forgive02I received the following question:

Is there any verse in the Bible which says anything about the concept of “forgiving yourself”?  Just a thought.

That is a good question. The concept of forgiveness and pardon in the Bible is largely an issue that relates to the interaction of the LORD with people. He is the one who forgives their iniquities and their sins.

Psalm 130:4:
But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.

Exodus 34:6-7:
6. And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7. keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”

Psalm 25:18:
Look on my affliction and my pain,
And forgive all my sins.

When men are called upon to forgive, it is regarding each other, as in the following passages:

Matthew 6:14-15:
14. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Mark 11:25:
25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”

Ephesians 4:32:
32. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

We know that the first two are for the past dispensation. In the last, the word for “forgive” is actually the word for “grace.” We are to show grace to each other.

The modern concept of self-forgiveness is not one that is found in Scripture. From the Bible’s standpoint, it seems that forgiving yourself is not something that God’s Word is concerned with. When one has done wrong, it is first of all with God, and second of all with the one wronged that forgiveness must be sought. When one is forgiven by God, he is forgiven indeed. The question of self-forgiveness largely ignores the truth that God is the One Who forgives. Those who do not believe in God cannot look to Him for the absolution of sins, so perhaps it makes sense in the environment we live in that men would speak of self-forgiveness.

The struggle some people have with “forgiving themselves” could perhaps more accurately from a believer’s perspective be categorized as failing to believe in the forgiveness offered by God. Once we realize that God forgives us freely and completely, then we can realize that we are forgiven, and do not need to continue to chastise ourselves for the things we have done wrong. Resting in the forgiveness of God is the answer to a failure to let go of guilt and self-condemnation.

In the final analysis, we have no power to forgive ourselves, for our sins are not against ourselves, though we may harm ourselves by them. Ultimately, our sins are against God, and for this reason, He alone is the One Who can forgive them.