If They Repent Forgive Them
“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”
The kind of forgiveness Jesus calls us to is hard work. Jesus doesn’t simply encourage us to forgive someone who repents of sinning against usHe demands iteven if it happens multiple times a day!
But instead of focusing on the difficulty of displaying this level of forgiveness, we need to recognize that this is God’s heart toward us. We can’t exhaust God’s patience and forgiveness toward us. As we learn to appreciate, celebrate, and rest in this truth, we’re inspired and empowered to practice it.
Forgive And You Will Be Forgiven
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
Jesus’s first couple of comments are negative. Don’t want to be judged? Then don’t judge. Don’t want to be condemned? Don’t condemn. But His last statement is different. It adds a positive spin.
Unlike Satan who is the accuser, God is renowned for His mercy. And He’s attracted to like-minded people. When we’re quick to forgive, it demonstrates an understanding and appreciation of mercys cost.
What Does Jesus Say About Forgiveness
Jesus himself stressed the importance of forgiveness, but he was doing so in a culture that stressed very legalistic ideas. The problem with legalism is that it forgets or bypasses the spirit in which the law was given. Forgiveness from a legalistic perspective is a matter of balancing the books and making sure that a debt is paid or cancelled. From a spiritual perspective, forgiveness is about restoring the pathways of communication and love.
Look at Matthew 18:15-22 as an example. In verses 15-20, Jesus lays out a conflict resolution process that seeks a state of forgiveness between the parties involved. The ideal result of this solution is the meeting of two people seeking a state of forgiveness, and Jesus says that he is there also. What a beautiful moment that people can share not only with each other, but with God. Where else can we specifically do something and know that God joins us in that moment? Seen in this light, forgiveness is sacramental.
Peter hears Jesus give this instruction, but his legalistic side kicks in and he asks in verse 21 how many times he has to forgive someone before he can write them off. Seven times?
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New Testament Bible Verses About Forgiveness
Forgiveness that Sees that Faith Matters
And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Matthew 6 12
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Forgiveness that Isnt Limited by a Number
Here we can see what the Bible says about forgiving others. When Peter wanted to know exactly how many times he should forgive his brother, Jesus said seventy times seven. Jesus wasnt telling Peter to only forgive his brother 490 times! It was an illustration to make the point that forgiveness should be unlimited.
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
A Forgiveness that is Prompted by Humility
And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
Forgiveness that Reciprocates
Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
A Forgiveness that Loves Much
A Forgiveness That Knows No Limits
Forgiveness Even Leading to Death
Forgiveness Only Through Jesus Blood
Contrary To What Many Have Been Led To Believe Forgiveness Is Not Forgetting
Forgive and forget, we have been told by so many through the years. Its a nice saying, but highly misleading. Why?
First of all, God does not forget, notwithstanding what you think Jeremiah 31:34 is saying . This language of the prophet is metaphor, a word picture, designed to emphasize Gods gracious determination and resolve not to hold us liable for our sin. He has canceled the debt and will never demand payment. If God could literally forget it would undermine the truth of his omniscience. God always has and always will know all things, but he has promised never to use our sin against us or treat us as if the reality of our sin were present in his mind.
Second, forgive and forget, quite simply, is psychologically impossible. As soon as you make up your mind to forget something you can be assured that, in most instances, it is the one thing that will linger at the forefront of your conscious thinking. We all forget things, but we do it unintentionally over the course of time. Life and experience and old age work to erase certain things from our memory, but that is rarely if ever the case with sins committed against us and the wounds we have suffered.
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What Is Forgiveness Of Others
As believers, our relationship with God is restored, but what about our relationship with our fellow human beings? The Bible states that when someone hurts us, we are under an obligation to God to forgive that person. Jesus is very clear on this point:
Matthew 6:14-15For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Refusing to forgive is a sin. If we receive forgiveness from God, we must give it to others who hurt us. We cannot hold grudges or seek revenge. We are to trust God for justice and forgive the person who offended us. That does not mean we must forget the offense, however usually, that’s beyond our power. Forgiveness means releasing the other from blame, leaving the event in God’s hands, and moving on.
We may resume a relationship with the person if we had one, or we may not if one did not exist before. Certainly, the victim of a crime has no obligation to become friends with the criminal. We leave it to the courts and to God to judge them.
Nothing compares to the freedom we feel when we learn to forgive others. When we choose not to forgive, we become slaves to bitterness. We are the ones most hurt by holding on to unforgiveness.
In his book, “Forgive and Forget”, Lewis Smedes wrote these profound words about forgiveness:
What The Bible Says About Gods Forgiveness
When Jesus came to earth to live a perfect life like no one ever had, and then died the death we deserved, He was dying for our sins. When He rose from the grave He defeated the power of sin and death in our lives.
We still see sin and death around us, and in our own lives, but we know that we have the Holy Spirit inside us, so we can fight against sin.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.
The forgiveness that we have in Christ is according to the riches of his grace. this means that the forgiveness that God gives us is not deserved by us, but is a gift.
When we became Christians there was a transformation, from dead in our sins to alive in Christ.
Walking as a Christian means not being a slave to sin like we were before becoming a Christian, but we know that even as a Christian we fall prey to temptation and sin.
We can be comforted by knowing that as Christians when we ask for Gods forgiveness, He will forgive us and cleanse us.
Gods amazing forgiveness does not give us the liberty to keep on sinning but instead turn from sin and become more like Christ.
When we sin we can come to God and ask for forgiveness.
When we mess up and sin, we can come to Jesus and confess our sins and ask for forgiveness. Our God sympathizes with our weakness, forgives us, and helps us when we face temptations.
You can read more Scriptures about forgiveness here.
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God In Christ Forgave Us By Absorbing In Himself The Destructive And Painful Consequences Of Our Sin Against Him
Jackie Pullinger is a missionary and church-planter in Hong Kong whose remarkable life story is told in her autobiography, Chasing the Dragon. One particular incident occurred in the early years of Jackies ministry that illustrates the point Im making here. A young man named Ah Ping had joined the Triads when he was only twelve years old. He soon came to be supported financially by a fourteen-year-old prostitute. When Jackie showed up and began to reach out in mercy and kindness to Ah Ping and his associates, he told her in no uncertain terms: Youd better go. Just get out of here. Were no good. Go find some people who will appreciate what youre doing and be grateful for your kindness. We will only hurt you and exploit you and kick you around. Why do you stay? Why do you care? Said Jackie, I stay because thats what Jesus did for me. I didnt want him either. But he didnt wait until I got good and wanted him. He died for me while I was his hateful enemy. He loved me and forgave me. He loves you, too.
What transformed Ah Ping? What accounted for his readiness to forgive his enemies? It was his realization that Jesus Christ had absorbed in himself the consequences of Ah Pings sins.
So what is forgiveness? It is deciding to live with the painful consequences of another persons sin. You are going to have to live with it anyway, so you might as well do it without the bitterness and rancor and hatred that threaten to destroy your soul.
Forgiven Sin Still Has Consequences
While its wonderful to read of Gods lavish forgiveness, we should also pay careful attention to the painful and fitting consequences the Lord brought upon David for his sin. Were told Davids chastisement was necessary both to uphold the Lords reputation and also to teach future generations that sin has consequences . As Ive studied the latter part of Davids life, Ive often wondered if it wouldve been easier on him not to have lived to see the horrible events of his final years .
Just consider how Gods words through Nathan played out:
- The sword shall never depart from your house . God shatters the peace and stability David had spent a lifetime establishing, as his kingdom is torn apart by two civil wars.
- I will raise up evil against you out of your own house . The shameful sexual sin and murderous violence in which David engaged secretly is practiced openly by his sons, Amnon and Absalom.
- The child . . . shall die. . The baby conceived by Davids sin died seven days after he was born .
Many professing Christians take sin far too lightly. The example of David should remind us that God doesnt.
God forgives sin with great grace and at great price. Such love should motivate us to flee from sin and pursue righteousness . But if love wont, then the consequences of sin might .
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How Do We Forgive Someone
There is no magic formula that allows us to forgive. We must set it as a goal and continue to strive for it. A good place to start is how the Bible tells us to remember that the other person is just as guilty of sin as we are . Our sin separates us all from God and knowing that can give us a better perspective.
Perhaps a good way to start on the path toward forgiving someone is to pray that God would allow you to see them like HE sees them. Remind yourself that Jesus cherished them enough to die for them as well as you. Let God break your heart for them and thereby heal you of your hurt from their hand. I am not suggesting that you should do this in a way that allows yourself to be in an abusive relationship or create an unsafe situation for your children . If that type of thing continues, the offender has not repented and the rule regarding severance should be applied. God did not create you or anyone else to suffer abuse from another.
I am not promising that this will happen instantly, healing can take time depending on what the offense was and how badly someone was hurt by it. Our friends from Alcoholics Anonymous recommend as part of seeking forgiveness, that we make sure that in seeking forgiveness we do not cause further damage to someone. It may take time before it is wise for you to seek forgiveness from someone or you could make the issue worse. During your wait, pray to God for the opportunity of healing and restoration.
What Is Forgiveness By God
God loves us too much to let us destroy ourselves in Hell. He provided a way for us to be forgiven, and that way is through Jesus Christ. Jesus confirmed that in no uncertain terms when he said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” . God’s plan of salvation was to send Jesus, his only Son, into the world as a sacrifice for our sins.
That sacrifice was necessary to satisfy God’s justice. Moreover, that sacrifice had to be perfect and spotless. Because of our sinful nature, we cannot repair our broken relationship with God on our own. Only Jesus was qualified to do that for us.
The next day, Jesus died on the cross, taking the punishment due us, and atoning for our sins. On the third day after that, he rose from the dead, conquering death for all who believe in him as Savior.
John the Baptist and Jesus commanded that we repent, or turn away from our sins to receive God’s forgiveness. When we do, our sins are forgiven, and we are assured of eternal life in heaven.
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Its Our Choice To Accept Gods Gift Of Forgiveness
for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:28, ESV
God does not force us to acknowledge or confess our sins, nor to believe in Jesus Christ and the life He came to give us. The covenant of the Old Testament required various sacrifices. The new covenant we live under now is covered by the blood of the spotless lamb, Jesus Christ. The long-awaited Messiah, expected to be a military leader coming to conquer the enemies of Gods chosen people, instead died a brutal death on the cross to save the entire world. The God we meet in Scripture does not hoard his forgiveness like a miser with his money, writes Scott Hubbard, Editor for desiringGod.org, With God, there is forgiveness – and not out of reluctance or necessity, but out of the overflow of his broad heart. We dont have to make sacrifices like the people of the Old Testament times did. But we do need to believe, accept, and confess our sinfulness, on the daily.
God Is A Forgiving God
Repeatedly in the Scriptures God is represented as the God who forgives sins.
5 And the Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the Lord. 6 Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth 7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations .
17 And they refused to listen, And did not remember Thy wondrous deeds which Thou hadst performed among them So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But Thou art a God of forgiveness, Gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness And Thou didst not forsake them .
5 For Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon Thee .
4 But there is forgiveness with Thee, That Thou mayest be feared .
9 To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him .
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