Have you ever said or thought, “I know God forgives me, but I just can’t forgive myself!”? Many people struggle with this issue; it’s important that you get to the root of what you are really saying if you are to live in the freedom that Jesus purchased for you and longs for you to enjoy.
If you say, “I can’t forgive myself”, you’re right! You don’t have the ability to forgive yourself. Forgiveness is a gift you must receive. If you were an impoverished person, you could not possibly afford to give yourself a priceless jewel. However, you could receive that same priceless jewel from a wealthy and generous benefactor. Similarly, you cannot forgive yourself, but you can receive the priceless gift of forgiveness from God if you are willing to humble yourself before Him and receive the gift on His terms.
Nowhere in the Bible does God call you to forgive yourself. What He does call you to do is to humble yourself; confess that you are a sinner; and believe in the finished work of Jesus on the cross that paid the price for your every sin. That is how you receive the priceless gift of forgiveness that Jesus bought for you on the cross.
- “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” Psalm 51:17
- “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin. “Psalm 32:5
- “Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’” John 6:29
When you say you can’t forgive yourself, it is important to realize that pride is at the root of your thinking. Pride in believing that your sin is somehow greater than God’s ability to forgive you. Satan’s goal is always to get you to focus on yourself or anywhere else so you won’t look to Jesus, believe in Him and what He has done for you, and live victoriously in His power. In contrast, God’s goal is always for you to fix your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of your faith. (Hebrews 12:2)
Satan wants you to believe that some sins are so heinous that they are unforgivable. None of your sins has, ever could, or ever will catch Jesus by surprise. He knew everyone of them when He went to the cross to pay the price for your sin. The blood He shed on the cross is able to cover every single sin of yours. Remember, Jesus didn’t wait for you to get ‘cleaned up’ before He gave His life for you.
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
If you have confessed your sin to God and yet you still say, “I can’t forgive myself”, you are calling God a liar. For His Word says:
- “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1st John 1:9
- “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him…Psalm 103:12-13
- “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Isaiah 43:25
Think of what you consider to be the ‘worst sin’ you’ve ever committed…and then imagine Jesus’ outstretched arms hanging on the cross and Him saying, “I did this because I love you!” The only thing that He asks of you is that you believe that you are a sinner, that Jesus paid the price for your sin on the cross, and that you turn away from your sin and turn to Him.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” John 5:25
Satan will do everything he can to convince you that your sin is so horrible that God can’t possibly forgive you. In order to experience the freedom found in Christ, it’s essential that you choose to believe the Word of God rather than the lies of Satan. If your focus starts to drift toward your sin instead of being on your Savior, choose to look to the cross! Choose to believe His trustworthy Word! Agree with Satan that your sin is indeed horrible and worthy of punishment, and that’s precisely what makes the mercy and love of God so amazing!
It might help to remember that God forgave the following Biblical characters for their sins–and His forgiveness is there for you too!
- Noah for drunkenness
- Abraham for lying
- David for adultery, lying, and murder
- Peter for denying Jesus
- The disciples for forsaking Jesus at the cross
- Saul—later called Paul– for persecuting and murdering Christians
Each of them is right now with Jesus seeing Him ‘face-to-face’ and they know what Jesus longs for you to know too: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) When you believe in the finished work Jesus did on your behalf on the cross, and receive the gift of forgiveness He freely offers, you will experience the freedom and joy that is found in knowing that nothing can ever separate you from the love that is in Christ Jesus, your magnificent Savior! (Romans 8:38-39)
Written by JVG