Understanding Forgiveness

As I have mentioned before, there are three kinds of believers who please God the most:
Those who are quick to repent, those who are quick to forgive, and those who are quick to obey. Last week we looked at repentance. This week we are going to look at forgiveness, and how vitally important it is for you to understand why you must always be quick to forgive.

Now Jesus had a number of things to say about forgiveness that not only shows you what He expects from you, but also the wonderful way that God is so willing to forgive you. He said:

“Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.  And if he sins against you SEVEN TIMES IN A DAY, and seven times returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” Luke 17:3-4 NKJV (emphasis mine.)

You may find this statement amazing, not only because of what Jesus requires of you, but also the fact that God is so willing to do this for YOU. God does not require you do anything that He will not do for you, as well. Yes, he is willing to forgive regardless of the number of times you come to him in repentance – even for the same sin!

Please understand that your Heavenly Father eagerly waits to forgive you for your sins. All He wants you to do is confess that you have sinned, and He is ready to instantly forgive you. He wants you to live in His forgiveness, so that you can learn to live free from sins. Sadly, many believers never get beyond this stage in their spiritual growth, and sin freely, knowing that all they have to do is ask God to forgive them, and He will. God wants you to live free from sin. He wants you to live a holy life, and shake off all the sins of the world!

If you are one of those people who keep sinning, just because you know God will always forgive you, let me ask you a question:  Do you really want to stand before Jesus one day, and say, “Lord, I sinned whenever I wanted to, but I always asked you to forgive me.”  No doubt you want to honor God with your life more than that.

Now it seems Peter heard Jesus well when He taught on forgiving his brother seven times, because one day he came to Jesus with a question. He asked:

“Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  Up to SEVEN TIMES?”

Jesus must have thought that Peter hadn’t understood the point He had been trying to make, because He replied:

“I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”  See Matthew 18:21-22 NKJV

Then Jesus proceeded to share with him the parable of the unforgiving servant. In that parable, He made it very clear that God has forgiven us from SO MUCH, that we must freely forgive others, just as God has so freely forgiven us.

Over the years, I have heard some of the most prominent Bible teachers comment that we should always forgive others, because if we don’t, it will hinder our prayers. This is true in some cases, but this is not the reason that Jesus gave. He made it very clear that we absolutely MUST forgive everyone who has offended us or hurt us in some way. He said:

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have ANYTHING against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Mark 11:25-26 NKJV (emphasis mine.)

Jesus made it very clear:  If you do not forgive others, God will not forgive you – and He meant it!  This is why it is so vitally important to forgive everyone who has ever wronged you or hurt you. God has so freely forgiven you, that He expects you to be just like Him, and forgive people just as He has forgiven you.

You are holy!

Next week we will look at the great importance of understanding obedience.
Steve Smith