Overcoming Guilt From Past Mistakes - How Can I Forgive Myself? - A woman on a bed in sweats with her head down on her knees
Spiritual Growth - Living a Life of Faith

Overcoming Guilt From Past Mistakes

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We all have made mistakes in our past (and even in our present!). There are times we can go back and make amends for those mistakes, but let’s face it, there are times we cannot. It can be easier to accept God’s forgiveness than it is to let go of the guilt and shame we feel ourselves. We wonder “If God has forgiven me, why can’t I forgive myself? Why do I have a difficult time overcoming guilt from past mistakes?”

Overcoming Guilt From Past Mistakes - How Can I Forgive Myself? - A woman on a bed in sweats with her head down on her knees

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How Can I Forgive Myself?

I know in my case, I have an easier time forgiving other people for wrongs done to me than I have forgiving myself for things I may have said or done! I know God has forgiven me and yet I still hold onto guilt and shame.

The Bible tells us in Psalm 103:12:

“as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” NIV

He forgives us and then CHOOSES to remember our sins no more. They are buried! They are gone! They are erased!

And yet we feel as though some of our sins are just too greatOvercoming Guilt From Past Mistakes 1 and caused too much pain to be able to just release them that easily.

The guilt we feel is so strong that we feel just handing them over to Jesus is somehow getting off easy! We have not been beaten down enough for what we have done! Surely we must endure SOME pain for the ills we have done!!

Michah 7:19 says:

“You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” NIV

Overcoming Guilt From Past Mistakes – Where Does Shame Come From?

Shame is what the enemy uses to keep us from experiencing the joy we have in Christ.

If we are feeling shame, we have not fully released our sins to God. We are holding them close, nursing them until the shame grows bigger and looms larger.

The enemy wants us to live our lives defeated by sin and shame and not experiencing the joy in the forgiveness of our Father.

What we are actually doing in carrying this guiltOvercoming Guilt From Past Mistakes 2 is feeling that somehow our own sense of judgment is greater than God’s.

We feel as though we have to satisfy our own sense of reconciliation rather than the reconciliation JesusOvercoming Guilt From Past Mistakes 3 has provided. 

We believe “It is finished” but not when it comes to the price paid for OUR sins. Instead of overcoming guilt from past mistakes, we carry them around Overcoming Guilt From Past Mistakes 4and with them the guilt and shame Jesus died on the cross to remove from us.


Forgiving Yourself

God has not only forgiven you of your sins but He has chosen to forget they ever happened! So stop reminding Him of something He has elected to forget!

You may not FEEL forgiven, but your feelings lie! The truth of the WordOvercoming Guilt From Past Mistakes 5 tells you that you are!

Stop putting yourself under the burden of sin when Jesus died to free you from it!

Stop believing you can, in any way, have control over your own redemption from it!

Release yourself from the enemy’s lies and give it over to God and be free from that guilt and shame! Jesus paid the price! It is finished! It is done!

Offenses to Others

If you are having trouble overcoming guilt from past mistakes because something you have done has hurt or caused offense to another, ask for forgiveness. 

Matthew 5:23-24:

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” NIV

Do you hold anything against another? Mark 11:25 tells us:

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” NIV

Keep in mind, these scriptures tell us how to make amends and for US to forgive others. It doesn’t tell us that, when we ask forgiveness of another person, that we will receive it.

If you ask forgiveness and don’t receive it from someone you have caused harm to, you have still done what the Bible tells you to do to make amends.

Overcoming guilt from past mistakes starts with realizing you do not have to carry that guilt around. If they do not forgive, that is between them and God. God will need to work in their hearts. But you have done what you need to do and you can release it to the Lord.

Overcoming Guilt From Past Mistakes – Let God Be God

We do not have control of our redemption. God has given us forgiveness through His Son, Jesus.

We need to let God be God and stop trying to hold on to what He tells us is already paid for.

You do not have to worry about DOING enough to be forgiven. It is not tied to what you do. It is tied to WHO you belong to.

The key to overcoming guilt from past mistakes is to confess your sins, ask forgiveness of those you have hurt, and trust God with the rest!

1 John 1:9:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” NIV

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Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™


  1. Love your thoughts on this topic. I believe hanging on to guilt is a form of selfishness, of self-importance. We think we must atone for our guild ourselves, but Christ has already absolved us of the guilt. All we have to do is let it go.

  2. That is why we have repentance and the atonement of Jesus Christ. This is why I don’t have to look backwards just forward and learn and be better.

  3. This is a very encouraging post and very relevant to me. I guess the problem I have sometimes is in wondering if I’ve truly repented. We know that God is always willing to forgive and that He has removed our sin as far as the East is from the West. But we sometimes have this tendency to want to return to our sin like a dog returning to its vomit.

    However, Isaiah 64:6 also tells us our righteousness is like filthy rags. Our own repentance is never good enough anyway, and is often mixed in with our own ulterior motives instead of 100% truly wanting to be in fellowship with God again. So it can’t be dependent on us otherwise we would always fall short. God looks at Jesus’ righteousness instead of ours. That said, I know that I still often carry around burdens unnecessarily.

    1. You are right, we do return to it like a dog to vomit. I love that verse in Proverbs. The folly we keep returning to though is the thinking that somehow we actually play a role in our own righteousness. The enemy is the one who wants us to keep questioning! He is the one that wants us to keep harping on things Jesus already took care of. He wants us to live our lives outside of that victory we have. Our feelings don’t have to line up with it right away as long as we know Jesus paid it all! I think the fact that you are even concerned about it shows you have repented! So tell the enemy to take a hike and leave it at the cross dear brother!

  4. “You may not feel forgiven, but your feelings lie!” Such a powerful sentence. I’m still working through accepting forgiveness for mistakes make over a decade ago. Some of them are so silly yet I hold on to my guilt. It’s really quite ridiculous! This post is a great reminder that how I feel doesn’t dictate my forgiveness in the eyes of God!

  5. This is such an important truth: “So stop reminding Him of something He has elected to forget!” Yes, I need to stop bringing up these things to God again and again. Thanks, Diane!

  6. Sometimes you feel like you let yourself down and you should have known better. This admission brings tremendous sense of guilt and shame. But we should know also that God has forgiven us an has made the grace available to walk in that forgiveness.

  7. I can definitely get caught in the cycle of feeling like I am not enough. I haven’t done enough. I failed someone, or worse I failed God. Love these beautiful reminders. #Salt&Light

  8. Thank you for this article; I am a woman nearing 70, and have repented of past failures time and again; knowing God has forgiven me, I still feel shame at times. My life is nothing like it was many years ago, yet I still feel remorse for things I did. I am so glad for this reminder.

    1. I am so glad it encouraged you! Thank you so much!! He has not only forgiven you but chooses to remember your sins no more!! You are blameless in His eyes!!

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