Genuine Believers Live A Life of Forgiveness – June 10, 2022

1 John 1:9 informs us that when we confess our sin, God is right and faithful to forgive our sin. Believers often struggle with forgiveness because we don’t understand it. We have false views of what forgiveness means. For us to value God’s forgiveness and pass forgiveness on to others, we must understand it correctly.

Peacemakers International presents a valuable picture of forgiveness through their book, Resolving Everyday Conflict. The author, Ken Sande, begins by describing some false views of forgiveness. Many find themselves struggling with these erroneous views. First, forgiveness is not a feeling. Often, individuals struggle to forgive because they don’t feel like forgiving. The hurt, bitterness, and anger remain so deeply seated that they cannot be overcome. But forgiveness is not a feeling. As humans of emotion, feeling and truth often clash. Our hearts deceive us (Jer. 17:9). But forgiveness is an action, not a feeling.

Second, forgiveness is not forgetting. Sometimes individuals state that they cannot forgive because they could never forget the sin against them. However, this statement misunderstands forgiveness. God forgives us and yet knows all. He does not forget our sin. Instead, God chooses not to remember (Jeremiah 31:34 and Hebrews 10:17). When God asks us to forgive, He is not asking us to forget. He is asking us to choose not to remember. While this is incredibly difficult, it is an important step.

Finally, forgiveness does not mean we need to excuse the sin. Sin is always sin. Sin must always be called sin. Forgiveness does not alter the nature of sin. Many times when someone seeks forgiveness, the response given is that they should not worry about it. Or that is it fine. However, sin must be acknowledged and addressed.

What then is forgiveness. True forgiveness involves four promises. When understood, these promises provide freedom and release. The first promise of forgiveness is that I won’t dwell on this incident. When God forgives us, He informs us that He will cast our sin as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103:12). Often, we love to dwell on the sin against us. We think about it at night. We ruminate on it throughout the day. And as a result, we never truly let it go. We must choose instead to think about other things.

The second promise of forgiveness is that I will not bring up this incident and use it against you. God does not bring our sin back to us once it is placed under the blood of the cross (Is. 43:12; Hebrews 8:12). So we should not weaponize all that has happened against us. Instead, we must move forward and seek healing in the relationship.

The third promise is that I won’t talk to others about this incident. Often, others take up our offense. Yet, when reconciliation arrives, they are not a part of that reconciliation. We must ensure that we keep the circle of conversation only as large as the circle of offense. Don’t sin by gossiping about others.

The final promise is that I won’t allow this incident to stand between us or hinder our relationship. I must choose to repair the relationship. Although we have sinned against God, he does not hold it against us (Rom. 8:1). Relationships take hard work. This work requires humility. Ephesians 4:32 informs us that the motivation for this work is the incredible forgiveness of God for us.

Regardless of the sin against you and the pain you feel, God requires forgiveness by the believer. Yet, he also exemplifies this forgiveness to the believer. When we come to God in confession and repentance, God is right and faithful to grant that forgiveness to us. So also, we should give that forgiveness to others.