Read Isaiah 6:4-7
4 Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations,and the entire building was filled with smoke.
5 Then I said,”It’s all over! I am doomed,for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips,and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King,the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 He touched my lips with it and said,”See,this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed,and your sins are forgiven.” (NLT)
People sometimes tell us that they can never forgive themselves. We may say it ourselves. They might receive forgiveness from others,even from God,but they withhold it from themselves. But this is not quite the truth.
If I have wronged someone else badly,they are the ones who need to forgive me. And of course since all wrongdoing is ultimately against God,then he is the one to forgive. I cannot,in fact,forgive myself in any meaningful way. I have not,in fact,wronged myself. I have upset myself but I am not the wronged party.
It is better to describe this uncomfortable situation as not taking hold of God’s forgiveness. “I cannot believe God can forgive me or others can forgive me”. Rather than struggling to ‘forgive ourselves’,we do better to let the wonderful truth of God’s pardon sink in. Just as Isaiah did when he was forgiven. He didn’t continue to lament his sinfulness but got on with the job God had given him to do.
If God has forgiven us,who are we to see ourselves as unforgivable? Even if others don’t forgive us,God shows mercy to the penitent. How sad and foolish to cling to the burden of guilt when God has removed it. How sad and foolish to imagine we are dirty when God has washed us clean.