Read / Articles /

What the Bible Says About Forgiveness

Answers | Sun Valley Community Church | 6 mins

What the Bible says about forgiveness sums up God’s most important, most loving message to us: He loves us so much that He forgives all of our sins instantly when we ask. No matter where you have been, what you have done or what's been done to you, God loves you more than you can even imagine and forgives you completely when you turn to Him. 

We gain salvation and immense blessings when we accept Him into our lives. Forgiveness enables our hearts to release their burdens and open wide to all of God’s magnificent blessings — both the gifts that we receive right now in this life and the benefits that last for all of eternity. When we understand and apply forgiveness in our lives, we claim true freedom and peace. God wants us to experience the kingdom of God now. We can do this by resting in His love, forgiveness, and presence. 

The Bible repeats the crucial message of forgiveness from its first book of Genesis to the last book of Revelation in stories and admonishments. For instance, in Luke, Jesus says, 

Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.- Luke 11:4

Stories about the power of forgiveness are everywhere we look in the Bible. Here are a few examples:

Jacob, Joseph’s father, gave him a splendid coat of many colors which caused anger and jealousy in the hearts of his brothers. The brothers threw Joseph into a pit and then sold him into slavery.

Joseph rose from slavery in Egypt to a prominent position overseeing Pharoh’s granaries through God’s blessings. When famine struck the land, Jacob sent Joseph’s brothers to Egypt to buy grain, where they had to deal with Joseph. When Joseph saw the brothers who had sold him, all his inner pain came up. The remarkable story about how Joseph finally found it in his heart to forgive them and bring about a family reconciliation is an exciting example for us to read. It unfolds in Genesis chapters 37-50.

In Matthew 18:21-22, we find the story of Peter asking Jesus how many times he should forgive someone. Jesus says seventy times seven times which we can take to mean that we should forgive more than we can fathom.

What Forgiveness Means

The act of forgiveness is a deliberate, conscious decision that happens deep inside us. Forgiveness means letting go of the feelings of anger, resentment, or vengeance that we are holding in our hearts against someone or something that we perceive as having wronged us. 

There are two words in the NT Greek that translate as forgive. One (aphiêmi) actually means to let go of something and the other (Charizomai) means to give freely to someone. So, in either case, you are either freeing someone from a debt that was owed by wrongdoing or you are giving them a gift to relieve them of a burden they were carrying. 

When we don’t forgive, we poison our hearts with resentment or vengeance that blocks us from receiving the mighty blessing of God’s forgiveness which frees and heals us.

How to Forgive

When we make a deliberate decision to forgive, two components come up inside of ourselves to let go of:

1. The emotional pain in our hearts. 

2. The stories in our minds that generate those painful emotions.

Surrendering the entire issue to God allows His limitless love and power to help us transform our stories and emotions into the same loving attitude He has.

There are four kinds of forgiveness — forgive others, ask for their forgiveness, forgive ourselves, and ask for God’s forgiveness. Most situations needing forgiveness will require us to apply two or more types. For example, if I hit my brother, I would need to:

1. Ask my brother for forgiveness.

2. Forgive myself.

3. Ask God to forgive me.

Forgive Others

Forgiving others cleanses our hearts and minds of poisonous anger, resentment, and blame.

Ask for Their Forgiveness

Asking others for forgiveness requires recognizing our mistakes, and it humbles us as it destroys our pride.

Forgive Ourselves

When we forgive ourselves, the heavy burden of our self-blame disappears. 

Ask for God’s Forgiveness

Asking for and accepting God’s forgiveness brings His brilliant light and blissful love into us to share with everyone around us.

The Blessing of Forgiveness

Forgiveness relieves our burdens and opens our hearts wide for God’s blissful love to pour into our lives. Seeking and accepting the four kinds of forgiveness with all our hearts allows us to enjoy God’s many blessings — including salvation.

It is not always easy to forgive and forgiveness may not even mean reconciliation. But when we choose to forgive, to give that gift or even relieve that burden, then we free ourselves in the process and align ourselves with Jesus. 

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.- John 3:17

Written By

Sun Valley Community Church

We as a church exist to help you meet, know and follow Jesus. No matter where you’ve been, what you’ve done, or what’s been done to you, God loves you and you are welcome at Sun Valley. 

Published on Jan 26, 2022