Have you ever wondered how to stop feeling guilty?
Let’s look at King David’s life to find an answer.
In 1 Samuel 11, David did something awful.
He had seen a beautiful woman named Bathsheba taking a bath on top of her house. Even though she was married, he still wanted to sleep with her. So he did.
David’s lust won. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, getting her pregnant. And to cover up his mess, he had Uriah murdered on the front lines of the very battle David should have been fighting alongside of him.
Then Nathan the Prophet came (1 Samuel 12:1–14) and called David out for his sin. David was devastated and absolutely wracked with guilt.
Now, you’re probably like me, and have had no one murdered! But have you ever felt overwhelming guilt for sin, or ongoing sinful habits?
I have. And over the years, I’ve found David’s story helpful.
How To Stop Feeling Guilty
After sinning and being found out, David wrote Psalm 51.
We call it a penitentiary Psalm because it’s a confession of guilt to God and request for his mercy.
Here’s what we read in verse 3:
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Psalm 51:3 ESV
David’s guilt was always on his mind. Like a weighted vest, it clung to him, nagging at him, tearing at his conscience.
When we break down the whole situation, there are at least three things David did that we can emulate.
David responded in humility, rather than defending his sin.
When Nathan confronted him, David didn’t make excuses, blame someone else, or defend his sin. He humbled himself, admitted his guilt, and took full responsibility for his actions.
Are you humble or haughty when confronted with your sin?
David confessed his sin with a genuine heart for forgiveness and change.
Sometimes people are only sad about their sin because they got caught. They would have happily kept stealing, cheating, lying, or doing whatever else if their actions stayed secret. But David’s desire was change.
Do want to live in habitual sin or be set free?
David trusted in God’s mercy over his own goodness.
King David knew that God has every right to judge sin—and therefore to judge him. After all, he’d stolen a man’s wife and murdered him. However, David was also a man after God’s own heart and trusted in his merciful character over his own perfect performance.
On this side of history, we have Jesus’ substitutional sacrifice on the cross. He took God’s judgment for sin upon himself, exchanging our evil for his righteousness. And remember, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1).
Do you trust in God’s goodness or your perfection?
So, how do we stop feeling guilty?
- Don’t defend your sin, be humble.
- Confess your sin with a genuine heart for change.
- Trust in Jesus as your righteousness.