Self-Forgiveness is sticky theologically because we have no authority to forgive ourselves, only God can do it. However, we often speak of “being hard on ourselves,” “beating myself up about it,” etc. Therefore, if we speak to ourselves with such negativity, I believe it is wise to speak positive statements to ourselves to replace the negativity.
“Totally forgiving ourselves is accepting God’s forgiveness of all our past sins so completely that we equally let ourselves off the hook for our pasts as God himself has done.” (Page 6 How to Forgive Ourselves – Totally by RT Kendall)
Why is it Difficult Forgiving Yourself?
1. We punish ourselves as a penance, to keep us from ever doing it again. We feel that we need the pain to remind us. The memory of the pain is enough to remind us.
2. You may think wrongly about forgiveness and false meanings may apply to you.
a. If you forgive yourself, you condone your behavior. (False)
b. Forgiving yourself enables you to do it again. (False)
c. Forgiving yourself removes the motivation for you to change. (False)
d. Forgiving yourself lets you get away with it. (False)
How Do I Forgive Myself? Confession and Be Truly Forgiven by God
1. Recognize, Take Responsibility, Repent, Renounce, Replace.
a. Confession is essential to receiving forgiveness from God.
b. Confessing to another is powerful and healing (James 5:16).
c. Write the specific sins and ask forgiveness for each individual act of rebellion.
d. Once you have confessed the specifics, receive forgiveness–and experience the power of forgiveness– through Jesus (He died to take our sins.) (1 John 1:9).
e. Imagine a cross with Jesus on it – every sin you are confessing goes away from you and into the cross.
f. Remember that God loves an honest heart of repentance and our
pride fights against it. Nothing is more healing to a relationship than honesty and courage.
Confession and Receiving God’s Forgiveness is Essential Before Declaring Forgiveness for Yourself.
Confession to another person is often helpful for areas of life that continue to plague us and continue to produce guilt. (James 5:16 Confess your sins one to another and pray for one another so that you may be healed.)
Sample Prayer of Confession
“Heavenly Father, I confess my sin in this event (be specific). I knew that it was wrong and I did it anyway. I confess my rebellion in going against You. I quenched and grieved the Holy Spirit who was trying to help me through my conscience.
I confess my worship of money, sex, and my reputation as evidenced by (be specific).
I confess every time that I have participated in _____________(be specific).
I confess my betrayal of trust in this relationship ____________ (be specific).
I confess my lust (defined as wanting good things but not waiting for God’s timing) for food, money, sex, material goods that has drawn me into sin.
I confess that I do not see myself with Your eyes of love but am harsh and condemning in my speech to myself and others.
I confess my sin of unbelief, trusting in what I can see and not trusting You. (This kept the Israelites out of the Promised Land and I don’t want to be kept out of my Promised Land.) (Hebrews 3:19).
I confess my jealousy of _________ (name of specific person) for their ___________ (blessing). I know that grieves You because I have overlooked or devalued the gifts You have given me. Thank You for (my gifts) and I bless ____________ (name of person) with even more gifts from You.
I confess my anger when ____________ (be specific). Please show me what I am afraid of so that I can confess my fear/unbelief.
I confess my fear of _____________ (be specific). Please show me where it came from so that I can remove the root.
I confess that I do not love You with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength. Nor do I love my neighbor as myself. Please help me.
I confess my resentment/bitterness toward____________ (name of person).”
Sample Declaration of Forgiveness for Myself (after Receiving God’s Forgiveness)
Since I have been forgiven by the highest court in the universe and my penalty has been paid, I I purpose and choose to forgive myself for (specifics). My standard cannot be higher than God’s. If He has set me free, I declare myself free. It does not matter how I feel or what others my feel or say. Only the sins of pride or fear will keep me tied to my past. My Heavenly Father loves me and treats me as I would treat a child that I love. He wants me to move on from despair, self-pity and self-obsession because He has wonderful plans for my future (Jer. 29:11). The consequences of my sin may remind me of my sin but I refuse to feel guilty. He promises to work everything, (even my sin) for my good (Rom. 8:28) and He is NOT angry with me. His wrath was poured out on Jesus on the cross so that I could have a relationship with Him. There is nothing I can do to deserve this love, but He chose me and I choose to love Him in return. I show my love for Him by believing that I am forgiven and acting like I am forgiven, no matter what anyone says. This includes being kind, joyful and encouraging to myself and others.
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