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.

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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)


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.

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