Here’s How to Forgive Our Enemies (And Pray for Them)

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

It is very hard to forgive family and friends, but how can we forgive someone who is our enemy and doing us harm?

Dying for the Ungodly

It is very hard to forgive family and friends at times, but how can we forgive someone who is our enemy and doing us harm? To start with, it’s very important to remember that we were once enemies of God. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ve been a fairly good person most of your life, for good persons do not exist (Rom 3:10-12). There isn’t even one good person on the planet. Only Jesus was good here on earth, so we know that only God is good, but we must never forget this: It was still yet “while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom 5:6). He didn’t wait for the ungodly to get their act together (we were too weak for that!). If it were up to us, we’d never be saved. Jesus died for the ungodly while we were still ungodly, and folks, that’s us! When Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34), I believe He was referring to us as well as those who crucified Him.

“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:10-11)

Dying for Sinners

The Apostle Paul reminds us that “one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:7-8). So far, we have God dying for the ungodly, then we have God dying for sinners (that’s us!), but finally and incredibly, there’s more…oh, so much more. But let us never forget that when our enemies do us harm, we did God far greater harm in breaking His holy Law. We are no better than those who are presently unsaved. We are just in a better position because of Jesus Christ. He died for us who are ungodly sinners.  The person that does not believe they are a sinner anymore should take a serious read of Romans 3, just for beginners (1 John 1).

Dying for Enemies

Jesus Christ suffered and died for us who were still yet ungodly sinners, but there is so much more because it was “while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Rom 5:10). Jesus Christ died for ungodly, wicked enemies of God (that was us)! Should not that soften our hearts for those who are perishing without Christ and compel us to have mercy on those who are headed to eternal doom while casting ourselves before them in front of the gates of hell. We must “have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh” (Jude 1:22-23)?

Loved His Enemies

Bible Verses About enemies

Don’t forget that we too were once enemies of God.

Jesus died for us and everyone and that “everyone” includes all who were ungodly, wicked enemies of His. How does Jesus respond to enemies? He prays for them like at the cross (Luke 23:34), but He also commands us to pray for our enemies and not harm them, but rather do them good. Our Lord commanded us to also love our enemies. Jesus’ love is so radical and unlike that of the world that He commands believers to “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27-28). Let us never forget that God made the first move toward us, so in fact, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Let us make the first move and love others first, pray for them and do good to them, but not forgetting to share Christ with them. Sometimes, we can turn an enemy into a friend by love.

How to Forgive Enemies

Charles Spurgeon once said, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let no one go unwarned and un-prayed for.” Should not our desire match God’s desire that the wicked do not perish apart from saving faith (Ezk 33:11; 2 Pet 3:9). Pray that your enemy becomes a brother or sister in Christ. That is truly God’s desire. God can use you as a means to share the Word of God and then pray the Spirit of God takes that Word of God and converts them into a child of God. To God be the glory for only He can give the increase (Acts 2:47), but He is pleased to use us as a means to do so (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). Will you go for Him? The Lord asked Isaiah and I believe He asks all of us this in Isaiah 6:8: “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

Apostle Peter Biography

Peter left his career as a fisherman to follow Jesus.


Let us be like the first disciples who “Immediately they left their nets and followed him” (Matt 4:20). If you have not repented and trusted in Christ, you are still an enemy of God…you are still ungodly and wicked and God has a place for you after death (Heb 9:27) or at Judgment Day (Rev 20:12-15), and this is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy (Rev 21:8). Today, repent and believe, and you too will have all your sins taken away and the wrath of God placed upon Jesus. Today is the day of salvation (2 Cor 6:2) since, for all we know, tomorrow may never even come.

Here is some related reading for you: How Can I Forgive Someone? Answers From the Bible

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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