We ran into a friend of ours the other day at Lowe’s Home Improvement store. A friend who just happens to be a counselor.
While my wife and I visited with him, catching up on a couple years of stuff, we also reminisced about some of our counseling sessions from 20 years ago.
By the way, this counselor was one of the heroes God had in place to save my life and our marriage some 22 years ago. Wow!
Anyway, while we were chatting, our friend told us about something he’d been mulling around in his heart and mind for a while.
I haven’t been able to set it aside.
There’s a saying that’s been passed around for years; when it began I haven’t the foggiest.
WHERE it came from I have more than a sneaking suspicion.
“You’ve got to forgive yourself.”
Or, to make it sound a little more righteous and spiritually authentic, just use a little of the King’s English, “Forgive thyself.”
You’ve heard it, haven’t you? Maybe even said it?
But is it true?
Self-forgiveness is something concocted by the devil to keep us away from TRUE, GENUINE FORGIVENESS.
Adam and Eve TRIED to “forgive themselves”. But THEIR covering could never prove to be adequate. It took something much more substantial, much more personal. It required God’s intervention.
You may find the saying on the Internet, but you won’t find it in God’s Word, the Bible.
Why? Because you and I aren’t powerful enough, or pure enough, to expunge or earn our own forgiveness.
“But what if we sin only against ourselves?”
That is impossible. Because even IF no other human is affected, God is.
Sin affects God.
God forgives sin, through His Son Jesus Christ, and we forgive OTHERS who may have sinned against us. OTHERS can forgive us, but no one can forgive themselves.
“But I feel like I need to, because of what I’ve done in the past.”
Do you feel the guilt and shame over something you’ve done in the past? Have you asked God to forgive you, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ?
Have you asked those affected and offended to forgive you? Have you made the necessary restitution, if possible?
The “need” to forgive yourself is rooted in distrust and pride.
Distrust because God didn’t really mean what He said about forgiveness; at least where you’re concerned.
Pride, as your sin is far greater than the power of the Name and Blood of Jesus.
Yes, I really do understand the uncomfortable feelings of humility and the overwhelming sensation of complete brokenness because of how many people I hurt by doing something stupid AND morally wrong.
Sin has consequences, and some of them are extremely hard to stomach.
If you’re in that very unpleasant spot, forgiving yourself is not what you need to do. You can’t.
What you CAN do, after you’ve made things right with God AND others, is this:
1. Remember the pain, humility, harsh words; anything that resulted because of YOUR actions. On purpose. Don’t whitewash them, and don’t try and throw off any of YOUR guilt. Own YOUR ACTIONS. Do NOT attempt to justify any part of YOUR actions, like “I wouldn’t have done what I did IF…”
2. Take your pain, all that you’re remembering, and mentally place it on the cross with Jesus. It may help to read some of the verses I’ve included on this post. It also might benefit you to read, aloud, Isaiah 53:3-6.
“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:3-6 ESV)
3. Receive, by faith, again and again if necessary, the forgiveness JESUS purchased for you and I. You may need to pull out Psalm 103:2,3, reading it every day. “…Who forgives ALL your iniquities…”
4. Open your mouth and “confess” you are forgiven by God Almighty! Confession isn’t only about acknowledging sin. The word “confess” means to speak the same thing. The same thing as who? The same thing as God. When the Lord calls a thing wrong, or sin, then do the same. “This is wrong.” If you’re guilty of such a thing, confess it; “I am wrong.”
But when you’ve done that, and have asked God to forgive you, then confess His ANSWER, “God has forgiven me based on His Blood and His Word (then begin reading the pertinent verses OUT LOUD).
Here are some scriptures for you to read and learn. Don’t try and make do with a fig leaf. Get your REAL covering, AND complete forgiveness from the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world.
“Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.” (Psalm 25:18 ESV)
“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” (Psalm 32:1 ESV)
“Lord…You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin.” (Psalm 85:1-2 ESV)
“For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.” (Psalm 86:5 ESV)
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases.” (Psalm 103:2-3 ESV)
“If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” (Psalm 130:3-4 ESV)
“…and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:12-15 ESV)
“…But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” (Matthew 9:6 ESV)
“So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35 ESV)
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 ESV)
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,” (Colossians 2:13 ESV)
“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” (James 5:14-15 ESV)
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 ESV)
“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.” (1 John 2:12 ESV)