I often hear people say, “I can’t forgive myself.” It may surprise the reader to find out that God never asks or expects you to forgive yourself for any sin you have committed or any hurt you have inflicted upon others or upon yourself. First, let me remind you as a fellow believer that God has purged you of every sin you have ever carried out, no matter how hurtful or horrific that sin has been. When you try to forgive yourself, you are insulting the Lord Jesus and his suffering, that he endured in order that you are forgiven. When you repented to God and put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ you were justified, which means you were reborn as a person who has never sinned. There is no record in God’s memory of the sin for which you are trying to forgive yourself. You are trying to forgive yourself for a sin which does not exist in God’s record. It is impossible to forgive yourself for a sin that does not exist.
I can hear you say, “I know God has forgiven me but I and others know what I did.” Think about it, if God does not ask or want you to forgive yourself, who are you trying to please by doing it? Yes, it is an attempt to make yourself feel good. This is selfishness. You see, when you say that you can’t forgive yourself, you are struggling with your pride, not with your sin. You are having trouble admitting that you truly were that sinful person who would do such an atrocious sin. You do not really want to believe that you were such a terrible person. Admit the truth of your personal degradation and sinfulness to yourself and to others. Do not try to forgive yourself for it. Yes, others know what you did. They always will know and some may always suffer the consequences of your actions. Again, admit fully to yourself and to those you have hurt if possible, your awareness of the hurts you cause when you act without regard to God’s law. Whether they forgive you or choose not to do so is their responsibility, not yours. Attempts to forgive yourself are, at the best, attempts to feel good about yourself, to diminish or even eliminate the blame you know you deserve because of your sinful deeds. You have no right to feal good about any of your sins.
“God has purged you of every sin you have ever carried out, no matter how hurtful or horrific that sin has been.”
Your reason for feeling good about yourself, in spite of your past, must be grounded solely in what Jesus did for you, not in anything you do, such as forgiving yourself. God has the highest standard of holiness., and he has forgiven you because of what His Son, Jesus, did for you. When you say, “I know God has forgiven me but I can’t forgive myself,” you are really saying, “my standard of holiness is higher than God’s standard, and I can never reach my standard.” Again, that is pride. You need to stop focusing on what you did and what you are attempting to do about it, and start enjoying only what Jesus did for you. Remember, when he died on the cross, he accepted the shame of your sin as his own, paid the penalty for it in full, and permanently erased it with all its shame. There is nothing left for you to do about it; “It is finished” Jesus said. Enjoy the finished work of Christ and experience what he has done for you; he has made you a person without blame or condemnation!
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