“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” Ephesians 1:7
We as human beings struggle the most with one of the most important things in the world and that is…..
Too many times we place God in our world, in a box, in a certain criteria, that places Him below what He is capable of…..we all, every one of us saved and unsaved alike struggle with forgiving others, forgiving ourselves, and accepting forgiveness.
Is it any wonder that if we struggle with forgiveness that we expect God to struggle with it as well? Too often in this world we try to place God into a human spectrum and with all the false teachings in the world the struggle with forgiveness is the main reason people feel unworthy to accept salvation….it is a paramount action that we cannot really and truly comprehend because we are human with human emotions, a sinful nature, and we are not God.
Humans all have a tendency to hold on to anger, resentment, hurt, and pain; anything that we can or may hold over another person, or bring to remembrance in order to hurt others, or hurt ourselves. We cannot help but store these things in our memories, it is how we grow and learn from our mistakes…..
We all struggle with these things, and they all go along with being forgiving or being forgiven….however…..this needs to be stressed very importantly…..YOU are not God……
You are a person who is created in the image of God, and in that creation you have emotions because God has emotions…..There are people today who place forgiveness as an important step to salvation….(I am not talking about God’s forgiveness for sins), I am talking about people who say you have to forgive every person for everything they’ve ever done to you in order to be right with God…. to receive forgiveness from God, or to receive salvation from God.
Can we forgive all?
While we saved Christians should be like Christ in our forgiveness of others……It’s actually impossible for us, because we are HUMAN. Our nature does not coincide with being able to forgive everything….if this was the case……
- We would have no need of Christ, for we could forgive ourselves for every wrong/sin we’ve ever done.
- We could save others, because we could forgive them of their wrongdoings
- We would be perfect, and we are certainly not perfect.
- We would be like or above God……
(I know in my experience, I can forgive others a lot more freely and easily than I can forgive myself. I am much harder on myself because of the thinking /belief of ‘I know better’….so I deserve harsher punishment, or harsher reprimanding. I am also aware that this can allow the demons to enter thru this crack and torment the saved so we must be very quick to squelch that voice.)
When we don’t forgive others and ourselves, we dwell on it in our minds, and it affects our hearts….the hurt, the pain…..it starts taking a toll on us mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Yet, what actually is forgiveness? There is forgiveness from God, and there is human forgiveness. There is a difference and we must be honest within ourselves that everyone holds onto un-forgiveness somewhere inside of us.
Definition of Forgiveness
“the action or process of forgiving, or being forgiven; to choose to forgive and granting that forgiveness.”
(Even if it’s something simple as someone hurting your feelings when you were 10….some people can’t forgive that person, because it affected their life so very much…. Or something we did when we were younger that affected someone else or ourselves.)
What we need to realize is that sometimes un-forgiveness plays a part in whom we become, and is part of a greater plan from God.
I also want to make it abundantly clear that there is no one on the earth who can tell you that they have forgiven all and forgotten all…..only God can do that, and one day He will take it all away from us, but we are humans, and we have memories, and even if you can and do forgive someone for something they did…..it is stored in your memory and you will always remember what that person did to you….
False Forgiveness Teachings
There are some religions and false teachings that like to use this verse to teach people they can only be forgiven if they confess every sin……
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
However, you need to read this verse in context…..this verse means to confess we need a savior, to confess we are a sinner in need of saving and when we accept Him as savior, He then cleanses us from all unrighteousness….See the context….
“IF we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word in not in us.” 1 John 1: 8-9
You must continue to the next chapter to keep it all within context….
“My Little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2: 1-2
We can confess any sin that we are aware of, do we have to? No, for God already knows… as I stated in ‘understanding repentance’….when we confess, it is to show we are aware we have sinned and it is respect to God to come to Him and humble ourselves in our contriteness…..it also is to take the burden of that sin off our shoulders. But, there are sins that we don’t always know we have committed so how can we confess those in order to receive forgiveness?
There are people who like to use this verse as well….
“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.” Matthew 6:14 & 15; Mark 11:25 & 26; Luke 11:14
Teachings that tell you that God will only forgive you if you forgive others; they forget that this was before the crucifixion of Jesus, and that He is talking about forgiveness being a work and part of the Law (for when we stand before the Lord for our rewards and we have not forgiven a person, that certain work will be burned)….
There are some False teachings that are starting to gain momentum regarding sins that are un-forgivable…..
Murder, Torture, and abuse of any human being especially children or animals
(While these are horrible sins……it absolutely is a false teaching…..Paul himself may not have murdered the Jews, but he consented to it…..)
The ONLY Unforgivable sin is Blaspheming of the Holy Spirit…..this is why as a unbeliever you will go to Hell, because you blaspheme the Holy spirit, by your unbelief, you calling the Holy Spirit demonic, and your disregard to Jesus Christ.
“But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:” Mark 3:29
Once you become saved even this sin is forgivable, that is why it states ‘is in’….meaning if you do not come to Christ you are going to Hell.
There are also very dangerous false teachings about even forgiving Satan and His demons for the things they do to us…..This is not biblical and we are to hate Satan and His demons, while to be fair we cannot place all the blame on them for our sinfulness, we are not to forgive them for anything they do to us. If this was true, we would be higher than God….so if anyone ever tells you that forgiving all includes Satan and his demons, you run from them as fast as your two legs can go, for this is a demon or Satan himself speaking.
(You can see how false teachings can lead people down a path of such mental torment that you can never have peace of mind because you feel unworthy to receive God’s forgiveness when He has already granted you forgiveness for everything. It is our own human nature and Satan that places us in our own unforgiving state…..)
We need to understand that forgiveness is an action on our part, which makes it a work…..a work that we will either get a reward for, or a work that will be burned. This brings us to the difference in Human forgiveness and God’s forgiveness…..
God’s Forgiveness vs. Man’s Forgiveness
You must first understand the difference of God and Man……Man can forgive the action of your sin….this is how we can make amends to others for anything we might have done to them, or people are told they are forgiven of any immoral sin they committed by a priest…..This does not mean we are forgiven of the actual sin….because humans can only see the outside actions, they cannot see the heart….while we can guess or sometimes see the intent in another person, we still can never see what is actually in their mind or heart….
When we forgive others, it is an action of making us and them feel better, and getting a weight lifted off our shoulders, and when we ask for forgiveness we must be aware of what we are being forgiven for….if you have wronged someone, you can make amends as necessary and may or may not be forgiven.
As a human we are to do our best to forgive others when they do wrong to us, but we cannot ever forgive them for their sins….(this includes forgiving ourselves as well)
“To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;” 2 Corinthians 2:10
“take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.” Luke 17:3
“And if he trespasses against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; though shalt forgive him.” Luke 17:4
To receive or give forgiveness, we must first know that we are in the wrong or what wrong was done to us….we then need to make a choice to admit and say we are sorry, and ask for, or grant, forgiveness, or make a choice to stay stubborn and continue on our way…..
When we forgive others, it makes God happy, it helps our spiritual growth, and helps us to overcome and understand our own trials, and it can sometimes help the person we forgive. Does this mean we forget?
The forgiveness we receive from the Lord only comes after salvation…..if you are not saved; you are not forgiven of anything in your life. This forgiveness comes from the love, mercy, and grace of God….if you don’t believe in Him how can you believe in human forgiveness when the act of forgiveness comes from God first? This makes any forgiveness you have received non- existent, for humans are not greater than God.
When you believe in Jesus’ sacrifice, you are automatically forgiven for everything in your past, your present and your future….People have a hard time understanding this, but it is really very easy to understand…..
Jesus already knows every action you will make even after your salvation…..He forgives you beforehand because you have accepted Him as your savior.
For example – parents already know that their children will make mistakes and may not listen to them…..they have already forgiven them in advance….does this mean punishment is not going to take place? No, it just means that they were prepared ahead of time to love and forgive their children no matter what they do because they love them….It’s the same with the Lord.
(While this only happens to some parents, some don’t love or care about their children at all…..This is the difference in the Lord and Humans…..He loves all and forgives all if you but ask Him into your heart. Out of His great love for you, He has already forgiven you for everything, and nothing you can do will take that away. Not only does the Lord love you enough to forgive you, He took the punishment for you.)
“to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Acts 26:18
God’s knows this and He stated over and over again you are forgiven for all when you accept what He did on the cross….yet so very many of us stay in limbo because we cannot forgive ourselves or others so easily.
“as far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalms 103:12
God’s forgiveness is not the same as ours, because He is so much more above us, we could never understand His whole self. He is far more than we can truly comprehend in our human state.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
What does it mean to forgive?
In order to understand what it means to forgive, we must first understand that there is a difference in forgiveness, forgetting, and letting go. You can forgive and let go, but you can’t forgive and forget…..(If only we could choose what to remember and forget)….but again, what need would we have of Christ if we could remember what we chose? We could just remember to be perfect all day long…..
Sin brought in un-forgiveness into our hearts, because Satan himself couldn’t forgive God in His pride…..he still can’t……and un-forgiveness is always associated with stubbornness.
For it is our stubbornness that holds onto the anger, pain, and hurt that someone has caused us…..and therein lies un-forgiveness and our un-forgiving nature.
Pride is another association with forgiveness, whether it is forgiving others or accepting forgiveness, it is why pride is always our downfall, because pride will keep us in our stubbornness.
Definition of Forgive
“Stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake; cancel a debt; to pardon; to wipe slate clean; a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness….”
Definition of Forgetting
“fail to remember; inadvertently neglect to do, bring, or mention something; put out of one’s mind; cease to think or consider; repressing a memory; loss of temper, or self-control”
Definition of Letting go
“Allow someone or something to escape or go free; relinquish one’s grip on someone or something; to stop thinking about; to stop being angry, to be more relaxed; detaching from someone or something; willing to let yourself go in a new direction”
I have never met a person that has forgotten anything they have forgiven…..you can’t, it is implanted in your memories, there are people who have Alzheimer’s and Dementia that will even remember past grudges that come forth in their older age…..things that they might have forgiven long ago, but because it is in their memories it brings back grudges they might have had or anger at another person….
For people who are aware, you can forgive a person from stealing from you, but I know if the same person is around you are aware of their every movement, not because you haven’t forgiven them, but because you don’t forget……
Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offences. Look at people who have been in jail and have been pardoned or served their time only to struggle with people forgetting what they have done? This is human nature….and we should all be aware that our past can be forgiven, but you cannot expect humans to forget……or let go of what we may have done to them…..it doesn’t mean they haven’t forgiven us, but that our actions always have a consequence…..
Does forgiveness affect your salvation?
Does this mean that if you haven’t forgiven someone that you won’t go to heaven? Some teach this, and this is a false teaching, you can still go to heaven and you will still be saved even if you have un-forgiveness in your heart…..The Holy Spirit will work on you even up until your last breath to forgive, but some people pass on quickly and surprisingly so this has nothing to do with your salvation.
Does this mean you aren’t forgiven from some of your sins? No, you see; when Jesus died, He died for all sins, and forgiveness of all sins is in His grace. The reason we are to forgive others is for ourselves and for them, it is to bring us some peace…..But, to teach or tell someone that they will not be forgiven of their sins because they struggle with forgiving someone, is another false doctrine….for that negates what Christ did on the cross.
It does not say in scripture that in order to be forgiven for sins, you must forgive all….that would be impossible….. It says ‘In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:’ Colossians 1:14…..do we deserve this forgiveness? No, we honestly don’t, but we receive it because we believe in Jesus Christ, we receive it because it is God’s grace and mercy on us, because He knows we are not perfect and cannot do what He can…..
The Whole Point
The point is; that you can take all the forgiveness verses out of context based on who you are trusting or listening to…..but you must read them all in context with the shed blood of Jesus, because the crucifixion was the shedding of His blood for the purpose of making up for our human nature, which includes our unforgiving hearts.
Way too often we try to make God’s forgiveness like our forgiveness, we try to place God in the Human spectrum instead of trying to understand that He is much more than we are…..We need to start realizing that we are not God, we are humans…..and we are not perfect and can do everything…..that was the purpose Jesus died for us, because He knew in our humanness we could never please Him to perfection…..so He is the perfection for us through the crucifixion and we take on His perfectness when we stand before God.
You will not be damned if you are unforgiving, either of yourself or others…..you will be damned in your unbelief in the forgiveness God granted in His Love and Mercy for you for all your unrighteousness……
The most important thing is to seek the Lord, while we can obtain forgiveness from humans and it can take a burden off our shoulders and make us feel better…..only when we seek the Lord’s forgiveness will we save our soul, because only Jesus can forgive us for all things when we accept Him as our savior.
It is only when we spend time with the Lord, that forgiveness comes to our hearts and before we are even quite aware, instead of anger, hurt, and pain, we feel compassion, and pity and we realize that we have forgiven others, just as the Lord forgives us….but don’t beat yourself up if you are struggling, for it is a process for each of us.
“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:” Colossians 1:14