Sometimes forgiving yourself can be the hardest thing.
A person can acknowledge all the aspects of God’s plan to save us. They can believe the Son of God became human. They will acknowledge that Jesus lived and died for the forgiveness of sins. They just can’t believe that the promise of forgiveness could be extended to them.
More than likely, if you are that person, something very heartbreaking happened. You did something, said something and the result was irreversibly bad. I heard the story of a young man who was driving his friends around in his car. The car was packed, and he asked a girl to move from the front seat to the back seat. While on their trip and friend told a joke. When you laugh hard, you can take your eyes off the road for a second. He did. The road was curvy and close to trees. In a fraction of a second, the car left the road and hit a tree. Oddly, the girl who was moved to the back was killed. Grief and guilt didn’t leave this man for decades. He doubted that he could be forgiven. He didn’t forgive himself. Spiritual crisis, depression and alcohol abuse stalked him for years.
He was the driver, but we all commit the error of looking away from the road and get away with perhaps multiple times a day. The Law says, “Thou Shalt Not Kill”, but there was not malicious intent here. You couldn’t even say that there was a sin. It was just an accident and they happen all the time.
Not forgiving yourself can come from many other situations much more serious than that. Those who kill in war are often plagued with such guilt. Careless words that contribute to a suicide could do it. Neglect of children, abuse, years squandered on drug abuse all can have intractable consequences for others. Should you even be forgiven in such a case?
I want you to know how comprehensive the death of Jesus really is when it comes to forgiveness. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them them. But whoever blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilt of an eternal sin.” There are many horrible sins in this world, but only one is unforgivable, and it is a sin that is not easily done. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would require you to see a miraculous work of the Spirit and attribute that to Satan. Everything else: murder, rape, genocide even profane worship is forgivable if a person repents and believes the promise of God.
In other words, if you can’t forgive yourself, it is probably not because God can’t forgive you. The road to wholeness is to hear this promise of God, realize what Jesus has done for this to be true and confess whatever is eating you up to someone trusted. Real forgiveness and real healing is not that far away.
Hear a podcast of a sermon on this topic from March 21, 2018: