I felt like a fool after the breakup. I wondered how I could have been so blind. Why did I make so many excuses for him? Why didn’t I listen to those around me?
Hindsight is always twenty/twenty.
After that particular breakup, I saw the relationship for what it truly was—a disaster. God was so gracious to me and gave me wisdom to break it off before things got worse.
I am beyond grateful for family and friends who refused to give up on me. They told me the truth about that relationship even when I didn’t want to hear it.
The months following the breakup were filled with some of the greatest spiritual growth of my life. I came to understand the forgiveness of God in ways I had never fully grasped before.
Although the enemy was hard at work trying to keep me stuck in guilt over that relationship, God’s mighty grace was greater still. I realized that Jesus is so much better than my guilt.
I clearly remember going for a walk and thinking about the things that had transpired in my life. I remember feeling terribly guilty over my bad choices and actions. I remember feeling like such a naive, proud, fool. But I also remember God gently reminding my heart about the truth of the gospel.
Jesus didn’t die and rise again for perfect people.
He conquered sin and death for the lost, the foolish, the naive—sinful people just like me.
He was perfect in my place.
He was humble.
He was sacrificial.
He was loving.
He was good.
He was gracious.
He was kind.
He was forgiving.
He was better than my guilt.
My revelation on that walk was that I didn’t need to lug around my guilt to earn God’s love. God wasn’t surprised by my sin. He was so fully aware of my sin that He sent Jesus to earth to deal with it. I no longer needed to measure up to the impossible standard of goodness I was holding myself to.
I could finally look at my guilt-ridden self in the mirror and accept God’s love and forgiveness.
Where are you today? Where is your heart? Is there something in your life that haunts you? Something that the enemy tries to hold over your head as “too big” or “too much” for God to forgive? Do you wrestle with fear, shame, and doubt over a choice you’ve made?
Think about Adam and Eve back in the garden. Remember how they sinned against God and then tried to hide from Him? It was foolish and silly. God knew exactly where they were and what they had done.
We often do the exact same thing. Instead of running toward God, confessing, repenting, and accepting His forgiveness, we try to hide. We try to cover. We try to make excuses.
Excuses about our sin never helps. It only makes the shame worse.
Three Truths about God’s Forgiveness That Free You from Guilt
1. God’s forgiveness is an act of selfless love.
The Bible makes it clear that Jesus died for sinners. We were dead in our trespasses. We were in opposition to God. Jesus died for our sins and chose to love us when we were completely unlovable.
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Eph. 2:8–9)
I love this definition of forgiveness from Got Questions:
The word “forgive” means to wipe the slate clean, to pardon, to cancel a debt. When we wrong someone, we seek their forgiveness in order for the relationship to be restored. Forgiveness is not granted because a person deserves to be forgiven. No one deserves to be forgiven. Forgiveness is an act of love, mercy, and grace. Forgiveness is a decision to not hold something against another person, despite what they have done to you. (Got Forgiveness?)
2. God promises to grant forgiveness if we ask for it.
God makes it clear throughout Scripture that He will forgive us if we ask. There is nothing we can do that is beyond the reach of God. We can’t sin to a degree that His grace can’t cover. What a merciful and gracious God we serve!
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
He is so faithful! If we confess, He is faithful and just, and will forgive us. He doesn’t hold our sins over our head and keep reminding us of them. He forgives us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Ps. 103:12)
3. Eternal forgiveness is found at the cross.
Death is a reality for all of us. One day we will die and spend eternity with God or eternity separated from Him. The only way to have our guilt wiped away for all of eternity and have access to a personal relationship with God forever is by trusting in Jesus’ death and resurrection for our salvation.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. (Eph. 1:7)
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16–17)
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Rom. 10:9–10)
Don’t Allow Guilt from Your Past to Cripple Your Future
Yes, we are all guilty of sin. Not a single one of us is perfect. And that’s okay. That’s why Jesus came. That’s what the gospel is for. It’s to make right what we have made so wrong. It’s to remove our guilt and give us Jesus’ perfection in our place.
My hope is that guilt will no longer be what defines you. My hope is that you will walk in the gracious gospel of Jesus.
If you’re struggling with ongoing guilt from your past, I encourage you to look up the verses I’ve shared in this post. Read them in your Bible. Write them down. Ask yourself why you’re struggling to repent and receive the forgiveness that God has granted you. What’s keeping you from fully receiving God’s love and forgiveness in your life?
Take a moment to more fully reflect on what we’ve discussed today. Ask God to help you to trust Him completely. Thank Him for His perfect love, kindness, and forgiveness.
Thank Him that He is better than your guilt and took care of it once and for all at the cross.