Can you forgive yourself? In our society there are people who never have a problem with forgiving themselves because they never accept blame for anything. If they do anything wrong, they blame it on their parents, on the teacher, on the boss, on the referee, or on whoever is standing nearby.

There are others, however, who are super sensitive to their own sins and mistakes. They are so burdened by guilt that they are not able to move beyond their self-imposed cloud of gloom. Even though they have heard the good news of God’s love and forgiveness, somehow they cannot bring themselves to believe that God is able to blot out and forgive their sins. They may be very understanding and compassionate concerning the mistakes of others, but when it comes to their own past mistakes, they cannot let them go.

Can you see how this could be one of Satan’s favorite schemes to hold us back from serving the Lord? Holding on to guilt can stop us from coming to God in the first place. It may be that our guilt has a paralyzing impact so we are incapable of serving and loving others because we are so focused on our own mistakes and inconsistencies.

Consider two of Jesus’ own apostles who commit sin. Peter denies Jesus after Jesus has been arrested and is on trial. Judas betrays Jesus to His enemies and this leads to the crucifixion (Matthew 26:47-56). Both men have let down their best friend, their teacher, their Lord. Both men feel horrible guilt and sorrow for their actions (Luke 22:60-62; Matthew 27:3-10).

Notice now how these two apostles respond to their guilt. Judas does not seek forgiveness nor does he forgive himself. He ends his life (Matthew 27:4-5). Peter allows Christ’s pardon to lift his burden and change his life (John 21:15-19; Acts 1:15–2:40).

From 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 we read about godly sorrow. This is what Peter shows as he repents, accepts the Lord’s forgiveness, and moves forward serving the Lord. Judas allows sorrow for sin to lead to despair and to death. When we turn back to God after sinning, God is willing to forgive. Will we forgive ourselves?

Today, I will…accept God’s forgiveness and forgive myself. I will not allow Satan to defeat me with guilt and despair.