Guilt over doing something that violates the conscience is good. The Lord designed feelings of culpability and regret to serve as a reminder that we’ve done wrong and need to repent. In fact, without a sense of guilt, we’d never recognize that we’re sinners in need of a Savior. And after salvation, guilt is the way the Lord shows us we’re on the wrong path so we can turn back to Him in obedience.
Many in our culture claim that all guilt is bad, but that’s not the case. When you feel its pangs, you probably know exactly what you did to set off your conscience. The proper response is to come to the Lord in repentance, as David did. Delay would likely mean feeling God’s heavy hand upon you. But with confession, your sins are forgiven, your guilt is gone, and the joy of your salvation returns. (See 1 John 1:9.)
An amazing side effect of confronting guilt in this way is a willingness to be open about your struggles and failures. Through your experience, you can show others who are burdened with shame how they, too, can be set free and experience God’s peace and joy.
32 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
3 When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.
4 For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.
5 I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
6 For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.
7 Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.
8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.
9 Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.
10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about.
11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.