Living by Grace

Dedicated to providing guidance in daily living through the power of God's grace as experienced in our union with Christ.

I Can't Forgive Myself


This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.  1 Timothy 1:15

It is not uncommon for someone to say, “I know that God has forgiven me, but I cannot forgive myself.” Guilt about the past can continue for many years. Almost 20 years after the brothers of Joseph sold him as a slave, they still felt guilty when they came to Joseph for food even though they did not know they were talking to Joseph. Paul could not get away from thoughts of persecuting the church. He mentions it five times in Acts and his letters.


In addition, when Paul said he was the chief of sinners, he had grown in his closeness to God. Increasingly, he must have seen things in his life as being sinful that he had never seen that way before.


There can be no doubt that Paul was forgiven by God. As close as he lived to the Lord, surely he did not hesitate to confess and repent of sins immediately. Yet, he obviously had a growing sense of his sinfulness. The longer we live and have a growing fellowship with God, we will continue to be shown sins in our lives by the Holy Spirit who lives in us. Even as we have a growing experience of victory over sin, our understanding of sinfulness with grow. We will see ourselves as the chief of sinners just as the godly Paul did.


This is a blessing from God. The increasing understanding that we are sinners saved by grace gives us an increasing realization that we are unworthy servants of God. This keeps us in total dependence on God. And that is where we should be, “The just shall live by faith.” 


The last of the five commands for living by grace is that we make our bodies available to to God. He wants to use our bodies to make visible to others His love for them. Our bodies are not sinful. We can tell God that we know we are unworthy servants and cannot forgive ourselves, but we do yield our bodies to Him for Him to use them as His instruments of righteousness.


In Genesis 15:20 Joseph tells his brothers that their selling him as a slave was God’s plan to save Jacob and his family.