God promises to forgive us of our sins, but we often have trouble forgiving ourselves, so how can we learn to forgive ourselves when we are consumed with guilt?
There are so many Bible verses on forgiveness that it is hard to select only a few, but here are some of the most powerful ones that I could find. One of these verses I’ve memorized because of what it means to me, but later, I found this verse gives comfort to those who feel they’ve committed some “unpardonable sin.” Its 1 John 1:9 which reads, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I have memorized this verse because I frequently have to remind people who are so overly burdened with guilt that they believe that God cannot forgive them. They feel they’ve committed sins so grievous that even God cannot forgive them, but what they’re doing is placing their feelings over facts. They trust what they feel instead of trusting what they read, and that includes the Apostle Paul writing that it was “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). Whoever has the righteousness of Christ is not condemned (Rom 8:1-2). Period.
It is Finished
When Jesus said, “It is finished,” we understand that in the original language, He was saying that He had accomplished His mission, living in complete obedience to the Law, living a sinless life of perfection, taking upon Himself the curse that the Law had upon us, and removed the wrath that was due us for breaking God’s Law, but for those who trust in Him, they receive the very same righteousness that Jesus Christ has. That righteousness has been imputed to them. Since God had made Jesus to be sin for us, and that we received the righteousness of Christ, do we really want to believe that His sacrifice was not enough for what we’ve done? Wasn’t Jesus sacrifice sufficient for all and efficient for those who believe? What God has made righteous, is righteous. If you feel that you cannot be declared righteous in Christ, then you are saying Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection was not enough. When Jesus says “It’s finished,” believe Him, it’s finished!
Maybe you find it easy to forgive others…but can’t reach that point with yourself, but what if your child came up to you and asked for your forgiveness after doing something they were told not to do? You may have to discipline them, but then it’s forgiven, right? You put it behind you. You don’t keep bringing it up day after day, because if you do, you’ve never really forgiven them. Now if you’ve forgiven them, and the very next day the child comes back to you and asks to be forgiven again, and does that day after day, you’d get a little frustrated, wouldn’t you, but often that’s just what we do. We keep bring up these same sins, over and over again, even though God has promised that once we confess them, they’re gone (1 John 1:9). This is frequently the work of the Devil or his fallen angels. Let me ask you this: How many of your sins were still in the future when Christ died? The answer is, all of them. If you keep asking to be forgiven for the same sins, over and over again, you don’t understand forgiveness. Bury it. Have the funeral.
Paying off the Note
Imagine that you’ve made car payments for the last 48 months, and you finally made the last payment. The car is now all yours, but then next month you get another notice from the bank. They want another payment. Wouldn’t you be angry? You’d march right down to that bank and give them proof! Now, just think how God must feel if you keep dragging up the same sins over and over again? Jesus has paid in full what we still want to make payments on. When we don’t forgive ourselves after God already has, that’s what we’re doing. The truth is, “we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1) so why can’t we be at peace with ourselves? The Justifier (God) has become our justification, and so if you insist on not forgiving yourself, you are saying, “Sorry Jesus, it’s just not enough.” Jesus’ death was intended “to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom 3:26), so since Christ wants to “show his righteousness,” why would we ever want to get in the way of His displaying it!? That robs Christ of glory! Remember, guilt is from the Devil. Conviction is from the Holy Spirit. When sins are confessed, neither guilt nor conviction should remain. God says that our sins are removed as far as east is from west (Psalm 103:12).
Is our standard of forgiving ourselves higher than Gods? It might be. If God says you are cleansed, you are forgiven. That means your sins will never again be held you again. Your sins and mine may affect our rewards when we enter into the kingdom, but never our being allowed to enter into the kingdom. Sin will hurt our fellowship with God but it can never permanently destroy our relationship with Him. Would your child ever cease being your child if they sinned greatly against you? We may not realize it, but not forgiving ourselves could be a matter of pride. Why do we follow God’s command to forgive others, but then not forgive ourselves? God has promised that our sins are forgiven. If God’s brought us to repentance, and we have confessed our sins to Him, and been cleansed from all unrighteousness, and then placed our trust in Christ, how can we still not forgive ourselves? Remember, it was “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.