How can I overcome guilt and regret?
Before we begin to answer this question we should remind ourselves that “...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” according to Romans 3:23. Therefore you are not alone in your sin and guilt.
Indeed, as John 14:15 states if we "If you love me, keep my commands." As Christians, we are called to turn from our lives of sin and turn to a life that serves the living God. But we all fall short of perfection every day. Guilt and regret can often get in the way of our peace as Christians. We often find that forgiving other is easier than forgiving ourselves. When we love God but still feel like we are not good enough and keep falling short, it is time to start preaching the gospel to ourselves. Because the Good News is this: that “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 6:11. Therefore, we will not be condemned but will be clothed in Jesus’ righteousness. An image often used to explain this exchange is a t-shirt. Imagine that our white t-shirts have been stained and made filthy with our sins and while we wear this t-shirt we are guilty and should feel ashamed. Amazingly Jesus’ t-shirt is completely pure and so white it shines. When Jesus died on the cross, he made an exchange where he took all of our dirty t-shirts and wore them himself, giving us His perfect t-shirt to wear. Therefore, because we now wear his perfectly clean, white t-shirt, we are no longer slaves of sin and can live a life free of guilt and regret.
If you have been trapped by sin, guilt and regret in order to overcome the bondage you should lean and trust in Jesus’ righteousness. We can have full confidence in his perfection and therefore approach the throne of God with boldness and full knowledge of our security in him. Confess all unconfessed sin, ask the Lord to reveal other sins, seek to restore relationships with those you have hurt, trust Gods promise that He will forgive you and ask the Lord to rebuke the devil when guilt and shame come your way.
Some helpful Bible Verses
"My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One." 1 John 2:1
"Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down." Revelation 12: 10
"Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin." Psalm 32:5
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" 2 Corinthians 5:17