Feeling guilty is feeling bad for something you have done or the condition in which you are living. That kind of guilt is not necessarily a bad thing. We can be thankful for some guilty feelings because they drive us to seek God’s forgiveness through His Son. When a person turns from sin to Jesus Christ in faith, his sins are forgiven. In Christ, even the most heinous sins are blotted out. After a person is saved, he will still sin, and when he does, God always promises forgiveness.
“But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1).
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the East is from the West, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:8-12).
Freedom from the penalty of sin, however, does not always mean freedom from guilty feelings. Even when our sins are forgiven, we still remember them, even though God has chosen to forget them. These feelings come from our spiritual enemy, “the accuser of our brothers,” Satan. He relentlessly reminds us of our failures, faults, and sins.
When a Christian experiences feelings of guilt, he or she should consider doing the following things:
1) Confess all known, previously confessed sin. In some cases, feelings of guilt are appropriate because confession is needed. Many times, we feel guilty because we are guilty!
2) Ask the Lord to reveal any other sin that may need confessing. Have the courage to be completely open and honest before the Lord. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
3) Seek to make restitution, where possible, of the sins committed against others. “If I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (Luke 19:8).
4) Trust God’s promise that He will forgive sin and remove our feelings of guilt, through the shed blood of Christ “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness;” (1 John 1:9).
5) When guilty feelings arise over sins already confessed and forgiven, thank God that He has forgiven those sins and reject the accuser’s voice. “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12).
6) Ask the Lord to rebuke Satan, your accuser, and ask Him to restore the joy that comes with freedom from guilt. “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” (Psalm 51:12).
When your sins have been confessed, repented of, and forgiven, know that, from God’s perspective, it is finished. Getting into the Word of God on a daily basis is critical so that you can know His voice of truth.Then we can live our lives with joy and freedom from fear and condemnation.
- “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1).
- “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
- “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you “(James 4:7,8).