Breaking the Chains of Guilt: Embracing Grace and Redemption

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. Romans 8:1-2 (NLT)

God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:20-21(NLT)

I was only five years old. My mom had taken us to visit our friend who also happened to be the local butcher. He loved us girls and always had a treat for us. This time, he handed us each a hot dog wrapped in butcher paper. As we approached the check-out stand, big barrels of caramel candy drew my attention. I mean, it was strategically placed at eye level for this kindergartener to be tempted. What was I to do? I quickly snuck my hand up to the bottom of the pile of sugary bliss and slipped one single little piece of candy in the folds of my wrapped treat from the butcher.

Knowing our generous butcher and thinking myself clever, once I the car, I revealed my spectacular find. I held it up and exclaimed, “Oh look, Mr. B must have snuck this in while I wasn’t looking.” The only problem was, (well there were lots of problems) I am a bad liar, my sister did not have any candy, and my mom knew immediately what had taken place. 

She marched my little behind back in the store and made me confess what I had done. The cashier was quick to forgive. She said, “Oh, it’s okay.” To which my mom directly and adamantly replied, “Oh, no it is not okay!” I was sure I would be paying the price for a long time! I pictured myself confined to my bedroom for the rest of my life, losing my birthday presents and any other punishment this guilt ridden five-year-old could imagine.

I knew what I had done was wrong. The embarrassment of getting caught was enough to make me never steal again. But here is the thing. The cashier offered grace. My mom knew dealing with the sin immediately would impact my future behavior. I was guilty. I was confronted with my sin. I confessed. I was forgiven. And my mom NEVER brought it up again. 

The confession gave me the freedom to not continue in the suffocating guilt. I know, it was ‘just’ a piece of candy. But God in His goodness, dealt with my sin and allowed me to learn a big lesson from a ‘little’ sin, so I did not have to carry the weight of a much heavier guilt later in life.

Scripture tells us that if we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9). And when our hearts understand the gravity of that sin and are truly repentant, He tosses that sin as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:12) Like my mom, He never mentions it again. (2 Corinthians 5:17) When we are in Christ, there is no condemnation. That means He takes away the guilt and replaces it with grace. (John 1:17)

Sometimes the only one we need to make things right with is God. Other times we may need to seek the forgiveness of another. Guilt can be a tool used by God to spur us into repentance and restoration. However, that same tool can be used by the enemy to steal our peace, to destroy relationships, to tear us down and view ourselves through guilt rather than the grace and forgiveness given to us through the blood of Jesus who paid the price for ALL our sin. 

You may be thinking, “you only stole one little piece of candy, what is the big deal?” Sin is sin to God. His grace is bigger than that stolen piece of candy and it is bigger than the most heinous crime. The Apostle Paul was a murderer and called himself “chief of sinners.” Yet God called him, redeemed him, forgave him, and used him in transforming the world through his writing of a predominant part of the New Testament. 

Are you carrying the burden of guilt for some past failing? Do you need to seek forgiveness from someone to put the guilt to rest, or can you like David, say, “against you only Father have I sinned?” I encourage you to allow the precious gift of grace relieve you of the blight of guilt on your soul. Every time that sin or failing pops into your head, surrender it to the Lord. Take that thought captive to the obedience of Christ and put it behind bars forever. 

Live in the freedom offered through the gift of forgiveness.

Heavenly Father,

Please heal me from my sin and guilt. Forgive me for ____________. Please lift the weight from me. I place these burdens at your feet and ask you to cleanse me from my past failings. Please help me to honor you and trust that you have the power to heal and forgive. In your precious name, Amen

My name is Keri Willis. I am a semi-retired educator. I spent a great deal of my career working with adults with developmental disabilities and many years in elementary education, in the classroom and as an administrator. My main ministry now is coordinating the women’s ministry for our church in San Diego, CA. I have been married thirty-four years and have two grown and married children. I now have a head of full grey hair and good ideas. I believe we are created to use our gifts and to be creative. That comes in many forms for me. I love to woodwork and use power tools, design, decorate, garden, and create new recipes. And I love to write. One major lesson I have learned in my writing journey is that I need to be still and listen to hear God’s voice before I am prepared to put into words the message he has instilled in my heart. This has been much easier since I am no longer working full time, but it is so easy to get distracted and not listen, which almost always ends with an empty page in the form of writer’s block. While I have written many articles for newsletters and local newspapers, I did not consider myself a writer until I self-published my first book, Teapots and Power Tools. The idea emerged as I was working on a project in my garage. I had worship music playing, power tools out and saw dust flying. I glanced up and saw my delicate teapot sitting on my router table. The message was clear. Sometimes we are using the power tools God gives us and sometimes he just wants us to be still and have tea with him. The book became the foundation for a women’s retreat, and then my amazing niece helped me work through publishing it on Create Space (now KDP). At least five other projects are in different stages of production. I joined hope*writers to help motivate me and keep me focused and accountable. I am still trying to figure out the whole website and blog thing. That is my next goal for myself; that and finish writing at least one of my projects! Teapots and Power Tools: Effectively using the tools God has equipped you with, while taking time to “Be Still and Know That He is God”

Editor's Picks


Keri Willis

Keri has always loved Jesus but realized at the early age of five that she wanted to give her heart to Him and spend her life serving Him. She is married to her magnificent husband of almost 40 years, Harold. They live in San Diego with their lively Weimaraner, Belle and serve in leadership at their church home. They have two happily married adult children and one granddaughter. Keri is graduate of Liberty University and has a master’s in education from San Diego State University. She has worked in various areas of education and ministry with a special place in her heart for individuals with special needs. She enjoys teaching God’s children of all ages. She loves all things outdoors. Her favorite “office” is her backyard where many ideas for women’s retreats, speaking engagements, blog posts, and books have been born. You can find more of her writing at and all four of her books on Amazon, by going to Amazon and typing in Keri Lynn Willis.