When You Can’t Forgive Yourself

“The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” —Mark 12:31 NLT

Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. —Ephesians 4:32 NLT

Ever become so frustrated with yourself over a repeating sin or a devastating sin you never ever thought you’d commit—and you just can’t get over it? Ever just sat in it, loathing yourself and miserable, yet unable to move on? Easy to get mired, isn’t it? The accuser, the enemy of your soul, would love to keep you right there. Not asking forgiveness of God, believing you don’t deserve a fresh start, and Just. Plain. Stuck. I’ve been there and it’s a horrible place to be. A wasted place to be—and not where God wants you or me. Ever. You see, we not only need to forgive others, we also need to believe God that we are forgiven and stop beating ourselves up, as if we had not forgiven ourselves. The word in Greek “forgive” is the word Aphiemi, that literally means to “send away” … to let something or someone go. When God asks us to forgive others, He is telling us to send away that bitterness, that desire to punish them. He tells us to leave it to Him. Similarly, when we say, “I can’t forgive myself,” we are refusing to let go of the desire to self-punish, refusing to let go of our anger and disgust with ourselves. This is not where God wants His forgiven children to be! He loves us, and He wants us whole.

When I am in that stuck place and can’t forgive myself …

… it becomes an insidious matter of pride. I am actually thinking too highly of myself. God can’t forgive me! How could I possibly have done that? How can I keep repeating the same sin? I ought to be better than that. Oh, forgive me, Lord, for thinking more highly of myself than I ought. Of course I will fail and fail again. Without You I can’t succeed. I need You. And with You, I can’t fail. Help me to humbly see this hard thing as it is and bring it to the foot of Your cross, where You already took it upon Yourself.

… I am actually rejecting God’s gift of forgiveness and insulting Him. Imagine if you worked long hours for a year in order to purchase a car for a single mom who needed a reliable vehicle. You finally have a great little car for her and you present it to her with the greatest of joy and satisfaction. And instead of accepting the gift you’ve been eager to give her for months, she rejects it, saying it’s too much and she doesn’t deserve it. You protest, saying it’s already bought. You loved doing this for her and you’ve been so eager for her to receive it … can you imagine the shock and hurt if she never took your gift? Truly, God did far more for us. And for the joy set before Him, Christ endured the cross. What pain I cause Him who took the penalty for my sin when I reject His gift of forgiveness, price paid, fully cleansed. Lord Jesus, forgive me when I treat with disdain the great sacrifice You made for me, bearing the penalty for my sin and offering me freedom and a new beginning. Oh, how foolish I am to think I need to go on punishing myself, when You have already paid the punishment in full! Help me receive what You so joyfully wish to give.

… I can no longer serve in God’s kingdom, fulfilling His great purpose for my life. The longer I sit in a pitiful state of self-reproach and disgust, the longer I am not about my Father’s business. My own refusal to ask forgiveness and believe that I am cleansed and forgiven becomes a trap from the enemy to keep me from vital service for the King. How foolish I am to waste this short life on earth with past regret, refusing to be cleansed and made ready for the work He has for me! Lord, I don’t want to waste one day, one hour, in this life You have given me. I want to serve You! Help me to swiftly turn and be forgiven, no matter what the sin and no matter how many times I am back again repenting for the same sin. You forgive seventy times seven, as often as I come! Forgive me for wasted hours and days of regret and remorse, wallowing in a self-centered pity party, when all I have to do is humble myself and ask for Your good help once again. Lord Jesus, I come. I ask for cleansing—and I believe I am clean. Whole. Freed to serve and love again. I receive Your gift of a new start, paid in full on the cross. And I bow in adoration and gratitude before Your throne.

Thank You for the cross, Lord. In Your Name, Amen.

You are loved,
Sharon

 

 

Sweet Selah Ministries

Vision
To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service

Mission 
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

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4 Responses to “When You Can’t Forgive Yourself”

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  1. Margaret Fowler says:

    Good message for me, I needed that, thank you.

  2. I've never thought of guilt in this way before. Thank you for providing a new perspective, a new way of seeing.

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