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“Is it Biblical to Forgive Ourselves?” by Jim Ricci, Pastor of Counseling

There is nothing in the Bible that mentions forgiving yourself.  Such a concept is unbiblical and worldly.

Forgiveness is from the one against whom you have sinned.  Ultimately, when we sin, we sin against God and break His law.  Also, sometimes our sin can be against another person when we break the Law of God.

For example, if we lie to a person, we have sinned against God and that person—in that case, we need to receive forgiveness from both.

To seek forgiveness from yourself would be to ask yourself to forgive yourself for what you’ve done against yourself.  This doesn’t make any sense.  We are not the ones who make moral laws that we can break—rather, God does that.  Forgiving yourself just doesn’t make sense.

The Bible tells us much about forgiveness, about forgiving each other, being forgiven by God, but never about forgiving ourselves.

  • Eph. 4:32, “And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
  • Colossians 3:13, “bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”
  • 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
  • There are only two commandments in the Bible, love God and love your neighbor (Luke 10:27).  There is not a third commandments that says, “Love Yourself.”  Loving yourself is always implied!

But, people feel guilty and need to be released.

The idea of forgiving yourself carries with it the implication of guilt and the need to be released from the guilt.  Sometimes we Christians do things that are truly regrettable, and the remnants of our sin haunt us.  Usually, it is in this context that someone might say a person needs to forgive himself, but again this is unbiblical.

Our forgiveness comes from God because, ultimately, it is God against whom we have sinned.  If you are carrying guilt because of sin and you can’t seem to get rid of it, then you need to realize that there is no sin you have committed that cannot be cleansed by the loving sacrifice of Christ.  It is not an issue of you forgiving yourself.  The issue is whether or not God forgives you.  Go to the cross and know that Jesus has already forgiven you, loves you, and will receive you to Himself.

It wasn’t you who died on the cross for sin.  It was Jesus Christ!  So, why look to yourself for forgiveness?  What you might be dealing with are disjointed feelings that are all messed up because of an unbiblical view of God.  Forgiving yourself is not the way out of that.  Accepting the true forgiveness from God through Christ is!

 

 

(Jim Ricci was the Associative Pastor and Care and Counseling Pastor at Cranston Christian Fellowship in Rhode Island from 1989 to 2017. He is now the Executive Director at Aletheia Counseling Ministries in Warwick, RI.)