Repentance Brings Relief from Guilt

Repentance Brings Relief from Guilt

When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.
–Psalm 32:3

The other day while I was driving, a warning light on my dashboard came on. It said, “Change oil.” I have a very easy, cheap way to deal with that light. All I have to do is open the glove compartment and hit the reset button, and the light goes away. That’s a lot cheaper and less time-consuming than going somewhere to have my oil changed. Now, what happens if I just hit that reset button and keep driving? I am going to do some real damage to my engine. You see, that warning light is an indicator that something is wrong and needs to be taken care of. It’s the same way with the legitimate guilt that we feel. Guilt is a warning indicator that God has given each of us. When we start to feel guilt, it is a sign that something is wrong.

We have two ways to deal with legitimate guilt. We can hit the reset button and pretend, “Oh, this is just false guilt” and keep going and do real damage to our spirit. Or we can take that guilt seriously and say, “Something is wrong and needs to be taken care of” and allow God to renovate our hearts.

We have a great illustration of that truth in the life of David. David sinned by committing adultery with Bathsheba and then murdering Bathsheba’s husband to cover it up. Being a man after God’s own heart, David started to feel guilty. But every time he started to feel guilty, he hit the reset button. He would say to himself, “I am the king; I can do whatever I want.” He kept trying to cover his guilt. In Psalm 32, David described what that period was like: “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer” (vv. 3-4). Finally, when the prophet Nathan confronted him, David acknowledged his sin to God and to others. He wrote, “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’; and You forgave the guilt of my sin” (v. 5). Repentance is absolutely necessary to experience relief from guilt.

Some of you, like David, have wronged somebody else. You will never experience relief from the guilt you feel until you say “I’m sorry” and make a change in your direction of living.

Some of you need to receive God’s forgiveness. That means saying, “God, I have sinned against You. I need Your forgiveness. And instead of trying to earn Your forgiveness, I am ready to receive it as a gift. I believe that You loved me so much that You sent Your Son, Jesus, to die on the cross, to take the punishment I deserve for my sins. And right now I am trusting in what Jesus did for me, not in my good works, to save me from my sins. Thank You for forgiving me, and help me to start living the rest of my life for You.”


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Why the Words “I’m Sorry” Are Highly Overrated” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.