What about “forgiving yourself?”


I was asked today what to tell someone who says that they know God has forgiven them, but they can’t “forgive themselves.”

So, I did a Bible study, looking out all of the forms of the word “forgive.”

The concept of “self-forgiveness” is not found anywhere in the Bible.

The word “forgive” and its forms (forgiveness, forgivenesses, forgiveth, and forgiving) appears 70 times in 62 verses.  It is always about someone forgiving a party who has done them wrong, or God forgiving a sin.  (Or not!) Not a single time can I find “forgiveness” to refer to someone forgiving themselves of something.

And this makes sense.

Our sins — particularly our sins against God — are for God to forgive:

Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

There is no “self-forgiveness.” Believers have forgiveness in Christ, from the only one who can bestow such forgiveness.

And we are, of course, to forgive others:

Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

I suppose that when someone feels the need to “forgive themselves,” and can’t, they are really experiencing unresolved guilt. To me, the answer to that is to recognize that your sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake. Remorse is good. Holding on to guilt is not.

God forgave you. Whether or not you feel like you can forgive yourself doesn’t measure up to anything against that.

  1. #1 by Forrest on March 9, 2010 - 1:28 pm

    Good truth, Brandon. Appropriate the reality of who and what we’ve become in Christ!

  2. #2 by theSpicket on May 14, 2010 - 9:28 pm

    I’ll go you one further: in refusing to forgive yourself, you are saying some pretty serious things to God. First of all, you’re trampling on the blood of the Son of man, which was shed on your behalf specificaly so your sins could be forgiven. You’re also saying that your own sense of justice is of higher value and greater consequence than the justice of the living God. And let’s just face the true motive behind your self-condemnation: you wish to appear repentant. However, there is no need for this; simply repent, and let the matter be settled on the basis of the true, Biblical faith once entrusted to you!

  3. #3 by Steve Billiter on May 20, 2010 - 2:52 pm

    I really think that forgiving yourself is tied in with God forgiving us through Christ. Then we have real peace.
    When God forgives us as we repent, then that should be it.
    Php 4:7 And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (AKJV)

  4. #4 by tarawa1943 on June 10, 2010 - 10:25 am

    Brandon

    Your a blessing, thanks be to G-d for all you do for the cause of the Messiah!

    (and repent with a pure and honest confession)

    1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

  5. #5 by Chloe Cummings on October 6, 2010 - 9:01 am

    I this message is exactly what I have been telling my clients and those whom I share with. Most all are surprised at this BIBLICAL TRUTH. Being the one to forgive self replaces God who is the one who forgives. I have refered people to this web site many many times. Thank you for your ministry.

  6. #6 by Billy Joe Grace on October 30, 2010 - 6:13 am

    To not forgive ones self is will worship, lacking trust in Him and His finished work. We must have a clean conscience in His sight and ours. You can’t have that without faith in what He has done. Trusting Him is repentance, not forgiving ones self.

  7. #7 by Phillip Paul Thomas on March 12, 2011 - 10:20 am

    One is never told in Scripture to forgive one’s self. One is told in Scripture to die to one’s self! It is God alone against whom we have sinned.
    Psalms 51:4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

  8. #8 by William Brannan on September 30, 2011 - 11:43 am

    The whole problem is one of fixing our eyes on ourselves rather than upon Christ. Then we choose to believe our own perceptions rather than believing what Jesus has done for us on the cross.

  9. #9 by Tom on March 16, 2012 - 4:06 pm

    This is not scripture, but it is beautiful. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus”

    Words & Music: , 1922.

    This hymn was first pub­lished in Glad Songs, by the Brit­ish Na­tion­al Sun­day School Un­ion. Its lyr­ics were in­spired by the Gos­pel tract Fo­cused, by Lil­i­as Trot­ter, which in­clud­ed these words:

    So then, turn your eyes upon Him, look full in­to His face and you will find that the things of earth will ac­quire a strange new dim­ness.

    O soul, are you weary and troubled?
    No light in the darkness you see?
    There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
    And life more abundant and free!

    Refrain

    Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
    Look full in His wonderful face,
    And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
    In the light of His glory and grace.

    Through death into life everlasting
    He passed, and we follow Him there;
    Over us sin no more hath dominion—
    For more than conquerors we are!

    Refrain

    His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
    Believe Him, and all will be well:
    Then go to a world that is dying,
    His perfect salvation to tell!

    Refrain

  10. #10 by aaron on April 23, 2012 - 9:30 am

    God clean us from all our sins and we should fix our eyes on Jesus…
    but still I want to make him happy by my works…
    and that makes me more sad and guilty many times…
    thanks for sharing

  11. #11 by Brian K. Malloy on September 19, 2012 - 11:58 pm

    I have found through research that self forgiveness is not Biblical, and the more I looked into it, it was revealed to me that the reason we struggle with it is due to the fact that we are attempting to do something we do not have the power to do! God is the one who forgives us! So the problem isn’t the forgiving ourselves it is believing that we are forgiven and accepting that forgiveness.

    • #12 by cindy on April 21, 2013 - 12:02 pm

      Can you please quote any verses found in the Bible that support the idea that the problem is ‘believing that we are forgiven and accepting forgiveness”?
      I also think that ‘self-forgiveness’ doesn’t make sense because when we ask for forgiveness, we ask another person, or God, not ourselves. If we did anything that hurt somebody or that broke God’s rules then we must apologize to either that person, to God, or to both.

  12. #13 by Mary on December 27, 2012 - 10:34 am

    It is a miracle that I do not need to forgive myself because I have not been able to. I accept with a grateful heart that my Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ forgives me. Accepting that I am forgiven and not being concerned over my forgiving myself allows me to forget about myself and see My Forgiver. Thank You God. I love You with all my heart.

  13. #14 by Bible Quotes on July 11, 2014 - 1:00 pm

    Being the one to forgive self replaces God who is the one who forgives. I have refered people to this web site many many times. Thank you for your ministry.

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