Weekly Devotional

How to Handle the Guilt of your Past

Are you struggling with guilt from your past and do you truly believe that God has forgiven you for it?

Written by Allen Parr on 30/11/2021

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.

Luke 22:31-32

I want to give you four things that I believe that God would say to somebody who is struggling with the guilt from their past.  

Our story comes from Luke 22, where Peter fails Jesus in an area that he never imagined he would.  Peter is normally the most outspoken of all twelve disciples. He has this opportunity to take a stand for Jesus, but he denies that he even knows Jesus.  The scripture goes on to say that at the very moment when Peter realizes this, his eyes locked with Jesus' eyes, and he went away and wept bitterly.

#1 God specializes in using people who have failed

The first thing I believe that God would say to a person who is struggling with the guilt from their past is that God specializes in using people who have failed. Let's think about some of the people in the Bible that experienced major failures and yet God used them to do some amazing things in spite of their failures.

First, you have Abraham who was a liar and God used him to be the father of the nation of people who would later become God's chosen people.  You have Moses who was a murderer and God used him to set 2 million Jews free from Egyptian slavery.  Then, you have Rahab who was a prostitute who later was in the lineage of people who gave birth to Jesus Christ.  Then, there’s King David who was an adulterer and a murderer, and yet he was considered the greatest king that Israel ever had.  And don't forget to mention his son Solomon who had 700 wives, but God used him to erect the first Jewish temple.

Then, if you fast forward to the New Testament, there is Paul, who is guilty of killing Christians, and God used him to write more than half of the New Testament.  Let's not forget about Peter who denied that he ever even knew Jesus three times.

So my question is, if God can use adulterers and murderers and polygamists and prostitutes and liars and cowards like Peter, then what could you have possibly done that was so bad that you have disqualified yourself from receiving God's forgiveness and God's grace in your life?

#2 God already knows your failures before you do

The second point of encouragement is that God already knows your failures before you do.  Notice here that Jesus actually predicts that Peter is going to deny him three times.  In the same way for us, God knows every single mistake that we're going to make.  And even some of the ones in the future that we don't even know we're going to make!  And, yet, in spite of knowing all of those things, He still chose to save us anyway. No matter what you do, you can never catch God off guard.  And that is the reason why you can displease Him but never disappoint Him.  

#3 God invites you to turn towards Him

The third thing that God would encourage you to do if you're struggling with accepting His forgiveness and wrestling with the guilt of your past, is to turn towards Him.  Notice that Jesus says "Peter, after you've repented,I want you to turn towards me".  I don't know about you, but I can speak for myself. When I feel like I have just fallen flat on my face, my tendency is to turn away from God.  But here. we see that God is inviting Peter to turn towards Him. To turn towards Him in prayer and in Bible study, or journaling, or fasting, or worship. Or, get together with a small group of believers who want to love you and care for you and pray for you and fight for you. 

#4 God can use your failures as the fuel that ignites your purpose

And finally, God can use your failures as the fuel that ignites your purpose.  Notice in verse 32, Jesus says "Peter, I want you to strengthen your brothers."  You see, what the enemy wants to do is influence you to fail.  Then, he wants you to be so ashamed of your failures that you don't share them with anybody else.  As a result, no one can benefit from your failures.  Sometimes, the place of our greatest failures could actually end up being the place of our greatest ministry.. 

I want to encourage you to truly embrace God's gift of forgiveness and to always remember that you did nothing to earn it. As a result, there's nothing that you can do to lose it! 

Used with permission by Global Media Outreach from Allen Parr.  This article was first published as a video on The Beat.

Pray this week:

Lord, I have failed you and others in so many ways.  Forgive me please, and use my life for your purposes.

Have you ever done something that you never thought you would ever do? 

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