Arthur Meintjes on how to overcome guilt, shame, and fear

Millions of Americans struggle and suffer with long-term feelings of guilt, shame, and fear. CDN's Danny de Gracia talks with "Guilt-Free Living" Arthur Meintjes on how to find relief through faith in God.

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Arthur Meintjes is the author of "Guilt-Free Living." (Photo by Arthur Meintjes/Kingdom Life Ministries)

HONOLULU, July 21, 2017 – Are you struggling with guilt, shame, or fear? If so, you’re not alone. Many find themselves overwhelmed by these feelings, some to the point of being unable to go about their daily lives without significant difficulty.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as an estimated 20 million Americans find themselves wrestling with these depressive symptoms, which can even include feelings of worthlessness, sadness, or in more severe cases, even thoughts of death or suicide.

For modern Americans, these feelings often come with painful, long-term consequences; a growing volume of medical research suggests that the risk of chronic disease may increase for persons suffering from stress.

In one study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, psychologists theorized that endocrine responses to stress could negatively impact immune and inflammatory processes, or at the minimum lead to chronic diseases through behavioral changes, such as increased smoking. Anxiety disorders, which can also emerge from periods of severe or prolonged stress, have also been found to be one of the leading causes of disability-adjusted life years in the world today.


But what if guilt, shame, and fear go beyond the mere cognitive realm and have spiritual roots? Looking for insight in this matter, I found the book Guilt-Free Living by Arthur Meintjes of Kingdom Life Ministries, a pastor who has devoted his life to revealing the freedom that the Gospel message offers.

“Mankind was never meant to live in guilt, shame, and fear,” Meintjes writes in Guilt-Free Living. “Those emotions are extremely debilitating. They limit what we can believe. They warp what we perceive. They create stress and force our bodies into ‘fight or flight mode.’ When our bodies are under stress, they are constantly trying to protect or guard themselves physically, emotionally, and mentally.”

In the Bible’s account of Matthew 9:1-7, a paralyzed man was brought to Jesus of Nazareth, carried on a mat, that he might be healed like so many others that had encountered Jesus’ ministry. Interestingly, the first reaction of Jesus upon meeting the paralyzed man was to say, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”

The encounter almost implies that the man may have become paralyzed in his body as a result of feelings of guilt from sin. How many of us are today paralyzed in our health, relationships, marriages, careers, and possibly even our national political condition as a result of guilt?

The encounter almost implies that the man may have become paralyzed in his body as a result of feelings of guilt from sin. How many of us are today paralyzed in our health, relationships, marriages, careers, and possibly even our national political condition as a result of guilt?

Wanting to explore this thought-provoking possibility further, I reached out to the author Guilt-Free Living and asked Meintjes for his thoughts. Here follows an unabridged Q&A.

Danny de Gracia: Arthur, it’s a pleasure to be able to interview you and get your thoughts! Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved in ministry.

Arthur Meintjes: Thank you Daniel, for having me. I came to know the Lord Jesus early in my life when I was about 18 years old, and felt the call on my life almost immediately. But basically ran away from that call because I did not feel qualified to be a minister of the Gospel.

But to cut a long story short, at the age of 24-25, I finally gave in and went to Bible College and prepared to go into ministry.

I graduated in 1985, and went into ministry pastoring a church for 14 years.

It was during that time of pastoring that I became very depressed, despondent, and disillusioned with my Christian life, because unfortunately I had fallen [into] the trap of works and performance religion where my whole Christian life and relationship with God was based upon my performance and moral discipline.

Depression is a serious mental health problem for millions of people. In many cases, depression can be the result of traumatic or stressful events which leave an individual feeling guilty, lonely, or worthless. (Photo by Irais Esparza/Wikimedia Commons)

Even though I had a church and ministry that looked like a success with people, buildings, and programs, I never felt acceptable and worthy because very little of what I believed actually worked for me. The harder I worked and the more I tried to please God through works of Bible study, prayer, and living up to the standards I believed was required of a minister or pastor, the less I was able to do it and maintain that standard of moral conduct.

It finally brought me to a place of condemnation, depression, and guilt to where I finally tried to take me own life. That day I was so depressed and so angry that I went to my office and took my gun and I was going to take my own life, but I thought that I would first tell God how I felt. So I proceeded to curse and cuss at God like I had never cursed before, and after I had fully expended myself I collapsed on the floor thinking that now God was going to kill me. But to the contrary, I just heard Him say,

“Arthur you need to enter into my rest”! I cried out to God and said, “that’s what I am looking for.”

That day through a process of communing with God, I discovered the goodness, love and grace of God for the first time. I realized, that what I believed about God was not the truth, I believed that God was able to be good, that God possessed good, and that He could be good. But the truth was that good is who God is, and in order for God not to be good at any given time would mean that God would have to cease to be God!

That day was the day that my life forever changed, that day is the day that my ministry actually began! I started to discover in and through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His finished work, the depths of God’s grace, love, goodness and forgiveness. And for the last 27 plus years, I’ve been preaching this Gospel all over the world.

“God is always moved with compassion when we come to Him with our pain or suffering. There is never a time where God will not be moved to help, heal and restore us from our destructions.”

DDG: In today’s 21st century world, we see many people struggling with feelings of guilt, rejection, anxiety, and depression, and these have real consequences both for individuals and a society as a whole. What would be your advice to someone reading this interview if they find themselves feeling hopeless, rejected, or in a place where nothing seems to be working?

AM: This is a difficult question, only because there are many reasons for the anxiety, fear and depression that people suffer with today. But advice to all people is to come to know God for who He really is. Not who organized and popular religion has made Him out to be. But to discover in and through the Gospel of Jesus Christ who He revealed him to be!

In the Gospel of John, John is introducing Jesus to his readers and says, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18 KJV). Again in the Gospel of John, Jesus said, “Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?” (John 14:9 KJV).

I believe that one of the main reasons for Jesus’ coming, was to finally show us who God really is. And to once and for all be the light in our dark world to reveal the true nature and character of his Father and our Father!

If we will allow Jesus to show and reveal to us who God really is, we will discover His unconditional love, and His limitless grace.

If we will dare to believe the Gospel, it will produce in us the Peace of God and deliver us from condemnation, depression, fear and more importantly from guilt.

DDG: Let’s talk a little bit about prayer. What’s the best way to pray if someone has never prayed before and is seeking God for the very first time?

AM: Well, prayer is really just talking to God, and also allowing God to talk to you. Now, I know that for many people talking to God, and especially hearing God speaking to you, is considered very weird and to some even crazy. But talking to God is all prayer really is!

So the best way to pray, is to just tell God how you feel and what it is that concerns you and is worrying you.

Also, express your hopes, dreams and desires to Him in trust that He hears you. Then make your requests known to Him, ask Him to show you who He is and to reveal to you your true identity. We can have confidence that He hears us, because Jesus said, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:11 KJV).

“If we as parents, will move heaven and earth, if we can and do anything we can to help our children, how much more our Heavenly Father.”

DDG: One of the things that I really enjoyed about your book, “Guilt-Free Living,” is that it directed readers to the fact that if they believe in Jesus, “He will be your warrant against all accusation or indictment” (1 Corinthians 1:8). That’s a powerful statement. It seems to point to the fact that above all else, God values love and reconciliation and relationship, or said another way, grace. Would it be a fair description of the Biblical concept of grace to say to someone, essentially, “God’s grace works, even when we don’t?”

AM: Yes, I believe that when we will reach out in faith or trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ, according to the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 3. 14-19, we will discover that we have always been the object of God’s love. Being rooted and grounded in God’s love, and His grace will work and has always been ceaselessly working to reveal to us the breadth, the length, the depth and Height of the love of Christ which passes all knowledge! Because Jesus has done everything necessary, and He has produced the results needed for our forgiveness, redemption, salvation, and acceptance in the presence of God.

I like what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:8-9, “And he guarantees right up to the end that you will be counted free from all sin and guilt on that day when he returns. God will surely do this for you, for he always does just what he says, and he is the one who invited you into this wonderful friendship with his Son, even Christ our Lord.”

Grace is working on our behalf, not because we are working to make it happen, but because Jesus worked on our behalf two thousand years ago, [so] that we could receive the benefits and rewards of His work as a free gift of His grace and mercy!

“I believe it is so important for people to know that the Gospel clearly demonstrates that God is always for us, and He is never against us in any way shape or form.”

DDG: You mentioned in your book that one of the limiting factors people have is a “toxic mixture of Old Testament law and New Testament faith” and how we shouldn’t live in the middle of two covenants. Visually, I’m kind of reminded of the picture of King David’s son Absalom, whose hair got caught in a tree so he was “left hanging between heaven and earth” (2 Samuel 18:9).

Without the Gospel, we’re “left hanging” so to speak, always looking for something, always waiting for something, never knowing if we’ll make it or not, so one is stuck with an intellectual hope rather than a spiritual faith. That’s a hard place to be. What’s the best way for Christians to know in their heart that they are “in the will of God”?

AM: This is a very important question and one that we can spend hours discussing. But let me say this, unfortunately, most people in the church today have been inundated and saturated with a religious message of legalism, performance, and law but only to a lesser degree the message of grace! (My definition of religion is, anything we think or believe we must do, or ought to do, to please God, or to win God’s favor and acceptance.)

2 Corinthians 2:7 cautions churches about pushing individuals to the point of “excessive sorrow.” (Photo by Tellmeimok/Wikipedia)

But what we don’t realize is that any amount of religion, law, and performance in our relationship with God, nullifies the grace of God and leaves us with just the ability of our own willpower. Which can only lead us to frustration, condemnation, and guilt, always falling short of the standards of law and moralism?

But Paul said in Galatians 5:1-6, “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:2-6 KJV).

The best way for any person to know that they are in the perfect will of God is to totally and wholly trust in Jesus and His finished work on the Cross alone.

Paul also said in Romans 10:9-11, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”

DDG: I’ve noticed there are religious people who occasionally say to people in desperate circumstances things like, “It may not be your season yet to be healed.” In some instances, someone might even be told, “You’ve made your desire to be healed an idol of your heart.” It seems like those kinds of statements could crush someone who is already falling apart in their life, looking for hope. Jesus in John 6:37 seems to advise the opposite, that no one who comes to him gets rejected. What’s your thoughts on this? Do you have any recommendations for people who have been told these things by other Christians?

AM: In a way, we have actually already answered this question in my previous answer. But I believe it is so important for people to know that the Gospel clearly demonstrates that God is always for us, and He is never against us in any way shape or form.

In the Gospel of Mark 1:40-42, “And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.”

Now, if we will remember that the Gospel clearly tells us that Jesus is the exact and full revelation of who God is, then when we look at this incident in the ministry of Jesus where He is approached by this man who was a leper. The man clearly shows us what his view of God was. He believed that Jesus had the power to heal him, he believed that Jesus was able to heal him, but what he did not know was: Was Jesus willing to heal him?

In Jesus’ response, we can clearly see who God is and what His will is! It says that Jesus was moved with compassion. The original language speaks of “Jesus was moved by bowels of compassion”; this means that God is always moved with compassion when we come to Him with our pain or suffering. There is never a time where God will not be moved to help, heal and restore us from our destructions.

It is clearly stated in the words of Jesus himself, when He responded to the man by saying, “I will, be thou clean…” Again, in the original language it should read, “I will, I will, I will, don’t doubt it!”

My recommendation to people who have had their hope crushed and who have been discouraged by people is to dare to trust God to be a good God, a loving God, and merciful Heavenly Father! As I have said earlier, Jesus said, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:11 KJV).

If we as parents, will move heaven and earth, if we can and do anything we can to help our children, how much more our Heavenly Father.

“…unfortunately most people in the church today have been inundated and saturated with a religious message of legalism, performance, and law but only to a lesser degree the message of grace!”

DDG: What are some scriptures that you recommend that people can read to build up their faith and understanding of God?

AM: There are many, many scriptures in the Bible that we can read. But I would say to anyone who wants to receive encouragement and build their faith, to read all of the New Testament with a heart for the Gospel or Good News. Because that is what the word Gospel means!

What I’m saying is this: Every time that you read the New Testament, read it with a mindset of looking for good news, and if it is not good news, it simply is not the Gospel. You are either not interpreting correctly, or maybe it’s not been translated correctly, but if it’s not good news, it’s not Gospel.

Also, when you read the Gospels like Matthew, Mark, Luke, Luke, and John, read it with the mindset of remembering that Jesus said, “if you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” Now know none of us have ever seen Jesus physically. But in the pages of the Gospels in words we can see Jesus, demonstrating to us who God the Father really is. Scriptures like Mark 2:13-17 and connecting that to Luke 15:1-32.

In these scriptures, we see the way that Jesus ministered to people, how He spoke and dealt with sinners, and how He related to the people around Him, and who He hung out with most of the time.

DDG: Last but not least, is there anything that you would like to say to our readers?

AM: Yes, I would like to say that no matter what you have heard and come to believe about God I want you to remember that God loves you with an unconditional love that we really do not fully understand. Because we have never ever experienced anything like it in this world that we live in.

To be loved unconditionally means that His love for you has no hidden agendas, has no ulterior motives. That means that God loves you not because He needs you to love Him back. He loves you because you and I need His love for life in abundance.

I would like to leave the readers this with this last passage of scripture taken from the Message Bible in Ephesians 5:1-2, “Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that” (Ephesians 5:1-2 MSG).

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CDN greatly appreciates the opportunity to interview Arthur Meintjes. For more information about him and his ministry, visit https://arthurmeintjes.com.

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Danny de Gracia
Dr. Danny de Gracia is a political scientist and a former senior adviser to the Human Services and International Affairs standing committees as well as a former minority caucus research analyst at the Hawaii State Legislature. From 2011-2013 he served as an elected municipal board member in Waipahu. As an expert in international relations theory, military policy, political psychology and economics, he has advised numerous policymakers and elected officials and his opinions have been featured worldwide. He has two doctorates in theology and ministry, a postgraduate in strategic marketing, a master's in political science and a bachelor's in political science and public administration. Writing on comparative politics, modern culture, fashion and more, Danny is also the author of the new novel "American Kiss" available now from Amazon.com.