Guilt: We’ve all gone through it at some point of our lives. But for a depressed person, the feeling of guilt is always in their minds. A mind overburdened with guilt is pushed towards depression, which in turn leads to further guilt. This vicious cycle of ever worsening shame and self hatred is what pushes most people with depression towards self harm.
For a Christian, guilt could be especially debilitating. It tears us down, makes us feel unworthy and dirty, robs us of our confidence and faith in Christ. The more ashamed we get of ourselves, the more we feel distanced from God. We feel unworthy of God’s love and try to run away from it. This of course, further compounds the problem.
The first thing to remember is that one is not alone in their struggles with sin and guilt. Even Paul struggles with it in Romans 7:18-19, “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” We need to remember that we are all sinners, and we will always continue to battle with sin.
Despite this our God loves us and forgives all we do. Salvation is in grace, and through grace comes forgiveness. If we realize what Christ achieved on the cross, we can never feel guilty. All our sins have been washed away in Christ’s blood. Then what can we feel guilty of? The truth is that Christ died for our sins, setting us free of guilt now and forever.
We don't need to bring up past sins and worry that they were too terrible to be forgiven. God's mercy is real and it is final: "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25)
In psychiatry, it is believed the best way to overcome guilt is to talk about it to someone who can understand it well. Who better to talk to than our loving Heavenly Father, who does not judge us and forgives all our transgressions. Confessing our sins and asking for forgiveness should be a huge part of our conversations with God.
Psalm 32 is a very beautiful study. Although David had sinned terribly, he found freedom from both sin and guilty feelings. He dealt with the cause of guilt and the reality of forgiveness.
Guilt cannot touch us in a negative way if we remember that God’s forgiveness is complete and eternal because Jesus Christ has paid the penalty for our sins and “not for our sins only, but the sins of the whole world”.