It is popular among Christians today to talk about 'forgiving yourself,' and also to combat depression or guilt by repeating mantra-like phrases like, "I am special in the eyes of God."
I just e-mailed a brother in Christ (Scott McQueen), and I wanted to post what I said here, because I'm hoping that this will explain it better than my attempts in the past to explain it. Previously, I've had Christians become offended and angry when I challenged the idea of 'forgiving yourself.' They apparently seem to think that I am advocating holding on to guilt, which I am certainly not doing. Also, when Christians try to confront their depression or feelings of low self-esteem by telling themselves, "God made me, and God doesn't make junk," or, "I am special because God loves me," I have tried to tell others that this technique does not work for me, because all my life, my subconscious has received input that has continually reinforced the idea that I am a failure. I have found that what DOES
work for me, which I also think is a more biblical method, is to agree with the thought that I am a failure (i.e., because I am a sinner, and because I am not perfect). But the remedy is not to try to convince myself otherwise. The remedy that works for me (and I have also done research on this, and I have read testimonies where others said that the other technique did not work for them either, but this technique DOES work) is first, to accept the fact that you are forgiven in Christ; and second, to take your focus off self, and instead, focus on Christ. For, after all, we are not here on this earth to build up self or focus on self, but rather, to expand and glorify the kingdom of God.
So, in other words, we (who are regenerated/born again) were enemies of God, and in our own 'works,' we are still only worth going to Hell, but through the forgiveness/atonement/sacrifice/righteousness of Christ, and the indwelling Holy Spirit, we are accepted and loved, and we have been adopted into the family of God, and we have an inheritance waiting for us. Our past, present and future sins have been wiped clean, and we now have access to the holy of holies, which, in Old Testament times, only the High Priest had access to...and even for him it was dangerous, and they had to tie a rope to him, in case he was killed by God for some disobedience, so that they could pull his body out of there.
Though, as I said, a number of Christians would disagree with me, when a Christian says, "I am special, because I am made in God's image," or something similar, though they may not be incorrect, still, they are focusing on SELF. Ideally, we need to take the "I" or "me" out of it and focus only on Christ. People get depressed because they are focusing on their failures or their mistakes. If they forget self, and take their eyes off self, and focus only on Christ, they won't be depressed.
I have always been prone to low self-esteem. Many people tend to equate low self-esteem with humility. But actually, low self-esteem is a form of pride, because you're worried about what others think of you, or say about you. So, you're still focused on 'self.' If a Christian can truly die to self, they will no longer worry about what others think of them or say about them.
Similarly, and some Christians have argued angrily and very defensively regarding this point, it is popular among Christians today to talk about "forgiving yourself." But you can only forgive someone who has offended you. So, in a sense, 'forgiving yourself' is impossible. Only Christ has the power to forgive sins. Now, some of them will point out that there is also false guilt, also called psychological guilt, which is guilt over something which is not a sin. However, whether it is true guilt over a real sin, or false/psychological (i.e., imagined) guilt over something that was not a sin, in either case, the best (and only TRUE) remedy is to accept Christ's forgiveness. If you trust in the fact that Christ has forgiven you, then you don't have to worry about 'forgiving yourself,' which is, strictly speaking, not possible anyway. If you feel a need to 'forgive yourself,' then the real problem is that you haven't fully trusted that Christ has forgiven you. In other words, you are still in a works-based mentality, thinking there is something you still must do on your part. You are trying to wrest the task from Christ, and take on the task yourself. It all boils down to trusting Christ. I believe that the idea of 'forgiving yourself' is one of the many false doctrines that has crept into Christian churches today, but originally comes from New Age teaching and eastern religion. And again, it puts the focus on self rather than on Christ. I believe that those things which come from New Age influence are those things which tend to build up self and decrease the sovereignty and glory of God.
Also see my previous post, "Forgiving Yourself."