Forgiving One’s Self :: by Grant Phillips

One of the hardest things for Christians to do is to forgive ourselves. I know. I’ve been there. You have too, if you will admit it. We all have.

If, as a child of God, we ask His forgiveness for sin that has harmed our fellowship with Him, He has promised to forgive us. I’ll come back to this later.

I’m going to switch horses and talk about getting saved first, and then I’ll switch back to forgiving one’s self as a Christian.

People have come up with all kinds of ways to help God out with getting saved. Churches have split over these issues. New churches have formed over these issues. People have squabbled, pouted, and defriended over these issues.

One church teaches that unless you belong to their group you are not saved. There’s another group that does not teach that, but they send the same message by their actions.

Some teach that unless you’re baptized you are not saved. Others go even further and say that you must be immersed and not sprinkled in order to be saved.

One group says one must partake of the Lord’s Supper (Communion) every Sunday to stay saved.

And then there are those who won’t allow a musical instrument in the church service since surely a ‘real’ Christian would not have a musical instrument in the church.

There are several groups that teach being saved, and keeping it, require a dress code. I suppose if you break the dress code you’re out.

Many church groups I am aware of teach that works, to one degree or another, absolutely must be involved or salvation can’t be had. (Actually, all of these sound like ‘works’ to me.)

I’m sure I’ve left out many requirements that churches have come up with for salvation, but God requires only one.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

I happened to remember while inserting the Ephesians 2:8-9 verses that there are also those who adamantly oppose any translation that is not the King James Version (KJV). I guess if you use any other version you’re out of luck. So there’s another one.

When I read what God says about ‘getting saved,’ I don’t see anything about Bible versions, dress codes, musical instruments, Communion, water baptism, etc. God does have something to say about works however; i.e. “Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Now for those who require water baptism for salvation, consider what the Apostle Peter has to say in the following verse.

“After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits—to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. (1 Peter 3:19-22 NIV)

In order not to drag this out, “baptism” means “to identify with.” When we hear the word “baptism” we most always think of ‘water.’ Peter makes it clear that it is not water that saves but “the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.” How can we have a “clear conscience toward God?” It is accomplished “through faith” (Ephesians 2:8) in Jesus Christ. When we make that pledge of faith, we know all our sins are forgiven and then we are able to have “a clear conscience toward God.” (1 Peter 3:21)

So, regardless of what anyone, any church, any denomination, or any group of any kind says about “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30), the only correct answer, God’s answer, is “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31) That same answer is sprinkled everywhere in God’s holy word, the Bible, and it never varies.

When Jesus saves us we are born again in Him (John 3:3) and ALL our sins are forgiven (Psalm 103:2-3; Romans 8:1). Then someone says, “But, but, but, but, but ….” There are no “buts.” The word “but” is a conjunction of contrast, simply meaning something has been added, changed, or refuted. God provided no “buts” in His message of the Gospel.

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, again makes it clear that our salvation rests in our resting our faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Jesus says we must believe in Him (John 9:35). John repeats the same message in 1 John 5:13. Jesus says in Matthew 7:21; 12:50 that only those who do the will of the Father will enter the kingdom of Heaven. What is the will of the Father?

“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40 NIV)

Mankind is very proficient at sinning. (Romans 3:23) That’s what we do best. That is why we need a Redeemer to buy us back from sin’s slave market. Only the Redeemer can do that, and it is available to those who will do the Father’s will. To those who do the Father’s will, ALL our sins are forgiven and laid upon the one, the Redeemer, who died for us. We are saved and forgiven because of His wonderful grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Now, let us return to “forgiving one’s self.” As a Christian, I am still in this earthly body and I will continue to sin until I am with the Lord in Heaven. What happens when I sin? I do not lose my salvation, because all my sins, even those I have not committed as yet, are paid for by the Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

When I was saved, I was adopted, born again. I wasn’t adopted by just anyone. I was adopted into the family of Almighty God. I am now His child. When I sin I am disobeying Him, just as I disobeyed my earthly parents at times.

When I disobeyed my earthly parents, the fellowship was broken. The same is true when I disobey my Heavenly Father. I’m still the child of my earthly parents, and I’m still the child of my Heavenly Father, but I have caused an uncomfortableness (to say the least) between us. It is said that “confession is good for the soul,” and it is.

“I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.” (Psalm 32:5)

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

In Psalm 32:5 a child of God, King David, was confessing his sins to the Father and asking forgiveness.

1 John 1:9 is a promise to any child of God that if we confess our sins to Him, He will forgive those sins and even cleanse us from all others that have made us unrighteous before Him.

Now for the problem that I stated in the very first sentence, “One of the hardest things for Christians to do is to forgive ourselves.”

When we ask God’s forgiveness but still have doubts about, “Did He really forgive me? I’ve been as low as road scum. I don’t see how He could forgive me,” we are in effect calling God a liar. Remember that Jesus said in John 8:44 that Satan “is a liar, and the father of it.” Now maybe you don’t mind putting God in the same classification as Satan, but not me.

Let’s close with the final thought, and that is; if we confess our sins, our Father, true to His word, will forgive us. Now we need to do the same. If we cannot forgive ourselves, we in effect try to usurp power over and above God. If God can forgive His own sinful child, who do we think we are to question it? Are we better than God? Are we nobler?

If we as a child of God refuse to forgive ourselves, we question the very veracity of God. If we are a child of God, let us confess it (and forsake the sin by the way), believe Him and not allow Satan to continue whispering in our ear, “YOU DON’T DESERVE IT!” Of course, we don’t deserve it! That’s why it’s called “grace.” And God does not lie.

If you are not a child of God, you too can be forgiven and adopted into the family of Almighty God by placing your faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Folks, the bottom line is; when it comes to forgiveness, remember those doubts come from the great deceiver, the devil, Satan. Don’t allow him to make you miserable. Believe what God says. Accept it, and He will remove that load from your shoulders so you can truly be free to serve Him.

Uh oh, I’m hearing, “but, but, but, but” again. “But what if I sin again?” You will. “But what if I commit the same sin again?” You may do just that. I’ll give you Jesus’ answer to that.

“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22)

Any child of God, who is truly repentant of their sins and comes before God seeking forgiveness, WILL BE FORGIVEN. Yes, there will be those who will try to “pull one over” on Him, but He knows who they are, and I would not want to be in their shoes if they don’t come to their senses.

Forgive yourselves and rejoice that He has forgiven you.

Grant Phillips