If I have repented for my sins and I am still tempted am I still guilty? I have not given in but I’m constantly reminded of my past. Sometimes I feel the shame so strong I flinch. Will I ever feel clean or will I suffer because of my past till I die?
I truly appreciate this question not only because I can sense this has troubled you for awhile, but because I know that you are not the only one who feels like this and I am certain there will be many more who’d benefit from this answer.
I hope that my words bring you hope and inspiration to do your best and move forward knowing you are a literal son of Heavenly Parents, who love and cherish you with the kind of love we’ve yet to fully understand.
You see, they have spent many, many days lovingly and patiently preparing a plan by which we could learn and grow to love them. In that plan, they have given us one of life’s greatest gifts: Moral Agency!
Being able to choose our actions, is by far, one of the most important aspects of the Plan of Salvation. Lucifer, who is the devil, wants nothing more than to have us bound by our choices, our wrong choices. He instills shame in our hearts and thus, makes us feel less than what we are, or whom we can become.
I know I have shared the following talk, on previous answers but, I think it is imperative to remind ourselves of the miracle that is forgiveness.
In a devotional given on January 13th 2009, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave one of the most powerful talks in our time. So, I will be using his talk to answer your question addressing each section, in delicate detail.
If I have repented for my sins and I am still tempted am I still guilty?
In Elder Holland’s talk, he mentioned this:
“One of the purposes of history is to teach us the lessons of life. George Santayana, who should be more widely read than he is on a college campus, is best known for saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (Reason in Common Sense, vol. 1 of The Life of Reason [1905–1906]).”
Repenting of our past acts is important: we are given the ability to remember just enough to ensure we do not repeat it. Sometimes, we remember too much and dwell on the past where it becomes as ball and chain which is attached to our ankle weighing ever so heavily giving us the feeling of shame (you describe it as guilt). Shame is a destructive feeling that Satan uses to snare us in a potentially eternal spiral down to the everlasting despair.
The Lord in Doctrine and Covenants 58:42 has stated: “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.”
So, it is important to remember our past acts but not to dwell on them to the point of dragging us down. And to answer the last part of your question, no, you are not guilty IF you have truly repented.
I have not given in, but I’m constantly reminded of my past.
I completely applaud the fact that you have not given in. I am proud of you and I am certain that God is even more grateful you are striving to keep His commandments.
Elder Holland’s talk, which it’s titled “Remember Lot’s Wife” and as you know, Lot’s wife was not exactly obedient as she ended up being turned into a pillar of salt for “looking back”. Elder Holland stated the following:
“It is possible that Lot’s wife looked back with resentment toward the Lord for what He was asking her to leave behind. We certainly know that Laman and Lemuel were resentful when Lehi and his family were commanded to leave Jerusalem. So it isn’t just that she looked back; she looked back longingly. In short, her attachment to the past outweighed her confidence in the future. That, apparently, was at least part of her sin…”
“At this point, let me pause and add a lesson that applies both in your own life and also in the lives of others. There is something in us, at least in too many of us, that particularly fails to forgive and forget earlier mistakes in life—either mistakes we ourselves have made or the mistakes of others. That is not good. It is not Christian. It stands in terrible opposition to the grandeur and majesty of the Atonement of Christ. To be tied to earlier mistakes—our own or other people’s—is the worst kind of wallowing in the past from which we are called to cease and desist.”
Dear David, I say to you, cease and desist!
Some times I feel the shame so strong I flinch.
You are not any different than any other person whom has fallen. Not feeling inadequate is surely something we could all strive for and as president Holland has pointed out, it is important to stop dwelling on past mistakes. Do not give up. Do not fall but if you do, get up again and keep moving forward. Eventually, the great power of the atonement will carry you to pass through the threshold into eternal life.
Now, the end, the part that makes my heart hurt a little for you:
Will I ever feel clean,or will I suffer because of my past till I die.
As being someone who at one point or another has felt like you, I know from personal experience that you WILL feel clean and will not suffer the effects from previous wrong choices. You see! Jesus Christ has suffered all of our sins for us and He has promised that IF we follow him and accept him as OUR Savior, he will pay the price and eventually, we’ll be free from our guilt and pains of past acts.
I will end by sharing with you another favorite talk of mine, this one given by then, Acting President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Boyd K. Packer:
‘Satan is the deceiver, the destroyer, but his is a temporary victory.
The angels of the devil convince some that they are born to a life from which they cannot escape and are compelled to live in sin. The most wicked of lies is that they cannot change and repent and that they will not be forgiven. That cannot be true. They have forgotten the Atonement of Christ.
“For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him” (D&C 18:11).
Christ is the Creator, the Healer. What He made, He can fix. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the gospel of repentance and forgiveness (see 2 Ne. 1:13; 2 Ne. 9:45; Jacob 3:11; Alma 26:13–14; Moro. 7:17–19).
“Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God” (D&C 18:10).’
David, I hope you have felt the love our Heavenly Father has for you and how much He longs for you to feel worthy of such love. He wants you to see yourself as He sees you: an amazing son. I share with you that IF you continue being faithful and continue to strive to live the Gospel, I promise you that you will see Him again some day. These are desperate times and Satan is ramping up his attacks but the work of Heaven is even more excited to see people like you go forward. I pray that you find the strength to know you are worth it.