What Does the Bible Say About Forgiveness? A Biblical Study

by Derek Hill · 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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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Anthony Cotton June 24, 2015 at 11:03 am

I just finished writing to your post then I had trouble with the Captcha.
Yes I know I am not forgiven myself.
I know God can do anything He wants,but I think I am getting weaker.
Their is a song by a Black person when he says “I am so tired of living,and I am so scared of dying,but old man river just keeps rolling along”.
I am just like that Black person?


Jack Wellman June 24, 2015 at 11:05 am

I see what you are saying my beloved brother. God never forsakes us and never leaves us (so say the Scriptures) so it is a matter of believing what God says and not what we feel. I wish I could have you in my church so I could sit with you and speak face to face. No, you are not like that black person because the lyrics make no reference to God.


Anthony Cotton June 25, 2015 at 11:43 am

It`s the not what I feel that`s the problem,and like you say Jack I wished that to me on many occasions that I lived near you so I could be in your church.
Like the catholic priest who I woke up on quite a few occasion in the night.
I plagued the life out of him,but he never moaned once,and did not complain,
He was their all the time for me,and he will certainly go to heaven.
I think my trust in God is taken a bashing.
You are like that priest you are there when I have a problem,and this lifts me up like now Jack.


Jack Wellman June 25, 2015 at 12:55 pm

Anthony…doubt will keep you out of the Bible but the Bible will keep you out of doubt. Perhaps the gospel of John may be my favorite book of all. I am a man of unclean lips yet God can use people with feet of clay, and you too. Pray for me. I am in need. You are loved, know that for sure.


Mr Anthony Cotton June 26, 2015 at 5:12 pm

I have to start all over again due to that Captcha!
Yes are telling me to read John or certain parts.
I don`t like the way the bible is set out Verses,Chapter`s ect…
I have a mini series of Jesus of Nazareth the actor that plays Jesus is Robert Powell,and the way he acts the part you would think he was Jesus.
I am beginning to question God like he knew that Satan was tempting Eve why did He not stop it.
The same has the tree of knowledge why did He have it in the garden,because it contains all the knowledge right up till today,and still ongoing.
Is lust the same has adultery. Example- I go down to the town shopping,and I see a woman with a good figure,and it lasts for about 20 secs then I see some teenagers behaving badly.
I then get on the bus to go home,and I start talking to a woman.
We get on great talking about different things then I notice she too has a nice figure,but I am not thinking anything,and I just go on and keep talking to her.
Yes jack I am always thinking about you what you have to put up with on this site.
I wish like you say from disaster to Pastor to happen to me, is a very big thing that God has given you this very demanding job.
I know you have the wisdom for nearly all that is put to you.
God Bless you Jack


Jack Wellman June 26, 2015 at 5:27 pm

Anthony…you know me, I will gladly pray for you my brother. There is nothing wrong in my opinion with seeing the beauty of a woman. God created us to appreciate beauty and I don’t think that’s the same thing as lusting in the heart and imagining the sexual act with her. That is what Jesus was talking about.

As for God allowing Satan to tempt Eve and then both her and Adam fell, God gives us all freewill and if there is no freewill and we are made to obey, then how can we love Him? Love is not doing something out of compulsion but out of the free choice to love. God knew we would fall as the Scripture in Revelation says that Jesus was the Lamb of God slain before the foundation (creation) of the world. There is strength in the struggle. Trees grow most rapidly, not after a rain or during sunny days but when the stormy winds are pressing against its branches. Muscles grow from resistance and the same is true in resisting sin, we grow spiritually. Otherwise we’d all be autobots or robots made to obey with no reason to resist and get spiritually stronger.

By the way, the good thing is that you DO struggle against the temptation to sin. That is clear evidence of God’s Spirit convicting you. The lost have no such struggle and dive and swim into sin, we trip and fall and get back up and ask for forgiveness.

I am not “putting up with you on this site” I am a brother in Christ of yours and we love the brethren and know that we are no better and all are tempted and fall short. Any wisdom I have is credited to God and not me, so to Him belongs all of the glory my friend.


Nancy July 10, 2017 at 8:19 pm

I try to speak the word of God but some people think God is a joke and the bible is a fairytale book. It really makes me uneasy. I cant explain the feeling. I even have a hard time forgiving them for what they say. I feel hurt anger shame what do you suggest I do? Do I just stop talkingbto them. Thebmn I feel like im giving up on them. Do I just keep talking to them and taking the verbal abuse and hatred? Please help me get though this.


Jack Wellman July 11, 2017 at 8:42 am

Hello Nancy. You have a hard time forgiving who? Who is the “them” you are talking about. Who is verbally abusing you? If God is a joke and a fairytale then maybe you can speak with your pastor about this. Who is talking to you like this?


Paul January 11, 2018 at 8:12 am

Hi sir
Hope you r fine by the grace of God. I am leader in a church n I love working for Christ. I gave most of time for service and search for deep meaning of holy spirit but since I one year I have became weak in my body as I keep faling in sex sin for atleast 10 times. Every time when I fall I cry out to lord. I felt when I done that thing. I made promise to Jesus that I shall never do such a sin but then I fall against. Iam really frustrated by myself. How can I become strong. Please pray for me sir.


Jack Wellman January 11, 2018 at 8:49 am

Hello Paul. There are times when God uses circumstances to draw us close to Him and when we can’t do any more, all we can do is pray, and when we have nothing left we can do, we can leave everything else up to God. Let us pray together in Jesus’ name so that He is most glorified, because that’s what the Father desires. You need to sit under good Bible teaching/preaching, Sunday school and Bible study just like I do, but please call your pastor and tell him and ask your church to pray for you as we are commanded to do (James 5:14) as we need one another (Heb 10:24-25) and seek to do what Jesus commands us to do (Matt 25:34-39) as we do it to Him (Matt 25:40) or we do nothing for Him (Matt 25:41- and that’s not good (Matt 7:21-23). Talk to your pastor. Schedule a counseling session with him. Find an accountability partner you can trust. Here is more on how to overcome sexual sin: https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/how-to-overcome-an-addiction-to-pornography-help-for-struggling-christians/ Read this and follow these steps and will be praying for you sir.


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