Quite often someone tells me that they have no problem believing that God is willing and has actually forgiven them. The problem is that they cannot forgive themselves for what they have said or done. This sent me on a study in the Scriptures to find the Bible portion about forgiving yourself. There are many references to our need of confessing and seeking God for forgiveness (1 John 1:9). There are also many places where the importance of forgiving others is stressed as in the prayer the Lord taught His disciples, “forgive us…as we forgive those that trespass against us” (Matthew 6:12). But nowhere can you find a Bible lesson on how to forgive yourself.
This presents quite a challenge to some believers as they struggle to get past the guilt of something that they did especially to a loved one. In the prison setting I often find inmates that cannot forgive themselves for the damage their crimes have caused in the lives of their spouses, children or parents. No matter how many times they are assured that God has forgiven them they just cannot let go of the overwhelming remorse concerning their failure as a parent, spouse, or adult child.
Even though there isn’t a specific Biblical portion about self-forgiveness, God does know that we need it. I believe that is why it says in 1 John 1:9, “…He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I believe that “unrighteousness” covers that awful feeling of guilt and remorse. David said, “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness” (Psalm 51:14) expressing the weight of his regret and sorrow over what he had done. God has given us the remedy for self-forgiveness by providing such a thorough forgiveness and cleansing when we fully confess our sin and guilt to Him. As He grants us forgiveness and restores our relationship with Him, we should embrace His cleansing to heal our guilty souls.