Paul in 2 Corinthians 1-11, is talking about a person that has offended the church at Corinth. Paul tells them that they have punished him enough so that Paul did not need to punish him. However, Paul does say that once the punishment has been delivered, the person needs to be forgiven.
“The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. 9 Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. 2 Corinthians 2:6-11(NIV)
In Colossians 3, Paul also says this about the Christian and their responsibility to forgive.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14(NIV)
God has given us the perfect example of forgiveness when he forgave our sins. Paul did not say “forgive as the Lord forgave you, BUT…” There is only one sin that God does not forgive. That sin occurs when someone blasphemes the Holy Spirit.
“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” Matthew 12:30-32(NIV)
If God forgives anyone who sins against him, then we can forgive anyone who sins against us.
Jesus also talked about forgiving others when he taught his disciples to pray. In fact immediately after he gave them the prayer in Matthew 6, he said:
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15(NIV)
The choice to forgive is ours. However, if we chose not to forgive others, God will not forgive us.
Struggling with forgiveness has been shown in the Bible from the very beginning. In Matthew 28, Peter is struggling with forgiveness. He asked Jesus how many times he was to forgive a brother or sister who sins against him. Jesus replied seventy-seven times!
Then Jesus told a story of a servant who owed his master a large sum of money that he could not pay. After the servant begged his master to forgive his debt, the master agreed and forgave his debt.
Having his debt forgiven, the servant then went to another man who owed him money and demanded his money. Even though the man begged for forgiveness, the servant had him put into jail until he could pay the debt, which was the accepted penalty for failure to pay a debt.
When the master heard that the servant had not forgiven the man’s debt, he called the servant in and demanded immediate payment for his debt.
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” Matthew 18:32-36(NIV)
God expects us to forgive others in the same way he forgave us. Jesus paid the price for all of our sins not just a few small ones.
When God forgives us, he no longer holds those sins against us. He does not hold them in our face and remind us of those sins. He does however; continue to love us and to treat us as though we have not sinned against him.
When we forgive others, do we keep a list of the thing that we have forgiven “just in case” we need them later?
One of the greatest problems in relationships today is the failure to forgive as God forgives. We are more concerned about ourselves than we are about forgiving others. We are concerned about being ‘used’ by someone. We are concerned that they may commit the same sin again. In fact, we may even attempt to catch them committing the same sin against us.
Have you ever asked God to forgive a sin, and then you repeat the same sin a few days later? Did God go back and reinstate the first sin because you failed again? No, when he forgives you, he does not hold that sin against you. God continues to love you and to encourage you to do what is right. Do we love and encourage those who’s sins we have forgiven?
We have often heard the expression: Forgive and forget. Forgiveness does not require forgetting. God doesn’t forget, he just refuses to look at that sin again. Sin has consequences that sometimes cannot be forgotten, but they can be still be forgiven. Forgiveness needs to come from the heart and not from our emotions.
Love does not dwell on the sins committed against us, it dwells on the forgiveness given for those sins. The good news of the gospel is not that we do not sin anymore. The good news of the gospel is that there is forgiveness when we do sin. When someone sins against you, they do not need to feel guilty, but they do need to feel forgiven and loved.
When we sin against God, does He hold us hostage until we pay the price of that sin? No, God has already paid the price for sin. Are you holding someone hostage because of a sin they have committed? When you see that person, do you rehearse in your mind the sin they committed against you or do you remember the good that they have done? God still loves them and has forgiven them. You can also forgive them with the help of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you. Release your hostages and forgive as the Lord has forgiven you.
Note: All scripture used in this article were downloaded from www.biblegateway.com, January 7, 2016