What to Do When I Know God Forgives Me, but I Can’t Forgive Myself
- Becky Weber Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2021 19 May
None of us are perfect. There are going to be times in life when we mess up.
Thankfully, we have Jesus for all the areas we fall short. His death and resurrection provided us a way to be right with God and to receive the forgiveness that he offers. His forgiveness covers all our sins and doesn’t have an end.
What happens when we know we are forgiven by God, but for some reason, we can’t forgive ourselves?
It can be easy to think that forgiveness is something that we should offer to everyone else, but struggle to forgive ourselves. We see others as easy to forgive, but then hold ourselves to unrealistic expectations.
This is not the truth at all and is something that needs to be dealt with in our own lives.
Why Is it So Difficult to Forgive Myself?
It can be hard to forgive ourselves. If we are not careful, we can become reliant on our own works to determine whether we are a good person or not. The truth though is that each one of us is human and will mess up at some point. Perfection is not something that we will ever achieve in this lifetime. We should not hold ourselves to this standard. When we try to, we end up just becoming disappointed and potentially being too hard on ourselves. This can lead to being unable to forgive ourselves.
Another reason that it might be hard to forgive ourselves is we might be misunderstanding what
God’s forgiveness means for us. If we think that his forgiveness still means that we have to work towards attaining it, we have completely missed its purpose. It was never about us. It has always been about what Jesus accomplished on the cross and receiving forgiveness from him because he took our place.
One last reason might be that we believe that we are too far gone to receive his forgiveness. This could be from really messing up, or just believing that we are a terrible person. The problem is it is a lie to believe God’s forgiveness would not be enough. Believing we are too horrible for his forgiveness makes it again all about ourselves. The truth is we could never be outside of what his forgiveness covers. It covers all sins if we have accepted that Jesus died on the cross for us.
Here Are 5 Truths about God’s Forgiveness
1. It’s not about what we do.
Our forgiveness was never meant to be based on what we could do to earn it. It is all about what Jesus has done. As it says in Ephesians 2:8, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” If our forgiveness is a gift from Jesus, we should be able to accept this wonderful thing that he did for us. He forgives us, so we should then be able to forgive ourselves. If we can’t accept that he did this for us, we are just trying to do something that we were never able to do on our own. It’s only possible through Jesus.
2. God’s forgiveness covers all of our sins.
When God forgives us, it's not just for one thing that we have done, but for all past, present, and future sins. He doesn’t pick and choose. In 1 John 1:9, we learn this, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” These verses don’t mention one thing we are forgiven for, but it says “all wickedness.” The one sin that you committed that you think is so horrible, he forgave you for that, too. We just need to acknowledge our sinfulness and receive the forgiveness that Jesus offers.
3. There is no limit to God’s forgiveness.
It can be easy to think that at some point God might get tired of forgiving us, and just put a stop to it. That is far from the truth. Look at what these verses say, “Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone[a] who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” (Matthew 18:21-22) Even though Jesus does use actual numbers, the point is that his forgiveness has no limit. We don’t have to be worried that we will run out of chances to be forgiven. His mercy and grace for us never run out.
4. God forgives us and doesn’t remember our sins.
Even though our God is all-knowing, he chooses to not remember our sins. As it says in Hebrews 8:12, “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” What a wonderful thought that he chooses to see us blameless and holy through what Jesus did. That should cause us to be so grateful. As this verse says, “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!” (Psalms 32:1) We can have joy-filled and peaceful hearts knowing that we are right with God.
5. Through Christ we are new creations.
God’s forgiveness doesn’t just take away our sins, but we become new creations in him. Look at 2 Corinthians 5:17, which says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” If we have chosen to accept the forgiveness of Christ, we are made new because of him. Whatever was in our past, does not define us anymore, he does. We can be confident in knowing the sacrifice and love that he has shown us. You are new, the old is gone.
How to Apply These Truths of God’s Forgiveness to Forgive Myself
Now that we know the truth about God’s forgiveness, what do we do with it?
It is important to find ways to remind ourselves of his forgiveness and apply it to our daily lives.
Reading the Bible daily is one important way to be reminded of the truth. You can even write verses down and place them in a spot where you will see them frequently. The more you see it, the more it becomes part of your thinking. When we make it part of our regular routine, it helps keep our minds on what is true.
Along with reading the Bible, we need to accept what it says about us as the final authority. We are told in the Bible about how much God loves us, that we are redeemed, forgiven, and a new creation. If we have a hard time believing this, we need to ask the Lord to help us understand how he sees us. It can be easy to fall back into what we are used to, so it is important to challenge our old ways so we don’t get stuck.
Remember to take it easy on yourself as well. We are typically our own worst critics, so it is important to become aware of destructive thought patterns. When we are aware of our thoughts, it will be easier to identify lies that we believe about ourselves and replace them with what is true.
Learn to live in the reality, that you are unconditionally loved by God.
It is so important to be able to forgive yourself. When we don’t, we aren’t believing that God’s forgiveness is enough. It is more than enough. Believe Jesus covered all of your sins, and you are a new creation in him. You are unconditionally loved. Let the truth sink in and live it out.
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Becky Weber is a wife, and mom to 4 kids. She loves to write and speak. She is a pastor’s wife in Sioux Falls, SD where her husband Adam is the lead pastor of Embrace Church. Her passion is to encourage others (especially women) to learn how to walk with Jesus on a daily basis. You can find more writing over at www.becweber.com and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.