With every perfect command we receive from God, there is push back from the enemy of our souls. He is quick to employ falsehoods which introduce fear in our minds that obedience to God in all things will end poorly.

Failing that, he seeks to confuse us as to what a command does or doesn’t entail; all in an attempt to divert us away from Godly wisdom.

* * *

There is a difference between biblical forgiveness—which is rooted in obedience to God’s Word and adorned with Godly wisdom—and the kind of forgiveness we may practice.

Should Christ’s followers embrace and consistently live out biblical forgiveness (which is what being a follower of Jesus entails), Satan’s stranglehold on society would be dramatically weakened. 

This means we will encounter opposition when seeking to honor the Lord through wise, biblical forgiveness.

* * *

In our previous release (Is ‘Forgive and Forget’ Good Advice?) we looked at “The Five R’s of Biblical Forgiveness”. Perhaps we should have included a sixth “R”, as biblical forgiveness—in human terms—is radical. It is comprised of:

  1. Repetition: We forgive others repeatedly in obedience to Jesus’ teachings; over and over again, without keeping track of the wrongs done to us or those we love. (Matthew 18:21-22)
  2. Remembrance: We remember what God has done for us, as believers in Christ. Our sins are forgiven through His atoning death on the cross, on our behalf. (I Peter 2:24)
  3. Repentance: We humbly and repentantly come to God after acknowledging how often we fall short of forgiving others in the same way we want God to forgive us. (I John 1:9)
  4. Replacement: We seek to replace hurtful memories and bitterness with thoughts of God and His Word, an act of our will, and the help of the Holy Spirit. (Philippians 4:8-9)
  5. Rejoicing: We rejoice over God’s goodness and the “Philippians 4:8-9 truths” which, when consistently embraced, increasingly dismantle our thoughts of enmity or victimhood. (Psalm 40:16)

Some may say these things aren’t radical, but wrong and unsafe. Foolish.

Yet biblical forgiveness lives and breathes in the whole counsel of God. It is He who created our minds and exhorts us to pursue clear thinking (more on this at Always Timely and Available Daily: Wisdom!).

* * *

Forgiveness in keeping with God’s Word is to conduct ourselves wisely. 

  1. It does NOT mean someone’s sin is anything other than sin (Mark 7:20-23). We should hate the sin but love the sinner (as does God).
  2. It does NOT mean we must subject ourselves or others to danger or harm (Proverbs 22:3, Acts 9:23-25) We are told in Scripture to avoid the company of those who are violent and evil. There is a time to run the other way.
  3. It does NOT mean the offender should not be held accountable for his or her wrongdoing, laws broken, etc. (Ephesians 5:11-12) The believer is to take comfort that God will appropriately judge sin, while adhering to biblical instructions that he or she is to be a light in the darkness and even expose sin.
  4. It does NOT mean failing to place effective, necessary boundaries around untrustworthy individuals. (Proverbs 22:24; Titus 3:10) Such as ensuring you’re never alone with someone who violates personal space or dignity.
  5. It does NOT mean we allow ourselves to fall prey to manipulators seeking to guilt-trip us into thinking forgiveness is synonymous with trust (2 Timothy 3:1-5). Many skilled sinners equate believers setting boundaries around them with our “judging” or “not truly forgiving” them. Beware!

And nowhere does Scripture support that biblical forgiveness is dependent upon:

  1. The offender’s acknowledgement of sin, having remorse, or repenting. Biblical forgiveness is not conditioned upon others.
  2. The offender being alive or accessible. We can forgive those we don’t know or have no access to.
  3. How we feel (about ourselves or anyone else). Forgiveness is not emotion-driven, but obedience-driven.
  4. The degree to which we’ve suffered harm. There is no sliding scale when it comes to our forgiving others; we simply forgive.
  5. Reconciliation with the other person. Forgiveness often opens the door to needed reconciliation but is not dependent upon the other person’s response.
  6. Being able to forget what happened. More on this at: Is ‘Forgive and Forget’ Good Advice?

God’s Word reminds us that biblical forgiveness of someone does not:

  1. Negate God’s hatred of sin (Proverbs 6:16-19)
  2. Eliminate the consequences of sin (Galatians 6:7);
  3. Interfere with God’s judgment of sin (Colossians 3:5-6); or
  4. Condone an individual’s sinful acts/omissions (James 4:4)

* * *

Satan wants us to be confused about the Bible, including teachings on forgiveness and wisdom. Yet God has given us everything we need to not only recognize what are stepping stones of dark untruths, but how to avoid them through His Word and indwelling Spirit. 

* * *

Of course, we can choose NOT to forgive someone. What happens then?

  1. We mistakenly determine God is not worthy of our obedience and trust. (James 1:22)
  2. Next, we rebel against God. (James 4:17)
  3. The adopted child of God through Christ Jesus won’t cease being His child, but experience the dissatisfaction of having gone astray, including:
    1. The hindrance (or road-blocking) of our prayers and forgiveness of our own sins. (Proverbs 28:9; Matthew 6:15)
    2. A break in our walk with Christ and enjoying the benefits of the Fruit of the Spirit in us (John 15:4-5)
  4. We permit an environment where bitterness will take root in our hearts. (Genesis 4:7; Ephesians 4:31)

* * *

On this last point, I had a recent wake-up call. God revealed an instance from my teenage years which had become a root of bitterness. It was buried, out of sight, and I didn’t know it existed.

For decades, I’d failed to exercise willful forgiveness whenever I remembered the incident. I would roll my eyes and think how ridiculously unfair the person had been and simply move on.

Even if you have no known bitterness in your heart, I encourage you to watch an excellent sermon I’ve included a link to at the end of this blog. It may help you understand perplexing behavioral patterns in others and serve to “unclog” your own heart.

* * *

A closing thought:

Perhaps you, like me, have occasionally been hurt or offended after adopting an incorrect interpretation or judgement call on what someone has said or done. Any time we’re hurt or angry, the cool wind of caution should blow through our minds as there will be times when someone with good intentions inadvertently causes us pain.

And it goes both ways.

We sometimes inflict damage where we never intend to.

All to say, we should bring God’s gracious instructions into every situation in which we find ourselves hurt, angry, or offended.

* * *

Jesus tells us in Luke 6:27:

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

The only way we can do this and forgive others with wisdom is through abiding in Christ. Jesus said, “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.” (John 15:9).

* * *

Link:

The Destructive Harvest of a Bitter Heart

(Pastor Skip Heitzig, Calvary Church Albuquerque)

June

June

People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.

5 Comments

  • Stan says:

    June – the last two blogs on forgiveness have been so impacting. I’ve tried to find cracks in the truth you’ve written on – I’m delighted to say I have found none (as well as in everything you share). In addition, we (the Body of Christ) need sound teaching on the matter of biblical forgiveness and the correction of heart and mind it brings. I especially like the one paragraph how true forgiveness can and will change the culture we have been placed in by our Lord – He knows!

    Thank you for your constant pursuit and exhortation of biblical truth! God is using you mightily.

    I would love to get your permission to direct the missionaries we serve to the last two articles.

  • Becky says:

    Thank you so much for following up with this blog regarding what forgiveness is not! Everyone needs to know both sides of the coin.

  • Beryl says:

    Thank you June for this! Often times for me a Biblical truth becomes so much clearer and easier to put into practice when presented with “what it is NOT”. Thank you for continuing to present His Truth!

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