I Can’t Forgive Myself

Have you ever heard anyone say that? ?Occasionally I hear believers say they know that God forgives them but they can?t forgive themselves.? What’s going on when we say we can?t forgive ourselves?

First, it reveals a lack of understanding or appreciation of the gospel.

We?re saying that what Jesus did on the cross wasn?t enough. ?Oh, the cross was enough to satisfy God and purchase his forgiveness, but it wasn?t enough to merit our own forgiveness. ?It suggests that we have a higher standard than God himself. We are saying we expect more of ourselves than God does. ?Of course no believer would consciously say they have a higher standard than God but that is what?s implied.

Next, it reveals a lack of understanding of the depth of our own sinfulness.

If we can?t forgive ourselves it means that we think we should be better than to fall into sin. ?We actually think we?re pretty good and shouldn?t fail like that.? It’s a subtle form of pride.

Actually, we?re all much worse than we think we are.

That?s helpful for me to remember. ?No matter how bad I think I am, I?m worse. ?I sin in ways I don?t even realize. ?I fail to please God in a thousand ways I don?t know about.? The sins I become aware of are only the tip of the iceberg.

This doesn’t depress me though.? Getting a glimpse of my sinfulness makes the love of God displayed on the cross even more amazing.

God, the Holy One of the universe, the one who is infinitely holier than we can even imagine, forgives every single one of our wicked, foul sins when we turn to Jesus because of the amazing, incredible, powerful redemption accomplished on the cross. He saves those who are worse than they even know.

When we sin, rather than berating ourselves because we failed again, rather than saying I can?t believe I could do such a thing or fail again, we should first be humbled, that God in his kindness would allow us to see once again our need for a Savior. ?We should yet again come boldly to the throne of grace for mercy and help in time of need. ?And we should praise our Father for the incredible provision of his Son to cover all our sins and his astounding patience and forbearance with us.

So rejoice! ?You?re worse than you thought you were.

But there?s a Savior who?s greater than we know.

photo by fakelvis

Mark Altrogge

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.