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  • Writer's pictureCanaa Lee

What is Biblical Forgiveness

The sacrifice of Jesus Christ makes it possible for us to be reconciled to God, declared innocent before Him and made holy. When we repent and put faith and trust in Jesus Christ, God is revealed to us as our Abba Father. Others who are born again and put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ are now part of the family of God, and we are brothers and sisters.

With a new Father and a new family, we must learn how to interact with the family of God. Many times we treat one another like a co-worker or like others in our natural families. This is not what the Lord Jesus reveals to us in the Gospels. There is a new way that He reveals and when we love Jesus, we submit and obey His ways because He first loved us and restored our relationship with God through His sacrifice on the cross. We must have a new heart and a new mind and think differently in order to live and give sacrificially to love the family of God. It is completely out of our comfort zones. We need God's grace, patience, forgiveness, His strength, His guidance and discipline, and His love. This is what came to reveal to us: the Kingdom of God.

THE GOSPEL COALITION (What is Biblical Forgiveness?)

Forbearance is often confused with forgiveness. Forbearance overlooks an unpleasant characteristic, event, or offense that is relatively minor even if our emotions feel major (Matthew 5:23-24; Proverbs 28:13; Proverbs 19:11; Proverbs 12:16; Proverbs 17:14; Colossians 3:13; 1 Peter 4:8). It’s the annoying habit of our colleague, the friend who didn’t wave at church, the joke at our expense last week. With God’s help, forbearing people resolve their inner discord quickly in recognition that further persistence on their rights may generate further wounds to ourselves and to the body of Christ. Forbearance ‘lets it go and moves on’ when emotions resurface knowing that everyone needs constant grace, including ourselves.

By contrast, forgiveness applies to major offenses that require discussion in order for a resolution to occur.

Forgiveness is NOT:

· Forgetting or excusing egregious (shocking; horrific; hateful; outrageous) acts.

· Insisting that reconciliation be immediate or return to its previous form.

· A removal of any legal consequences that may apply.

What Forgiveness is:

· Cost us deeply because through it we choose to lay down our right to have our offender owe us.

· Asks us to extend love and kindness even when it’s undeserved,

· To trust God to avenge our situation instead of ourselves,

· To use life’s conflicts as opportunities to display God’s character (Matthew 5:23-24; Proverbs 28:13).

In the Word of God however, feelings-based forgiveness remains incomplete. The Word shows us a consistent, important pattern of how forgiveness is triggered through repentance (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; Luke 13:3; Luke 17:3-4; Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19, Acts 5:31, Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9).

Unforgiveness is like a closed-door that impacts the intimate relationship between two parties. If the guilty party offers repentance, the application of forgiveness opens the door in order to restore the relationship. The Holy Spirit can move us toward inner peace so that we become ready and able to forgive, but forgiveness is not actually applied until repentance is sought. It gives the opportunity for the offended to hear I’m sorry, and the opportunity for the offender to receive the freedom of I forgive you.

Forgiveness requires that we give a repentant person an opportunity to regain our trust by forgiving them. This is what Jesus had in mind when he said, Go and be reconciled to your brother (Matt 5:24; 1 Cor 7:11; 2 Cor 5:18-20). Reconciliation of ourselves with others replaces hostility and separation with peace and friendship. The complexities of what a restored relationship looks like can be complex and varied. Biblical counseling is often necessary to process the relational complexities in a God-honoring way.

This gives us God's perspective on loving the brethren. Repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation are essential for building and sustaining solid and healthy personal relationships in the Body of Christ. The Lord is raising up His remnant. These elements are key in these Last Days.

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