the Hope of Survivors

Forgiveness is a Gift—Samantha Nelson

(From the January 2006 edition of HopeSpeak)

Do you realize forgiveness is a gift? I often address the topic of forgiveness and how it applies to each of our lives. I sometimes receive emails with comments such as, “I have forgiven my abuser, but I just can’t forgive myself,” or “I know God forgives me, but I just can’t forgive myself.” When I read statements like those, my heart yearns to help others see the truth about forgiveness. You see, “I need to forgive myself” is a popular myth that has crept into many a Christian’s heart and mind and has blocked them from being able to live abundant lives in Christ. If you feel unforgiven, how can you be joyful and exude the character of Christ? How can you have the peace that comes from God alone?

I wish to make it clear to all…forgiveness is a gift from God. You must simply choose to accept the gift. By not accepting God’s forgiveness, you reveal a lack of trust in His Word. By thinking you must first “forgive yourself,” you’re actually usurping God’s role and authority. No one has the ability to forgive self, yet all have the ability to exercise faith and believe God will do what He says.

Only God has the power to forgive. He forgives us and then He grants us forgiveness in our hearts for those who have wronged us. In both cases, forgiveness is still a gift and it still comes from God alone. To muster up “forgiveness” on our own will lead to failure, as we do not, and cannot, truly forgive unless we have accepted God’s forgiveness for ourselves and He has given us forgiveness in our hearts for others.

Forgiveness is made possible by the shed blood of Jesus Christ who died to take away our sins. We read in Matthew 26:28, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” We do not have the right to forgive ourselves, for we have not paid the penalty for our transgressions, Jesus has. Therefore, He alone has the right to extend forgiveness. From Genesis to Revelation, I have not found any reference to forgiving myself, only overwhelming evidence that forgiveness comes from the Lord. Let’s look at just a few of the many verses on this topic:

Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.”

Micah 7:18, “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.”

Matthew 9:6, “But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins...”

1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Luke 5:21, “And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?”

In all of the above passages, who is it that forgives our sin? It is the Lord. We serve an awesome God. One who is far more willing to forgive than we are. Won’t you join me in drawing nearer to Him?

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart...Psalms 34:18