Wednesday, March 5, 2008

You Don't Need to Forgive Yourself; You Just Need to Repent

Darryl Dash said it.

I've wanted to. Haven't known how (exactly). I think lots of us realize there's something not quite right about it.

But who wants to confuse or even further hurt someone sorting through hurts?

Darryl on forgiving ourselves:
It's popular to say that we need to forgive ourselves, but is that a valid concept?

I'd suggest that the desire for ourselves to be forgiven is a valid one, but we don't have the power to forgive ourselves. Telling someone that they have to forgive themselves before they forgive others doesn't make sense, just like forgiving myself for a debt I owe to the bank is silly. Forgiveness has to come from outside of myself.

This quote says it all:

The next time an individual says, "I just can't forgive myself," the first thought that should come to mind is, "That's right, you can't!" Then patiently and lovingly instruct him from the word of God so that his focus is on the only One Who can. A proper view of God's forgiveness sensitively taught from the word of God is what a person needs to bridge the gap between knowing he is forgiven and feeling he is forgiven. The facts should precede and supersede the feelings. Self-forgiveness is not biblical terminology. It should not be used in biblical counseling. When someone cannot forgive himself, he is not accepting the forgiveness of God. When God has forgiven, one must accept it and move on, serving Him and others as he goes.
(Baptist Bible College and Seminary. (2001; 2003). Journal of Ministry and Theology Volume 5 (vnp.5.1.98). Baptist Bible College and Seminary)

(HT: Transforming Sermons)

Yup. It's true. "I just had to forgive myself" or "I'm learning to forgive myself" are not biblical categories. They're therapeutic ones.
You don't need to forgive yourself. You need to ask forgiveness or grant it. You need to repent or rebuke. You need to claim the saving grace of Jesus, and I actually think that feeling burdened by your own sin is a great way to walk in awe of that grace.

Now, obviously, the objection is that "accept it and move on" (as the quote instructs) makes overcoming guilt and shame sound neat and easy. And we all know it's not. But "forgive yourself" is not the way to overcoming guilt and shame.

I have found in my own life that when I am most burdened by the sins and failures of my past, it's not because I am not forgiving myself, it's because I am not yet grasping how immense God's grace is and I have not yet really trusted that He has forgiven me.
There's an ironic pride in there, a sense of thinking that, well of course Jesus died for the sins of the world, but it's as if my sin is too big for Jesus to cover.

I may not be able to simply "accept it and move on," but grappling with the conviction of my sins and the incomprehensibility of God's scandalous grace is one valuable way to work out my salvation with fear and trembling.

1 comment:

Randi Jo :) said...

ouch. that one hurt