Imagine you’ve made your final car payment. The title has been mailed to you. You officially own it, and you are doing your happy dance…but the next month, you get another bill from the bank. They want another payment. How furious you’d be. Enough to march straight down to that bank and shove the proof of ownership in their face.
I wonder how God must feel when we dredge up the same sins over and over…Jesus already having paid in full what we are still trying to make payment on. Kinda as to say, Sorry Jesus, I just don’t believe that what you did is enough.
Forgiveness and guilt for past sins has been a continual struggle for me. I know the dozens of bible verses about forgiveness, but it sometimes still doesn’t feel like enough. Knowing his word doesn’t always keep guilt from laying heavy on me. One night recently I was reading in 1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins he is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
It got me wondering why I feel a need to forgive myself??? Nowhere in God’s word are there instructions for us to do so. It is plainly laid out that we must cry out to Jesus for forgiveness. To forgive others, as we are so freely forgiven by Christ. But never are we told to forgive ourselves. Are we not minimizing what Jesus did for us when we seek self -forgiveness?
Self-forgiveness is basically saying that we have the authority to choose if our sins are forgivable or not. But that’s not the case. Jesus didn’t pay a part of the price, then ask us to finish it off. He fully atoned for each and every one of our sins. Already did the hard work. Forgiveness doesn’t come from our own abilities. We are cleansed and fully forgiven because of His never-ending grace.
I am working to train my mind to remember that guilt is from the deceiver. Conviction is from the Holy Spirit. When sins are confessed and forgiven, neither guilt nor conviction should remain. We may not think we’re forgiven, and we may not feel forgiven, but we can be sure we are forgiven if we follow biblical steps of true repentance. God says that our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). What an amazing and incomprehensible thought.
But gosh it’s hard to refrain from punishing ourselves. What we SHOULD be doing, is humbly accepting the gift of God’s forgiveness, allowing our guilt to fall away.
If you are truly saved, there is nothing you can do that His blood won’t cover. I stand amazed when I consider that God’s forgiveness is complete and all-sufficient for me.
Friend, striving for self-forgiveness is hopeless. It will never bring true relief from your guilt. Seek forgiveness from the one who gave his life because He loves us so completely—repent, confess, and He WILL be faithful to forgive.
If guilt is STILL weighing on your heart, know that this is false guilt. Push against it with the realities of the gospel and allow your spirit to be refreshed.
When guilt says you are not loved by God because of your sins, remind yourself that you did not earn salvation, but it came by grace (Eph 2: 8-9).
When your mind says that you are not worthy of God’s forgiveness, remind yourself that you were NEVER worthy, but God extended you grace (Eph 1: 7-10).
It’s not my intention to condemn or shame you for wanting to forgive yourself.
I sought this once, too. What I do want is to free you from the hopeless chase of self-forgiveness. Self-forgiveness provides no hope and no healing. Trusting in Christ’s forgiveness and atonement; this is where true freedom from guilt and forgiveness is found. Maybe it’s time to change our self-talk from, I can’t forgive myself, to, I don’t need to forgive myself. Not because we haven’t messed up, but because God does a perfect job of forgiving us when we do.