Forgiveness

The most valuable gift one can give to those who know they need it.

Matt 18:21-35

Vs 35 – if you do not extend forgiveness to others God will exact to your account the same judgement you are personally conveying to that person. God will not eliminate the consequences until you yourself repent. Repent of what? – The lack of love, lack of grace, that which you have received from God. It is a slap in the face of the one that provided the means of forgiveness at great personal cost (the gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ); [1] and at a cost greater than you or I will ever be called upon to make.

If God answered the prayers of a believer who had an unforgiving spirit, He would dishonour His own name. How could God work through such a person to get His will done on earth? If God gave him his requests, He would be encouraging sin! The important thing about prayer is not simply getting an answer, but being the kind of person whom God can trust with an answer.

(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright (c) 1989 by SP Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.)(see also Matthew Henry)

It takes no effort for God to love, which is natural to Him, but to provide the basis for forgiveness and extend mercy means He must make an effort on behalf of those who cannot.

for consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart. 4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin Heb 12:3;

Why must we forgive? Because we are children of God prepared before the foundation of the world to salvation. And to what end were you saved? – That you may be partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4) and reflect that nature to an unbelieving world in a tangible form. This makes us distinctly different from all others.

Matt 5:44-48

44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,

45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?

48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

There is a distinct difference between forgiveness and tolerance. Tolerance of anything and everything under the guise of forgiveness and love is a perversion of Scripture. What is sin must be addressed and corrected. Sinful behaviour must be defined and addressed regardless if forgiveness is being extended.

What may we tolerate? Personality traits, ignorance, immaturity, but never wilful sin!

But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the highest. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. LK 6:35, 36

Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’ Luke 11:4 NIV

Are you sorely treated by the world? Blame mankind in their wilful choices, blame the enemy of our souls, or the fractured natural realm, but God does not personally treat anyone this way. By a negative response to offenders you choose bitterness where God would have you free and only owned by Him. [2]

and whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses. Mk 11:25, 26. If you resist, then there is no healing of your past and emotional sorrows associated with the issue.

Am I not saved through faith in Christ? Are not my sins forgiven at the cross? Then how can I not be forgiven? Forgiveness does not correct consequences, righteous living works out recovery, but recovery can’t begin without forgiveness first.

You’re not forgiven of your unforgiveness. God will not overlook your hate by the blood of Christ. If you do not forgive, the judgement you extend to another comes upon your soul; God orchestrates this as a form of discipline, not condemnation. (There some theological teachers that strongly imply this may mean God will not forgive all your sins period; I’m inclined to disagree with that point but certainly not with the very negative consequences that progressively applies to our lives as a result of discipline toward forgiving).

Don’t blame the offender for the continual pain, it is your choice to live in the pain and practice the very thing that prevents you from being free of the offender’s hold on you thoughts; God will hold you in contempt until you repent, bend, and obey that to which you were called to be in Christ Jesus – a holy forgiver!

Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven… Lk 6:37

This judgement is not telling us to not use discernment in making moral evaluations; otherwise 1 Cor 5:9 – 6:3 and other sections of Scripture wouldn’t make sense. No, this judgement is in passing sentence and condemning the person by shutting out opportunities for reconciliation. [3] This is the founding principle of hell, no reconciliation, no relationship, and no hope – forever.

The laws of creation, the natural order of things have been established decreeing predictable order to our universe. Justice is to reign supreme over the social affairs of man. Justice and order is the design of creation. To have someone pay for a crime is reasonable and man’s nature demands it.

“The desire for justice is derived from our hunger for order, righteousness, and beauty.” [4]

Forgiveness is not natural; it does not feel naturally right to forgive another of a crime for which they should pay.

God is above the natural order of His creation, God’s personality goes beyond being right, just and orderly – He is LOVE (1 Jn 4:16). For God to reach out to a person who wilfully chooses against the law of ‘love’ and wilfully living is sin God must go beyond justice’s demand of condemnation. This makes God divinely above what we could ever be. However the ‘love’ of God must be in harmony with the holy demand for justice; thus His Son Jesus Christ! God forgives no sin out of mere sentiment! [5] Sin must be paid for as demanded by holy justice. Jesus Christ took on Himself the just punishment due sin, He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us. [6] When I repent and trust He paid the full price for my sin then I am freed from sin’s power over me. All the punishment due was taken by Christ on my behalf, and God the Father, in light of that payment, which He Himself provided, is free to justly give us all things. [7]

IF WE ARE NOT PREPARED TO FORGIVE WE ARE CONDEMNING; WE ARE PRACTICING PERSONAL VENGEANCE, AND METING OUT PERSONAL PUNISHMENT WHICH IS RIGHTLY GOD’S – RO. 12: 19

Self-righteousness, or revenge, because of personal offence motivates one to unscriptural judgement.

WHY DO I FORGIVE? BECAUSE IF I DON’T, I COMMIT A GREAT CRIME IN WITHHOLDING MERCY, LOVE AND RECONCILIATION, ALL OF WHICH IS A REFLECTION OF THE VERY HEART OF GOD WHO HAS SAVED PEOPLE WHO DRAW CLOSE TO HIM THROUGH CHRIST

I often hear people say things like, “That person hurt me and he has no right to do that.” “I have a right to be treated fairly.” “I’m made in the image of God and have the right to be treated with dignity.”

Rom 12:17-21

17Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;If he is thirsty, give him a drink;For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. NKJV

DOES THIS MEAN I SHOULD LET PEOPLE GET AWAY WITH EVERYTHING?

NO, WE ARE TO REBUKE SIN, AND OFTEN THE OFFENDER NEEDS TO REPENT [8] BEFORE A TWO WAY RELATIONSHIP CAN BE RE-ESTABLISHED. Consequences to sin may demand restitution, confession, or a form of discipline, even so, the action is never motivated by a desire to punish, but to correct and bring about reconciliation of that soul with God and man.

But some may say, “But I don’t want that person reconciled to God or me, I want him or her to pay!”

Luke 17:1-4

17:1Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offences should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! 2It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. 3Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”

NKJV

We can have a forgiving heart but sometimes the relationship cannot be healed until the offender admits to his guilt and need. [9] This is where church and personal discipline often comes into place. This is not to punish but to correct so that person may experience the consequences of sin. Sometimes to open a relationship without repentance is to convey unacceptable tolerance of sinfulness, or, at the very least, diminish the seriousness of sin. It must be remembered that this is in the context of the Church life. Trust, for example is earned, not given. When a trust is broken, we need to be wise before we establish trust in that person again. The fruit of the offender’s repentance needs to be tested over a prolonged period of time. A paedophile for example may have fellowship restored but the consequences of his sin may remain; staying away from children, for example.

For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore put away from yourselves that wicked person (1 Cor 5:11-13).

WHAT ABOUT MY NEIGHBOUR, MY PARENTS, CHILDREN, MY FELLOW WORKERS, MY BOSS? THESE MAY BE UNBELIEVERS?

We must have a forgiving attitude toward those who offend us! Whether this person is a Christian brother or sister, or a person outside the faith.

…bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. Col 3:13

and be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you. Eph 4:32

When someone important to us betrays or offends us, we may hold a grudge, and be defensive of our hurt feelings. We want to punish the offender.

But forgiveness does not demand its rights; it refuses to seek revenge. It refuses to make the other hurt and feel pain in return – non-retaliation!

Forgiveness chooses to accept hurt, to suffer, to accept the offence.

It is extremely hard to willingly accept the hurt the offender deserves to feel. Forgiveness will not justify vengeful retaliation of any sort. We are talking of retaliation motivated by revenge; we are not talking about legal or moral matters that must be brought to the authorities for correction or discipline.

God does not expect forgiveness to overlook criminal activity or wilful sin – this would be unbiblical tolerance.

If a parent abuses a child, it is wrong to feel pain, anger, and desire revenge? No, an emotional reaction to injustice is proper. IT IS NOT WRONG FOR US TO FEEL AN EMOTIONAL REACTION TO SIN OR INJUSTICE, GOD FEELS THE SAME WRATH AGAINST IT TOO.

(Bernardo, the parents of the slain teens have every right to demand and desire justice, but getting proper justice, even the execution of Bernardo, will not release them to freedom. There will be a satisfaction of proper justice being done, but freedom from the pain is only through forgiveness!)

However we are to leave the wrath to God. We are to seek healing and reconciliation both for the perpetrator and especially the victimized. [10]

JESUS BORE OUR PENALTY; IN HIS FORGIVENESS HE SUBMITTED TO THE CONSEQUENCES OF OUR SIN AND BORE THE PAIN WILLINGLY WITHOUT RETALIATION. THEREFORE I CANNOT TRULY FORGIVE IF I’M NOT PREPARED TO ACCEPT OR RECEIVE THE CONSEQUENCES OF ANOTHER’S SIN AGAINST ME. I AM TO BEAR THE EMOTIONAL RESULTS WILLINGLY.

There is a test as to whether one’s forgiveness is genuine. And it is the hardest test to pass. Once one has forgiven then one must verbalise the same to God, with the addition of asking God to no longer charge that person with that particular offence. Jesus did the same as they nailed Him to the cross; Forgive them for they know not what they do. Those who were responsible for the crucifying act have been absolved of that particular crime against the Anointed! This counters the, ‘Okay, I’ll forgive for my well being, but knowing God will get the person in the end’. The same is manifested at the stoning of Stephen: Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.”… Acts 7:60

FORGETFULNESS IS NOT A REQUIREMENT OF FORGIVENESS. You can forgive but you cannot be expected to forget the event. The memory remains just as the nail prints remained with Christ after His resurrection. The history of our lives is forever and can never be changed. What has happened has happened forever. But your present life can change! You don’t have to be continually a prisoner to your past.

Jesus Christ was not a victim of circumstance, though circumstance sought to victimise Him. A victim allows their character to be robbed and possible destroyed by circumstance. Our soul in Christ need not be affected that way, on the contrary, by right biblical response; our character is actually increased!

No matter how adverse the circumstance or relationship nothing can thwart God’s purpose for us in Christ (Ro 8:31-39). The only thing that would diminish the purpose of God is our believing and following lies and wilful choices of sin. [11]

Many do not feel totally forgiven by God. Do you feel fully forgiven by God? If you don’t, it must be one of three reasons: 1. Unbelief in the total cleansing Christ accomplished for you at the cross; you may not be a real child of God through faith. 2. The unconfessed knowledge of sin in your life (the fruit of guilt hides the face of God). 3. Or you do not feel forgiven because you are receiving the discipline of the Lord because of unforgiveness to others – the fruit of bitterness blocks grace.

Why does God demand such a hard thing – forgiving enemies and those who hurt, often unjustly?

FORGIVENESS HEALS YOUR SINFUL HEART THROUGH AN ACT OF DIVINE LOVE AND INVITES THE OFFENDER TO BE HEALED (THOUGH OFTEN THE OFFENDER MAY NOT RESPOND PROPERLY – IT DOES NOT MATTER). WE CAN BE ANGRY (EPH 4:26) AND YET NOT BE BITTER. IS THIS OFFENSE AGAINST HOLINESS OR PERSONAL RIGHTS?

WHEN YOU FORGIVE, HE TAKES OUT THE STING AND THE POISON THAT IS THE PRICE OF UNFORGIVENESS, BITTERNESS.

2 Cor 2:10-11

10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

l “Bitterness is difficult to resolve because we are unwilling to allow those who have wronged us to go unpunished” John Regier

l “Forgiveness recognises that bitterness is assuming a right we don’t have.” Bill Gothard

Forgiveness releases both you and the offender from the unchangeable past!

You may remember the event, but if true forgiveness has been extended, you will no longer relive the emotional pain. God’s Holy Spirit heals your heart and soul by his creative power through your obedience to the law of love and sacrifice.

You are to be owned only by God, not by others. Those who you do not forgive own a portion of your soul, your mind and emotions; and hold you prisoner to your past. But you are not your own, you have been purchased by God for freedom and liberty in Christ!

Romans 1:1

1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God NKJV

BONDMAN, BONDMAID

In calling himself, however, a “bond slave of Jesus Christ,” e. g., Rom 1:1, the apostle Paul intimates (1) that he had been formerly a “bond slave” of Satan, and (2) that, having been bought by Christ, he was now a willing slave, bound to his new Master. (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright (c)1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

John 15:15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

Matt 11:30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

John 8:36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

HOW DO I EXTEND FORGIVENESS?

-Go to anyone who has sought your forgiveness and humble yourself before them.

-If the other party doesn’t know of your attitude, then deal with it before God alone, and confess to God you’re taking offence and practising vengeance that is rightfully His alone.

-If you have offended someone and they have felt and know it, go and ask for forgiveness, in humility specifying your sin without excuse.

1 PETER 2:21-25

Jesus Christ took upon Himself the sins of the world and paid the penalty due those sins. Jesus couldn’t do that if He did not have a forgiving heart so as to absorb the hurt, pain, and punishment of sin that wasn’t His. Forgive them Father for they do not what they do… Jesus said this as they were crucifying Him. Ephesians 4:32 tells us to forgive also as did God through Jesus Christ.

You’re affected by the person who offends you. You’re affected by God who withholds from you what you in turn are withholding from another – love and release. If you choose not to forgive, the offence will hold you prisoner to a past that cannot be changed. Your unforgiveness also has the offender own your emotions. If you forgive, you release yourself as judge and jury, from anger, hurt, and bitterness. As a choice of love you will extend to the offender opportunity for healing. You are to be free from man’s ownership and be an unfettered servant of God. The Holy Spirit will then confirm your forgiveness from the Father in Heaven. God will be pleased by your expression of His character (2 Pet 1:2-4). God will heal your soul for His names sake in Christ Jesus.

Col 3:12-17

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;

13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

NKJV


[1] Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

[2] As one person once said, “I don’t rent space in my head to anyone.”

[3] John 12:47 And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.

Rom 14:13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.

krino (kree’-no); to try, condemn, punish: avenge

[4] author unknown (Pink?).

[5] “If God could have forgiven one sin of one person as an act of mere kindness, He would have compromised His own Holiness which demands judgment for sin. Having thus compromised Himself with sin, He would need Himself to be saved because of the unrighteous thing He had done. He would, by such supposed kindness, have established a principle by which He could forgive all human sin as an act of divine clemency, and thus the death of Christ is rendered unnecessary.” L.S. CHAFER, SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY; VOL IV, PG 430F

[6] 2 Cor 5:21

[7] excerpt from 8PrayerMotivation

[8] CONFESSION – full admission of guilt without excuse; TRANSPARENCY – full disclosure of his sinfulness; SHAME – having a distinct sense of unworthiness or guilt; SUBMISSION – accepting just consequences; DESIRING FORGIVENESS – of those directly affected. [8]

[9] FORGIVENESS Conditions of Forgiveness: Jesus recognized that there are conditions to be fulfilled before forgiveness can be granted. Forgiveness is part of a mutual relationship; the other part is the repentance of the offender. God does not forgive without repentance, nor is it required of man. The effect of forgiveness is to restore to its former state the relationship which was broken by sin. Such a restoration requires the cooperation of both parties. There must be both a granting and an acceptance of the forgiveness. Sincere, deep-felt sorrow for the wrong which works repentance (2 Cor 7:10) is the condition of mind which insures the acceptance of the forgiveness. Hence, Jesus commands forgiveness when the offender turns again, saying, “I repent” (Luke 17:3-4). It was this state of mind which led the father joyfully to welcome the Prodigal before he even gave utterance to his newly formed purpose (15:21).

(from International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1996 by Biblesoft)

[10] CONFESSION – in light of the scope of the crime; RESTITUTION – where possible or applicable; RENOUNCE SIN – forsake his doings and establish accountability; [10]

[11] “He gives place – literally claim or practical ground – to Satan’s activity in his life. Giving way willfully to practice sins of the flesh gives occasion for Satan to have his way in a believer’s life. Although all legal claim of Satan affecting our eternity was cancelled at the cross, a believer’s willful indulgence in fleshly sins gives the enemy a place or a claim to afflict to a degree to which he will be quick to exploit.” MARK I. BUBECK. SATAN IS JUSTIFIED IN HIS ATTACK RELATED TO THE SCOPE OF WILLFUL SIN AND IGNORANCE WHEN THE CHRISTIAN SHIFTS HIS ALLEGIANCE TO SATAN’S DOMAIN. GOD ALLOWS THIS AFFLICTION TO BE PERFORMED BY SATAN TO CHASTEN THE CHRISTIAN – 1 Cor 5:5; 1 Tim:1:20; 1 Cor 11:28-32; Heb 12:5-11..

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