Frequently asked questions and comments about Forgiveness

How can I have truly forgiven this person when I feel like this?
This throws into question who is in control. We have made Jesus Lord of our lives that means he should be in control. It is his Kingdom and he is the King of all creation. Think of a train

  1. The Engine - The facts - the word of God and that time in history that you spoke out your forgiveness
  2. The Coal Tender - Faith - trusting God that he has the best for us as revealed in his word
  3. The Guard's wagon - Our feelings - that follow on behind joined by the facts by faith.

The train will run without the guard's wagon, but it would be impossible to pull the train by the guard's wagon. In the same way it is important to rely on God's word and ultimately the living God who spoke them, and not be pushed around by our feelings or shunted into some siding by them.

Surely you have only truly forgiven, when you can also forget? Doesn't the Bible talk of God (Isaiah 43:25) forgetting transgressions?
This was amply dealt with earlier (see forgiveness is not forgetfulness). However, what about the two bible quotes:

Isaiah 43:25 "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more."

But the following verse suggests a different sense of not remembering. Isaiah 43:26 "Review the past for me, let us argue the matter together". This suggests that God has forgotten but refuses to bring it up again, it is as though it were cancelled or blotted out. This is what we should aim at forgiving in such a way that in the midst of an argument, we choose not to bring up this past transgression.

If we forgive people who break God's law, isn't that the same as condoning the sin?
Again this has been dealt with above (see forgiveness is not licence). There is a danger of the yeast of legalism creeping in by the assertion of this question. Jesus said some harsh thing to and about the pharisees and their rules and regulations. Paul says that it is foolishness to turn to the law to be justified before God, it is by faith in Jesus Christ that we are saved, and it is by trusting and following Jesus that we please God.

Gal 3:11-14 Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith." The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them." Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

We must also remember that God alone is able to judge the hearts of men! Yes we make assessments (judgements) of a situation but God judges and he alone can punish a man in righteousness. Our task is not to condemn but to restore and bless people.

Doesn't forgiving people show weakness of character and the need to be accepted?
This question will never be asked by someone who has had to forgive someone of some great wrong.

Alexander Pope wrote "To err is human, to forgive is divine". I see no weakness in God's forgiveness, in fact without Jesus Christ coming and removing the obstacle of sin we would be a sorry and a lost people. This is the power of God that he desires to show mercy.

Forgiving someone is actually a strength of character because it shows a deep security and maturity. Plus it recognises the transgression as being wrong, forgiveness doesn't condone sin, rather it identifies it and confronts it. Where as unforgiveness shows only a person stuck in the place of immaturity and selfishness unable to follow Jesus.

How can I forgive myself? and how can others forgive what I've done?
How can others forgive? Well it is by the empowering love of God. There is little you can do to enable forgiveness in others, however, an apology, restitution for the transgression and repentance of it, may smooth the way.

The difficult one is forgiving ourselves. When we go to God and experience the availability of his forgiveness it requires a perverse form of arrogant pride to reject it the universiality of that forgiveness. We are in fact, rejecting the forgiveness of God because we feel we deserve punishment for the transgression, and yes we do deserve punishment, but for the Christian, Jesus has taken our punishment for sins past, present and future. We have been declared legally not guilty but morally we feel the guilt and the shame of the sin. At this stage we can and must trust Jesus if we are to move on in our walk before God, trusting the person and believing what he says.

1 John 1:7-9 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Introduction to Forgiveness | Understanding Forgiveness | Releasing Forgiveness