How Can I Forgive Myself? by H. B. Charles Jr.
How can I forgive myself?
The most faithful response to this question is the reject it as an illegitimate question.
The biblical teaching about forgiveness can be summarized in two main ideas:
- God forgives sinners freely, completely, and sacrificially. Ultimately, divine forgiveness is paid for by the cross of Christ.
- Christians must forgive those who wrong us, as God has forgiven us for the sake of Christ.
That’s it. Sermon over. There is not third point. God has forgiven us and we must forgive others. Period.
There are more than 125 direct references to forgiveness in the Bible. But the Bible does not teach that we should forgive ourselves. It does not explain how to forgive ourselves. It does not say anything about forgiving ourselves whatsoever.
God is just, holy, and righteous. We are not. We are sinners who cannot do anything to win the approval of God. We cannot reach up to God. But God has reach down to us through the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our infinitely holy God extends forgiveness to stubbornly rebellious sinners. Yet they are those who claim, “I know God has forgiven me. But I need to learn to forgive myself.”
This is the self-centered psychology of the world, not the teaching of scripture. In fact, it contradicts the message of the Bible. If I need to forgive myself, it suggests that I am the God that I have offended and need to appease. This way of thinking is not just erroneous, it is blasphemous.
To claim that I have been forgiven by God but I cannot forgive myself betrays that I do not understand, believe, or appreciate the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a sinister attempt of the Enemy to get us to depend upon our own righteousness, rather than the grace of God.
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