The Inconsistency Inherent in “Forgiving Yourself”


“Forgive yourself,” we are often told.

Nice-sounding, and well-intended, but is it consistent with reality as portrayed in Scripture? I mean, apart from the fact that there is not one instance of even a hint of such an instruction, how can you meaningfully forgive yourself when your sin is not against yourself, but against the God whose law you broke? (Psalm 51:4) You may well try to pay yourself a debt owed to another (not the best analogy, but it’s what comes to mind).

Please understand, I’m not here undermining the guilt that persists even after having confessed sin. The guilt is very real, even after the person knows God has forgiven them. But what’s the real problem behind that? Is it a failure to forgive yourself? Or is it, perhaps, really a failure to believe yourself really forgiven, whatever it was you did? That seems to fit more both with my experience and my understanding of the matter.

Maybe we should say what, it seems to me, we really mean: allow yourself to RECIEVE God’s forgiveness.

Or how do YOU see it?

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