In this sermon we are going to look at what is forgiveness according to the bible, and I hope God uses it to help you see the reason why you should always forgive.

For us to understand what is forgiveness according to the bible, we will try our best; through God’s Spirit to define forgivess from the biblical perspective.

We will also look at the 2 types of forgivess which is forgiving a fellow Christian and forgiving your enemies.

This sermon will also never be complete if we do not look at Jesus teachings on forgiveness, the spiritual meaning of forgiveness, importance of forgiveness as well as the prayer for forgiveness in the bible.

What is forgiveness according to the bible?

In the book of Isaiah 55:7, the bible urges the wicked to turn away from their sins and come to God for he will pardon and remember their sins no more.

And from this scripture, we can understand that according to the bible, forgiveness can be defined as turning away from sin and going to God who will wipe and forget them.

On the other hand, most of the sins we commit is against our fellow human beings.

And for that reason, we require those we offend to also forgive us as our Lord Jesus taught that if we don’t forgive people the wrongs they do us, we will never receive forgiveness from God. Mathew 6:14.

With this knowledge we can therefore conclude that, according to the bible, forgiveness is the act of withdrawing from the sins we commit against God and mankind, and approaching them for reconciliation.

The 2 types of forgiveness in the bible.

forgiveness

There are basically 2 types of forgiveness in the bible and they are:

  1. Forgiveness from God.
  2. Forgiveness among human beings.

1. Forgiveness from God.

According to the bible, the first type of forgiveness we have is the forgiveness that comes from God.

We wouldn’t have known how to relate with our fellow human beings, if God did not give us the laws or commandments.

And when you study the 10 commandments that was given to Moses by God, you will realize that they all bend towards our relationships with humans and not God.

Because even if you disobey God to worship other gods beside him as He warns in the first commandment; whatever results of that worship will affect a fellow human being.

For instance, the worship of the God Molech had the Israelites sacrificing their sons and daughters to Baal as we see in 2 Kings 17:17.

That is why the scripture says in Job 35:6-7 that your righteousness and evil deeds will not affect God but your fellow human beings.

However, even if it’s your fellow human being you will end up sinning against, God is the One you will always appraoch and look up to for forgiveness.

Thatis why the first type of forgiveness we have always comes from God.

2. Forgiveness among human beings.

forgiveness

The fellow human beings we are going to forgive will be classified into 2 categories thus:

  1. Forgiving our fellow Christians.
  2. Forgiving our enemies.

1. Forgiving our fellow Christians.

In our everyday Christian life, we will always come across fellow believers who will always trespass against their fellow believers, or even against the church.

And for this reason, forgiveness is very necessary in Christendom.

In many of our denominations, we will see different kinds of punishments being meted out to those who err.

And this punishments usually ranges from suspension to ex-communication etc.

The doctrine of suspension and ex-communication in the church.

Origin of this doctrine.

The doctrine of suspension and ex-communication in the church is biblical, and has it’s origin derived from the epistle Paul wrote to the Corinthians 5:1-13.

In that passage, Paul tells the people of Corinth about the report he has been receiving concerning their immoral behaviours.

He says the immorality has gone to the point where people are sleeping with their step mothers.

And so he advices them to sort out the people who are doing this and either suspend or ex-communicate them from the assembly.

How Paul countered this doctrine.

But it is however sad that the churches who imbibe this doctrine have not gone on to read how Paul went against what he wrote in his second epistle 2 Corinthinas 2:5-11.

In the latter passage he says that the punishment given to the sulprit is sufficient.

And so in the contrary, the church should forgive and comfort that person; lest his sorrow swallows him up.

He further advices them to confess the love they have for that person because he wrote to confirm if they have been obeying him accordingly.

He concludes by saying that so long as they forgive that person, he has also forgiven him. Lest Satan should use that as an advantage to destroy the beliveer.

To show how important this issue was he further stressed again in chapter 7:8-12, about the need fo the church to forgive the person who offended.

And in his epistle to the Thessalonians, he made this point shorter and clearer: And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15)

Penance.

And so we can now come to the understanding that what Paul meant was that, the church should first of all openly make known to all the believers the manner of sin the believer committed.

And after doing that they should ‘deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh’, which figuratively means to give him a form of manual labor.

The early church fathers used to call this act ‘penance’ which comes a Latin word ‘poenitentia’ meaning ‘punishment’. 

And after all that the church must immediately re-affirm their Christian love for him by immediately forgive him, so that Satan will not use that opportunity to make the believer totally backslide while he is restricted from the gathering of the saints.

How this doctrine has destoyed so many saints

And because many churches have really misintepreted this scripture, many saints have drawn back to perdition due to the suspension or ex-communication they receivefrom their error.

But then if this measure is rightly taken and the believer still continues in his sinful ways; since it is not in our place to judge and condemn anyone, we must therefore  apply the parable of the wheat and tares that the Master Himself taught us, (Mathew 13:24-30)

Jesus might have explained this parable in verses 37-43 and made us to understand that the field is the world, and the weeds are those who belong to the evil one while the wheat’s are those who belong to the kingdom.

But if we observe very well what he said from verse 41, we will discover that he had shifted the focus from referring the field to the world to referring it to the church which he called the kingdom.

Therefore, let us allow the believer, who still wants to be in our midst but continue in his sinful ways, to stay until when our judge the Christ will appear to witness and judge.

Now the above measures should be taken if the believer wrongs the whole church or another believer inside the church.

But if two believers have problems outside, the first thing they must do is to resolve their differences immediately and forgive each other.

But then one might ask: how many times must we forgive a single person who wrongs us?

To answer that question, let us see jesus teachings of forgiveness in the bible.

Jesus teachings on forgiveness in the bible.

Peter had already asked Jesus a similar question and He showed us how many times we ought to forgive a single person:

Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

(Mathew 18:22)

And going to mathematics for the sum up: 70 times 7=490. Which means you are to forgive a single person 490 times, before you can vindicate yourself. And He also made another analysis.

And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.

(Luke 17:4)

And finally He revealed to us what we must do before we can set ourselves free from forgiving others.

“Moreover, if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.

“But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that, by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ ‘And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church.

But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you as a heathen and a tax collector.

(Mathew 18: 15-17)

Example of forgiveness in the bible.

We can find an example of forgiveness among Christians in the case of Judas Iscariot who was a disciple of Jesus but went as far as betraying him for money.

Remember it was already written in the prophets that such a thing will happen (Psalm 109:2-13), and Jesus himself predicted:

“The son of man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!

(Mathew 26:24)

And also concluded in His last prayer:

Those whom you gave me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled.

(John 17:12)

So if you take all the right measures to settle with a believer you had problems with, and he turns out the son of perdition like Judas Iscariot; just let him go his way and consider yourself an heathen and him as a tax collector, as our Lord Jesus taught us.

But I assure you that Jesus perfectly knew that before you even take all the steps He gave above, you will gain back that brother or sister who wronged you.

2. Forgiving our enemies.

About forgiving our enemies in particular, Jesus made a logic case of what will happens to those who don’t forgive their enemies

“Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. “Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.

(Mathew 5:25-26)

He also set an example for us, when while on the cross He said a prayer of forgiveness to His killers:

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

(Luke 23:34)

And some people always dismiss this fact claiming Jesus was God and He had the power to forgive, but how about Stephen who also made the same prayers for his killers as we can see in Acts 7:60?

And let’s see how Peter concludes this sermon to us.

Do not pay back evil for evil or cursing with cursing, instead, pay back with a blessing, because a blessing is what God promised to give you when He called you.

(1 peter 3:9).

The importance of forgiveness according to the bible.

forgiveness

Jesus made it clear in Mathew 6:14-15 and Mark 11:25-26 to us that if we don’t forgive those who wronged us, the Father will never forgive us:

And if you study the above scripture in its whole context, you will find out that Jesus made this statement after He taught us the Lord’s Prayer.

There were so many points in the that prayer but He made emphasis only on forgiveness to show us the importance of it.

Now I want you to have a vivid picture of what Jesus wanted us to know which is that, whenever you forgive anybody for whatever wrong he might have done to you, God instantly forgives all the sins you have previously committed.

In other words, God will only show mercy to those who were merciful to others as James revealed to us:

For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy, mercy triumphs over judgment.(James 2:13)

And it might interest you to know that the Master Himself had revealed this truth to us beforehand in His sermon on the mount:

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.(Mathew 5:7)

This is the very reason why I always pity believers who cannot forgive people for what they have done to them, but believe they have been forgiven for their sins when they beg God to do so in their prayers.

Beloved, never think that you have received the forgiveness for any of your sins if you still have people that did one wrong or the other to you and you have not forgiven you.

I bet you, you will see many Christians who will end up in eternal torment, all because of un-forgiveness.

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Last modified: March 31, 2022

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