FAQ: How Can God Forgive Me If I Can’t Forgive Myself?

How can God forgive me if I can’t forgive myself?  Why am I struggling to forgive myself if I know God has already forgiven me?

Let me make a distinction that can help us all. Guilty feelings occur when the Holy Spirit convicts us of unrepentant sin. So if I am living out sin in my life, I shouldn’t be surprised if I have guilty thoughts and feelings. That’s from God. And that’s good because it helps us continue to follow and obey him.

Now, once we have repented, guilt should no longer be our status. We should be overjoyed in the forgiveness of Christ. But rather than be overjoyed in Christ, we often feel SHAME. Shame is not a thought or feeling from God.

Now, if you know Christ, you need to know that Satan invests a lot of energy trying to get you to live apart from who you really are. He wants you to remember your failures and feel shame. He wants you to live in discouragement and defeat. He wants to tuck those things in your pocket so he can throw them up in your face every time you try to take a step forward with God. He says, “You’re a loser. You flunked out big time. God’s not very fired up about you.” Everything Satan says to you is bent on your defeat and your ineffectiveness as a representative of Christ. He hates you because he hates Jesus Christ. So when you allow those thoughts to permeate your living, you become useless to God, and Satan wins. It doesn’t mean that you’re not a Christian. It just means you’ll be ineffective until you rid yourself of that shame.

How many of you want Satan to win the battle for your effectiveness? Instead of letting those cancers grow, go back to what God says about you.

What does God say about you?

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and repented of your sins, you are a child of God, a branch of the true vine and a conduit of Christ’s life. You are a friend of Jesus who has been justified and redeemed. You were crucified with Christ and you are no longer a slave to sin, guilt or shame. You will not be condemned by God. You have been accepted by Christ and called to be a saint. In Christ Jesus you have wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who dwells in you. You are joined to the Lord and are one spirit with him. God leads you in the triumph and knowledge of Christ. You are a new creature in Christ who has become the righteousness of God in Christ. You have been made one with all who are in Christ Jesus.  You have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. You are chosen, holy and blameless before God. You are God’s workmanship created to do good works.  You have boldness and confident access of God through faith in Christ. You are a citizen of heaven who has been made complete in Christ. God loves you and has chosen you so don’t you dare let Satan take any of that away from you.

The truth is: God is fired up about you.


30 thoughts on “FAQ: How Can God Forgive Me If I Can’t Forgive Myself?

  1. Thank you for writing this- God brought me here, to your site, when I was feeling a great deal of shame and guilt in things from my past. I’d ask for forgiveness from God and know he forgives me but I couldn’t forgive myself. After reading this post, I understand….Thank you. Your friend in Christ, Dale

  2. I needed to read this. My life is spiraling out of control with regrets and guilt. I do believe in God and always have. I also realize just like in the Lord’s prayer that we must forgive others as God forgives us. BUT I can forgive other’s, but not myself.

    I have always felt like Satan has been after me most of my life. I realize that by me being miserable he is happy about that. Today I am going to try my best to NOT be so down on myself.

    • Great to hear from you Teresa…remember that God also believes in YOU! He wouldn’t offer up His Son for you to live in defeat. Put your head up girl, your a daughter of the King!

  3. I just found this through Google.

    Great message.

    Yesterday I committed an awful sin in a moment of weakness that made me feel so so horrible, I’ve repented and have learned a valuable lesson and now need to focus on picking myself back up and rebuilding my relationship with God.

    By the way your family in that picture all look so beautiful and filled with love!

    God bless!

  4. Thank you SO much for this! I’m saving this to return to. I’ve been beating myself up for years and years. I just felt so unworthy of forgiveness – it’s really hard to get past that. You have no idea how much I desperately needed this! THANK YOU!!!

  5. I’m glad I came across this blog. I am trying to rid myself of the guilt and shame I am carrying, like tons of steel. As I’m getting older, I look back at my past with such disgust, that it is affecting my life in all areas. I am walking around with a chip on my shoulder.

    I need to remember that this is the devil and his handiwork. I just wish I could forgive myself, as easy as I forgive everyone else. I’ve become my own enemy.

    Thanks again and God Bless you.

    • Glad I could be of some help Jerry. Remember, God is good even when we’re not. And His love overcomes any shame that we may feel from already forgiven sin.

  6. Exploring reddit.com I noticed your web site book-marked as: FAQ:
    How Can God Forgive Me If I Cant Forgive Myself? | Small Town
    Pastor. Now i’m assuming you book marked it yourself and wanted to ask if social bookmarking gets you a large amount of targeted traffic? I’ve been considering doing some social bookmarking
    for a few of my sites but wasn’t certain if it would yield any positive results. Thanks.

  7. I have done so wrong by hurting my family and friends over borrowing money. I counted my chickens before they were hatched, if you know what I mean. Things have gone from bad to worse. I am a Christian, have talked to my Pastor, had some counseling, but I NEVER intentually meant to hurt anyone. I love my family and friends with all my heart. My heart is so broken and its on my mind 24/7. I lost my job and my mom is now in a nursing home and has a reverse mortgage on her house, because she was helping my daughter and myself. (Really did not know what we were getting ourselves into or would have not done it). I sometimes think why am I alive? I never ever meant to hurt anyone. I know Jesus forgives me, but I cannot let go. Any suggestions would be greatly appreicated. Your family is beautiful, God Bless You All. Thank you……

    • Joanne, I don’t know all the details. But God forgives. So you need to forgive yourself. Easy for me to say because I’m not walking in your shoes. But I do know what it’s like to hurt others (without consciously wanting to) and dealing with the aftermath of that. The easiest part was recognizing that God forgave me. Then securing the forgiveness of others. But I held on to the guilt for too long and it almost ruined my relationships with God and others but it was all on my shoulders! One day I realized I was being silly. The self-anger started to melt. I’ll pray the same happens for you soon.

  8. Hello pastor,I think I’m crazy .now that that’s said,I’m a nut that thinks I have lived many times before.I know to much that I have never saw or herd to many memories that aren’t mine.but im stillso so empty.I’m not real religious but do believe in God.I pray to God and talk to him every day but I still can’t get relief.thought about suicide to end this but I do believe .That if I do this I would loose what soul I have left or what the people I left will think about me .kinda mad at everyone else for my shortcomings……….please pray for my soul I want to believe so much

    • Absolutely Max. I’m praying now that God will give you clear thoughts about who He is and who you are. You God’s child whom he loves and wants the best for.

    • Its me again ,have read all the other post and realized.I am nuts no one is as selfish , non careing , individual I am. But I do feel, what’s wrong with me I do believe in god have things in my mind I can’t control no matter how I try to surpress them.or understand them.Just about everything in the bible that were not supposed to do I have done in my ignorance.I’m 49 now and am really such a bad person god has abandoned me.boo hoo for me I don’t blame God ,but I could use just a little break from the thoughts in my mind. I’m a good person in the way I would give everything I own to someone in need and that is the only thing I really enjoy.but that still doesn’t make me a good person.My mothers on her death bed sitting right next to her ,all I can feel is sorrow for myself that I’m not a better son GOD please forgive me

  9. Thanks for thinking /careing enough to put things out here for people my momas gone to see God now maybe she will put in a good word to him to get me to listen better.

  10. I know how you feel because I feel the same way. I’ve done so wrong in life by borrowing money from my mom, friends, etc. I was in a wrongful termination law suit. Even got an attorney to take me for free, because he knew I would win. Wrong lost, took home loans from by moms home, lost one home. Now I can’t pay anyone back and I feel so shameful, I cannot forgive myself that’s all I ever think about. I am a Christian but was not when all this happened. Now I know I should have discussed this with God before doing something so stupid. I’ve hurt my family, friends and from the bottom of my heart never meant too. I would never hurt anyone intentinally…..please pray for me as my heart is so broken. My prayers are with you all. God Bless you always and forever….

    • Joanne, A broken heart is the first step towards a redeemed and reclaimed heart. Even if your family doesn’t forgive you, you need to know that God does. The burden of sin is too great to bear. But when we’re forgiven a weight should be lifted. Don’t let the Evil One think you’re anything but God’s now.

      • Thank you very much for your reply. You are a very wonderful, caring Pastor and man of God. There needs to be more people in this world that has your compassion. Your family is beautiful and so blessed to have you. Thank you so much for your thoughts and God Bless forever.
        It really helps to talk with others and I totally believe in the power of prayer. Thanks again……

  11. I was a very selfish single parent. I know my daughter loves me, but doesn’t have much to do with me. I didn’t know who I was way back when and I was just trying to live, I listened to my father, that child needs a father. So, how do you do that, or how did I do that. I went from man to man trying to make someone love me, so I could have the white picket fence, with a husband that loved me and my daughter. Never happened. My daughter went through all of that with me. I didn’t have time for her, I was trying disperately to be happy. Now I see some 30 years later how I hurt her. I’ve begged for forgiveness. I know God has forgiven me, so I can go with that, but I can’t forgive myself for being who I was back then. Now I want her love and feel horribally down when I see other people being such good parents and I know I can’t change anything.

    • Thanks for sharing Kathy. I’ll pray for you this morning. Out of curiosity, have you told your daughter how you feel now? I know parents who made mistakes like yours and confessed them to their adult children and at least now they have wonderful relationships. She (and others) can learn from your mistakes. Maybe God wants to use what you’ve learned the hard way to teach others who are about to make the same mistake?

  12. I have been depressed for several months in large part because of regret for actions and decisions in the past. I have asked the Lord for forgiveness and guidance but I still have this voice inside of me reminding me of the past and leaving me fearful for the future to the point that I want to be by myself most of the time. My wife and kids are very supportive and I am the only one who can’t seem to let go. I have turned my problems over to God but still struggle with the guilt and beating myself up over decisions. I am just looking for some peace and calm in my life. What can I do to forgive myself once and for all?

    • Ed, I’m not sure I can give an answer that is full proof going to work for everyone every time. But for me, as a Christian, any voice that I still hear about past sins or mistakes is not the voice of God, but the whisper of Satan, the master of shame. God uses guilt to bring us back to Him. When we repent, ask forgiveness, etc. and we still hear a voice, that is a voice of shame which is not constructive or helpful but it’s intended to keep you down and away from embracing God’s love. So until you can see, feel, hear, understand that God LOVES YOU, it may be hard to move on with peace. But once you fully understand your identity in Christ as His child, then you can be productive and full of peace. Another suggestion would be to see a good Christian counselor to talk it through with. They may have more strategies to help you deal with this.

      • Thank you. I know that God has forgiven me and loves me and that I need to work to remove these other voices creating guilt. It is a struggle, but I intend to win and become a whole person again for my family and others in my life.

  13. ok, i have “accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and
    Savior and repented of my sins”, or i thought i had. many years ago. but doubts come, as there is no confirmation that anything has changed. i am still tempted and still sin. so have i really repented? have i repented enough? how can i know? i try to tell myself ive done what is required by confessing and repenting, but have i done it enough? was i sincere enough? confessing and repenting and believing begin to seem like acts of righteousness that i must do to get saved, but we are told we can never do enough to get saved. if i sin again doesnt that prove i didnt repent properly? was i sincere when i confessed, or did i do that because i wanted to persuade God to forgive me? was i self seeking when i confessed and repented?
    How can i get out of this cycle of doubt? if you tell me a way to get out of that cycle, then wont my actions then be an act of works on my my part and not valid to God?

    • You have done what is required but are you talking about an habitual sin or addictive sin? If so, then you’ll need outside help from a professional counselor to help you learn strategies to stop doing that particular behavior. God wants you to be healthy. The Bible also says to work out our faith with fear and trembling. Works don’t save you but they are proof that you are saved.

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