3 Ways to Overcome Doubt, Shame & Guilt
It’s easy to believe that God loves you when things are going well. It’s when things get difficult that you might begin to wonder if God really loves you. If God loves you, why would bad things happen? Could God still love you if you did something bad or hurt someone? Is there a way to know for sure that God loves you? Let’s look at how the Bible answers these important questions.
How Can I Be Sure God Loves Me?
You can know God loves you from what He says in the Bible.
You might try looking for the answers in your emotions, your thoughts or your circumstances. The answer that satisfies the longing of your heart won’t be found anywhere else than in God’s Word. You have to go to God and His Word to know whether He loves you or not.
You can’t know whether God loves you based on other things:
- How you feel at the moment.
- Whether something bad happened to you or you’re having a bad day.
- If you fell into your old bad habits or addictions.
- If you’re looking for a special spiritual experience.
Those things will always change so you can’t base God’s love on those things. People grasp for answers when there’s pain and heartache. You can run to God, instead of away from Him to other things. Then you can settle down your heart and listen to God through His Word.
Instead of trying to be a better person (link to an article where I share what the Bible says about how to see lasting positive changes in your life), put your focus on what God did for you.
If you base it on other things, you will be on an endless roller coaster, depending on how you feel. You might feel good if you had a good day. But you might feel doubt and shame if you fall into old habits, patterns, or addictions to numb your pain.
Even the excitement of special spiritual experiences and miracles will fade eventually. Seeing a sign or getting a special feeling only lasts for a short time.
God delivered the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt, but they still grumbled (Exo. 16). God fed them for 40 years with the miracle of manna, but they even got tired of that. They got tired of a miracle.
What does the Bible say?
3 Ways You Can Know That God Loves You
- You can know God loves you because Jesus died on the cross.
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.1 John 4:9-10 (ESV)
The cross is the demonstration of God’s love. It’s how you can measure how much God loves you. If you ever needed proof that God loves you, it’s the cross.
The cross is the proof that God loves you. When you face doubt, guilt, or shame, you can run to God because of the cross of Jesus.
God gives Himself to you (Gal. 2:20). God didn’t just give you good gifts and blessings in life. God gives none less than Himself to you. Law and justice could not force God to love you. He gives Himself to you on the cross out of love.
If you’ve never opened your heart to God’s love, know that God is inviting you. The way you open to God’s love is by receiving Jesus. God’s love is displayed on the cross where Jesus died for your sin.
Admit to God that you’ve turned away from Him. Believe in Jesus, that He’s the Son of God, who died for you on the cross for your sin. Commit yourself to Jesus and to follow His Word. Will you begin to love Him back because He first loved you?
When you do, God forgives you of your sin, adopts you as His child, and fills you with His love. You can know for sure you’re going to heaven.
- You can know that God loves you because He adopted you as His child (Rom. 8:15-17)
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.Rom. 8:15-17 (ESV)
When you said “yes” to God, there was a cry in your heart that said “Daddy!” Abba is the Aramaic word in the Bible for father (V. 15). God adopted you as His son or daughter to show that He loves you (John 1:12).
Ephesians 1:18 even says that you are God’s inheritance. God has everything in the world because He’s the Creator. The only thing God doesn’t have is your voluntary love.
An amazing truth in Eph. 1:18 is that you are His inheritance. You are the riches of His glorious inheritance. At the end of the day, God gets your voluntary love, and to Him, it’s glorious. This is how much He loves you. That’s why He gives Himself to you.
- You can know that God loves you if you love others with God’s love (1 John 4:7–8)
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.1 John 4:7–8 (ESV)
When you are able to love others, it’s a reminder that love is from God. You can love others because God loves you. You can forgive others because God forgave you (Matt. 6:14-15).
Does God Love Me When I Sin?
When things are going well, you might not wonder whether God loves you or not. But what if you sin, go your own way, and live your life apart from God? Is God’s love unconditional? Does God love you no matter what?
In the sense that God’s heart is always open to you, yes, absolutely. His love never fails. He never changes. In this sense, God’s love is unconditional. God forgives and loves the unforgivable and the unlovable. There’s nothing that anyone can do to earn God’s love.
God loved you while you were His enemy (Rom. 5:10). He made a way for you to come to Him before you even wanted to. God doesn’t love you because you are a good person. He loves people who sin. Jesus didn’t die for you because you had better potential than others. He died for you out of love.
But it’s also true that if you’ve received God’s love, you naturally want to do His will and not go your own way. God’s love is constant, but that doesn’t mean it’s automatic. You have to choose and want to receive God’s love voluntarily. God will not force His love on you and He will not force you to love Him back. It’s voluntary on your part.
You can’t do good things to try to get God to love you. You can only respond to God’s love because He loved you first.
If you find yourself living in rebellion, not wanting to follow Jesus, then it’s possible you never understood or received how much God loved you as He displayed on the cross.
If you’re continuing to turn away from God and live in sin, then ask if you’ve really opened to God’s love. Is it possible that God loves you, but you don’t receive His love and you don’t love Him back?
If you’ve sinned and turned away from God, what can you do? Turn back to Him. He loves you. He has always loved you, as you can tell from the cross. Christ died for sinners and enemies. Christ died for the ungodly, the broken, the fragile, and the hurting.
If you’re asking “does God love me even when I sin?” Yes, absolutely. That’s why He wants you to come back to Him.
Confess your sin to Him. God didn’t change. You did, but it’s okay. If you pretend that you don’t have sin, then, you’re being blind to it. Everyone has sinned. Rather than running away from God, you can run straight to Him.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.1 John 1:9-10 (ESV)
Jesus once told a story about the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). It’s about the lavish love of a father. Even when his son took his inheritance money and squandered it all, the father still loved him. The father always loved him.
When the son came back with a repentant heart, the father forgave him and gave him the best he had. This is how God responds to you when you’ve sinned. He wants you to come back to Him. He’ll run to you when you do.
Hebrews 12:1-2 explains that Jesus went to the cross because of the joy that was set before him. This means that He went to the cross – remember this is while you were his enemy – He did it out of joy. Jesus’ joy is you. You are the prize of His heart. Jesus went to the cross out of joy for you even when you didn’t want Him.
God’s love makes you want to love Him back and put away the things that hinder His love. You can stop living for yourself and pursue Jesus from now on.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.Heb. 12:1-2 (ESV)
Stop living for yourself, put aside every weight and sin which hinders you from pursuing God. Turn back to Him like the prodigal son turned back to his father.
God still loves you when you sin. And if you really know that God loves you, you will turn back and not want to sin.
In John 8:1-11, the religious leaders brought to Jesus a woman who was caught in adultery. Jesus challenged the religious leaders and told them that the one who doesn’t have sin can be the first to throw a stone at the woman.
Jesus shows her mercy and compassion instead of condemning her. When the woman’s accusers all leave her, Jesus’ speaks to the woman. And it sums up what we’ve talked about so far.
…And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”John 8:11 (ESV)
God’s love is constant. It never changes whether you sin or not. Open to God’s love and turn back to Him. Go and sin no more. Live for God.
Does God Love Everyone?
This also applies to the question of whether God loves everyone or not. He absolutely loves everyone. The cross is proof of God’s love.
Because God loves everyone, everyone has a chance to respond to the cross. God does not hold it back from anyone. Everyone can receive forgiveness of sin through faith in Jesus.
This means that they can also reject God’s love because it needs to be received voluntarily. God doesn’t force His love on people and force them to love Him.
Jesus went to people who were rejected and outcast by others. Jesus went to everyone to seek them out. He also went to the cross for everyone.
God loves everyone, but His love is displayed in its fullness on the cross. God loved the world in a very specific way: He gave us His Son (John 3:16). He so loved the world. That means He loved the world in this way.
God loves everyone. Everyone can come to the cross and put their faith in Jesus.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Matt. 11:28 (ESV)
How to Be Confident in God’s Love
Do you ever find yourself doubting and wondering does God loves me? Have you been on the roller coaster of doubt, going through the ups and downs of not being sure?
It’s like picking petals from a flower and wondering: He loves me… He loves me not… He loves me.. He loves me not…
You can keep from falling back into doubt and move forward in faith. How do you do this?
If you put your focus on how you feel, whether you’re having a bad day, or how long it’s been since you had a special spiritual experience of hearing God’s voice, then you’ll be doubting God’s love for you over and over again.
If you put your focus on the cross, where God’s love was displayed, you’ll find strength and know God’s embrace.
Begin to thank God for His love for you on the cross instead. You can take your focus off the things that don’t bring confidence in God’s love.
You can also focus on loving the people in your life.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.Gal. 5:22-23 (ESV)
When you love God and love others, you can know that it’s the fruit or result of God’s Spirit in your life. It’s His fruit, not yours. You can find confidence that His love is in you as God pours out His love in you (Rom. 5:5, 8).
Are you having a hard time believing that God can love you? You can make this your prayer:
Pray: Lord, You say you love me. I will believe and receive it. I open to Your love, God. Thank You for loving me even to the point of death on the cross. Empower my heart to love You back, to live in Your love and to love others.
You live out God’s love in your daily choices, big and small. These small steps of thanksgiving to God and loving others will add up day by day.
Paul prayed for the believers at Ephesus that they would be rooted and grounded in love (Eph. 3:17). That’s God’s heart for you that you would be like a tree with roots that go down deep into the good soil of God’s love. Then you can receive His power and strength in your life.
So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love.Eph. 3:17 (ESV)
|I wrote an article about How to Get to Heaven According to the Bible (link opens in a new window). It talks about how you can’t get to heaven by being a good person. It will encourage you to fully open to God’s love displayed on the cross and not try to earn it.|
God Cares for You
Luke 12:7 says that God has a number for every single hair on your head. He doesn’t just know how many there are. Each of your hairs has a number. That’s how much God cares for you.
If you find yourself doubting God’s love, think about the ways that you can know for sure.
When you find yourself asking does God love me? Ask yourself:
- What does the Bible say?
- What does the cross of Jesus say?
- How can I love God back and love let His love flow to others?
You can be rooted and grounded in His love. Love God back and let His love flow through you to people in your life.
People might change, but God never changes. His love is constant.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.Rom. 8:38-39 (ESV)