I did inappropriate things when I was younger and the guilt is killing me

Last updated on January 3, 2022

Question:

I saw this website today and I wanted to ask this question that I have not been able to ask anyone. When I was very young, I and my cousin sister had sexual encounters while we were playing. Basically, I tricked her by saying they were games where I touched her private parts inappropriately. She was uncomfortable but for the sake of the game, we continued it. I stopped playing with her when I was 12 because we didn’t meet much.

Years have passed and I now realize how disgusting I was. The guilt is killing me to the point of suicide. I know God was watching me do this. I can’t stop thinking about it. I know I deserve punishment for this atrocious sin I committed but will there be any redemption for me? Will God ever forgive me? Should I say sorry to her for what I did? I would have said it already but I’m afraid it will bring those bad memories for her if she had already forgotten it because she was younger than me when it happened.

Even more disgusting is that I still have memories when I see her now and in my dreams, I get turned on by them. I can’t keep going like this. Please help me. Give me advice on what to do.

Answer:

Clearly, what you did was wrong. It violated: “Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman” (I Corinthians 7:1). But the past cannot be undone. In essence, you were a child as well, though I assume puberty came early for you, which led to you exploring your sexual feelings. It is unfortunate that no adult realized what was going on.

What I notice is that you’ve changed. Today, you would not do such a thing. That is exactly what God desires. “But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die. All his transgressions which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of his righteousness which he has practiced, he will live. Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?” (Ezekiel 18:21-23). What you need to focus on is continuing to become a better man. Fill your life with good so there is little room for the memories of your past mistakes. When memories of the past push through, remind yourself that you are no longer the boy you used to be.

In regards to apologizing, if she brings up the past, then you do need to apologize, explain that you were wrong and that you have been filled with guilt over it, and then ask for her forgiveness. I don’t know how old she was when these things happened, so I have no way to determine if she remembers or not.

You can’t control your dreams, but if you don’t dwell on a topic, they will fade over time. If you are not dwelling on what happened, then you are not going to get aroused over the memories either. It takes time to crowd out bad memories with good ones, but it does work.

Question:

Thank you for your reply, Mr. Hamilton. I will carry on the advice you gave me. I need to ask: Will God ever forgive me for what I did? Also, how can I forgive myself when all I remember when I see her are these past mistakes?

Answer:

The verse I quoted from Ezekiel 18 states that God forgives a person for the evil that he has done when he changes his ways. “All his transgressions which he has committed will not be remembered against him ” (Ezekiel 18:22). We tend to rate some sins as worse than others, but God sees all sins as bad. Thus, it doesn’t matter what you have done in the past. What matters is what kind of life are you living now? “Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7).

“Forgiveness” deals with the release of a debt. For example, if you borrowed money from someone and they say that you don’t have to pay it back, that is forgiving of the debt. We don’t typically talk about owing ourselves money; therefore, forgiving ourselves of a debt we owed ourselves would be a bit nonsensical.

Sin is a debt. It earns the sinner the wrath of God. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Thus only God can release us from our debt — to forgive us of our sin. As God said, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25). Many times our sins harm another person. They can forgive the sinner of the harm that was done to them, but the debt of sin still remains between the sinner and God.

When a Christian turns back from sin, God promises forgiveness, and God always keeps His promises. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). That is what is meant by saying, “He is faithful.” Whether another person forgives us of the harm we did them doesn’t matter in the end, the important point is whether God forgives us of what we have done.

A person who says “I can’t forgive myself” isn’t stating the situation accurately. He doesn’t owe a debt to himself. What he is really saying is that he feels guilty for having sinned. Guilt has a place in our lives. It reminds us that we did wrong and it provides some motivation not to repeat those sins. Yes, when you look back at your sins, you are disappointed that you did not live up to God’s standards. That memory remains, reminding you that you are not perfect and that you are not earning God’s forgiveness. But at the same time, you can look at the fact that God does forgive sins and that you have done as God asked of you. Then true appreciation can be expressed to God.

In his past, Paul persecuted Christians. Yet, he was forgiven. Notice how he views his memories.

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (I Timothy 1:12-17).

You don’t owe yourself forgiveness. You need faith that God’s forgiveness is sufficient. You can’t remove the memories of your past sins, nor can you remove the guilt that accompanies those memories. The guilt is there to prevent you from repeating your sins. But when you realize that you aren’t the same person you used to be, then those memories become less significant.

Response:

Thank you, Mr. Hamilton. I will try to be better in the coming of my life. Praise God and I pray for you, Jeffrey, so you can help more people like me to come into God’s path again

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