I have often heard people say that forgiving yourself is one of the things they struggle with, especially when they have harmed someone they love. I have been there too. I think it might be hard because you now see that things won’t ever be the same, or you have marred what you believed about yourself, or you haven’t accepted your forgiveness.
Is it really necessary to forgive yourself? I say no. The forgiveness process is twofold, we must confess our sin to the one we have wronged and seek their forgiveness, and we must also confess our sin to God to receive his forgiveness. Forgiving yourself is not a part of the equation.
Let’s go back in time and look at the King of Israel, David, who has everything he needs and desires at his disposal.(See II Samuel 11, 12) One evening while David is resting on his balcony, when he should have been out fighting with his army, he sees a young woman bathing. He desires her, so he has her while her husband is away fighting in his army.
A short while later, she discovers that she is pregnant and sends word to the King. David comes up with a plan. He has her husband, Uriah brought back home in order that he may be with his wife in order to cover up his indiscretion – sin. But Uriah does not go home. He stays right outside the palace. David learns that Uriah did not want to take comfort in his home or with his wife while there were still men out fighting.
David comes up with another plan. He writes a letter to the captain of his army to have him place Uriah on the front line so that he is killed. David boldly sends the letter by the hands of Uriah who was returning to fight. So Uriah is killed. After Uriah’s wife completes mourning over the loss of her husband, the king sends for her and she becomes his wife, and bears his son.
It wasn’t until David was confronted by a prophet that he faced his sin, and confessed that he sinned against the Lord, and begs God’s forgiveness. (See Psalm 51) It was after this period of pleading for forgiveness, and for the life of his son that David is able to move on. The Lord did forgive him, but one of the immediate consequences of his sin would be the loss of the son that he had with Uriah’s wife.
Unfortunately, or fortunately being sorry for our sin does not remove the consequences. Sometimes trust that has been broken will need to be earned again even though we have been forgiven. For Christians, we rely on I John 1:9:
For if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
This forgiveness is perfect and complete. Forgiveness in Christ means that the sin is no longer counted against us. It means that the penalty has been satisfied in Christ even though the consequences may still exist.
One consequence very well may be the replay of our sin. David said that his sin was always before him. How do we get relief from the guilt when we see the harm our sin has brought? – The harm to the one hurt, our family, our reputation or testimony.
If I have truly repented of my sin, and confessed to God that I sinned and am sincerely sorry for grieving him, I am forgiven. I must believe it. The Bible says in I John 3:20:
For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
Sometimes the guilt of our sin is overwhelming. We are sorry we messed up. The scripture cited above says that even though we may still feel guilty, God is greater than our heart and guilt because he knows all things and nothing is hidden from him. He knows when we have sincerely repented of our sin. (See Psalm 139:1 -12) So if God has forgiven us, that is all we need.
Yes, things may not be the same, but we are forgiven. We may be haunted by the replay, but remember God has forgiven us. That sin has been covered by Christ. That is our response when we are faced with the replay. We know that we only stand clean in Christ. We know that when we are not walking in the Spirit, we will fail to please Christ.
There is forgiveness when we confess our sin, even though we may have to live with the consequences. God will give us the grace to move forward because God is greater than our heart, our guilt.
We must trust and rest in the forgiveness of God.