What Does the Bible Say About Forgiveness? A Biblical Study

by Derek Hill on July 12, 2012 · Print Print · Email Email

Forgiveness is one of the “key” words of the Christian faith.  If God had not included forgiveness in His plan for humanity, none of us would enjoy life renewed with Him in heaven.  Without forgiveness there would be no hope at all.

God And Forgiveness

So, let us start with Daniel 9:9. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him.  Our awesome Father in heaven was the creator of forgiveness and so it belongs to Him and He lavishes us with it abundantly every day.  Sometimes I will sit and ponder the unfathomable amount of patience God has for us.  God knew from the beginning of time ALL of the sins that would take place.  Can you imagine the burden He has carried this whole time?  It is a burden of love that only the Father could carry.

Now we know that God forgives freely anyone that comes to Him, but if you are not a Christian or are very new to the faith, you may not know how to receive forgiveness.  1 John 1:9 says, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness It really is that simple.  This is not just a confession, though.  We all have confessed things in our lives that we didn’t feel regret for.  The type of confession described here is a confession of heart-felt shame from what we have done.  This is a confession of remorse for what has taken place.  This remorse goes hand-in-hand with repentance.  When you cry out to God for His forgiveness of your sins, you must not forget about your repentant heart.  Without it, you will fall right back into the same sin.  Repentance means to turn away.

What Does The Bible Say About Forgiveness

Christians And Forgiveness

Forgiveness does not just come from God but also from His flock.  Luke 17:3-4 says, Pay attention to yourselves!  If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, “I repent”, you must forgive him.  This is not always easy.  If repentance is genuine, it must always be forgiven, even if it is the same sin over and over again.  Human nature wants to push us in the direction of giving up on someone who is in perpetual sin because we tend to stop believing in someone who is constantly engaged in sin, but the Bible is clear on this issue.  God NEVER gives up on His children who come in His name to ask for forgiveness, which is why we cannot give up either.

For true forgiveness to take place, one must completely take pride out.  A proud heart will never truly forgive.  Matthew 6:14-15 says, For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.  This really does sum up a prideful heart.  You absolutely cannot expect to be forgiven if you are too proud to forgive someone else.  Pride has no place in a Christian’s heart.

Forgiveness can be a real struggle because genuine forgiveness comes even when repentance is not expressed.  Forgiveness is sometimes a daily thing for an event that happened earlier in life.  I had three dear friends of mine taken to be with the Lord when they were killed by a drunk driver.  Just two days before I was playing with my three year old and his best friend who was also three.  We had so much fun playing with the fire trucks and saving people from burning buildings.  Then two days later, out of nowhere, a person well over the legal limit of alcohol struck their vehicle.  That little boy that I had played with was thrown at least 20 to 30 feet out of the car through the window.  He died in the hospital while his daddy held his hand and grieved.  These tragic moments should never happen but when they do, it is most important to remember that they always come from satan.  The woman who killed them fell into the devil’s snare and she deserves forgiveness just as much as anyone else.  I had to forgive her daily for a whole year before I was finally ready to move on.  It was one of the hardest times of my life, but forgiveness allowed me to let go of hatred and bitterness that I could still be holding today.

Ultimate Forgiveness

The ultimate act of forgiveness is when Christ, Himself, was hanging on that cross, bloody and bruised.  The absolute humiliation that was put on Him is unimaginable.  He had already had His flesh ripped open as He was beaten and then He was mocked with the crown of thorns and a robe.  After the soldiers put the robe on Christ, they mocked Him saying, “Hail, King of the Jews.”(Mark 15:18)  They also spit on Him and struck Him on the head.  He also carried His own cross up to Golgotha as far as He could go.  He was completely drained.  Then the sounds of hammer and nails piercing His hands and feet traveled for those to hear nearby.  The excitement of the crowd as they screamed, “crucify Him,” had to be absolutely gut wrenching to His mother, Mary, as she watched not just her savior, but her own son being tortured and ridiculed.  After all of this had taken place, Jesus called out to the Father saying, “Father, forgive them…”(Luke 23:34).  If there was ever a moment in history where someone deserved a “free-pass” on forgiveness, it was at the cross.  Yet, Christ understood the true meaning of forgiveness.  He was the perfect example for all.  May we all strive to forgive everyone as Christ continually forgives us.  Praise be to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior!

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Resources

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version

“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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