Updated: Feb 15
Forgiveness in the Bible is mentioned as an ingredients for the Christian that connects many of the spiritual fruits, removes or breaks spiritual strongholds, and extinguishes the fiery wrath of sinful anger. This article examines the faucets of forgiveness.
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14, NIV).
Examining Forgiveness in the Bible
Forgiveness for the believer is a life-force, a spiritual remedy though God. It is almost like a fertilizer to the soil of the heart. It is possible for an unbeliever to exhibit as well. Spiritual forgiveness, however, is evident from a spiritual regeneration. It is the reflection of the pure, attributual nature of God. Paul says in Romans to be renewed:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2, ESV)
This renewal occurs in the mind, where the soul is housed within the parietal cortex. When the spirit is regenerated, moral subjectivism subsides with the power of sin and God’s moral absolutes begin to change the person’s mind and the soul with the Spirit beginning the process known as sanctification.
For the non-Christian, forgiveness is on a fleshly, temporary basis. It has no eternal timeline or impact. It usually always revolves around temporariness and conditions. The devotional verse above is speaking specifically to believers. Christ is highlighting the spiritual truth that sin unforgiven, Christ will also not forgive the unforgiving believer of sin in their own lives.
Jesus knows that life doesn’t have cookie cutter outcomes. There will be murder, theft, trafficking, rape, lying, et cetera as the result of sin and living in an imperfect world. All of these have horrific outcomes. In these cases, the damage needs assessed spiritually and mentally through counseling. Once these barriers/strongholds have been relieved, forgiveness can take root and the person can begin healing.
So what does true biblical forgiveness look like? 1 Corinthians 13 would be what I would point people to since that is what God has pointed me to for years. See the below link for the full chapter.
True forgiveness also reflects true love. True love is patient, kind, not easily-angered, and not a reflection of an abstract idea such as emotion since emotions are usually not guided by factual information. This is easier said than done. God calls his followers to guard their hearts because it is a wellspring (Proverbs 4:23) as well as not to trust the heart because it is deceitful and corrupted by sin (Jeremiah 17:9).
For more study on forgiveness in the Bible, see Faith Giant’s Forgiveness article.
"Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little" (Luke 7: 44-47, NIV).
It's important to realize that forgiveness is necessary to advance in growth, both for the unbeliever and believer. Forgiveness is able to be warranted since Christ paid the ultimate price for everyone whose sins nailed Him to the cross. This is, however, very difficult to do on one's own accord. For myself, this is one aspect of the Christian walk that does not come easily. For others, it may come easily. Some sin will be easier to let go of than others. Praying steadfastly is the only way to break the cycle of continuous sin.
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