Home > Biblical Counseling, Posts by Mark, Truth in Love Staff > “I can’t forgive myself!”

“I can’t forgive myself!”


Where’s the Bible say we are to forgive ourselves?

I thought sins were against God and others? The consequences of sin hurt us but when we sin, we need God’s forgiveness – not our own forgiveness!

I hear this phrase a lot – “I can’t forgive myself!” – and I think they mean that they are struggling with the guilt and shame of their sinful actions. They are having trouble getting over their sinful choice. I understand that – feeling so stupid because you knew better than to make the sinful choice yet did it anyway. Paul says something about that in Romans 7:15 “what I hate, I do.”

In some ways, I think we realize, “I can’t believe I did this and now I can’t believe I have to deal with the consequences of this.” It’s terrible and there’s no reverse. We can never go back to the moments before the sinful choice when we had the opportunity to say “no” to sin and “yes” to God. Just like Adam and Eve could not go back into the Garden of Eden – they were banished.

God forgives us. We live in His grace and mercy when we accept His forgiveness of our sins through Jesus Christ. We need His forgiveness and then we need to TRUST HIM that He has forgiven us according to His Word in I John – “He is is just and faithful to forgive us…” I trust God at His Word.

I heard someone on the radio say that saying, “I know God forgives me, but I can’t forgive myself!” is like saying Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins aren’t enough.

Now, ask Him to forgive you and believe in faith He does because of Jesus Christ. You may not feel different at first so re-train your mind by focusing your thoughts on Christ and not yourself. You do not need your own forgiveness. In fact, there is no such thing because you sinned against God. The kingdom is about the King, it’s not about you! You need the King’s forgiveness and He gives it freely!

Biblical counseling hinges upon God’s forgiveness of our sins!

Now, I think the phrase ought to be, “I can’t believe I sinned against You, God! Please forgive me and be gracious to me in the consequences of my sin.”

-Mark (looking to Christ for forgiveness and not myself)

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  1. Michael Olvey
    June 1, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Mark I appreciate this blog. Many well meaning “christian counselors” use this same phraseology in their counseling, ie., telling their counselee that they must learn to forgive themselves. We certainly expect to hear this sort of thing from the non-faith oriented counselors. When having this discusion with many faith based counselors my frustration is that they do not understand what you have said and can not even comprehend what you are saying. I believe the main reason is that this “lie” has been so engrained over the years that it simply sounds normal. I think this subject fall under “tearing down strongholds” in Scripture.

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