What to do if you're struggling with sins from your past.
Every so often you might find yourself cringing at the sudden recall of sinful things done or said in the past. It is hard particularly when those things have involved hurting or disappointing other people. Sometimes you might wonder how God could possible forgive all the things you did before becoming a Christian – and the things you’ve done since.
However, here are some important things to remember as you wrestle with guilt.
Our salvation is secure
No matter how bad you might have been, no matter how much pain or anguish you may have caused, no matter how much sin may have been involved, God’s love and Jesus death covers it all. If you have truly turned back from sin to God (and your question certainly seems to indicate this) then you have been forgiven even for your worst sins and are safe in the love of God.
Paul expresses this so beautifully in Romans 8:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? ...
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
An amazing promise and Paul is certain of it because God has done it all for us. If Jesus has died for you and you have put your faith in him then nothing you have done in the past can come between you and God. So rest assured of your salvation!
We may still face consequences
Now that does not mean that we are free of the consequences of such actions. Sometimes the sins of the past have consequences that affect our future and we have to deal with them - they do not affect our salvation but they do affect our lives. For example, an indiscretion earlier in life may lead to driving while under the influence of alcohol and an accident that leaves you disabled - an action resulting in a consequence that affects you even though you have repented of the action many times over.
We may have to make amends
You may need to make amends for your actions. This may be very difficult for you but it also may be part of the process of helping you deal with the guilt. You may need the support of family and friends to do it. But it also may be a means by which you can show how a Christian manages such things.
How you deal with an incident from your past will depend upon its seriousness and what’s involved. If the incident involved hurting or disappointing someone then you may need to confess that to them, ask for forgiveness and seek to make amends. How they respond to that is up to them. They may not want to forgive you. You have no control over that. All you can do is confess and ask their forgiveness. If the incident involved breaking the law then it may be more serious - it depends on what you did. You may need to confess this to the police and face the consequences.
So pray about it, asking God for wisdom and strength. Talk with trusted Christian friends. Listen to your conscience and then decide what to do. It may be a really scary prospect but you need to remember that the God who loves you passionately can and will bring good out of all things for those who love him. So do what you think is right and trust that God will do as he promises.