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How Many Times Should I Forgive Myself?

Is it right to ask God to bless something you know you shouldn’t do? No, and you don’t want to. When I am unwilling to “come clean” and choose to lie, it puts a wall between God and me, and I feel shut off. I still talk to Him, but I won’t ask Him to help me evade detection or keep out of trouble. I am on my own. I regret it, but not enough to confess the lie (not to Him, ’cause He knows). I am stuck trying to cover my tracks–wanting to ask for God’s help, but in good conscience, I won’t.

Can I ask? Am I physically able to ask for help? Yes, but out of respect, I won’t. Would He help? Maybe. But I feel like He is ashamed of me. I know I will sin every day and He forgives me, but that is (sometimes) unintentional. But these types of things are a result of the old sin nature coming briefly out before you can help it–like you stubbed your toe and said a bad word.

I am talking about premeditated sin. If I do (or don’t do) something my spouse or boss wants me to and then I lie about it when I am asked, that is willful sin. In that instance, I had every opportunity to tell the truth and take my licks, or even refute the lie once it pops out. But I don’t, to save my own hide.

Why is my sense of self-preservation stronger than my desire to please God? Yes, I know self-preservation is instinctual, but I am supposed to be putting off the old and ushering in the new.

 ” … assuming that you have heard about [Jesus] and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 3:21-24 (ESV)

I feel like Paul must have felt:

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;  but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin. Romans 7:18-23 (NIV)

But this seems to me a cop out, not of Paul, but of me, if I use this in my “defense.” However, within the Bible, the theme of forgiveness is central and we are called to forgive others and the Lord graciously forgives us. But do I forgive myself? This is the sticking point for many of us.

If I forgive myself for telling a lie, will God condemn me? No, but condemnation is what I feel I deserve. In the scope of things, there will be many times I will miss the mark and fall short. So I need to begin to practice forgiveness of myself.

What are you having trouble forgiving yourself for?

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One comment

  1. Stephanie Hanouw

    Sonya, I go along with God forgiving me and me forgiving others, but it’s the recurring question of “can I forgive myself?” I’m not so sure about. I haven’t read of God addressing this aspect of forgiveness anywhere in His word. I think it is more an issue of HUMBLING one’s self and receiving the forgiveness that God gives us when we know we don’t deserve it. So, the bottom line is a pride issue. Just four days ago, God showed me the truth of this over an issue that has plagued me for years. I did make wrong choices, it did affect people negatively, and I regret it, but He showed me that “my ability to cause harm was NOT greater than His ability to restore and redeem” and for me to intermittently dwell and mourn over it was an act of pride – each time I had a mourning session complete with the devil’s accusations, the event took on even greater magnitude than the last time. After I confessed my pride over it, the weight of the incident left me and I have such a feeling of freedom now. I am praising God for showing me the “root” of the problem. Did I need to forgive myself – no, I needed to ask God’s forgiveness for the “root” of the problem since I had already – a multitude of times – asked for forgiveness for my behavior. Maybe my experience will resonate with someone in a similar situation. God bless you. Thank you for your article.

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