Forgiveness is to excuse someone from fault or an offense. Basically, it means to no longer hold anger and resentment against someone because of an offense. Most of the time we think about forgiveness in reference to others. As the offender, we seek forgiveness from others and as the offended, we have to forgive others. Sometimes in all the things that surround hurt feelings, anger, and resentment, we forget to forgive ourselves. Have you committed murder? Have you stolen something? Have you cheated on your spouse? Have you beat or raped someone? Have you abused a child? Have you been an alcoholic or a drug addict? I just wanted to name a few incidents that our society considers to be “big” sins; but, the list of offenses is long and never-ending. Because of the shame or guilty of our offenses, we feel that we just cannot forgive ourselves. I think that withholding forgiveness from oneself is based on 3 things: trying to live up to our own standard of righteousness, trying to live up to others’ standard of righteousness, and not understanding the righteousness of God.
We cannot forgive ourselves because it has been ingrained in our character through our upbringing or society that we can somehow reach perfection within ourselves. We are in a society that is based on the false sense of self-perfection. So, when we commit offenses to others, we feel that we have fallen short of perfection and we have to continually pay penance for our actions; thus, withhold forgiveness from ourselves. The truth is we can never be righteousness enough in our own actions; our righteousness is in Jesus Christ. God wrote the Ten Commandment (The Law) to show us His standard of righteousness and to show mankind that they need a Savior to achieve His level of righteousness (Romans 3:20). Christ is the sacrificial atonement for our sins past, present, and future. God forgives our sin through Jesus Christ. Once we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in our lives, we can ask God for forgiveness, repent of our sins, and continue living without shame or guilt. We need to accept that there is nobody on this Earth that is perfect; but, we are perfected through Jesus Christ. We must believe that a merciful, loving God has forgiven us of our sins; therefore, we need to forgive ourselves.
The second reason we cannot forgive ourselves is based on others’ standard of righteousness. Sometimes, we cannot move away from the shame and guilt because of other people constantly reminding us of our past and present shortcomings. This type of behavior is a reflection of their own ignorance concerning forgiveness according to the Word of God. How can anyone feel they can hold another person hostage to their offenses; but expect freedom from their own human frailties? When we have no compassion for others’ faults; we have formed our own sense of righteousness concerning others (Romans 3:23). Unfortunately, our society still weighs sin. We somehow think if I have not committed one of your sins, than I am able to hold that sin against you forever. We need to know that God has no “favorites” when it comes to sinful behavior. We need to understand that no matter the degree of sin, God hates all sin. God is love and sin is the direct opposite of His nature. All sin has to be atoned which is only through Jesus Christ. Where the Spirit of the Lord lives there is freedom; so we should never let others’ opinions or perception put us in bondage (2 Corinthians 3:17). We need to stop withholding forgiveness from others and be obedient to God’s Word.
Understanding God’s righteousness is the key to understanding forgiveness. When God looks at us, he sees the blood of Jesus which purifies us of all our human faults and mistakes. He sees the completed picture of us through Jesus Christ. Understanding your relationship with God through Jesus Christ takes all of the pressure off and allows us to have an intimate relationship with Him. Nothing or nobody can bind us to our past, present, or future because our freedom is in Jesus. Jesus’ trip to Calvary paid the price for all our shortcomings and redeemed us back in fellowship with God. There is no reason to allow forgiveness to stop us from being an effective witness of God’s glory. Withholding forgiveness from yourself is a trick of the Enemy and a sin. Remember, God does not hold our sins against us because of the blood of Jesus. Our sins are removed and never to be brought up anymore (Psalm 103:12). Mankind should embrace the same concept. If God can forgive us, we have to forgive others, and we certainly have to forgive ourselves.