Forgive Yourself–Go Forward in Joy

Forgive yourself? Just can’t do it?

We’ve talked about regret and learned from David, the king of Israel, who had a colossal failure. He slept with another man’s wife, got her pregnant, and tried to cover his sin by arranging for her husband to be killed in battle so she could become his wife. How would he ever recover from those horrendous choices?

David confessed his sin, accepted God’s forgiveness, and spent the rest of his life honoring God.

What if he had refused to forgive himself and spent the rest of his days wallowing in regret? People do.

Choosing to forgive yourself can be more difficult than forgiving others.

We confess our sin to God, believing he promised to forgive—but we just don’t feel forgiven. Knowing we don’t deserve forgiveness, we stay stuck…unable to move forward.

Jesus didn’t give his life on the cross because we deserved forgiveness. In his great compassion and mercy, he died and rose from the grave to give us what we don’t deserve—forgiveness and eternal life. He covered our sin with his own blood. Listen to this. “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame” (Psalm 34:5).

What’s your colossal failure? If you’ve confessed it, why wouldn’t Jesus respond the same way he spoke to the woman caught in adultery? “Then neither do I condemn you…Go now and leave your life of sin” (see John 8:1-11).

She couldn’t change her past but she could choose her future.

Jesus said about another woman who had lived a sinful life: “…her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little” (Luke 7:47).

Because God has forgiven your great failure, you have a great capacity to love him.

Because God has forgiven your great failure, you have a great capacity to love him. Click To Tweet

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

“If you have made a great mistake in your life, do not let it becloud all of it; but, locking the secret in your breast, compel it to yield strength and sweetness” (Streams in the Desert February 24).

We don’t have to badger the Lord by continuing to confess a failure he’s already forgiven. When the enemy brings it to mind, thank God for his mercy and praise him. If you still don’t feel forgiven, remember the Holy Spirit convicts. An accusing, condemning voice is from the enemy, who loves reminding us of our unworthiness.

Brother Lawrence, renowned for the little book The Practice of the Presence of God, desired above all to live in the presence of God and to make the love of God the end of all his actions. Here’s how he moved forward after failure.

“When he had failed in his duty, he only confessed his fault, saying to God, I shall never do otherwise if You leave me to myself; it is You who must hinder my falling and amend what is amiss…after this he gave himself no further uneasiness about it” (page 15-16).

Do you need help learning how to forgive yourself? Start here.

  • Live by decision, operating on fact. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We confess. He forgives and purifies. Fact.
  • Choose to forget the past. Paul wrote, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). Being realistic, we don’t forget. But we choose to put the matter out of mind. Top two reasons for forgetting the past: it wasn’t very good; it’s unchangeable.
  • Go forward with joy and thanksgiving: “…he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him: as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:10-12). Who wrote that? David, the king with the messy bio.

If you’re struggling under a load of regret and guilt, this prayer will help you move forward.

Lord, I choose to forgive myself. I’ve confessed my sin but guilt still overwhelms me. I accept your forgiveness. I trust that you have removed my sins as far as the east is from the west and that you do not to hold the past against me. Help me go forward, living for your glory. I pray in the precious name of Jesus, who purchased me with his own blood. Amen.

Go forward relying on the indwelling Holy Spirit to fill you with love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Live like you’re forgiven. Because you are!

Live like you're forgiven. Because you are! Click To Tweet

Whether the failure is large or small, most people struggle to forgive themselves and leave the past behind. Would you share your comments? And please send this to your friends!

© Dianne Barker 2018

2 responses to “Forgive Yourself–Go Forward in Joy”

  1. “Because God has forgiven your great failure, you have a great capacity to love him.” Wow, this line is so powerful, Dianne. Crazy how we think God doesn’t forgive us as if He goes back on His own Word. Forgiveness is never separated from His character. Forgiveness is who God is. And David is the prime example. Our lives, too, exemplify God’s great forgiveness.

    I’m living like I’m forgiven…because I am! Hallelujah!

  2. You’ve got it, Karen! We do not need to be enslaved to our past. Our gracious Lord pours out forgiveness and grace so we can move forward, sharing his love and hope!

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