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Forgive, and you shall be Forgiven

aymon de albatrus

"25 And when you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive [it], so that your Father in Heaven may also forgive your sins. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your sins." (Mar 11:25-26)

"3 Take heed to yourselves: If your brother trespass against you, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. 4 And if he trespass against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to you, saying, I repent; you shall forgive him." (Luk 17:3-4)


Contrary to the way of the world, there is no forgiveness without repentance, and it stands to reason, if there is no admission of wrong, then there cannot be any forgiveness for the answer received would be: "what for?".

Yet the Lord requires that we forgive who has trespassed against us. How this can be reconciled with the recognition of wrongdoing and just retribution for sin?

Simple Watson: In ourselves we are to forgive who has done us wrong remembering how many sins the Lord has forgiven us and by doing that we are displaying the ways of the Kingdom of God. This has the immediate effect to set us free, for if we do not promptly forgive in our hearts, we are harbouring in our souls seeds of bitterness that will grow to render our lives a misery. If we forgive in ourselves we are free and as the Lord said: "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." (Joh 8:36) Ahhh what liberation, praise the Lord, forever and ever.

The second step is to realise that it is totally useless to offer forgiveness to the offender, if he repents not; again this situation stands to reason. In that case the offender will be a slave to his own evil heart and not free and burdened by the effects of sin. But if he sincerely repents, we are to offer forgiveness promptly without ifs and buts, and if he has genuinely repented to God and to man, he will then be free of that sin. (Luk 3:3; 24:47)

As far as the NT is concerned, persons moved to repentance seeking forgiveness will receive it. There is no evidence that any sins are forgiven when repentance is lacking. This translates into practical life into the simple truism that if someone doesn’t ask for forgiveness and manifest their sincere desire for it by turning from their offensive behaviour, forgiveness cannot be offered. It would make no sense at all if offered. In other words, if an offender does not ask to be forgiven, and turn from his sin, no forgiveness will be forthcoming for it makes no logic whatsoever to present forgiveness to someone that is not asking for it, even appreciating it. Forgiveness requires repentance; else it is not forgiveness at all but permission.

How many times we are to forgive a person? Well according to Jesus 490 times (Mat 18:22) if he genuinely repents every time. Now this is a thing not easily done, even the Apostles had difficulties with that: "And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith." (Luk 17:5) and yet this is the command of our Lord and we must do it, remembering that all things are possible in Christ (Phi 4:13). If we cannot forgive readily upon repentance, then we have problems with our salvation and we are not really born from above. (Joh 3:5)

God requires that we forgive as He has forgiven us (Eph 4:32, Col 3:13). For God to grant His forgiveness we must repent (Mark 1:15, Luke 13:3,5, Acts 3:19). He does not grant forgiveness to those of us who are stiff-necked and refuse to repent. We must recognize our sin and repent to receive and enjoy God's merciful forgiveness. God does require repentance, but praise Him forever for even Repentance is a gift of the Lord (Act 11:18) and Repentance demonstrates that we need God to help us change our thinking, attitudes, and behaviour. If we don't admit our sin, it is impossible to be transformed. If we are not keenly aware of the sinful direction our lives are going, and recognising and admitting that it is so, we will not see a need to adjust the direction.

An unrepentant person maintains a sense of control over his life through pride and arrogance, which can lead to destruction, violence, and animosity (Proverbs 8:13; 16:18; 29:23). Turning toward God (repentance) is necessary to break the cycle of destructive behaviours and patterns of relating to God and to others.

If as believers we do not require repentance on the part of the offender, we stand in the way of that person's coming to see his need for God and experiencing His forgiveness. To put it simply, forgiveness is a two-way process: repentance on the part of the offender and pardon on the part of the offended.

Nevertheless we cannot force repentance on others and at the same time we cannot go around with packets of: "you owe me an apology". NO, the Lord has set us truly free, remembering that it in not we that live but our life is in Christ and any offence is ultimately not against our own ego but against the Lord in whom we live and have our being: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Gal 2:20 AV) Indeed we are not to seek our own revenge for we have been purchased at a high price (the blood of the Lord), we do not belong to ourselves but to Him and He will defend and protect His own. (Rom 12:19-21

Forgive and Forget

We must forgive others no matter what the offence, internally and externally, but are we required to actually forget? Of Himself God says this: "I, [even] I, [am] he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins." (Isa 43:25 AV) ) ……. "For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." (Jer 31:34) "As far as the east is from the west, [so] far hath he removed our transgressions from us." (Psa 103:12)

God totally forgives, yet He cannot erase the memory of our sins. He is the Almighty and final Judge who will bring every act and every even careless word to judgment whether good or evil. We believers will have to appear before the judgment seat of Christ, to receive our just due for our actions. (2 Corinthians 5:10) God knows we have sinned and has the memory of it but God does not hold sin against the believer after God forgives him. The knowledge is there, but the transgression has been paid off and has no more effect, and that is that.

Similarly we know the wrongs done to us but because the memory of sin remains, it does not mean that there is not total and complete forgiveness, and forgetting is not required in order to forgive internally in us. Our responsibility is to forgive others as God has forgiven us. It means that inside we are not to hold another's sin against him. "Not to remember," means "not to mention it again or to bring it to mind." It means you do not keep an account, we are not to keep a scorecard of offences done to us, we must commit them to God, for He is the Judge (Matthew 16:27).

The Bible uses the term "forget" in the sense of "escaping notice." For example, the Apostle Paul could remember his earlier sins, yet he boldly proclaimed, "to forget" (not take notice of those things) that were behind in order to press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phi 3:13,14).

Many try very hard to forget and fail, the reason is that it is next to impossible to forget things that have happened in our lives. What we can do about it is to make sure that this remembrance does not affect our relationship to others. We must continually remember what God has done to save us. It helps us appreciate and be thankful to God for saving us from that life style and sin, that miserable quagmire we were in.

We must not do like the rich servant that was forgiven about 4 billion dollars by the great king but soon after this very man demanded an immediate payment of mere 4 thousand dollars (in today’s money) from a fellow servant that could not and immediately sent him to prison, promptly forgetting the HUGE amount that was forgiven him. Truly this miser man understood nothing of the Grace received and deserved the lowest dungeon in the dark. (Mat 18:23-35) If anyone has an ear, let him hear.

In essence we are to forgive and not let the memory of past sins against us affect our love for the brethren and to make sure that the remembrance (a normal thing) of those forgiven sins does not ruins our peace in Christ, Amen.

Shall we "forgive" ourselves?

Since the beginning of time man, in his gigantic ego, has always tried to do things by his own self, his own way, and by his "wisdom" that even in this case teaches that "forgiving self" is a prerequisite for experiencing peace and joy. We hear statements such as: "I just can't forgive myself for what I have done." OR "You must learn to forgive yourself to get rid of your guilt." OR "I know God forgives me, but I need to forgive myself." Is this rebellion, or what?

But what saith Scripture?

Any teaching that emphasizes a need to forgive oneself is in fact trusting and exalting SELF instead of relying solely on the promises of God.

God says, with a promise, that if we believe and trust Him, He totally forgives us our sins for all time. Indeed He is the one that can forgive, for all offences are against Him, besides the fact that ONLY God can forgive sin. (Mar 2:7)

If we then believe that we must forgive ourselves to get peace and joy, in addition to God's Plan of Forgiveness, we are actually saying God's plan is not adequate and He needs us to help Him for He is a puny god in our minds when indeed He IS THE ALMIGHTY GOD. What delusion and arrogance from our part.

Anyway, how do we go about to forgive ourselves?

  1. De we make ourselves forget we did the act? or
  2. We deny that such act ever existed?

Let us say that if we were indeed able to force ourself to believe that we have forgiven ourselves, really the only thing we would have done is to force ourselves to feel forgiven. But who has forgiven us?? The only one that can do that is God.

But think, if we could forgive ourselves, then we do not need God, logical conclusion, I guess that this is what rebellious and natural man really wants, i.e. NO God. But Scripture says that God is and that only Him can clean us and give us that internal peace: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1Jo 1:9)

If God has forgiven us then we do not need additional forgiveness, the matter is settled for good, anything else if from the Evil one.

Are the consequences of sin removed after receiving forgiveness?

Receiving God's forgiveness does not guarantee all the consequences of our sins will be removed.

Take the case of David, he sinned heavily with Bathsheba and because of her he was responsible of murder and initially he was covering it up, but when challenged by the prophet sent by the Lord he repented and truly asked forgiveness of the Lord. The Lord received that sincere repentance of king David and forgave him, BUT the consequences of his sin carried on, the child of his sin died, the sword from there on never left his side, his son had sex in view of all with some of his wives, he almost lost his reign and life from there on was a misery for David. (2Sa 12:1-24) Nonetheless, the Lord had this to say in the NT about David: "And when he had removed him, he raised up to them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, which shall fulfil all my will." (Act 13:22) You see, God truly forgave David, for David truly repented but the consequence of sin carried on the rest of his life.

A man can commit adultery and because of that a divorce ensues breaking apart his family with much suffering. Later the man may truly repent asking for and receiving forgiveness, but the family is still broken and may never be restored due to the consequences of sin.

One can ruin his body by using drugs, and then repent, but his body is gone and a miserable death will take his course.

The thief on the cross believed in Christ Jesus and was saved...yet he still died for his sin. His soul was saved yet His body was not.

Incidentally if we have sinned against somebody and repetend to the Lord, the Lord is true to His Word and will forgive us, but we are still responsible to go the person against whom we have sinned and ask for reconciliation by seeking also their forgiveness. (Mat 5:23,24)

"I am hurting too much, I do not want to forgive."

This is a bad condition of the heart, even if we do not feel like forgiving others, we can do it and we must obey God and forgive as God has forgiven us. We are not sufficient in ourselves but our sufficiency is from God and in Christ we can do it (2Co 3:5; Phi 4:13). I am afraid that if this is the condition of our heart that is also a sin of which we must repent.

Forgiving is not to be based on how we FEEL about the matter, but out of obedience to God. The Lord forgives us out of true repentance, and we are to the same with others upon true repentance independently of our emotional state.

Seven points to Forgiveness:

  1. We are commanded of the Lord to forgive in our hearts all the offences against us. This does not mean the offence is cancelled, for without repentance no forgiveness is received, but that in our hearts we do not harbour bitterness apropos of any kind, i.e. we are free of it, indeed,

  2. We are also commanded of the Lord to promptly give forgiveness to all that ask of us, in repentance, even 490 times with sincere repentance,

  3. If we do not forgive trespasses against us, He will not forgive our trespasses against Him, and they are many,

  4. Forgiveness must be granted by us to anyone who is asking with true repentance, irrespectively on how we feel about it,

  5. We do not forgive ourself, it is God that forgives our sins in repentance,

  6. Generally the consequences of sin do carry on in the natural, even after having received forgiveness,

  7. Praise God that has provided TRUE forgiveness of sins through the Lord Jesus Christ.