Do you feel constantly guilty?

Many Christians struggle with feelings of guilt.

Here are some examples from Reddit discussions over the past three months:

I feel so ashamed when I sin and often feel like I’ve let God down . And the truth is that most of the time I sin I know that it’s wrong but sometimes still go ahead and do it.

New poster here, but I’ve drifted away from Christ over the past month, not denouncing him or anything, but I just always felt guilty.

After being agnostic for so long, I just feel like sometimes God is distant and no longer cares about me, even though I tell myself it’s not true, and there’s always this cloud of guilt hanging over me.

The thing is, I still deal with shame and guilt from my past. Daily, memories of how I made a drunken fool of myself haunt me.

Personally, I also struggle with feeling guilty for my sins…

As I read Romans 8 this morning, I felt encouraged. Verses 1-2 say,

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.

And in verse 7,

Now the mindset of the flesh is death, but the mindset of the Spirit is life and peace.

As Chrysostom explained,

Rather, the law of sin is the force which wars against the law of the mind. The grace of the Spirit put a stop to that war by slaying sin and making the contest light for us, putting a victor’s crown on our heads at the beginning and then drawing us into the struggle with enough help to win it. Then, as he always does Paul turns from the Spirit to the Son and the Father, showing that we are dependent on the entire Trinity (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture).

Robert Mounce also captures the logic of this passage clearly:

The just penalty incurred by the sins of the human race was paid by the death of Christ. The unfavorable verdict has been removed. Now all those who are in Christ are the beneficiaries of that forgiveness. It follows that if condemnation as an objective reality has been removed, there is no legitimate place for condemnation as a subjective experience. To insist on feeling guilty is but another way of insisting on helping God with our salvation. How deeply imbedded in human nature is the influence of works-righteousness (New American Commentary)!

Guilt does not help us overcome sin. It only weighs us down and saps us of spiritual strength.

Attempting to become holy by burying myself in guilt is a hopeless task.

But accepting the gift of God’s friendship and forgiveness, and living by the Spirit, is the secret to a joyful life.


I appreciate the courage and humility it may have taken for those who posted the deepest questions of their heart, hoping for some comfort, understanding and direction. I too can identify with those feelings of guilt for the many times I have knowingly or unknowingly failed in my commitments to God. Today I was praying from Psalm 51 and it deals with this very topic.

I am glad God has given examples in the Bible through prayers like that of King David that these feelings of guilt are a common human experience. Through much of the Psalm, we see David’s overwhelming awareness of his sin before God. He feels filthy, sorrowful, shameful, but he doesnt let these feelings stop him from seeking God for help. Instead of letting these feelings turn toward self-loathing, through the feelings he realizes he is indeed broken and seeks dependence on God. Not only does he ask for cleansing and forgiveness but seeks a willing spirit to live in a way that pleases God moving forward. He turns from sorrow and guilt toward repentance.

So important to remember these words from Psalm 51: 17 when overwhelmed with guilt -

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise

Other believers can provide some comfort in our guilt by identifying with it but God alone can restore our joy. If we feel burdeneded by our disobedience, we will also feel joy as we grow in our ability to walk in obedience with a willing spirit with reliance on God increasingly.

Thank you Carson for starting this discussion and sharing your insights.

Bill Mounce’s words are so true-