“I just can’t forgive myself.” I have heard that painful sentence many times over the years. I’ve thought it many times myself. Sometimes there is even a sense in which we’re confident God has forgiven us, but we don’t “feel forgiven” or “I can’t forgive myself.” What to do? While obviously not exhaustive, here are a few things:
- Be sure that you know and have embraced the gospel.
The good news of the gospel is not that God is ok with your sin. The gospel is that you/my sin is so horrendous the sinless Son of God had to die in our place. All of God’s anger for our sin was placed on Christ (1 John 4:10). The Bible says repeatedly you can be forgiven if you come to Christ in repentance and faith. Have you done that?
- As a Christian, repent and confess quickly.
As a Christian, you will still at times choose to sin and rebel against God. As God points out your specific sin, run to God in repentance and not from God in shame.
(- see “The Moment Everything Changes” message here)
(- see “Give God Your Guilt” message here)
- Provide restitution as necessary.
One of the signs we have truly repented, is that we try to provide tangible restitution to anyone our sin has affected. The poster boy for this is Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10. That might include an apology, money, etc.
- Saturate yourself with the gospel.
There could be a number of reasons ‘you can’t forgive yourself’ (religion, your own standard, what other people think about you, etc.) But the solution is definitely a saturation of the gospel and what God says about your sin and forgiveness. Where God says ‘it’s forgiven’ and you say ‘I can’t forgive myself’ – you are showing that your opinion is carrying more weight than God’s! Take to heart and memorize what God has said – and over a period of time His voice will begin to shout loudest. Some Scriptures you could put to memory are: