Have you ever wondered what God says about forgiveness?, or about how He views it? How do we obtain forgiveness? How do we let go of things we have done and forgive others? In this article, we will take a journey through the Bible reflecting on what God’s word shows us about forgiveness.
The Bible does not directly tell us what the word Forgiveness means but it shows us what it means. In scripture we find countless examples of forgiveness:
Forgiveness of Sins
- Believers are made white as snow
- Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together, “says the LORD “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though you are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
God forgives and renews people who believe in Jesus. Our sins and sinful nature are forgiven and that means we are made righteous in the sight of God.
- Jesus extends a loving invitation
- Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, All you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Jesus welcomes all to find rest, rest from hard labor. The Pharisees and scribes at that time would teach the law as a means to salvation. It became a hard task to constantly try and be perfect, that is why Jesus’ message is so needed because that understanding had to be corrected.
People were constantly under pressure to be perfect to please God. They needed to realize they couldn’t do it on their own and neither can we. Additionally, Jesus’ mercy is readily available. His forgiveness and grace set us free.
- Sinners are forgiven when they repent and believe in Jesus.
- Luke 15:11-32 (the prodigal son)
This parable has an unexpected twist at the end of the story that applies to us who may not be thinking of ourselves as “prodigal”.
As Christians, we can be stingy with the grace we have received. Sometimes we don’t want to see others receiving the same grace we did.
The angry brother in this parable should reveal to us something about our hearts. When we don’t seek the best for others, we need to question whether we truly carry the Spirit of God, Jesus had true compassion for everyone, each person is made in the image of God.
Not seeking grace for others is actually wishing them to hell and not heaven and if we really view it from that perspective, it shows the true evil in our hearts.
We need true compassion towards sinners.
This parable is a reflection of God’s forgiveness for any sinner. He welcomes sinners home through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ.
- Jesus tells us to pray for forgiveness
- Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
Repenting for our sins is the first step to receiving forgiveness.
Prayer is also an important step to bring forth sinners to God, seeking forgiveness for them.
God graciously forgives us when we confess our sins before him.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Proverbs 28:13-14 “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. Happy is the man who is always reverent, but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.”
- In love Jesus died to make us Holy; we are without blemish.
- Ephesians 5:25-27 “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”
God forgives every sin and that means we are made clean in the sight of God. We are made Holy in His sight. The Holy Spirit perfects us as we grow as Christians, this process is called sanctification.
Hebrews 10:10 “ And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.
Hebrews 10:14 “ For by a single offering he was perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
- Believers are rescued from the dominion of darkness. They are brought into Jesus’ eternal kingdom and are forgiven for all their sins.
- Colossians 1:13-14 “ He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. “
To forgive may be the hardest thing many of us do in our lives. If we really want to show love and be loved, forgiveness is simply one of the things that show true love. No one is perfect and no one is without sin, so at some stage, we all need to forgive.
Forgiveness can be a tough choice because it fights against our sinful nature. So what voices or thoughts are keeping you from forgiving? What excuses are you making? Forgiveness is selfless, it is rarely about us or our hurt but it is about obeying Jesus.
Jesus warns, “If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14–15).
Can you hear the self-destruction in forgivelessness? If you are withholding forgiveness do you see how you are feeding your bitterness? Your selfishness?
When we think of forgiveness, we can automatically gravitate to that one phrase that says “Forgive and Forget”. But the truth is, this statement can be misleading,
If we can’t forgive others that have wronged us, why should God forgive us for our sins?
Everyone is made in the image of God and should be offered forgiveness. To withhold forgiveness is to side with the forces of darkness, it is to side with the enemy, It is to choose wickedness instead of goodness.
In Matthew 18:21-35 we see the parable of the unforgiving servant.
It starts with a question from Peter: “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” – Matthew 18:21-22
Jesus then goes on to tell the story of the unforgiving servant who was forgiven by the king but then when he was released of the consequences of his sins went and didn’t forgive the debts of others who owed him.
According to Jesus, this is how the kingdom of heaven works.
Forgiveness goes both ways, forgiving others is our duty because God forgave us.
Forgiving others is hard but understanding how much forgiveness God had for you will give you grace for others. Each of us are a sinner and sometimes when we view ourselves as better than others we automatically think that others don’t deserve the same grace we received.
We need to humble ourselves and the true definition of humility in scripture is having an honest view of yourself in comparison to a Holy and perfect God.
You also need to learn to forgive yourself. The enemy loves it when we beat ourselves down and he loves it when we isolate ourselves, he loves it when we give into our depression.
When we repent for our sins and generally pray for any of our anxieties, we need to leave it in God‘s hands and we need to let go of our old identity and put on the new.
“and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”- Colossians 3:10 ESV
As Christian’s we are transformed and made new. We are a new creation because of what Jesus did for us. In our daily lives, we need to learn to live with constant gratitude for what he has done, and from that, we can truly love others and forgive them.
“Print every word of that in diamonds, ‘I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. ‘” – Charles Spurgeon
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