Summary: To err is human, to forgive divine? Not if we are to believe what the Bible says on forgiving. Come and see the great release in our lives when we forgive like God forgives us.
When we have been wronged in our own minds we feel a need to hold it against them, to want to get even, you harbor bitterness in your heart. After all I am a man and nobody disrespects me! Does this sound familiar? Does this sound right? Does this mean I am to let him off free? What does the Bible say on the topic? I must admit I have learned some things since the last time I taught on this topic but that is OK. I remember a preacher named Wesley (that is John Wesley) who threw out his sermons every seven years stating that if he did not learn anything new in seven years he should leave the ministry! So here we go.
What Does it Mean to Forgive?
And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. (Mark 11:25-26)
FORGIVE, FORGAVE, FORGIVENESS
aphiemi NT:863, primarily, "to send forth, send away" (apo, "from," hiemi, "to send"), denotes, besides its other meanings, "to remit or forgive" (a) debts, Matt 6:12; 18:27,32, these being completely cancelled; (b) sins, e. g., Matt 9:2,5,6; 12:31,32; Acts 8:22 ("the thought of thine heart"); Rom 4:7; James 5:15; 1 John 1:9; 2:12. Firstly signifies the remission of the punishment due to sinful conduct, the deliverance of the sinner from the penalty divinely, and therefore righteously, imposed; secondly, it involves the complete removal of the cause of offense; such remission is based upon the vicarious and propitiatory sacrifice of Christ. The verb is used in the NT with reference to trespasses (paraptoma), e. g., Matt 6:14,15; sins (hamartia), e. g., Luke 5:20; debts (see above) (opheilema), Matt 6:12; (opheile), 18:32; (daneion), 18:27; the thought (dianoia) of the heart, Acts 8:22.
Human "forgiveness" is to be strictly analogous to divine "forgiveness," e. g., Matt 6:12. If certain conditions are fulfilled, there is no limitation to Christ’s law of "forgiveness," Matt 18:21,22. The conditions are repentance and confession, Matt 18:15-17; Luke 17:3.[i]
Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)
Repentance is more than sorrow. You can be sorry you got caught and not sorry for the sin committed. We can sorrow over the pain we caused others with our actions and not be sorry we grieved God and trampled the precious blood of Jesus under foot with our actions.
If we are sorry for the right reasons, it works us to repentance, which is the turning away from the sin in our lives so we can please God.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Confession and repentance are two separate things.
homologeo NT:3670, lit., "to speak the same thing" (homos, "same," lego, "to speak"), "to assent, accord, agree with," denotes, (a) "to confess, declare, admit," John 1:20; e. g., Acts 24:14; Heb 11:13; (b) "to confess by way of admitting oneself guilty of what one is accused of, the result of inward conviction.[ii]
So when we confess, we enumerate our sins. We speak them out one by one, confessing them as wrong, asking for God’s forgiveness for each one.
When we come to God for salvation, there is no way we could ever do this, but 1 John is addressed to Christians, so the thought is that we need to, as Martin Luther said, keep short accounts with God. As close as possible to the act, when you realize you did wrong, seek forgiveness there and then!
Think dads, if you had a favorite fishing pole and your son used it and broke the reel, when would you want him to tell you? Come now and ask forgiveness of you dad and not wait to be found out! Be men of integrity and character.
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 8:12)
Does this mean that God gets amnesia? Not hardly.
Remember: NT:3403 mimnesko (mim-nace’-ko); a prolonged form of NT:3415 (from which some of the tenses are borrowed); to remind, i.e. (middle voice) to recall to mind: KJV - be mindful, remember.[iii]
This is coupled with a couple of negative participles
NT:3756 ou (oo); also (before a vowel) ouk (ook); and (before an aspirate) ouch (ookh); a primary word; the absolute negative [compare NT:3361] adverb; no or not:[iv]