Do you love yourself? Do you even like yourself? If you answered no, why not? If you were to think long and hard, you may find this feeling towards yourself rooted in unforgiveness. Many of us, myself included, struggle to forgive ourselves. We may have done things in the past, we regret, and may even live with the consequences of those past sins. This may cause guilt, lack of self-esteem and in self-hatred. Did you know that this self-hatred can give your body permission to destroy itself? This may be one cause of auto-immune disease that is unknown to mainstream healthcare. There may be other causes of auto-immune disease, so be wise in this. Don’t just stop your medication, it could be dangerous to your health. I would suggest you to work with a healthcare provider if you have identified a spiritual root in yourself. In some cases, the damage to your body would necessitate medication, but you may be able to stop further damage. Don’t forget that we serve an Elohim Who can heal any disease, if it is according to His will.
From this, we may deduce that self-hatred, bitterness and guilt can, in some cases, be the root cause of diseases like Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, Graves disease. Lupus, Eczema and Rheumatoid arthritis. These are a few examples, there are many more.
Here is a definition of autoimmune disease:
An autoimmune disease develops when your immune system, which defends your body against disease, decides your healthy cells are foreign. As a result, your immune system attacks healthy cells. Depending on the type, an autoimmune disease can affect one or many different types of body tissue. It can also cause abnormal organ growth and changes in organ function.
There are as many as 80 types of autoimmune diseases. Many of them have similar symptoms, which makes them very difficult to diagnose. It’s also possible to have more than one at the same time. Autoimmune diseases usually fluctuate between periods of remission (little or no symptoms) and flare-ups (worsening symptoms). Currently, treatment for autoimmune diseases focuses on relieving symptoms because there is no curative therapy.2
The body can use its own immune system to destroy itself slowly but surely. It makes sense if you think about it. A person who hates him or herself, or is consumed with guilt and bitterness may want to sub-consciously destroy themselves. So, what we need to deal with, is the root of this bitterness, guilt or self-hatred. If we can get rid of the root, the problem may go away or at least go into remission. That is our mission with this study. If we have identified this root in ourselves, how do we get rid of it?
Before we do this, we would like to determine if self forgiveness is biblical. I have not found a direct commandment that reads “thou shalt forgive thyself,” however, we shall show you that it is implied in scripture.
Love YHVH and your neighbor as yourself
When Y’shua was asked about the most important commandment, He answered as follows:
30 and you shall love YHVH your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
We are to love YHVH with all our heart, soul and mind. This is the greatest commandment. If we love YHVH in this way, we will honor Him as our Elohim, we will not worship idols, nor take His name in vain, and we will keep the Sabbath holy, in general we will obey His commandments. If we love our neighbor as ourselves, we will not do to them what YHVH prohibited us to do to them. We were created to care for and protect ourselves, and we are to do thus unto others. No person was created with an urge to destroy themselves, sin caused it, but we will look into this later.
Y’shua was quoting from Deuteronomy 6:4 and Leviticus 19:18. Let’s look at Leviticus 19:18 in more detail.
18 ‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am YHVH.
This verse and the verses before it, give us more insight on what it means to love your neighbor. We are specifically commanded not to take vengeance, nor bear any grudge.
To take vengeance means:
5933 נָקַם (nā·qǎm): v.; ≡ Str 5358; TWOT 1413—LN 38.1–38.13 (qal) seek vengeance, avenge, i.e., pay harm with another harm, with a focus on justice and punishment of guilt, real or perceived (Ex 21:20a; Lev 19:18; 26:25; Nu 31:2; Dt 32:43; Jos 10:13; 1Sa 24:13[EB 12]; Ps 99:8; Eze 24:8; 25:12a, 15; Na 1:2+), see also domain LN 39.33; (nif) be avenged, avenge oneself (Ex 21:20b; Jdg 15:7; 16:28; 1Sa 14:24; 18:25; Est 8:13; Isa 1:24; Jer 15:15; 46:10; 50:15; Eze 25:12b, 15+); (piel) avenge (2Ki 9:7; Jer 51:36+); (hitp) take one’s own vengeance (Ps 8:3[EB 2]; 44:17[EB 16]; Jer 5:9, 29; 9:8[EB 9]+); (hof) be avenged (Ge 4:15, 24; Ex 21:21+)3
To bear a grudge:
5757 I. נָטַר (nā·ṭǎr): v.; ≡ Str 5201; TWOT 1356—LN 35.36–35.46 (qal) care for, tend, act. as a caretaker, be in a state of caring for objects by proper actions (SS 1:6; 8:11, 12+)
5758 II. נָטַר (nā·ṭǎr): v.; ≡ Str 5201; TWOT 1356—LN 88.171–88.191 (qal) be angry, harbor a grudge, maintain wrath, i.e., be in a state of displeasure with an object, implying for a considerable period of time (Lev 19:18; Ps 103:9; Jer 3:5, 12; Na 1:2+)3
To bear a grudge is to keep our anger against somebody, to nurture it. This will cause bitterness. If you forgive your neighbor, you will not feel a need to punish him and you will not be angry or be in a state of displeasure with him for a considerable period of time. So, if we were to love our neighbor as ourselves, it implies that if we are not to do this to our neighbor, we are naturally not do it to ourselves. We will not want to take vengeance against ourselves or carry a grudge. That is not love. This implies that we are to forgive ourselves and do likewise unto others. You cannot love others if you do not love yourself.
This verse also confirms that there are three kinds of relationships. Our relationship with YHVH, which forms the base of all our other relationships, then our relationship with ourselves and then with other people. Relationships have rules of engagement. YHVH has given us His commandments. These commandments teaches us how YHVH wants us to conduct ourselves towards Him and others. Transgressing these commandments is sin and brings separation between us and YHVH. Any sin is against YHVH, but sin can also be against ourselves and against others. This brings about separation from self and other people, respectively. You may wonder what separation from yourself means. Separation from self is what we described in the first paragraph. You don’t like yourself or even hate yourself, has constant guilt about what you have done, or not done and bitterness. Bitterness is the most severe form of separation from self or others.
The root of bitterness
15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of Elohim; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;
This Greek word “mianthosin,” translated as “defiled” further means to contaminate, to cause someone to be morally tainted.
88.260 μιαίνωa: to cause someone to be morally tainted or defiled—‘to defile, to contaminate, to cause to be morally filthy.’ τοῖς δὲ μεμιαμμένοις καὶ ἀπίστοις οὐδὲν καθαρόν ‘to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure’ Tt 1:15.4
Henry Wright, author of A More Excellent Way describes bitterness as a principality with seven spirits that reinforce it. We can harbor this bitterness against others, but also against ourselves. Here is a list of these seven from his book.
The first one is unforgiveness:
Unforgiveness is keeping a record of wrongs. You can still vividly remember all that was done to you by another person or all the things you have done that you regret. Keeping this record is unforgiveness. Then resentment sets in.
Resentment is when you fuel this record of wrongs with feelings of holding on to it and starting to meditate of chew on it. Resentment is spiritual. This resentment brings separation and is the foundation of fear. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of abandonment. We want to hide!
The next step is retaliation.
After resentment has started to simmer, we find ways to get back at the person who caused it. We want to punish them.
Anger is the next in line.
These three: unforgiveness, resentment, and retaliation has been brewing and now anger comes along. Have you experienced it like this? This is followed by hatred.
All this has been brewing in us and now we get to a point where we feel that we cannot be in the same room with this person.
After hatred comes violence.
You now get to a point you want to do violence to this person. You want them to experience the same pain you are experiencing.
The next step is murder.
This murder could be actual murder, or murder with the tongue in the form of character assassination or verbal abuse. If we don’t deal with this, it is going to the heart and take up residence. When hatred, violence and murder are in someone’s life, they feel they are justified and everybody else is going to pay the price.
If you see hatred in a person’s life, unforgiveness, resentment, retaliation and anger always precede. Also, each of the seven is progressively worse than the one preceding it.5 When you consider this, you will realize that this is true not only in our relationship with others, but also with ourselves.
The question is how do we stop this?
This whole chain of events that results in a root of bitterness in our lives, can be stopped by being willing to forgive those who have trespassed against us. This may seem difficult to do. When somebody has wronged us, we want to be angry and get even, we want to see justice done, that is human nature. This willingness to forgive does not come from ourselves, but from YHVH through His Ruach. We cannot do this of our own accord and we cannot do this unless we have experienced that forgiveness ourselves. We have received the free gift of forgiveness from YHVH, and are to pay it forward.
To have experienced it ourselves will enable us to separate the person in a way from the sin. What I mean is that we are to come to the realization that this person sinned because they are human and have brokenness in their own lives just like we have.
The parable Y’shua told illustrates this very well.
23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 “When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 “But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26 “So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 27 “And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. 28 “But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ 29 “So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30 “But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31 “So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32 “Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 ‘Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34 “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”
We are that slave who has been forgiven so much. How can we then withhold that which we freely received?
This doesn’t justify sinful behavior, though, but we are to know that YHVH will deal with that, we are not to seek or take vengeance or hold a grudge. When we are willing to forgive, we don’t let them off the hook, we give them to YHVH to deal with. He will avenge.
7 now, will not Elohim bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?
He will bring about justice, it is not for us to do. Y’shua, when He taught His disciples to pray said:
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
14 “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
There is much to be said about forgiveness. Forgiveness is key to bringing restoration. Restoration between us and YHVH, between us and others and restoration within ourselves. Many people, myself included, tend to dwell on our pasts and all we have done wrong, all the sin we have committed and we resent ourselves for it. We live all seven steps we have previously discussed. We can’t forgive ourselves for the sins we have committed and ends up with much regret and bitterness towards ourselves. The root cause of this may be because we have not accepted YHVH’s forgiveness of our sin. That causes us to harbor unforgiveness towards ourselves and gives the enemy a place in our lives. He uses this unforgiveness to condemn us and afflict us with spiritual diseases. It literally makes us sick. We have been given over to the torturer due to our unwillingness to forgive.
We can be free from this. We are to accept YHVH’s complete forgiveness of our sins. YHVH said in His word that He forgives our sins completely when we confess our sins and repent of it (or turn away from it). The beginning of all healing is restoration.5 To be restored we need to accept the forgiveness we have received from YHVH and be willing to forgive in the same way we have been forgiven. This includes forgiving ourselves. We cannot be restored to ourselves in any other way and we cannot love others the way YHVH wants us to if we do not love ourselves.
Accepting YHVH’s gift of forgiveness
YHVH says in His word:
1 John 1:9
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we continually condemn ourselves, or live in unforgiveness towards others or ourselves, we have not accepted YHVH’s forgiveness. If we can’t or don’t accept YHVH’s gift of forgiveness, we actually don’t believe Him or we think we are better than Him. Y’shua took the punishment for our sin upon Himself, He died in our place. We have redemption through His blood and the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
We don’t have to do anything for this, all we need to do is believe and receive this free gift. Accepting YHVH’s forgiveness first, will enable us to be willing to forgive others and ourselves. A great help in this is to renew our minds. We are to meditate on YHVH’s word and so change our thinking. Here are a few verses to consider and make your own. We are to read it and speak it audibly until we believe it with our whole heart. This will change us.
I read an article about forgiveness and the author suggested that we insert “I” in each scripture and confess it audibly. This list is from his article.6
If I am in Y’shua, I am a new creature. The old things have passed away.
2 Corinthians 5:1
717 Therefore if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
If I confess my sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive me my sins and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I will love and forgive others and myself as Y’shua has forgiven me
13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as YHVH forgave you, so also should you.
My sins are not part of me anymore, they are not simply covered, but are removed from me as far as the east is from the west.
12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Y’shua released me from my sins by His blood
5 and from Y’shua Messiah, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—
My sin is forgiven through the blood of Y’shua
28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.
I have been justified (made right, as if I have never sinned) by faith and have peace with Elohim through my Master Y’shua Messiah.
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with Elohim through our Master Y’shua Messiah,
I cannot be justified by works of the law or acts of righteousness, but by my faith in Messiah Y’shua.
16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Messiah Y’shua, even we have believed in Messiah Y’shua, so that we may be justified by faith in Messiah and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.
Because I believe, the righteousness of Elohim is upon me, a gift by His grace.
22 even the righteousness of Elohim through faith in Y’shua Messiah for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of Elohim, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Messiah Y’shua;
The old me has been crucified and my old man has been buried with Messiah. Now my life is in Messiah as I have been raised to life with Him and I am free to walk in the newness of life.
20 “I have been crucified with Messiah; and it is no longer I who live, but Messiah lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of Elohim, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Messiah was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
My Heavenly Father wipes out my transgressions for HIS sake. He will not remember my sins.
25 “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.
Because of the Blood of Messiah, my conscience can be purged of dead works (your past failures) so that I can serve the Living Elohim.”
14 how much more will the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to Elohim, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living Elohim?
Not only did YHVH chose to forget my sins, but He also wants me to forget them as well. He wants me to draw near to Him with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, being sprinkled clean from an evil conscience.
22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
I am in Messiah Y’shua, and therefore free from condemnation.6
1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Messiah Y’shua. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Y’shua has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
Unforgiveness causes bitterness and this causes separation from YHVH, ourselves and others. This bitterness causes us to resent or even hate ourselves or others. If we do not love ourselves, we can’t possibly love others as we are commanded to do. We have to deal with this root of bitterness. We can do this by first accepting the free gift of forgiveness we have received from YHVH.
We are to renew our minds to see ourselves as YHVH sees us: a new creation in Y’shua. If we accept the free gift of redemption we have received through Y’shua taking our punishment upon Himself, we will be willing to forgive as we have been forgiven. If we continue in self-hatred and condemnation, we deny what Y’shua has done for us. Who are we to hate the person YHVH loved so much, He gave His Son to die for their redemption. If we want to bring honor to YHVH, we are to accept His gift and live accordingly. When we do, we will be free. In this freedom we can bring glory to Him and fulfill the task He has for us.
Our past failures have been paid in full and have been removed from us as far as the east is from the west. In Y’shua, we have become a new creation. See yourself as YHVH sees you and walk His way in freedom.
18 “The Spirit of YHVH is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed,
You cannot go back and change the past, but you can change how you are influenced by it by forgiving. Start living in the newness of life bought for us by Y’shua. Accept this free gift and pay it forward.
- All quoted passages are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. We have substituted YHVH for LORD, and Y’shua for Jesus
- Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
- Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 769). New York: United Bible Societies.
- Wright, Henry W. A More Excellent way. Whitaker House, ISBN978-1-60374-101-9
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