The best ways to overcome guilt and shame

We’ve all done things we’re not proud of, but how do we get past the past and start living free of guilt and shame?

What is the purpose of guilt and shame?

Most of us have felt that familiar pang when we think back to something we did long ago, or even something we did earlier today! But why do we feel this way when everyone makes mistakes – big and small – from time to time?

Romans 3:23 says: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Not one of us is exempt from sin, according to Paul. But thankfully the story doesn’t end there.

Romans 10:13 says: “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”

Therefore, purpose of guilt and shame is to bring us to a place of repentance, where we recognise that we have done wrong and need God’s forgiveness.

1 John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Why do we keep feeling these feelings?

Once we have repented, we should be able to just move on, knowing that Jesus died to take our sins and that they have been removed from us once and for all.

Micah 7:19 says: “He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”

And Psalm 103:8-12 says: “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.”

But sometimes it’s not that simple. We keep getting flashbacks to that moment of misfortune. We think about the consequences of that action in our own lives or the lives of others. We wish we could go back and change the past. Maybe someone keeps reminding us of what we did as a form of manipulation, or perhaps the enemy keeps bringing it back to our minds to keep us in bondage.

Yet Romans 8:1-2 says: “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.”

And John 3:17 says: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

So how can we get rid of guilt and shame?

We must remember that we are not condemned by God, but by ourselves, others and Satan. Given that Christ died to set us free, we must refuse to carry our guilt and shame around with us as though he never paid the price.

Galatians 5:1 says: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

So if you start to feel a rising sense of guilt and shame, go straight to God and ask him to set you free once again. Be quick to repent and thank him for his forgiveness, which plunges our sin into the depths of the sea! Then start living the abundant life Jesus died to give you.

Psalm 34:5 says: “Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”