When You Can't Forgive Yourself

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God will take the wasted years and restore them to good before it is all over. It is just as Joel promised: "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten" (Joel 2:25).

In some cases it is fear more than anger that is a barrier to our forgiving ourselves. Regret leads to guilt, and guilt can lead to fear: the fear of missing "what might have been" or the fear that what has happened cannot possibly turn out for good.

True guilt and pseudo-guilt. There are two kinds of guilt most of us will struggle with: true guilt (a result of our sin against God) and pseudo-guilt (when there is no sin in our lives). When we have sinned, we must confess it to God (1 John 1:9). The blood of Jesus takes care of true guilt by doing two basic things:

  1. It washes away our sin—as though it never had existed.
  2. It perfectly satisfies God's eternal justice.

Whereas discipline is necessary because we are sinners, sin that has been confessed to God is totally forgiven by Him. Any guilt we feel after that is pseudo-guilt.

There are two kinds of false guilt:

  1. The kind that comes when sin was never involved in the first place.
  2. The kind that comes when sin has been forgiven by God.

Pseudo-guilt—though it is false—is also very real; we feel keenly guilty. But there is no good reason for the sense of guilt.

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