Forgiveness, what does this word mean to you? In the lives of human beings, forgiveness is an action that we will need many times. We will need the forgiveness of God and others, and we will need to forgive others. In the Word of God, the word forgive is mentioned many times. We all want forgiveness when we mess up, but do we desire to forgive others as much as we want others to forgive us? In this lesson I hope that we can understand what forgiveness really is. I pray that we can really grasp the forgiveness of God in our own lives. Also I want us to comprehend the power of forgiving others and what God commands on the subject.
Biblical Examples of Forgiveness: Examples
What does it mean to forgive exactly? To forgive someone is to grant pardon for or remission of an offense, debt, etc. It is to absolve.
In the New Testament, the Greek word used for the English word Forgive is Aphesis. The word’s definition is: a pardon of sins, letting them go as if they had never been committed.
Think about that for just a second. In past lessons such as the one entitled Salvation from Sin, we studied why Jesus chose to die on the cross so that humanity could be forgiven of their sins and have relationship with God. We know that had it not been for the sacrifice that was made by Jesus on the cross we would have no hope of reconciliation with The Father.
Matthew 26:27 “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28. For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
The Greek word for remission in verse 28 is that same word, Aphesis, that is used for forgiveness, to pardon sins as if they had never been committed, by the shed, applied blood of Christ. Praise His Holy Name Forever! Through Christ, our sins are forgiven and forgotten as if we never committed them! Therefore we do not have to live in guilt, shame, or condemnation. This is absolutely beautiful.
1John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Hebrews 9:22 “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without the shedding of blood is no remission.
Hebrews 10:18 “Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
So we know that Christ died, and rose again conquering death, hell, and the grave and those that accept Him will be forgiven of sins and have eternal life through faith in Him. After Jesus arose, He went back to the Father and sat down at the right hand of God and is now our High Priest, our intercessor. Christ is the Mediator between God and man, our reconciliation.
Romans 8:34 “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Ephesians 1:20 “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
Hebrews 1:3 “Who being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the world of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of Majesty on high;
Ephesians 1:7 “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
So we understand that God forgives you and I our trespasses and sins through the blood of Christ when we go in faith believing and ask. We delight in this truth but are we willing to forgive others their wrong doings?
There are times when we can easily forgive someone for an offence but then there are other times when in our flesh it is very difficult to forgive because we have those feelings of pain and betrayal. Satan knows that we are creatures of emotion, and he will prey upon that every time in our weakness. In order to begin to forgive we must to learn and understand that forgiveness is an act of will. It is not an emotion.
Now what does God say about humans forgiving one another? In Matthew chapter 6 Jesus says:
Matthew 6:14 “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
Matthew 6:15 “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Ephesians 4:32 “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
By the scriptures we see that forgiving others is not an option, it is a must if we wish for God to forgive us.
When Jesus was on the Cross, in his agony, he forgave the thief on the cross as well as those that were torturing killing him.
Luke 23:24 “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”
Jesus is our example. When we are saved and born into the family of God we are to follow Christ’s example. To be a Christian is to be Christ like. One might say, well I’m only human how can I forgive certain unspeakable things that have been done to me.
Another may say, well in the Old Testament the law was an eye for an eye. To this I say, we are no longer under the law but we are in the dispensation of grace which came after Jesus died on the cross and rose again the third day. Being born again, we now have that same power inside us that raised Christ from the grave and that empowers us to do things that are impossible for our flesh through The Holy Spirit that lives inside us.
Romans 8:10 “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”
Romans 8:11 “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
Romans 8:12 “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
Romans 8:13 “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”
Dear one, this is not to condemn you, it is to set you free. Of course in our own flesh we cannot forgive some things. However through Christ we can do all things. If we are willing to do the will of God, we can humble ourselves before Him and pouring out our hearts to Him. Even though He knows all, we are to tell Him of the things that have been done to us and the pain that we feel. We go and tell Him that we want to be able to forgive others because it is His will and we delight in his ways, but that it is something that we cannot do on our own. We then ask Him to help us to begin to forgive no matter what another person has done.
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
It may seem impossible, and it is in our own power but we know that with Christ all things are possible. The Sweet, indwelling Spirit of God empowers us to do the will of God no matter how impossible it may seem to our fleshly natures.
1 Corinthians 2:16 “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”
My friend, until you forgive, you will never be free. To forgive does not mean that you condone what has happened. It means that you allow yourself to be free from it. When you forgive another, you really are doing it for Christ and freeing yourself.
There is a quote that says unforgiveness is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die. When you don’t forgive, that anger and hurt slowly eats at your mind and your heart like a cancer. Everyday in your mind and even in your subconscious, that anger prevents you from reaching your full potential of happiness. It prevents you from moving into the divine plan God has for your life.
Proverbs 15:13 “A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.”
Proverbs 15:15 “All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.”
Proverbs 29:22- 23 “An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression. 23. A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.”
You can not harbor feelings of anger, pain and unforgiveness and still have a merry heart. The opposite is true. You will be of a broken spirit and not only will your mind suffer, but your health as well.
Dr. Caroline Leaf, the author of, Who Switched Off My Brain, has researched the human brain with particular emphasis on unlocking its vast untapped potential for over 25 years. She reports research has shown that around 87% of illness in humans today can be attributed to our negative thought life, and approximately 13% to diet, genetics and environment. Studies conclusively link more chronic diseases (also known as lifestyle diseases) to an epidemic of toxic emotions.
Proverbs 17:22 “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”
Galatians 6:8 “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap live everlasting.”
Satan will try to tell you that revenge on the one that wronged you will make you feel better, but we know that he is the father of all untruths. This is what God’s word says about revenge.
Romans 12:17 “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
Romans 12:18 “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceable with all men.”
Romans 12:20 “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.”
Romans 12:19 “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
Now that last verse doesn’t mean that you sit back and just hope and wait for God to send fire from heaven and “blast” your enemy or the person that has hurt you to oblivion, I say that jokingly, but seriously in all humility and in the attitude of Christ we are to desire and try to forgive all those that have wronged us. God is the judge of all and He will do with all the ways that are best. Friend, I beg you, please do not place yourself in a position to be judged because you are unwilling to forgive when Christ has made a way for you to.
Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:”
Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”
Matthew 5:44 “But I pray unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Matthew 5:45 “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Forgiving and being good to those who are evil to you doesn’t mean that God expects you to just stay around them all the time and let them continue to abuse you. No, this means that if it happens you need to forgive them and do not do evil things to them in return. Instead trust God to take care of what has happened. God does not expect you to stay in a place where you are being abused. Many times there are situations when we have to remove ourselves from abusive situations so that we can survive and be healthy emotionally, and mentally as well as physically. You can move on and forgive through Christ. God doesn’t expect you to stay in an abusive situation where your life is threatened. Cry out to God if you are in an abusive situation. He is your deliverer. If you are in a situation like this, I pray for you right now. Seek God immediately for deliverance.
Psalm 31:15 “My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.”
Psalm 22:19 “But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.”
Isaiah 41:13 “For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”
Isaiah 41:10 “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
Now someone may have abused you in the past and you are having a hard time wanting to forgive. Don’t be afraid to take that to the Lord. You can choose to forgive. Don’t let Satan lie to you and make you think that it is not your decision. You control your thoughts and emotions, they should not control you. If you are having a hard time wanting to forgive, take it to the Lord in earnest prayer. Tell him that this has happened and in your heart you are angry and hurt and you don’t want to forgive right now but you want him to change your heart and help you to desire that. When you humble yourself before God, truly desiring to do his will, He will help you. This is a process that probably will not happen overnight, but God knows your heart and if you really want to forgive and be free, He will guide you through what you need to do and when you do all that you can do, He will do the rest. We must first put forth the effort and do what we can do right now. God sees our effort and our desire to please Him. When we do this earnestly and sincerely, we will be amazed at the things that God will help us to forgive and overcome.
Joyce Meyer, a wonderful Christian teacher, and author tells many times of God’s grace to forgive. She grew up and a house of strife and abuse. Her father sexually abused her from the time she was at a very young age for several years. Understandably so, it was hard for her to live through that terror and to overcome those feelings that came with that pain, horror, and shame. However, our Heavenly Father gave her the grace to forgive her abuser and God has used her in a way she never imagined He would. She now teaches thousands and thousands of people about the Lord and is a help to so many in countless ways. Today, she is free from that abuse. She is free from that pain through forgiveness that came by trusting and following Christ. What an inspiration her life is.
Another example of radical pardon, and I love this story told by Pastor John Hagee when speaking about the Power of forgiveness.
During the Korean War, a South Korean Christian civilian was arrested by the Communists and ordered to be shot. But when the young Communist leader learned that the prisoner was in charge of an orphanage, caring for small children, he decided to spare him and kill his son instead. So they took his nineteen-year-old son and shot him in front of his father.
Later, the fortunes of war changed and that same young Communist leader was captured by UN forces, tried, and condemned to death. But before his sentence could be carried out, the Christian man whose son had been killed, came and pleaded for the man's life. He declared that this Communist was young, that he really did not know what he was doing. "Give him to me and I will train him," he said. The UN forces granted his request and the father took the murderer of his son into his own home and cared for him. Today, that man, formerly a Communist, is a Christian pastor, serving Christ. This is the power of forgiving love.
Not only was this man’s life changed, but think of the Korean man who forgave him and the freedom that must have come to him through Christ. What a wonderful Savior we have who gives us abilities to do things that seem utterly impossible in our own feeble minds. Christ has helped countless ones forgive horrible abuses and persecutions, and He will help you as well Dear Child of God if you seek His face.
Yes Dear one, there is wonderful power in forgiveness. Not only in the forgiveness that comes to us from God through Christ of our sins, but also in our forgiveness of others who have trespassed against us. Go to your Father who loves you so much and who understands you more than you understand yourself. Run to He who knows, feels and understands your pain and ask Him to help you forgive and to be free forever from this pain and hurt that fills your heart, mind, and your spirit. He can give you a peace beyond understanding and when you forgive, you can begin to heal and be free forever.
John 8:36 “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”
Dear Righteous Heavenly Father,
I come to you again today in awe of who You are and in wander of all that You do, can do, and will do. You are amazing God! Father today I ask you to help us to forgive others as you forgive us our sins and trespasses. Father sometimes it’s so hard for us to forgive or to even want to forgive because it feels to our emotions that we are allowing or condoning the things that have happened. Father I ask that you help each one of us to understand that we forgive for Christ’s sake and through forgiveness we are free. Father I ask that you help us to want to forgive and that you help us to follow the steps by faith until forgiveness is there. Father also, I pray that you deliver those today who may be in abusive situations and feel as if they have no way out. Dear sovereign God, You know and understand the things that happen in each one of our lives and you understand our hearts and our hurts. Father I ask that you run quickly on the wings of the wind to those dear ones who need deliverance from abuse. Lord we know that you know all things and you can and will work all things out for good to those that love you and who are called according to Your purpose. I ask you Father in the precious name of Jesus that you deliver the abused and afflicted from the hand of evil. Father we are helpless without You and we trust You for all things. Lord, please help us to be slow to anger and quick to forgive. Thank You Father for forgiving us our sins and for cleansing us from all unrighteousness when we come to You in faith and ask through Christ. God please help us to follow Your ways everyday for all our lives. Help us to live in honor and to glorify You and Your Son. We thank You Father for hearing and answering our prayers and our cries. In the precious name of Dear Jesus I pray. Amen.
January 22, 2023