Q: If God totally forgives, why do we still have to face the consequences of sin and feel the guilt over and over again?
Asked by: Dorinne
A: Dorinne, you’ve asked a very good question, and I think there are hundreds of people who need to hear the answer to this.
First of all, why it is that the consequences continue? The answer is found back in Genesis. When Adam and Eve sinned, there was no way to go back to Eden. There were certain consequences that were going to happen. If you committed murder for example, you’d have to go to jail and maybe even lose your life, even if God forgave you. But your question actually goes in a slightly different direction. I believe what you’re asking is, “Why is it that we have to keep facing the guilt over and over again?” So I’m going to give you some very good advice, and I’m going to pray that God is going to use it to deliver you from feeling guilt over and over again.
Here’s the deal, what we need to do is to distinguish between the consequences of our sin and the guilt. It’s the guilt we don’t have to live with over and over again. The consequences are ever with us, but that doesn’t mean that God’s forgiveness isn’t there, because it is.
The best illustration I can think of off hand is David. He committed the twin sins of murder and adultery. All the tears in the world could never bring back the purity of Bathsheba, or bring Uriah back from the dead. So the consequences were there, his family was going to rebel, all of that was going to happen, those are the consequences.
But now the question is, “Can David be free of guilt?” The answer is yes. You just read Psalm 51, and then after you’ve done that, you go and you read Psalm 32. In there David asks that he might be able to be washed so clean that he can sing again—that the joy of his salvation can come back. And of course he says in Psalm 32, “Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven and whose sins are covered.” Yes, Dorinne, you can be free from the guilt even though you have to live with the consequences.
- Psalms 32
- Psalms 51