How Can I Remove the Constant Guilt of Sin?

Question from a Site Viewer

The guilt of sin can weigh a person down.

I committed a very terrible sexual sin when I was eleven towards someone close to me and they are still unaware of it today. I forgot about it until a few days ago when I was suddenly plagued with terrible guilt — so much that I wanted to end it all. I have confessed my sin to God, asked for forgiveness and fasted. I gave my life to Christ. But I am still plagued with waves of guilt and disgust at myself. Will the guilt ever go away? Should I confess this sin to the person?

Tim’s Answer

Thank you for your questions. If we understood the full depravity of our sins, we all would have precisely the same reaction you are having. Sin is a horrible thing. It leads to death, as Scripture itself states. Thus, whether it is a sexual sin towards another, or a sin of pride and arrogance, or a sin of covetousness or idolatry, or a sin of lying or slandering someone, these are all matters of great personal embarrassment, guilt, and disgust for anyone who has seen what righteousness is. And I expect all of us have things in our past that are now fully repulsive to us. We wish so much that we could have a redo and blot that thing out of our lives.

And, of course, this is precisely what Jesus offers us. He takes our ugliness and our sin from us and nails it to His cross, then He offers us a new life in Him. It is not that we never did the sin, but it rather is that we no longer bear that sin. He bore it for us. Thus, my encouragement to you is to exercise a bit of faith. You have confessed your sin to God. Believe that He is faithful to forgive and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. This sin stands out in your mind as being horrible, and undoubtedly it was. But both you and I have committed many other horrible things in the sight of God. And none of us would have any hope apart from the grace of our God.

So, having come and confessed and sought Him, believe that He has removed the sin from you. And when thoughts of the sin come back into your mind, take control of your thoughts and turn your thoughts to gratitude towards the God who forgives that sin and all of our sin. I think it is when we understand how awful our sin has been, that we fully come to understand how great a debt we owe to Jesus Christ. We are like the woman who was forgiven much, and therefore she loved much (Luke 7:47).

Nevertheless, I sense you are wanting to know how to live life with such a sin in your past. The answer, I think, is relatively simple. We must take control of our minds and reform the minds to think about good things (Philippians 4:8; Romans 12:2). It is not that we minimize our sins, but rather we choose not to dwell there, and instead we dwell on Jesus and His righteousness. To dwell on our sins is death. To dwell on Jesus is life. So, whenever the thought of the sin returns to your mind, do not let it stay, but rather use that thought to trigger you to praise your Savior for His forgiveness or to pray for someone else in need. But always use the thought as a trigger to advance the kingdom of God.

You ask whether you will need to confess your sin to this person. You also state that they are unaware of your sin. When one has sinned against another and the other person does not know about the sin, I believe generally that it is neither Scriptural nor wise for the sinning one to confess to the unaware person. I previously have dealt with this subject in some detail in this article.

My encouragement to you is that the guilt will go away as you focus on Christ and seek to serve Him. In doing so, you will join millions of other Christians who have lived a sordid life and found forgiveness with Christ.

I trust that this will help you begin to win the battle of these thoughts and become an effective and humble servant of our dear Savior.

a pilgrim,
guilt of sin