man sitting on sofa dealing with feelings of shame and gulit

Dealing With Shame and Guilt

Search me, 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

Sin is a part of human nature. We all sin. Every single one of us.  We often have feelings of shame and guilt associated with our sins. These are powerful emotions that leave us feeling defective, offensive, undesirable, and maybe even damaged beyond repair.

Sins Wiped Away

When you come to know and trust Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, even the most unthinkable sins are wiped away. 1Corinthians 6:9-11 says:

Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

And such were some of your. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
– 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

That's ME!

While this passage may start a bit harsh and leave you thinking, “That’s me, and there’s no way I can inherit God’s kingdom,” it is quickly followed by the word that brings hope: BUT. This word holds power by introducing the gift of salvation we all have access to.

I know what you’re thinking. God can never wipe all of MY sins away, there are too many or they are just too terrible. Well, I have good news for you! Hebrews 8:12 says:

For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.
-Hebrews 8:12

Feelings of Shame and Guilt

While as Christians we are free from the stain of sin, that does not always mean we are free from the feelings of shame and guilt associated with those sins. Just because God forgives our sins, doesn’t mean WE will forget them.

How to Deal with Shame and Guilt

When a Christian experiences feelings of shame and guilt, he (or she) should:

  1. Confess

    If you are aware of sins in your life, confess them. Admit what you are doing is wrong.  Sometimes feelings of shame and guilt manifest because you simply need to admit the sin, to get it off your chest. Acknowledgement goes a long way in moving past feelings of shame. Psalm 32:3-5 says:

    For when I kept silent,
    my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
    For day and night
    your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up
    as by the heat of summer.

    I acknowledged my sin to you,
    and I did not cover my iniquity;
    I said, “I will confess my transgression to the Lord,”
    and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.
    -Psalm 32: 3-5

  2.  Ask God to show you any other sins in your life. 
    Yeah, we ALL have sin in our lives…somewhere. We may not even be aware of it. This step takes some serious courage. It is scary to be completely open and honest before the Lord and to ask him to reveal sin in your life. You might not like the answer. You might even want to ignore what is revealed. But Psalm 139:23-24 says:

    Search me, 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

    God listens. He hears us. He knows our anxious thoughts, that shame and guilt you may be feeling. And he wants us to come to Him. He can help.

  3. Restitution

    Whenever possible, try to fix the harm your sin has caused.  Say you are sorry, try and make amends. Sometimes saying “I’m sorry. I messed up. I will try my best not to mess up again.” is the only actionable thing we can do.

  4. Trust The Promise

    In 1 John 1:9 it says:

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

    It doesn’t say God will forgive us and then turn his back on us. No. It says he will forgive us AND cleanse us. Stay rooted in your relationship with God and he will help to direct you to a pathway where you can leave your shame and guilt behind.

  5. Read and Reflect

    Ok, so you’ve confessed your sins. You are trying your best not to repeat those sins. You’ve tried to make amends to those you’ve sinned against. Yet feelings of shame and guilt creep in.

    Psalm 103 is a great passage to read, reflect, meditate on, and maybe even commit to memory.

    The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to answer and abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as fas as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
    -Psalm 103:8-12

  6. Pray

    God wants a relationship with us. He wants us to talk to Him intimately. Ask the Lord to help free you from the feelings of shame and guilt. Ask Him to help you feel the joy you felt before those feelings took root.

Take Heart

Remember, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) The old that has gone is your sin and hopefully the shame and guilt they carried with them.

The Redeemed

We at The Redeemed understand the feelings of shame and guilt associated with sin. The goal of The Redeemed is to provide men a supportive, communal environment where they can discuss their problems, worries, and feelings of “brokenness” without fear of being judged or censored.

While the values of The Redeemed are rooted in the redemption God has granted us before we’ve even asked for it, we welcome men of any faith, or no faith at all.

We present God’s redemption not as a trophy that can be won only by the worthy, but as a path that is open to all. In addition to that path, we can connect men with qualified professional help for medical, emotional, or addiction-related issues. 

For additional resources, please contact The Redeemed.