The Challenge: Forgiving Ourselves
1 John 3:20
Have you ever heard someone say, “I know God has forgiven me, but I’ll never be able to forgive myself”? While such self-condemnation can spring from several sources, it is, in any case, an enemy the Lord has already defeated. Romans 8:1 tells us, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This encouraging statement covers all condemnation, including self-recrimination. How, then, should we deal with those condemning voices?
First of all, we need to distinguish between remorse and guilt. We are right to feel sorrow and remorse for past deeds, but to carry guilt for them is not necessary. The Bible assures us that if we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive us (1 John 1:9). Any lingering feelings of guilt after this are enemies trying to rob us of our freedom in Christ.
Sometimes these feelings of guilt stem from the mistaken notion that we still must pay for our sins, so we unconsciously embrace perpetual remorse as a way to make restitution for past wrongs. Such a practice suggests the faulty idea that Jesus’ precious blood wasn’t sufficient to cover all of the sins from our past, present, and future. Once we finally realize that He has stamped “paid in full” on our account, then we must never dare to side with those who would have us believe otherwise.
Since our heavenly Father has given us His Word, we can reject all accusing voices and rest on His promise: “For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things” (1 John 3:20).