Identity Crisis

“I can forgive others but I cannot forgive myself.”

As I listened to Focus on the Family today, I heard an interesting interview with R.T. Kendall discussing the idea of forgiving yourself. He opened with this statement:

“Look, whenever we can’t forgive ourselves, it’s like we’re competing with the blood of Jesus. He has forgiven us and He doesn’t like it when we don’t forgive ourselves. And it’s also a subtle form of self-righteousness as if we are punishing ourselves.”

I somewhat agree with this premise…

The interview proceeded with Dr. Dobson and Dr. Kendall discussing Kendall’s book How to Forgive Ourselves-Totally. I immediately perked up when I heard the title (I’d done a little study on this topic). As I listened, Kendall explained how difficult it is to learn to forgive ourselves, lay aside guilt (both real and false), and move on with life.

When asked for scriptural support for his stance on self-forgiveness, Dr. Kendall introduced Mark 12:31 “…You shall love your neighbor as yourself…” and said that “it’s implied that we are going to love ourselves. But not forgiving yourself is the opposite. It is hating yourself and it is a violation of a very elementary principle [loving ourselves].”

Incredibly bad theology aside…wait, what am I saying? Where does God imply that this is a command to love ourselves? This verse clearly commands that we love others with the same love that we naturally lavish on ourselves. It is has everything to do with forgetting ourselves and nothing to do with forgiving ourselves.

Now, back to his opening statement. Here’s my problem: the Bible never talks about forgiving yourself. He’s right: whenever we can’t forgive ourselves, it’s like we’re competing with the blood of Jesus. The key there is that that is the only place true forgiveness comes from, not from ourselves. He has forgiven us. When we receive His forgiveness and then make restitution for sin we’ve committed, the only issue we then have is an identity issue.

The bottom line is identity: Who are we in Christ? That’s the only truth we need to embrace.

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