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🙏 Should we forgive ourselves?

November 12, 2020

4 minute read

🙏 Should we forgive ourselves?

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

What does the Bible say?

It's incredibly important to remember that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Paul, in Romans 8:1 makes it clear to us that:

There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

If through faith alone you believe that Jesus bore the penalty for your sins, you stand justified before God. Jesus took upon Himself our punishment, and through Him, we have transitioned from death to life, no longer under the threat of condemnation from the Father.

Despite our awareness of this truth, many of us still grapple with the burden of our past sins. In Philippians 3:12-14 Paul says:

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Paul in this passage is stating that he forgets the awful memories of persecuting Christians and rebellion against God. He looks forward; he doesn't dwell or wallow in the past. But he also says in Ephesians 2:11-12:

Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope.

At first glance, these two messages may seem contradictory, but they complement each other perfectly. Paul advocates for moving past our sins and looking forward, only recalling them to deepen our understanding of God's grace and mercy. He urges us not to be paralysed by our sins but to instead praise God and return to Him in gratitude for His mercy and forgiveness.

It's crucial to acknowledge that dwelling on our sins is itself sinful. By doing so, we elevate ourselves and imply that Jesus' forgiveness was insufficient. What could be more offensive in the eyes of the Heavenly Father, the Creator of all things, the Almighty and Righteous God? I personally struggle with this and frequently seek repentance for this sin.

So, should we forgive ourselves?

Why would we grant ourselves forgiveness when we've wronged others? The Bible emphasizes seeking forgiveness from those we've harmed and from God Himself. Who appointed us as the arbitrators of our own wrongdoing?

In 2 Corinthians 7:8-10, Paul discusses the Corinthians' repentance and departure from their sinful ways. Having urged them to repent previously, Paul commends their efforts to reconcile with the Father.

I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.

Paul expresses that there should be no remorse for the sorrow inspired by God regarding one's sinful life before salvation. Conversely, worldly sorrow indicates a lack of repentance and leads to spiritual death.

Furthermore, he elaborates that the Godly grief experienced by the Corinthians led to their repentance.

Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.

In light of these points, the Bible teaches us that while we may not entirely erase our sins from memory, we ought to endeavour to move forward, repent, and seek forgiveness recalling them solely to gain a deeper appreciation of God's grace and mercy. Doing so humbles us, prompting us to relinquish the poison of self-condemnation.

One more thing to consider, nuance.

The creator of the universe is not glorified when we waste our lives in self-doubt and idleness. Remember, you have been liberated through Jesus' sacrifice! It's time to embrace a life free from sin and condemnation. If you find yourself still struggling with sin, I urge you to seek support from your church elders for guidance and accountability.

While Jesus' sacrifice grants us forgiveness before God, it doesn't exempt us from earthly consequences of sin. As Christians, let's endeavour to emulate Jesus' example and live according to His teachings.

It's important to remember that the approach to confessing sin can vary depending on the situation. When the sin impacts others, it should be approached with sensitivity and under the guidance of church elders.

Last modified on March 21, 2024

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