To Forgive and to be Forgiven
As you read and study what has bee written here, do not just blindly accept it. Please check the Scriptures and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you His truth. The Scriptures quoted are from the King James version with the words of Jesus in red.
What does it mean to
forgive and to be forgiven?
According to the College Edition of Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language "forgive" is defined as:
1. To give up resentment against or the desire to punish; stop being angry with; pardon. 2. To give up all claim to punish or exact penalty for (an offense); overlook. 3. To cancel or remit (a debt).
Anger or resentment causes us to want to retaliate or punish someone or something. Usually the source of anger or resentment is a sense of having been offended or perhaps injured in some way. This sense of having been offended is most often because "we didn't get our way." When "we don't get our way" we are actually rebelling against some form of authority.
When we are forgiven, we will have been pardoned and no penalty will be assessed against us. The one who has forgiven us will have given up all resentment against us, and, is willing to overlook whatever fault that they thought we might have. An interesting point about the act of forgiving is we are not required to forget but only to stop being angry and desiring retaliation.
What does Scripture say about anger and resentment?
Our anger should not be allowed to cause us to sin nor should we carry it over to the next day.
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: (Ephesians 4:26a)
We are to rest in the Lord, cease from anger, forsake wrath and not do evil. Our answer is to be soft, deferring anger and instead overlook the transgression. Bitterness, wrath, anger, and evil speaking are things we are not to engage in.
Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. (Psalm 37:7-9)
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:29-32)
When we speak in anger we become foolish, stirring up strife. Being slow to anger, or to defer it with a soft answer, we will not cause strife to occur.
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness. (Proverbs 15:1-2)
Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools. (Ecclesiastes 7:9)
A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife. (Proverbs 15:18)
He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. (Proverbs 16:32)
The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression. (Proverbs 19:11)
Seeking vengeance to soothe our anger is not to be done because God says He will settle the account. We also are not to overcome evil with evil but instead to use good to triumph over it.
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:18-21)
Paul, tells us in chapter 5 of Galatians, verses 13 to 26, to love your neighbor as yourself; not to bite and devour each another. We are to be led of the Holy Spirit and not let the lust of the flesh rule. Paul goes on to itemize seventeen different things we are not to lust after and wrath is listed among them. He tells us these lusts of the flesh will keep us from inheriting the kingdom of God. Paul then lists nine fruits of the Spirit which we will exhibit as we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us.
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:13-26)
What does Scripture say about forgiving and being forgiven?
There are 56 verses of The King James version of the Bible where the word forgive appears. Twenty-eight are in the Old Testament and twenty-eight in the New Testament. "Forgave" is used in one verse of the Old Testament and in six of the New Testament. The word forgiven appears 18 and 24 times, respectively in the Old and New Testaments. This is 104 times we are given some direction about forgiveness.
What is to be Forgiven, and by whom?
Only God can forgive sin as it is His righteousness that has been offended. He will forgive any sin one might commit except blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Once you have repented, or turned away from, the sin it will be forgiven by God.
Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. (Matthew 12:31-32)
We cannot forgive sins committed against God. We are instructed however, to rebuke our brother who trespasses against us and to forgive him when he repents. To refuse to forgive, or to have ought against our brother, will prevent our being forgiven for our trespasses by the Father.
Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. (Matthew 17:3)
Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. 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 11:24-26)
Who has been forgiven?
We, who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Saviour and are born again of the Spirit, are forgiven by God. Jesus was sent to earth to provide reconciliation for us with the Father. His death on the cross, burial and ascension to the right hand of the Father has purchased for us the adoption into the family of God. All our past sins have been blotted out and we are forgiven of ALL our trespasses.
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. (Colossians 2:13-15)
Who are we to forgive, and why?
In Ephesians 4:32 we are told "be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Because God has forgiven us, we who are born again, are to forgive one another. We have not been given a choice in the matter but rather have been commanded by God to forgive.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)
Psalm 78, verse 35, describes for us the behavior we are to demonstrate towards those we feel have offended us.
And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer. Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues. For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant. But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath. (Psalm 78:35-38)
Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:22-24 that when we are angry at our brother without cause, judgement may fall upon us. He goes on to command us to leave our gift at the altar, go and reconcile our self with our brother and then we may return to offer our gift. These commands leave us no option to continue to remain angry.
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. (Matthew 5:22-24)
In Matthew 6, verses12, 14 and 15, Jesus teaches us about forgiving and forgiveness. If we do not forgive others their trespasses, our heavenly Father will not for give us our trespasses. When we refuse to forgive, we are placing ourselves in bondage.
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:9-15)
When Peter asked if he was to forgive seven times, Jesus answered him saying "not seven, but seventy times seven." This would be four hundred and ninety times for the same trespass. This is far beyond the total number of times one individual would ever commit a single trespass against us. We must believe from this that we are to forgive every trespass against us. Jesus re-enforced this, in verses 34 and 35, where He tells us the heavenly Father will deliver us to the tormentors if we refuse to forgive from our hearts the one who trespasses against us.
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. (Matthew 18:21-35)
As can be seen from verses 34 and 35 above, there is a consequence for not forgiving another. In fact, the act of not forgiving is rebellion against the Word of God.
Rebellion is Witchcraft
God, through Samuel the prophet, instructed King Saul to attack and utterly destroy the Amalekites for opposing the children of Israel when they first entered the Promised Land. King Saul was to destroy not only the men but all the women, children, babies and cattle - everything!
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. (1 Samuel 15:2-3
King Saul conquered the Amalekites but he failed to follow all of God's instruction to him. He kept back the choicest livestock for himself and his men and also did not kill Agag, king of the Amalekites. God sent Samuel to rebuke Saul by saying "rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry."
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. (1 Samuel 15:23a)
Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, asks the question "who has bewitched you?" He was chastising them for not obeying the truth which had been given. They had been walking in obedience to the Holy Spirit but then began to walk after the flesh. Paul explains the effects of walking after the lust of the flesh by describing the works of doing so. He continues by saying such fleshly works are the behaviors of unregenerate, fallen humanity. It is easy to conclude that rebellion is a work of the flesh because it is the rejection of God's legitimate authority.
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (Galatians 3:1-3)
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:16-21)
What are we to conclude from this?
Anger is not to be kept beyond the going down of the sun. When anger or wrath leads to the desire for retaliation it becomes sin. Revenge is the prerogative of God, not man. Anger and wrath are of the flesh and God has called us to walk according to the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, gentleness, longsuffering, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance are manifested when we are walking by the Spirit.
We are to forgive, as we have been forgiven by Jesus. This is not a suggestion, but rather a command of God. Failure to obey God is rebellion which, He declares to be witchcraft.
October 12, 2001
If you desire additional information you may contact me: Bill
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