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Published on December 8th, 2016 | by Discussion Questions

Should we forgive ourselves?





OLIVIA WRITES: If we know God has forgiven us, should we forgive ourselves? If we are supposed to, how do we do it? A friend recently asked this question, and I’m wondering if other people might have some advice or opinions.


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are submitted by real rebelutionaries who are looking for godly answers to tough questions and lively conversation with other young adults. You can join the conversation by commenting below. If you'd like to submit your own discussion question, email us at [email protected]



  • Heather C.

    Yes. God has told us we’re forgiven when we confess our sins. It is a contradiction of His word to refuse to forgive ourselves if he says he does.

  • Hannah

    When God forgives us, He throws our sins as far away as the East from the West. When we still hold onto our guilt and our shame, this is when we have to forgive ourselves and give ourselves permission to move on. If we don’t, we are rejecting the benefits of God’s forgiveness.

  • Okie Gal

    Yes. Confess your sin, cry over what it means, ask for forgiveness, and then move on.

    Hanging on to your guilt implies that you don’t think that Christ’s work is enough, like somehow your sin is stronger than Him. But if you’re saved Jesus has you, and nothing, even your evil heart, can stop him from his purpose. He’s going to win.

    Your hope isn’t in you being awesome. It’s in the work that Christ finished to save you — from this preticular sin, and the others too. Don’t be surprised when you fail, but trust that the same God who saved you is still working, and will get you to the end.

    Hope this helps!

  • I’m gonna take kind of different stance on this. Now hold on! Hear me out. ;P

    I have thought about this a lot… not that that makes me some sort of expert on forgiveness or anything, but forgiveness has been a focal point of much of many of my thoughts and my study of God’s Word this year. And do you know what? I haven’t found the idea of “forgiving yourself” anywhere. If I’m wrong about that (which i very well may be) please forgive me, and leave me a comment about your different findings :)

    It seems to me that “forgiving ourselves” is simply a title we’ve given to letting go of guilt and/or shame. Getting over it. Moving on. These are all good things, yes. But i fear that we’ve become so obsessed with the idea of forgiving ourselves that we’ve forgotten where the real problem lies and where the real remedy is. I’m just as guilty of this as anyone.

    Maybe you’re like me in the fact that you know in your heart that Jesus has forgiven you, and yet you still struggle with overwhelming shame. The true way to overcome guilt and shame isn’t through nebulously “forgiving ourselves”, but it’s in Jesus! It’s in understanding and believing that His redemptive work on the cross was and is enough for you, just like @disqus_inEHyzWSo4:disqus said. Yesterday, today, and forever, He is enough.

    Paul says in Philippians 3 that he knows he is not all that he is meant to be yet. But he keeps going. He presses onward. He lives in grace.

    That’s where we need to be. Living intentionally in the forgiveness of Christ. Reminding ourselves daily of it’s finality and power. For me, that can be a battle minute by minute. But it’s a battle that’s worth the fight.

    This is mostly a semantics argument, so forgive me and my jumbled thoughts. Let me know and i’ll happily clarify anything if i wasn’t making sense πŸ˜‰

    -Haylie

    • Okie Gal

      Aah! This is so stinkin good!

      • Haha I’m glad you thought so πŸ˜€

    • Angela Pycroft

      Wow I really learned from this. Great reply Haylie!! Thanks!!!

      • I’m so glad it could help you, Angela. Truly, I learned a lot myself while I was writing it haha ;). Writing helps me process what I think about things.

        • Angela Pycroft

          That is exactly the way I feel when I respond to discussion questions. Writing something down makes me really think about what I am saying :). I have the information I need to respond in bits and pieces; but actually doing so makes me connect the dots.

  • Hey, Olivia! I wrote a blog post on this a while back. Here is the link: http://verybeautifullyimperfect.blogspot.com/2015/09/forgive-and-forget.html?m=1

    I’m not trying to get visitors, I promise! If I were to try to reform are my thought here, this comment would be a mile long πŸ˜†

    • Olivia W.

      Hi Delaney! I know I’ve checked out your blog before, and I thought I had followed it. Maybe I didn’t because it’s not a wordpress one so it’s more complicated for me to subscribe πŸ˜› But anyway, you definitely didn’t come across as “Hey look at my amazing blog!” πŸ˜‰

      • Haha! I’m glad it didn’t sound that way πŸ˜„ Hope that helps a little!!

  • “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

  • Tough question! I hear about “forgiving ourselves” a lot and I just took a Biblical counseling class so I have a few fresh thoughts to share.

    First off, what do you mean by forgive? Do you mean letting go of guilt and shame, or do you mean forgiveness in the same way that God forgives us?

    According to Scripture, there is one Judge. We cannot pardon ourselves–Christ pardons us. In that sense, no, we cannot forgive ourselves. God is judge, and we are the criminals. In fact, to say, “God has forgiven me, but I just can’t forgive myself,” is setting yourself above the judgement of God. That phrase basically says, “I’m a more fair judge than God is.”

    However, once Christ has forgiven us, we must let go of that shame, guilt, lifestyle, and the burden of that sin. Confess it, yes! Ask for forgiveness against the people you have harmed. But do not keep banging yourself over the head about something. God has forgiven you and you are free. He did not just die for your punishment, but for your shame. You can be completely free, but it’s not because of anything you have done.

    I would recommend reading Psalm 103. There is a beautiful passage about how far He has removed our sin from us.

    Also, I would recommend reading the story about Jesus turning water into wine in John 2. I love that passage because it shows how Jesus’ character is to remove shame (the shame of the bridegroom who didn’t have enough wine), and to replace it with honor. That’s what Christ does.

    Well, that’s my two cents in this discussion about a huge topic. πŸ˜‰

    • Olivia W.

      Thanks Anastasis! That’s a really interesting perspective on John 2. I’d never thought of it that way. :)

    • Michaela T

      Great answer! Also, our shortcomings remind us of how much we need God’s Grace.

  • Angela Pycroft

    First let me define the word “forgiveness”
    A lot of times it is used as saying “we are forgiven by God, therefore we can forgive ourselves and act like it never happened”
    The problem with that is that a lot of people use this to say that since they are saved they can forgive themselves and go sin all they want; which is, of course, not what God intended. We should not indulge this twisted idea.
    Another thing some people think is that we can forgive ourselves the way God forgives us; by pardoning ourselves, we can wipe our wrongs off the slate. This is NOT TRUE and should never be taken seriously. God is the only Judge; as a perfect being, He is the only One qualified to forgive us our sins in this way.
    Now, if you define forgiveness as “to cease to feel resentment against; to pardon an offense or offender” then yes, by all means. We should never hold something we have done wrong over our own heads; we need to pardon ourselves and move on. Learn from your sin and mistakes but do not treat them lightly; forgive, but do not forget.

  • Matthew Onnen

    I belive that we should

  • DanE

    YYYYYYEEEEEESSSS! Fifteen times yes, 25 times yes. An infinite amount of times yes. Forgiving yourself is always a good thing. My church has a thing, its ‘Jesus like people doing Jesus like stuff’. Jesus forgave everyone. For us humans, ‘everyone’ also includes us. So I say yes.

    • DanE

      Also, recently I messed up, I felt really bad about it. Everybody but me had forgiven me. So I just kept on feeling worse and worse. Until I finally forgave myself. Once I did, I felt like a huge weight was taken off my shoulders. So it is always ok to forgive yourself.

  • Claudia

    yes! forgiving yourself is just as important as forgiving others, so don’t hold grudges against yourself. the past is in the past,so learn from it, but don’t dwell on it

  • Absolutely. Although God has forgiven us, I think I sometimes have trouble forgiving myself. I struggle with fits of rage and it leaves me in a state of depression most of the time after. Self forgiveness is very important.

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