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We are not perfect; we make mistakes and failures that might hurt ourselves and others. The sheer weight of these past mistakes and remorse might overwhelm you, leading to shame and guilt, which keeps you away from the freedom of self-forgiveness. Understandably, it can be hard to let go and forgive yourself, or maybe you don't know where to start. 

“Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.”– Corrie Ten Boom

To forgive yourself, you must understand God forgives you through your faith in Jesus, remembering your iniquities no more (Jeremiah 31:34). Our Heavenly Father is faithful and loving to forgive regardless of what you’ve done. When you confess your mistakes and imperfections and give them to God, you open your life to self-forgiveness and receive His unmatched peace.

How the Enemy Uses Guilt and Shame to Keep You Trapped

Guilt and shame are signs that something is off in your life. They signal that the enemy is using something against you, possibly your once straight path went array, and he wants to condemn you. Remember, there is no condemnation in Christ (Romans 8:1). He came to set you free and for you to live in that freedom! 

Perhaps you fail to understand that the enemy will notice your situation and take advantage. He'll constantly remind you of your past actions and even use others to do the same. He traps you into a cycle where you can't take any steps towards the freedom of self-forgiveness. 

Satan’s hope is that you will…

  • Refrain from taking responsibility for your past mistakes and failures
  • Become proud with a sense of self-justification that leads to destruction
  • Avoid seeking amends and reconcile with those you who you may have hurt or hurt you
  • Stay stuck and not live the life God has planned for you  

In such a moment, remember the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Jesus, on the other hand, came that you may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).

How Self-Idolatry Disguises Itself 

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.”–Exodus 20:4-5 

Self-idolatry or self-worship means excessive admiration for or unwavering loyalty to oneself. In short, you make yourself the center of attention in your life; you make yourself a god.

So, how does self-idolatry manifest itself, and how does it affect your freedom of self-forgiveness?

Too Much Focus on Shame and Guilt 

Your past hurtful mistakes and failures can often stick to your consciousness. Sometimes, human nature can't allow you to let them go, causing you great remorse. Forgiving yourself might be difficult, almost impossible, but you are making the guilt and shame a focus in your life. 

You continue beating yourself up even when God and the people you've wronged have forgiven you. Instead, learn from the life of Paul, who lived to persecute the Church. Once God forgave him, he forgave himself, transformed, and accepted the mission of spreading the gospel.  

Rebellion

Self-idolatry can be traced back to the time immediately after creation. The enemy convinced Eve with the idea of self-exaltation to go against God's specific instructions, have her eyes opened, and distinguish right from wrong (Genesis 3:5).

The enemy tempts Christians daily to rebel against God by taking His authority as their own. In essence, such rebellion is idolatrous as it comes between us and the pure love of God (1 Corinthians 10:7-22)

Lacking Wisdom

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths”–Proverbs 3:5-6

We don’t always trust in the Lord with all our hearts. It's easy for us to lean on our limited wisdom, which leads to worthless reasoning. You may think you are wise, but when that wisdom comes before God, you are self-idolatrous. In Romans 1:18 -25, Paul teaches us about holding this truth in unrighteousness. In other words, you conceal self-righteousness, leading to corruption.

Desire

“You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.” – James 4:2 

Desire stems from intense wanting, wishing, or cravings to possess something. Often, this desire is about worldly possessions, such as praise, lust, covetousness, money, power, or prosperity. The desire to possess these things becomes too much that your heart and mind are where these possessions are (Mathew 6:21).

You are bound to commit further sin when your desire becomes greater than your trust and submission to God's kingdom and love (1 Timothy 6:10).  

What Is the Difference Between Conviction and Condemnation

Two men praying together in a church - freedom of self-forgiveness from shame and guilt.

Conviction

It is a belief that draws us closer to God and helps us step into the freedom of self-forgiveness. Conviction comes from the Holy Spirit, which allows you to own your actions, learn from them, and become more like Christ. 

Since conviction is from the Holy Spirit, it points out our weaknesses and sins in God's eyes. It helps you acknowledge your hope is in God's eternal love, mercy, and grace.

Condemnation

Condemnation is a vague, hopeless, hateful feeling or harmful judgemental proclamation of being unloved, rejected, or unworthy. It's a trait that comes from the enemy, which means it's toxic, driving us away from the path of righteousness toward destruction and death. Further, condemnation keeps you stuck in the past, where you have no control over your life or the mistakes you made, just like guilt and shame do.

There are a few instances in the Bible that distinguishes conviction and condemnation. Among them is when Paul condemned the Church by killing Christians. Jesus appeared to Paul as he headed to Damascus and convicted him for his actions (Acts 9:1-6)

When you engage in spiritual warfare and trust in God’s supernatural armor rather than natural weapons, Jesus convicts you, and you walk on the path of righteousness. As someone who is “in Christ,” God does not condemn (John 3:17-18).

Here's What You Need to Know About the Freedom of Self-Forgiveness

As a human being, you are bound to make decisions that'll hurt others or yourself, causing you guilt and shame. Too often, the enemy traps and condemns you in this state that you lack the freedom of self-forgiveness. The enemy will constantly remind you of what you did until you become self-idolatrous.

The good news is that while it can be difficult to forgive yourself, it is possible with God. Remembering and meditating on the truth that you are forgiven in Christ helps to move you into the freedom of self-forgiveness. Through the Holy Spirit's conviction, you can own your past mistakes and not allow them to become idols in your life. 

Seek the face of God and repent of your wrongdoings. Confess and move on. God doesn't want you to stay in a place of unforgiveness–even for yourself. In God, you are no longer condemned but free!


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