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To be in a perpetual cycle of unforgiveness is hard and difficult.  That’s where you are right now.

I’m sorry for the prison of shame and guilt you are overcome by as you are stuck thinking about all your past failures. Your mind is in a vicious cycle, stuck, immovable, focused on the mistake. The more you think about them, the more they mock you, make fun of you, and lock their condemning tentacles into your very soul. Here you are thinking, “I just can’t forgive myself. If you knew what I did (or didn’t do) you wouldn’t forgive me either.” It’s painful and I’m sorry.

A great need in your life right now is for you to learn how to forgive yourself and to stop focusing on your past mistakes that you cannot change. Thanks Ed, that helps a lot! I already know that.  You’re right you do know that and you need to hear it again. You must learn in the Spirit how to forgive yourself and stop focusing on your past mistakes.

Yes, forgive yourself. I know many Christians read this blog and I want to address this issue first since this phrase ‘forgive yourself’ seems like the familiar counsel of the world.  The culture loves to place yet another burden upon you as you begin to think that it’s all your fault and that the source and solution for your pain is within you if you would just snap out of it and forgive yourself.  It’s shrouded in the concept of self-esteem and self-love. The world has a way of laying even heavier burdens on the hurting and this is not the way of the Lord or the comfort of His Spirit.  You don’t simply snap out of pain, but you can by faith forsake it, day by day.  It’s not self-love you need more of but rather an acceptance of Jesus’ love for you that will free you.

As I encourage you to ‘forgive yourself” I mean that you would consciously receive the forgiveness of Jesus Christ in your life especially applying it to that specific failure that plagues your mind. I mean you should stop beating yourself up for things you cannot change. I mean you must choose by faith to receive and enjoy the newness of life in Christ.

Jesus has provided a way for you to walk in freedom from the mistakes of your past.

Psalm 103:10–11 (NKJV) He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;

The condemnation you are feeling is rooted in unforgiveness.  You know that. You have been rehearsing this very thing in your head for sometime now. “I just can’t forgive myself. I’m such a failure.”  This cycle of beating yourself up makes you feel better and worse at the same time. You choose to punish yourself and as the self-punishment is too hard to bear and so you choose to punish yourself again, and thus, you’re stuck. Isn’t self-punishment just as bad as self-love? Too much self!

Since God has forgiven you in Christ, the condemnation you are feeling is not from Him. Jesus did not come to condemn you but to forgive and free you.

John 3:16–17 (NKJV) “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

An unforgiveness that lingers is a form of idolatry. Idolatry is a hard word to hear but important.  Here is what it looks like. When you choose to not forgive yourself (or others) you are saying this, “What I’ve done is so bad and so hard and so difficult that if I were God, I would not forgive me so I will play the role of God in this situation and hold it against myself the rest of my life. I need to be punished and the punishment upon Jesus is not enough to cover my sins. I will punish myself more forever.”

This form of idolatry is often hidden in plain sight. When we think of idolatry we think of flagrant Old Testament examples or little idols on the dashboard of cars.  But you can see that idolatry exists when we replace God, even with own theories of how to live life after failure.

The Father forgives you.  You are forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ. He does not perpetually or temporarily or sporadically condemn you. You are free in Christ from your past.

John 8:11 (NKJV) “She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

The choice forward is to forgive yourself by consciously receiving the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Fighting through your overwhelming emotions will be necessary.  Fighting through the realtime consequences of past decisions will be necessary. Fighting through the doubts will be necessary. There will always be those who focus on the bad, focus on the failures, and remind you of them.  But you don’t have to be one of them. You can choose to surrender yourself to the God who loves you and serve him in freedom.

You too can walk away from your past by faith and enjoy the freedom of forgiveness.  Choose to apply what the Holy Spirit taught the Corinthians:

2 Corinthians 2:6–8 (NKJV) “This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him.”

By faith, you too will be able to say, “I am forgiven”!


  • Michelle says:

    Thank you so much for this. It is so applicable to many people. Sometimes it’s easy to beat yourself up, to look back at “better times” and think if I just would have taken the other path (whether it be a job, or relocation, parenting move, different church, etc) my life would be so much better. Constant regret is what has stumbled me until I realized it’s me not wanting to trust the Lord and truly believe in his sovereignty and plan for my life. I think I can have control which is a form of idolotry. This post is a wonderful reminder.

  • Jeff Muller says:

    There are some major things I would have done differently now that I know what I know. What I have to remember and believe is that God has been with me all these years and works all things together for good… And things are certainly very good now.

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