Through the years I’ve struggled with the concept of forgiving myself. Like so many others I’ve discussed the notion of how hard it is to forgive myself when I’ve done wrong. I see the harm my deeds have caused realizing that I was in the wrong and it hurts me to know the pain I’ve caused. Even if I was acting in response to things that happened to me, I am responsible for my sin and the harm it caused.
I read a lot in the Bible about forgiving others, but I can’t recall anywhere the Scripture expressly calls on me to forgive myself. Unless someone proves me wrong I have to believe that it’s just not in there.
So, how do I deal with my sin that has harmed another and myself? I go to the example of one of the greatest sinners we see in Scripture, King David. David whose sin included adultery, conspiracy, and murder when he fixed his eye on Bathsheeba and yielded to temptation (2 Samuel 11-12). When confronted with his sin, David confessed his sin in a penitent, God-given manner in Psalm 51. In this psalm he poured out his grief stricken heart before the Just and Merciful God. In this act of contrite confession and seeking God’s mercy, He received forgiveness from God. He was then able to move forward having been cleansed of his sin by God Almighty. The apostle John addresses the kind of forgiveness David received in 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
I believe that if the notion of forgiving oneself exists, it exists in deep, complete confession of sin before God. If our confession is more than just an attempt to tattle on ourselves then we have admitted the wrong we’ve done to God, to others, and to ourself. We have agreed with God the horror of our sin knowing the consquences we should rightly expect from Him. We neither deserve His mercy nor grace, but He is faithful. Like David, our genuine confession of sin lays it all at the Throne of Mercy and the Spirit of Jesus within forgives us on our behalf.
If I try to take God’s place on the Throne, I may try to punish myself, do penance, or continue to help the Accuser drag me down. When I sin against others, I have clear instructions in Scripture to seek forgiveness from them. I have no such instruction to seek forgiveness from myself. I have already dealt with this in my confession and His cleansing.
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