This morning, during my quiet time with God, I was reading Psalm 32 and was reminded of the connection between sin, guilt and health. In this Psalm, David writes that when he refused to confess his sin that he felt weak and miserable and that he groaned all day long. He also writes that his strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.
Today will be one of the hottest days we’ve experienced in Charlotte this summer. The temperature is to reach close to 100° and the humidity levels are to be very high. After reading Psalm 32, I knew that I wanted to write on this topic of sin, guilt and health and the interrelationship between them and thought that it might help to experience the heat of summer… so I laced up my running shoes and went for a three mile run. When I returned the outside temperature was 88° and I was dripping wet with sweat. Today is a day like David referred to where water could evaporate in the extreme heat.
Guilt and Health – What the Research Says:
When we sin it’s easy to feel a sense of guilt and shame. Imagine how heavy you could feel if you were burdened by guilt and shame for a long period of time. The medical research seems clear that the immune system is not able to be as protective as it otherwise would be when a person experiences chronic guilt and shame.
An article written by the BBC, Guilt – Bad for Your Health, reports the results of a study that indicates that people who felt guilty had lower levels of immunoglobulin A. High levels of immunoglobulin A are associated with a strong immune system, and the ability to fight off illness. The researcher’s previous studies showed that people with low levels of guilt were less likely to go to the doctor, or to report suffering from colds or flu.
Sin, Guilt and Health – What the Bible Says
“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” Psalm 32:1-5
Fortunately we have a God who loves us incredibly and because of this, he freely forgives us of our sins when we confess our wrongdoings. Because of his forgiveness of our sins, believers should be able to turn over any guilt or shame that they feel.
God does not want us to experience the heaviness associated with chronic guilt. His desire is that we live in peace and joy which is available to us when we confess our wrongdoings and believe that God forgives us. Peace and joy are health-promoting compared to chronic guilt which can be damaging to our health.
A Few Questions to Reflect On:
Are you holding on to guilt and shame because of some past or current sin in your life?
Are you perhaps weak and miserable or plagued with a chronic immune related condition that could be caused by long-term guilt?
Verse six of Psalm 32 says “Therefore, let all the godly confess their rebellion to you (God) while there is time, that they may not drown in the flood waters of judgment.”
If you have not confessed sins which you feel guilty of, I urge you to prayerfully make that confession to God so that you can return to feeling peaceful and joyful, which is God’s will for your life.
Sin, Guilt and Health – Helpful Resources
Blog Post – Guilt, Satan, Disease and Forgiveness