Is it a good idea to forgive yourself? Sounds so Christian, doesn’t it?
Well, the bad news is that forgiving yourself is like trying to feel loved by hugging yourself. It is like trying to feel connected by texting yourself. It’s like affirming your self-worth by carrying around a picture of yourself. Something is missing.
A Hebrew proverb tells us, “He who forgives his own sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
So, save yourself the exercise of working to forgive yourself. That is worldly wisdom’s prescription. God says, “He who forgives his own sin does not prosper.”
After committing serious sin here’s what David learned about real forgiveness and getting rid of guilt:
Blessed is he
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered (i.e. “forgiven” — not by David, but by God).
Blessed is the man
whose sin the LORD does not count against him
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up (same word as in Proverbs 28:13) my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”—
and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
The Bible offers clear direction. Stop trying to forgive yourself. Stop trying to make excuses. Stop trying to minimize your own sins. Stop trying to cover your own tracks in your own mind. Instead, “confess and renounce” your sins (Psalm 28:13).
Go direct to God, but do an about-face and go direct to the person you have offended.
It’s good to tell God—but not fine to tell God only. Jesus said, “go and be reconciled with your brother” (Matt. 5:24).
Jesus’ sibling said, “confess your sins to each other … so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).
So, admit the sin to yourself—sure. Confess to God—absolutely, because all sin is an offense to him. But don’t stop there—confess to the person you have injured.
Then God says he will take away your guilt, you will find mercy and prosper.
Now that’s something to celebrate.