorrow’s. They have been cast as far the east is from the west. God has forgiven and forgotten our sins. And so should we.