The “Forgive Yourself” Myth

“Love yourself–accept yourself–forgive yourself–and be good to yourself.”  –a quote from popular American speaker and writer, Leo Buscaglia.  However, Jesus said:  “Deny yourself.”  Here’s why the popular idea of “forgiving yourself” is a myth:

*  You are not the judge.  If you stand in a courtroom before a judge and he asks you, “How do you plead?” the judge won’t be satisfied if you respond with the words:  “Your honor, I forgive myself.”  He will probably respond by saying:  “You are not the judge!  Do you plead guilty or not guilty?”  (If you are guilty, you need the judge’s forgiveness–if you are not guilty, you don’t need anybody’s forgiveness, including your own.)

*  You are not the offended party.  All wrong doing is ultimately against God and His moral law.  King David told God:  “Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight.”  You need to receive and to accept God’s forgiveness, rather than attempting to do something that you cannot do, give yourself forgiveness.

*  Self-forgiveness is not biblical.  Don’t accept my word for it.  Search the Bible and see for yourself.  You won’t find the words or the concept “forgive yourself” anywhere in the Bible.

*  Self-forgiveness is denial.  Trying to forgive yourself is the denial that your harmful, hurtful, and wrongful thoughts and actions are sins against God, not sins against yourself.  Like all denial, self-forgiveness will not produce a long-term solution to your guilt problem.

If you are feeling shame or condemnation, if you are guilty, you don’t need to forgive yourself.  However, you desperately need forgiveness from the living God.

How do you receive God’s forgiveness? Confess (admit) your sins to God.  Let your sin break your heart.  Sincerely repent and turn away from your sins.  Ask God to forgive you, then surrender your life to the living, resurrected Jesus Christ and begin to follow and obey Him daily.

In conclusion, quotations about self-forgiveness sound nice: “Forgive yourself for your faults and your mistakes and move on.” –motivational speaker, Les Brown  However, without the forgiveness of the living God, self-forgiveness is a false assurance, a deception.

About Steve Simms

I like to look and think outside the box. In college I encountered Jesus Christ and I have been passionate about trying to get to know Him better ever since. My wife and I co-lead a non-traditional expression of the body of Christ in Nashville based on open participation and Spirit-led sharing. We long to see the power and passion of the first Christ-followers come to life in our time. I have written a book about our experiences called, "Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible--Ekklesia" that is available in Kindle & paperback @
This entry was posted in accept yourself, Against You only have I sinned, American, belief, Bible, boundaries, brokenhearted, brokenness, change, Christ, Christ followers, Christ-centered, Christian, comfort, compassion, condemnation, confession, conscience, conversion, conviction of sin, corrupt culture, courtroom, deception, denial, deny yourself, devotion, disciple making, evil, false assurance, gift of God, God, God calling, God-shaped vacuum, godly sorrow, harmful habit, harmful thinking, hearing God, hearing Jesus, How do you plead?, Jesus, Jesus Christ, judge, judgment, justice, Les Brown, lifestyle Christianity, lifestyles, love yourself, moral principles, morality, morals, motivational speaker, myths, natural laws, pull of evil, Quotations, quote, Quotes, recovery, repent, repentance, right and wrong, right conduct, right living, self-esteem, self-focus, self-forgiveness, self-image, self-will, shame, sin, spiritual formation, surrender, surrender to God, wages of sin and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to The “Forgive Yourself” Myth

  1. I do think about the thought of “Love God with all of your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself”. There seems to be an implication in that of self love, and though that is not our main focus, it is important for us to love ourselves, and know that God loves us, if we have spent a lifetime hating ourselves. Some people experience the forgiveness of God, and can attest to it, but refuse to forgive themselves, and must be told that He is sufficient to break those bonds. Just some thoughts. Great topic!

  2. elizabeth s says:


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