Forgiving Others

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.”

If I was to ask you, ‘what is one of the more debilitating obstacles that stand in our way as Christians’, how would you respond? Sure there are many, but I believe one of the biggest is the need for forgiveness.

What is Forgiveness?

We hear of God’s grace and mercy… but what does that really mean? Mercy is defined as something we don’t get that we deserve, whilst grace is getting something we don’t deserve. God shows His grace and mercy to us through Christ by giving us what we don’t deserve in the gift of salvation and eternal life with Him, thereby taking away our deserved punishment of death and eternity separated from God.

How much each day do we reflect on and thank God for the sacrifice He has made in order to forgive us and save us from our deserved punishment?

Why is Forgiveness so Hard for us?

It goes against our proud nature. Sadly the person worst affected by unforgiveness is the unforgiving person. If we don’t forgive those around us, we allow bitterness and anger to brew within, eating at our souls. We may even try to suppress areas of unforgiveness within, but that doesn’t mean bitterness doesn’t get to do its dirty work.

Forgiving doesn’t mean we must tolerate the sins of others either. God doesn’t tolerate sin. He proved that by sending His only Son to die for our sins! We must graciously and firmly face the person who is wronging or wronged us, highlighting their wrong, and promoting peace for both parties. We must also accept and face the consequences of the other person’s sin, just like God had to with Jesus dieing on the cross.

We are all Equally in Need of God’s Forgiveness

It’s tough to forgive, but the fact is it is something we must all do to live in freedom from the bone-decaying bondage of bitterness. Let’s not allow our pride to convince us of the lie that we are ‘better’ or in less need of forgiveness than someone else. The truth is we are all equally in need of God’s forgiveness because we all have fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). It goes against our nature, so let’s look to and rely on Jesus as our example and strength, so that we can humbly approach others with a forgiving heart. It’s something that is seen less and less these days, but forgiveness is such a beautiful act of love. To approach someone and forgive them, no matter the crime they may have committed against you or someone else, is to reach out in love, and to mend a broken bridge. Through that act we restore relationships, find peace and joy within, and reflect the awesome love that God showed us through Jesus on the cross.

Who do You Need to Forgive?

What steps are you going to take to forgive others in your lives?

May God soften our hearts and give us the strength to reach out in love and forgive those around us, allowing His peace to radiate within.

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6 responses to “Forgiving Others

  1. ricklannoye

    Well, there’s a big flaw here. If God just HAD TO punish sin, then what you’re really saying is that He is incapable of doing that which he asks us to do–to forgive!

    Even though, Jesus, presumably speaking for God, taught US to forgive others, just as God forgives us! Was Jesus mistaken?

    If Jesus had to “absorb” God’s wrath, then God can’t forgive. Everyone has to PAY, or have someone else PAY, and pay in full.

    On top of that, God supposedly requires eternal torture of the worst sort for that payment, or the blood of an innocent deity/man, no matter how small the sin. Actually, it’s worse than that, because we’re told that even if we don’t get a chance to sin, that from the moment of conception we are all held accountable for what Adam did, and “deserving” of eternal wrath!

    But all of this is in complete contradiction to what Jesus said about God’s nature.

    I’ve actually written an entire book on this topic–Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There’s No Such Place As Hell, but if I may, let me share one of the many points I make in it.

    If you’ll re-read the words of Jesus in the gospels, and look for where HE said his purpose for coming was to die as a blood sacrifice to PAY for our sins, guess what? YOU WON’T FIND IT. In fact, the one place where he does talk about sacrifice is where he says God doesn’t want it! He quotes Hosea, saying that God desire MERCY instead.

    Look in the book of Acts, at all those first Christian sermons. One would think that would be a real good time to explain what was Jesus’ main reason for coming, right? But in none of those sermons, do any of the apostles say Jesus was a blood sacrifice to pay for our sins!

    No, all these stuff about blood sacrifice was superimposed later on. Jesus actually said that God just forgives when we own up to our sins and repent. That’s it!

    If not, then Jesus/God asks us to do something he, himself, cannot do, to forgive others without demanding any sort of payment or to suffer some painful punishment.

    • Hi Ricklannoye,

      Thanks for your comments. I appreciate where you are coming from, however I must respectively disagree.

      I don’t want to detract from the main theme of the blog, namely that we are to forgive others just as God has forgiven those who come to faith in Christ and repent, however I will make a few points:

      1) God is holy and He cannot allow sin into His presence. The OT is very clear on this. The OT God is the same God as in the NT. A righteous judge would not let free a criminal guilty of murder no matter how sorry he was. The criminal would have to pay the penalty for his crime. God likewise can not let sin go unpunished. His righteousness demands that the penalty for sin be paid.

      2) So in affect Jesus had to take the punishment for our sins in order for God to save us whilst upholding His righteous nature. That’s the whole purpose for Jesus’ subsitutionary death on the cross, dying in our place. The first 8 chapters of Romans devotes itself to talking about our sinfulness, how we all rightly deserve the penalty for our sin… death, but through God’s mercy and by faith in Christ alone we can be forgiven for our sins and saved from eternal condemnation. Rom 3:21-26 in particular summarizes the Gospel beautifully and how we all can be justly forgiven by our holy God no matter what sins we have committed. This is amazingly good news given we are all rebellious against God by nature. It also highlights how gracious and merciful God is.

      3) You mention that all we need to do is own up to our sins and repent. In a sense that is true. But what does that involve and how has that been made possible for us? The scriptures clearly say we need to have faith in Christ and repent; to trust in Him to save us because of our sinful position before our holy and righteous God. We must never take for granted the HUGE sacrifice Jesus made for us so that we could be saved, to be in the presence of God forever.

      4) We can not just look at the Gospels and use them for our scriptural understanding. All scripture is God breathed and authoritative. Paul’s teaching in the epistles brings much clarity on why Jesus had to die in order that God could justly forgive and save all those who come to Him in faith. Otherwise God’s righteousness would be in question.

      5) I had some other points, however I will finish with this one. Our ability to come to God in faith and be saved is a gift from God alone. We don’t deserve it and never will. That’s the beauty of God’s grace. We are saved by grace alone so that no one can boast or take credit for their salvation. This fact should compel us to forgive others just as God has forgiven us.

      I’m sorry if I have misinterpreted any of your comments, and there are other thoughts I had, however I will leave it at that. Thanks again for making the effort to put your post on our blog site. I appreciated reading them and trying to understand your point of view.

    • Hi Ricklannoye,

      One point I forgot to mention… Romans 5:8-12 highlights that God shows his love for us in that whilst we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Paul goes on to explain that we have been justified by Christ’s blood and saved from the wrath of God. It goes on to say that while we were enemies of God but are reconciled by the death of Christ, how much more shall we be saved by His life. It finishes by stating that we rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Verse 12 says that we all have inherited death through Adam’s sin, yet all who come to faith in Christ inherit life.

      It’s important to educate and help people appreciate all aspects of God as taught in the Bible. He is gracious, patient, loving, supportive, slow to anger and merciful. He is also righteous, just, holy and wrathful against sin. May we all be in awe of all that God is and worship Him alone.

    • Ricklannoye,
      You have clearly thought about the important issue of the blood sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, and have come to a very different conclusion to many who call themselves Christians. It is a vital part of The Faith, and in my view deserves a further response.
      The first thing I would suggest is that the background to blood sacrifice is found in the Old Testament. This is the background to why Jesus came at all. Many Christians ignore the old testament, and some go too far with it. If you look at one of the earliest recorded sermons (Philip to the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:32) you can see that the ot was the Bible of these times, and that Philip immediately connected this passage with Jesus. There are two little monogrammes (long since out of print) which I found very helpful in pulling all the pieces together:
      “The meaning of the word ‘blood’ in scripture” by AM Stibbes, and ‘Our Lord’s view of the Old Testament’ by J W Wenham.
      If you would like me to scan and send them, then reply and I’ll send it via Hills.
      By the way I don’t have a connection with Hills, I’m just an interested bystander!
      Kind Regards,
      David

  2. Rick, we welcome comments from all people, even those that don’t agree with the editorial direction of this blog. We appreciate your right to disagree with anything we write. However, we won’t necessarily enter into a direct debate on the points that you raise, because this invites a tit-for-tat dialog that, in the end, is often circuitous and pointless. You will notice that we have removed the link to your publication. It is not our intention to allow this blog to be used as a place to promote books that are contrary to the traditional doctrines of the Christian church.

    You write:Even though, Jesus, presumably speaking for God, taught US to forgive others, just as God forgives us!

    Any comment that begins with the words, “…Jesus, presumably speaking for God…” raises a warning flag for most believers who know that Jesus not only spoke for God, but spoke as God. So framing your response with these words causes Christians to withhold judgement concerning the validity of your argument, and indeed, by the end of your submission, you have made it clear that you reject the God of the Bible and have fashioned Him into a God of your own making.

    You write:No, all these[sic] stuff about blood sacrifice was superimposed later on.
    The Bible: There is redemption through the blood of Christ – Hebrews 9:11-28

    You write: “I’ve actually written an entire book on this topic–Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There’s No Such Place As Hell.
    The Bible: Jesus did speak about hell, acknowledging its reality – Matthew 5:30 and warning about its severity. See the rich man and Lazarus – Luke 16: 19-31

    You write: “Look in the book of Acts, at all those first Christian sermons. One would think that would be a real good time to explain what was Jesus’ main reason for coming, right? But in none of those sermons, do any of the apostles say Jesus was a blood sacrifice to pay for our sins!”
    The Bible: Perhaps no direct quotes exist in the Book of Acts concerning Jesus sacrificial death, but the Apostle Paul went to some lenght to teach the early church concening Christ’s work on the cross. Romans 3:23-25, 2 Corinthians 5:21

  3. “Look in the book of Acts, at all those first Christian sermons. One would think that would be a real good time to explain what was Jesus’ main reason for coming, right?”

    They didn’t need to, Rick. They were speaking to a population mostly comprised of Jews who were already familiar with the prophecies regarding Christ’s coming. Why were they celebrating Pentecost? It wasn’t just a random party. As for the Gentiles who were eventually converted to Christianity, there was no need to go into detail concerning what the Apostles specifically said to them; as Don and the others have made clear, that was outlined in the personal letters of the Apostles themselves; both to the Jew as well as to the Gentile.

    As for Jesus Himself not saying much on Hell, He has no reason to! His entire life from birth to death was one big rescue operation meant to save us from the wages of sin! Do you think there is much fear to be had for simply going “poof” and disappearing if we misbehave? Do you think an infinite being of infinite holiness and infinite purity, having been transgressed against in even the most minor of ways, does not deserve infinite recompense for the act?

    This is why the act of Christ on the Cross is so central to the entire Biblical narrative–and to the life of those who call themselves saved by Christ. We have not merely thumbed our collective noses against the infinite Sovereign Creator of the Universe, we have well and truly crapped in His lap and threw the feces into His face. Every one of us deserves to suffer in every way conceivable, for an infinite amount of time, in the most infinitely miserable place that could be created for us: Hell. Our very existence is a stench in His nostrils if we are not covered by the blood of His Son. Christ Jesus, in His death, was not just a really good guy who showed us how to be nice to kittens and small children. He is the infinite Son of the infinite Father, who willingly and lovingly threw Himself in the path of the oncoming train of His Father’s righteous wrath. Whether you believe that or not doesn’t make that any less true.

    Just because it isn’t written in every chapter of the Bible doesn’t mean it isn’t permeating the entire narrative of the Good Book.

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