Forgive To Be Forgiven


“And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors . . . For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” – Matthew 6:12, 14-15.

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved . . . bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. – Colossians 3:12-13.

In the years I’ve been teaching and preaching, I’ve covered forgiveness many, many times. Years ago, I even wrote a pocket-book about it and eventually incorporated that into a book on a Christian’s walk with the Lord.

But just recently I spent several days in discussion about forgiveness with some people who sadly should know the depth and importance of forgiving others. They talked as if others had problems with forgiving past incidents while they themselves demonstrated in their conversation a very major lack of forgiveness themselves.

Now the only reason I bring up a personal circumstance like that is because it can be so very hard for God-fearing Christians, who go to church most Sundays to still not realize they have fallen into one of the enemies oldest tricks; justifying their right to hold on to grudges, no matter what. It literally breaks my heart when I am confronted with it in people who claim to be deeply in love with our Savior, Jesus Christ!

I want you to understand something right from the start; I am not condemning them or judging their salvation by any means, but I am judging their inability to let go of something we have, as disciples of Jesus, no right to hang on to. This truly is happening in the lives of faithful church-goers way to often and if we want to be the Church, the Body of Christ, that Jesus is coming back for, this is one area in our lives that we need to take stock of, dig deep, and ask the Holy Spirit to “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24.

pd true forgiveness

In the most basic of descriptions, forgiveness and especially in regards to others is:

Ceasing to feel resentment for wrongs and offenses; pardon, involving restoration of broken relationships. Forgiveness is also a human act toward one’s neighbor, given new incentive and emphasis in the NT because of God’s forgiveness in the death of Christ. Hence forgiveness is a uniquely Christian doctrine.1

I love what Mr. James Houston says in this paragraph that it involves “restoration of broken relationships.” Broadly speaking, this is evidenced in our personal relationship with God as our Heavenly Father but in human terms, it deals with our relationships with one another and especially SHOULD be in regards to our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. However, this is one of those areas that oftentimes, is not remediated with what some consider righteous justification. Again, I’m referring to relationships between brothers and sisters in Christ, those of us who claim the reward of being joint-heirs with Christ Jesus in His Kingdom.

There are many reasons why Jesus told the disciples how important forgiveness is and allowed those conversations to be recorded under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for posterity. The ability to forgive others is a demonstration of a true repentant heart when it comes to our own transgressions and debts before God. When we are able to forgive others, it comes from a heart of love towards our Heavenly Father and the gift that Christ Jesus gave to the world, but it shows by our actions how much that gift means to us in our own penitent hearts.

I have heard too many who claim to be Christians (and I’m not judging that fact unless the fruit proves otherwise), who state they just can’t forgive so and so due to a slight or an incident that happened oftentimes many years in the past. I have heard this even directed towards others who have gone on to be with the Lord and due to some transgression in the past that God had forgiven them of, the living party cannot part with the grudge. This is a very sad state to be in as a true disciple of Christ Jesus. This is an indication and a clear sign that just maybe their own repentance is not complete!

Unforgiveness, for any reason in cases like that are a burden AND a hindrance to one’s walk with the Lord, His ability to use them in a spiritual way, and a detriment to their own prayer life. You have to understand that when a person harbors unforgiveness in their heart, it is not that God does not have the power to hear their prayers or even to answer them as far as His almighty power is concerned, but the person asking anything in prayer has put a wall, a barrier up between themselves and God that our Heavenly Father will NOT tear down due to His willingness to let us choose what we will do and whether or not we will surrender wholly to Him!

pd forgiveness - freedom

In Restoring Your Spiritual Passion, Gordon MacDonald writes:

One memory that burns deep within is that of a plane flight on which I was headed toward a meeting that would determine a major decision in my ministry. I knew I was in desperate need of a spiritual passion that would provide wisdom and submission to God’s purposes. But the passion was missing because I was steeped in resentment toward a colleague.

For days I had tried everything to rid myself of vindictive thoughts toward that person. But, try as I might, I would even wake in the night, thinking of ways to subtly get back at him. I wanted to embarrass him for what he had done, to damage his credibility before his peers. My resentment was beginning to dominate me, and on that plane trip I came to a realization of how bad things really were . . .

As the plane entered the landing pattern, I found myself crying silently to God for power both to forgive and to experience liberation from my poisoned spirit. Suddenly it was as if an invisible knife cut a hole in my chest, and I literally felt a thick substance oozing from within. Moments later I felt as if I’d been flushed out. I’d lost negative spiritual weight, the kind I needed to lose: I was free. I fairly bounced off that plane and soon entered a meeting that did in fact change the entire direction of my life.

Spiritual passion cannot coexist with resentments. The Scriptures are clear. The unforgiving spirit saps the energy that causes Christian growth and effectiveness.2

God’s love for mankind in general is so totally perfect, whole, and yet unfathomable as to its depth towards His creation that He will NOT cross that barrier of free will that He has created in each of us. Forgiveness is one of those many spiritual actions that relies wholly and totally upon our own free will and ability to choose to surrender our own will and allow His to guide us, no matter how hard or how much we think it might hurt to do so.

Yet, experience and even the testimony of others have shown, time and time again that when we release a grudge, when we lay it at the feet of Jesus Christ and the altar of the Cross, it no longer becomes a burden and we, the ones forgiving a debt, are set free!

One of the most popular verses on forgiveness is found in the Gospel of Luke; “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” – Luke 6:37. The original Greek word for forgive is apolyō, which implies ‘to set free’, ‘release’, or ‘let go’, and is often used in regards to a debt. In the Spiritual sense, we ARE in debt to God, our Creator for disobeying His commands through Adam and thus the penalty for that debt is a broken relationship with our Heavenly Father and death, natural AND spiritual. It is a heavy, heavy price to pay for disobedience to the One who created us in His likeness.

Paul wrote this to the Romans:

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:20-23 (Bold emphasis added).

pd sin debt

Our wages, what we have earned for sin, is death. That is the penalty. But dying in the flesh, in the natural is the least of all worries, for when God created us in His likeness, He gave us an immortal spirit from the time of our conception. Without paying the penalty for sin, our broken relationship with God, as Heavenly Father will remain in that state for eternity! God did NOT create any of us for that to happen and yet, He made it so that debt can be satisfied and CAN be forgiven, by accepting the gift of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and death on the Cross, from which He conquered death, rose again from that death and then ascended into Heaven to stand at the right hand of the Father to advocate and make intercession for those who HAVE accepted His gift!

How can we, ever, in our wildest dreams, be able to even consider repaying that immeasurable debt?! Yet, through Christ Jesus, it is freely paid and all He asks of us, is to let Him lead us, teach us, show us the Father so that our broken relationship with our Heavenly Father can be reconciled. In giving ourselves to Him, He only asks that in recognition for what He has done for us, let us do the same for one another.

How much do we love Christ Jesus? How much are we willing to forgive others? And I’m not just talking about brothers and sisters in Christ; but others who don’t even as yet know better! Just as Jesus hung on the Cross and breathing His last breaths called out in the hearing of others, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” – Luke 23:34.

This concept had become so ingrained within the doctrine of the early church that even the disciple, Stephen, as he was being stoned, “cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not charge them with this sin.'” – Acts 7:60. That, brothers and sisters is the power of our love for our Savior and thus for our Heavenly Father’s creation!

As you can see, forgiveness is tied directly in with our free will and yet as an expression of our love for our Lord, it is an imperative IF we are going to truly be His. If you want your prayers to heard and effectual, if you want your life to be full, abundant, and laden with joy, if you desire the Holy Spirit to use you in the gifts that He has already placed in your safekeeping, then you must not allow any walls to stand between you and your Heavenly Father and most definitely in the area of forgiving others.

Is it always easy? Absolutely not! Yet if it were, we would be no different than those in the world. The one thing we DO have that they do not, is the power and the anointing of the Holy Spirit within us to give us the strength to accomplish the impossible!

Are you ready to accomplish the impossible? Forgive.

pd forgive everyone

1James M. Houston, “Forgiveness,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988).
2Craig Brian Larson, 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers & Writers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002).
*Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

About Roland Ledoux

Pastor of Oasis Bible Ministry, an outreach ministry of teaching, encouragement and intercessory prayer from the Holy Bible, the written Word of God and author of the ministry website, For The Love of God. He lives in Delta, Colorado with his beautiful wife of 50+ years and a beautiful yellow lab whom they affectionately call Bella.
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