Category Archives: guilt

Forgiven: How Guilt Can Block God’s Forgiveness

Forgiven, that’s what we all want: to be forgiven…by God, by others, by ourselves. The following is an excerpt from by latest book: Starting Over…finding God’s forgiveness when you find it hard to forgive yourself.

Meet Steveforgiven

Let me tell you about Steve. Steve has a drinking problem, but he never saw it coming. He got started drinking heavily in college with his buddies. He thought after college that things would change, but he found that old habits die hard. Steve realized that he didn’t have the self-control he thought he had.

How would your life change if you knew that you were completely forgiven and accepted unconditionally?

When Steve’s friends invited him to the bar, he always said yes. And when they encouraged him to have one more, he never said no. After the third drink he lost count. He knew it wasn’t right but thought, “Hey, I’m not hurting anyone.” He was just having a good time.

In his honest moments, Steve knew that he was hurting someone. He was hurting himself because his drinking hurt his health. It hurt his relationships. It hurt his job performance. It also hurt his relationship with God.

Steve’s excessive drinking made him feel guilty. But things had gotten out of control, and he didn’t know how to get back on track. Like I said: he never planned his life to be this way. One thing just led to another.

When God is the Problem

Interestingly enough, Steve’s faith in God was actually a part of the problem. He felt so ashamed of his failure that he drank more trying to cover his guilt. It was a vicious cycle. The more he drank the guiltier he felt. The guiltier he felt the more he drank. He never dreamed of being forgiven.

After a while, Steve stopped feeling guilty. He grew numb. He just accepted that he was a drinker and resigned himself to a life without God. It wasn’t what he wanted, but it was better than feeling guilty all the time.

Steve’s story describes many people I’ve talked to over the years. Just change the name, and the addiction, and Steve might be someone you know. Steve might even be you. Instead of a drinking problem it might be a problem with food, pornography, gambling, shopping, anger, or any number of things.

Guilt: The Roadblock to Being Forgiven

What often keeps us from getting the help we need is guilt. We are so ashamed of what we’ve done that we push God away, assuming he wants nothing to do with us. But in doing that, we push away our greatest help.

What if Steve could live a life free from guilt? How do you think Steve’s life would change if he knew that he was completely forgiven, and God accepted him unconditionally, just the way he was… warts, addiction, and all?

More importantly, how would your life change if you knew that you were completely forgiven and accepted unconditionally?

I’m not talking about being free from all guilt. Some guilt is good…I’m talking about the false guilt that lingers and often turns to shame. I’m talking about the feeling that weighs on you and makes you want to avoid anything remotely associated with God, because you are convinced of his disgust for you.

True guilt has a short shelf life, that is: once guilt serves its purpose in getting you to see your wrong, it starts to spoil. It’s like soured milk: guilt turns from being helpful to being hurtful. But many people keep drinking the “sour milk” of guilt thinking it’s the right thing to do… even the godly thing to do. They just assume that all guilt is from God and so they embrace it. Big mistake.

The truth is that God wants you to move from guilt to grace as quickly as possible. Put your past behind you and start building your new regret-free life. Live forgiven. [adapted from chapter nine from Starting Over: The Problem of Guilt.]


Free Kindle Book: STARTING OVER…a look at the forgiveness of God

Free Kindle Book

FREE Kindle Book

Free Kindle Book. There’s no better time to release a new book about Starting Over than on Easter. Jesus came, died, and was resurrected so we could all start our lives over. And there’s no better way to introduce a new book than by giving it away for free!

Starting on Easter, through Tuesday, my new book, Starting Overfinding God’s forgiveness when you find it hard to forgive yourself, will be a free Kindle book at If you attend one of our services at Cedarbrook Church, it will be given away in paperback.

From the Back Cover of Starting Over

You are perfect in God’s Eyes. Impossible? Not if you understand what Jesus did for you. Many people talk about God’s forgiveness, but few understand how radical it really is. Instead, they climb onto the hamster-wheel of performance, working to please God, while unresolved guilt eats away at them. Sound familiar?

Loved this book. It’s a fast read and made me take a more biblical look into God’s forgiveness instead of being left to dwell on my own guilt and shame.

To counteract this common mistake, F. Remy Diederich has written, Starting Over...finding God’s forgiveness when you find it hard to forgive yourself. The book lays out how God made you perfect in his eyes, as well as how being forgiven impacts your life.

With twenty brief meditations, the author hopes to convince you of God’s unquestionable and unfathomable forgiveness. His goal is to help you move past your regret and start living the new life that God has for you.

If guilt and regret have pushed you away from God, Starting Over might be the next book for you to read.

Can You Help Promote Starting Over?

I write books so people will read them. I know, crazy idea. But, the truth is: most books on aren’t read. They just sit there like orphans. If you want your book to get read, you have to ask for help. So, that’s what I’m doing! I’m hoping you will do me a favor, well, actually a few:

  1. Go to and search in “Books” for “Forgiven.” Currently my book is listed on page 5. Click on my book and “buy” it for free. Searching this way will help the book move toward the first page of ranking.
  2. Read the book this week (it will take you just over an hour) and post a review on That helps A LOT. People decide whether to buy books based on reviews. The more reviews I get the higher the book ranks on their search engine.
  3. Post the link to the book on your Facebook page and let people know that it’s free.

That’s it. Those three things will make a big difference. If you believe in the message of Starting Over (God’s radical and unconditional forgiveness) it’s an easy way to spread the message.

So far the reviews are super positive. For example, one person wrote:

Loved this book. It’s a fast read and made me take a more biblical look into God’s forgiveness instead of being left to dwell on my own guilt and shame. You can read it as a daily devotional, but I couldn’t put it down and read through the whole thing in one sitting.

Enjoy the free kindle book. I hope to read your review of it soon!


Relationship, not Behavior, is God’s Priority


God’s love draws us to him.
Our good behavior doesn’t draw him to us.

You might find this hard to believe, but the Bible tells us that when you and I go astray, God’s first priority isn’t to get our behavior in line. Did you know that? God’s first priority is to reestablish our relationship with him. God’s love draws us to him. Our good behavior doesn’t draw him to us.

God knows that if he can help restore your relationship with him that your behavior will eventually follow. But if he focuses on your behavior, your guilt will push you away from him. It’s counterproductive.

A party for a prodigal.

You might know the story of the prodigal son that Jesus told…the son that ran away from home to live the party life only to return home when his money ran out.

The shock of that story is the boy didn’t return to an angry dad who punished him for his behavior like you’d expect. The boy returned to a dad that met him at the gate of the city with a hug and a kiss and a ring and a cloak and then threw a party for him.

Jesus used that story to teach us how God thinks about sin and guilt. Most dads wouldn’t welcome home their runaway son with a party! But God isn’t like that. He’s much more interested in his relationship to you than he is in getting you to obey a list of rules. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care about rules. They have their place. It’s just not the first thing on his mind.

God’s kindness draws us to him, not our good behavior.

The first thing on God’s mind is to be your friend: to establish relationship. Then he works with you to address your behavior.  The Bible tells us, “God’s kindness leads you back to God.” (Romans 2:4)

When you know that God is for you and not against you then you are confident to turn to him even when you’ve failed miserably. That’s why the Bible calls us to,

…come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it. Hebrews 4:16

If God’s grace sounds like something you need right now, this verse gives you the confidence you need to ask for it. Can you think of a good reason to wait?

This post is adapted from “Forgiven…once and for all”. Get your free copy by subscribing to this blog.


Forgiving Yourself – part one

Forgiving Yourself

Forgiving yourself is one of the hardest things to do.

I finished teaching on God’s forgiveness and felt pretty good about it. I presented what I thought was an “iron-clad” case for why God’s forgiveness is free and unconditional. When I asked for questions Angie said, “I understand God’s forgiveness. I don’t have a problem with that. I just can’t forgive myself.”

Forgiving Yourself

Over the next few posts I want to offer a few suggestions for forgiving yourself. The first one is understanding that we are all failures. It might sound negative but it’s true. We’ve all failed at something. No one is perfect. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Some people insist on beating themselves up. They recognize that everyone fails in life but they believe against all reason that they are the worst of the worst and deserve harsher treatment. But the Bible tells us that…

There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23,24

We’ve all fallen short

We are all in the same boat. We have all failed God and fallen short of his standard of perfection. I heard it described once as comparing an Olympic gold medalist swimmer to a novice swimmer.  In a pool, the Olympian stands out against the novice.  But put them both on the shore of California and tell them to swim to Hawaii and they will both fall short.  The size of the ocean is the great equalizer.  And the same is true of us all when compared to God.

In a court room some of our lives may be more illegal than others.  In a church, some of our lives may be more immoral than others.  But when compared to God, none of us measure up to his perfection.  No one can boast and no one can take undue guilt upon them because “there is no difference”.

We’re all freely justified

The second part of the verse I quoted above is equally important. It says that “…we are all justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Yes, we all fail. But more importantly, God forgives us and justifies us; that means he puts us in right standing with himself despite our failure.  It’s free. A gift. And it’s made possible – not because of what we have done – but because of what Jesus did. Who are we to object to what God has decided? 

Forgiveness is for all. It may not make sense or feel right but it’s the truth. We need to bring our thoughts in alignment with what is true.

In another place the Bible says this…

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast…Ephesians 2:8,9

If we are put right with God based on what HE has done then no one can take any credit for being spiritual.  But it’s just as true that no one can deny themselves God’s forgiveness. Forgiveness is for all. It may not make sense or feel right but it’s the truth. We need to bring our thoughts in alignment with what is true.

I’ll explore forgiving yourself more in days ahead.

Question: What makes it hard for you to forgive yourself? Leave your comment below.

Learn more about how to forgive yourself in my book, STUCK…how to mend and move on from broken relationships.


Shame: Do You Feel Like Damaged Goods?

Damaged goods

I feel like damaged goods.

In my book Healing the Hurts of Your Past I spend some time defining shame. One phrase that I find helpful is “damaged goods”.  The following is taken from my book where I talk about feeling like damaged good.

Defining Damaged Goods

Years ago, a recovering addict told me that shame made her feel like “damaged goods”.  I think that is a great phrase.  If you walked into any store today you would find a corner, way in the back, which has a pile of damaged goods.  These are products that were dropped or chipped or soiled in some way and are not fit for sale.  Only perfect items have the value that allows them to be displayed on the shelf.  The damaged products are really good for nothing and typically get tossed out at the end of the day or sent back to the factory.

Maybe this is how you feel about your life.  Maybe you were divorced, not once but twice or even more.  Maybe you were adopted or had an abortion.  Maybe you lost a job that you thought you were made for.  Or maybe you were sexually abused. Any one of these life events can leave you feeling like damaged goods.

In your mind, you don’t deserve to be placed on the shelf with “normal” people.  You are convinced you are damaged and, because of that, you go through life anticipating rejection at every turn. (Taken from Healing the Hurts of Your Past; a guide to overcoming the pain of shame.)

Thankfully God can heal our shame by showing us the inherent value we have as his creation. Since God is infinitely good, everything he creates is also good. That doesn’t mean that everything we do is good, but we can’t let our sin and mistakes define us. When we start to define ourselves by WHOSE we are (God’s child) rather than by WHAT we’ve done, we begin to heal our shame.

You can learn more about healing from shame in Healing the Hurts of Your Past.

updated 12/1/17

  • Defining the Pain of Shame (
  • Are You Worthless or Just Flawed? (

Guilt That Leads Away From God

Guilt that Leads Away From God

Guilt that Leads Away From God

Did you know that there is a guilt that leads away from God?

In Henri Nouwen‘s daily devotional called “Show Me the Way” he speaks about two kinds of guilt; one that leads you to God and one that sends you away. He says…

There is an awareness of sin that does not lead to God but rather to self-preoccupation. Our temptation is to be so impressed by our sins and failings and so overwhelmed by our lack of generosity that we get stuck in a paralyzing guilt. It is the guilt that says: “I am too sinful to deserve God’s mercy.” It is the guilt that leads to introspection instead of directing our eyes to God. It is the guilt that has become an idol and therefore a form of pride.

…The question is: “Are we like Judas, who was so overcome by his sin that he could not believe in God’s mercy any longer and hanged himself, or are we like Peter who returned to his Lord with repentance and cried bitterly for his sins?”  

The Peter/Judas contrast is striking to me. Peter went on to lead the church. For some reason he was able to tap into the true essence of God’s mercy and forgiveness and it was life changing. But Judas let his sin and guilt crush him.

How do you handle your guilt? Does it lead you to God or away from him? My prayer for you is that you, like Peter,  might find God’s life changing mercy and forgiveness for your past and rise to fulfill your God-given purpose.


Helping Hurting People TV Interview (5min)

I was recently interviewed on our NBC affiliate about my book.