Principles of Forgiveness

The principles of forgiveness are taught from the churches and synagogues throughout the world! Plus, there have been many books written about the subject of forgiveness/un-forgiveness. However, these principles are not practiced as they should be. Instead, people choose to hold grudges and as time passes, they grow bitter and incredibly angry! Even though forgiveness is the heart of the gospel and people want to be forgiven, people choose not to forgive. We live in a very unforgiving world, a world that has adopted the philosophy of “I don't get mad, I get even.” Un-forgiveness and hatred and revenge are pretty much accepted today.

The very first need for forgiveness is recorded in Genesis the third chapter when Adam and Eve willfully disobeyed God! When they carried out their choice to disobey God shame, guilt, and disobedience to name just a few came into a perfect world! Genesis 3:12 shows us exactly when the old blame game popped into the world! But, most of all their choice put a wedge between them and God. We know that we need forgiveness and we know that we are told to forgive others.

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)

We know this is a command. It is not a “if you feel like it” statement. It is not an “if you want too” request. It is a command, meaning, “Do it”! In many churches, during their services, the priest or pastor has the congregation repeat the Lord’s Prayer. In that prayer is the following:

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12

As you can see it says, as we have also forgiven. We are talking past tense here. It is a statement, as with many others, that people just say without paying attention to what they are saying. To put it simply, often, people just stand and repeat memorized prayers and while saying them, their minds are on other things. Does God not know that? Do you want someone talking to you with their mind on fifteen other things? In my family we call that “beaming up” and I call it rude! When you are praying to God, give Him your full attention. Concentrate, be respectful and simply talk to God and tell Him what is on your heart and mind! He loves that!

The forgiven life is the forgiving life!

Jesus told us that we were to forgive and to keep on forgiving!

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV)

We must forgive and mean it. You cannot fake God out, do not even try it!

Forgiveness is the heart of the gospel and love is the heart of forgiveness!

Jesus set that example while hanging on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. He asks for forgiveness for His executioners.

Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Luke 23:34 (NIV)

The Apostle Paul reminded the church at Ephesus of both the grounds of their forgiveness and the basis on which they must forgive one another.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:29-32 (NIV)

Our forgiveness towards others reflects our experience and understanding of God’s divine forgiveness towards us!

Forgiveness a Fresh Approach
Questions and Answers

Question: After we have forgiven someone that has hurt us, do we need to ask God to forgive them?

Answer: We do not need to, but we should. You see Jesus taught us to love our enemies.

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (NIV) Luke 6:27-28

If someone does us wrong, we are supposed to forgive them and pray for them, pray that God forgives them and that He is able to bless them. You see, that is the ultimate test for us to see if we have really forgiven them. Doing so is an act of love. It is not that God is not going to forgive them if we do not ask that. It is just that we should do it. It is an act of love! It is a quality that Jesus had. You see, Jesus set the example on the cross and He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” We must live by Jesus example. Pure and simple, it is a test for us to see if we can do it with the right intentions of the heart.

The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” (NIV) 1 John 2:4-6

Question: If a person knows that they have committed a sin against another, and they know that the person that they hurt has a problem in that area. If they do not go to the person who they hurt and ask them to forgive them. Does the offended party have to forgive them before they come and apologize?

Answer: YES! Whether you are feeling anger or you are feeling hurt (where there is hurt, there is anger), we must forgive ASAP, because the written Word tells us to. Satan can get many an inroad into your life with unresolved anger. Un-forgiveness causes separation from the Father because it is not part of His character and nature. We must be ready and willing to forgive.

"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (NIV) Ephesians 4:26-27

The Jewish New Testament puts things this way.

And, I tell you that anyone who even nurses anger against his brother will be subject to judgement; that whoever calls his brother, “You good-for-nothing!” will be brought before the Sanhedrin: that whoever says, “Fool!” incurs the penalty of burning in the fire of Gey-Hinnom!(JNT) Matthew 5:22

Regarding: Someone has something against You!

Question: As a Christian, am I required to go to everyone who does something against me and try to settle it? There have been times that it did not work.

Answer: First, let us look at the scripture regarding, “someone having ought” with you.

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV)

I want to share something that God has shown me about this scripture. It is something that is not taught often, if at all. Be careful how you apply this scripture. The word brother is applied as, a fellow believer, united to another by the bond of affection; Christians, as those who are exalted to the same heavenly place. Jesus did not say “neighbor” here, He said “brother”! If the intentions of someone’s heart are not that of a true believer, you cannot have restoration. You cannot have restoration with someone whose heart is not after God. You cannot go and make peace with someone if they do not want to be made peace with. When Jesus said, go to your brother, He meant just exactly that, a brother. Someone who’s life is based on truly Christ-like principles and pure heart intentions. Get your instructions from God!

We can get ourselves in trouble by not getting before God. We can act to quickly and it causes more problems and more damage just saying, “Oh, the written Word says, “if my brother has ought with me, I have to go to him.” God did not intend for that to be the case. Get your instruction. Be incredibly careful how you apply the word, “brother” to someone who is not our brother. We can get terribly wounded and hurt when it is not necessary. Let us kick it up a notch. Jesus meant your brother in Christ, who is on the same path with the same focus, with the same heart intentions. You cannot do it any other way! We tend to take things to generally when God is being extremely specific, to protect us in some way. Are we to forgive everyone? Absolutely! But, be careful how you handle the rest of it! You can get yourself into a world of hurt when God wants the situation handled differently.

Question: If someone made a mistake at some point in their life, in other words, they did something they should not have done. If they went to God and set things straight with Him and they’ve been forgiven for it, does anyone have the right to come to that person and say, “I forgive you for such and such”? Do they have the right to bring it up to and remind them of their sin?

Answer: There are several angles to approach this. But, first let us clarify something. I have seen it taught in churches, to just go to the person you are holding un-forgiveness to and get it cleared up. In fact, I’ve been in church services where the pastor has instructed people to go to the person that you are holding un-forgiveness to and clear it up “now”, right in the middle of the church service. It is dangerous, not getting with God, praying, and asking for instruction, first! This is a serious inroad for Satan to get things going. In churches, yes in churches, people are watching other people. The person who “is gone to” is being singled out, indicating that they did something wrong to another person. This is a declaration of guilt or a wrongdoing on their part. Shame can be brought on that person, right there in church. First, they may not even be aware that they did something. It could have been a sin of omission, as it is called. Even if it was not, is this not making an open display of that person? Its finger pointing. These moments should be held in private, under God’s specific instruction. As we looked at the story of David, when the prophet Nathan went to David, I see nowhere in the written Word that anyone was there, listening!

Rule#1: If a person knows that someone is holding guilt or condemnation because of something they did to them, then it is one thing to go and say to them, “I have forgiven you, so can we just forget about it and let God deal with us from this point.” It is one thing if that is the true heart intention. This is a private matter.

There are cases that someone’s heart intention is, “I’m doing a good thing, I’m forgiving that person. Aren’t I wonderful?”

Rule #2: If someone had done something to someone else a long time ago, they had been forgiven for it and they are walking in that forgiveness and the person who feels they had been wronged because of their actions then chooses to go to that person and dump it at their feet, that’s wrong! The person who is doing the dumping, needs to be looking at their self. They should have dealt with their un-forgiveness a long time ago, with God. If they have carried un-forgiveness for an extended period, that is their problem! It is not the person’s problem who wronged them. They need to get with God and ask for forgiveness.

Going to someone and saying, “you did this, and you did this, and I forgive you, but you did this and this and this too”, but I am working through it. Satan can get an inroad right here! In bringing up something that God has thrown as far as the east is from the west, it can bring condemnation back into the picture. Guilt can be revisited for that person. Shame can come back in the door. Satan can get a foot hold! If handled in this manner, reconciliation does not always come, but separation can! If a situation is handled in this manner, it would not be God!

You see, when we ask God for forgiveness and God forgives our sins, He puts them as far as the east is from the west “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (NIV) Psalm 103:12

If God has done this for us, what right to we must bring others sins up to them (unless it for the purpose of the relief of shame and guilt)? As with Joseph, he quickly attempted to relieve his brother’s shame and guilt. He did not start to rehash what had happened. What good does it do?

Question: If I forgive somebody and they keep doing the same thing over and over to me again and again and again, and I know that I’m supposed to forgive them again, how do I forget about it when it keeps happening over and over? Can I get rid of the memories?

Answer: When someone is choosing not to change, we could be put into a very tough situation. First, we must continue to forgive. Can we forget what someone does to us? Yes, we can, but it takes a continual wanting to on our part. We can forgive and forget, but we must want to! We may have to go through the “Steps of Forgiveness” forty times a day and if it takes that, then we must do it. But we can do it. With all the people that hated Jesus did not He have to forgive others daily? Of course, He did! I am sure that He asked the Father to erase the memories from His mind too. That is what we must do to. We must want to give them up, therefore we must give God permission to erase them. He will not just do it. We must give Him permission. We must make that choice.

If you are in a very abusive relationship, make sure that you are in contact with God about whether you should stay in that relationship. If Satan is using someone to constantly bombard you, God may not want you to stay in that relationship. Make sure, if you leave, that God has told you to. Make sure that God directs you every step of the way. That is for your own protection. Do not act without clear direction. Clearly in most cases, in a husband/wife situation, if either one of the spouses is clearly walking in obedience and listening to God’s direction and following through. Things will be worked out.

If you have someone in your life that you call friend and they are abusive to you over and over in whatever way, God could very well tell you to forgive them and walk away from the relationship. If He were to do that, do not be surprised. He has told that to many a Christian, because He does not want you to be “friends” with that certain person, for some reason or another. Remember, He knows best. You can forgive someone and not be their “friend” anymore.


We can hold on to un-forgiveness. If we do hold on to it, are we punishing the person who hurt us or are we allowing Satan to punish us?

There is not one person who is walking around with un-forgiveness against another person, who is not being punished for it in some way, by Satan. It can affect the person for who you are carrying the un-forgiveness, but clearly you are allowing yourself to be punished by Satan.

Let us break this down:

How can God heal you if you have not forgiven somebody for something? He cannot! So, how can God bless and restore when Satan has access to that area of their life? He cannot! So, that goes back to the first point. Can Satan use what we have in un-forgiveness and anger to beat someone else up? Of course! Does it always go that far? No! Yet does it always punish the person that is holding it? Yes! That is the point! Until the person who is holding the un-forgiveness, gives it up, they will not be free. They are going to be in bondage to that emotion, in bondage to that memory and in bondage to that pain. That is the point, who does it really punish? When we hold un-forgiveness, who does it really punish? Does it punish the person? Yes, sometimes it can. If you have a person who is very revengeful, nine times out of ten it, will. But the real punishment comes to the person that is carrying it.

Remember, if you are the brunt of someone’s un-forgiveness, unless you are physically being hurt. E.g. beaten up, you are not being punished. You are being affected, e.g. persecuted, but it is not punishment. Satan will try to make you feel you are being punished, but you are not. They are! If nothing else ever came upon the person holding the un-forgiveness, their relationship with God would be out of whack, which brings us back to the verse in 1 John.

The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” (NIV) 1 John 2:4-6

It also brings us back to the verse in the very beginning of this teaching.

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (NIV) Matthew 6:14-15

So, who is getting punished? Who is the written Word calling the liar, whose sins are not being forgiven? Who is separated from God? The one holding the un-forgiveness! They are in Satan’s control that is a danger zone!

Forgiveness is not an option; it is a must. We only hurt ourselves in the long run. Un-forgiveness is from Satan, not God. Therefore, those who choose not to forgive are following Satan’s guidelines for living, not God’s!

When we keep blaming other people for our problems because we have not forgiven them, we will stay in our problems! They will remain! Why? Because you are never dealing with them.

High Price for Carried Anger!

“People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant.

He said to them,“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them”. Mark 10:13 (NIV)

We have a right to be angry – sometimes it is appropriate anger (righteous indignation), sometimes it is not. No matter which type of anger it is – we have no right to carry it – so do not hold on to it.

No matter what someone has done to you – no matter what someone is doing to you – we have no right to carry it!

We must forgive! Ask God this question; “God is my anger at someone delaying you being able to work in my life?” We can throw a roadblock at God’s feet when we are angry at someone, righteous anger or not. We must forgive them. When we negate Christ work on the cross by not forgiving people from the bottom of our heart – we are road-blocking God’s work in us, and towards us! Plus, you are putting a wedge between you and God!

Even If you are right it is very tough forgiving someone who is going against something you know you are doing because God told you too – and you are not getting anything out of it. That is the hardest part. Plus, you feel you are being persecuted! In fact, that is exactly what it is – its persecution. However, they do not realize it is what they are doing. But you are getting hurt constantly.

A danger Zone!

Irrational un-forgiveness is someone’s need to make you feel like you made them feel!


Any hint of this type of un-forgiveness is a danger zone. You have bitterness! Ask yourself - is this returning evil for evil?

Forgiveness Is Like Paint

Forgiveness is like a coat of paint – it is not necessarily going to cover in one application! Sometimes you must apply multiple layers to get that full final effect like painting over marks on a wall.

There are times it takes many coats of forgiveness to cover the pain or remorse that God does not want you to carry. It could take time.

You cannot apply all those coats at one time – it is a process – forgiveness is a process – healing is a process!


Un-forgiveness is never a response to Disappointment!

Are you carrying around un-forgiveness at someone? Are you bitter? Do you want someone to feel the way they made you feel?

Remember: There are times the person you need to forgive may have had to forgive you! You may not only have been the victim; you could have victimized someone in the same area! This is not condemnation. This is to remind you that people have been the object of your words, wrath or whatever the case may have been. You are not always the one who gets hurt! There is no one perfect!


Steps for Forgiveness

Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you:

1. Share it with God (with or without another). Verbalize your anger, your feelings, etc. (e.g. “God, I’m angry at this person/situation”). Name every aspect of the situation.

2. Confess out loud: “Father, I forgive ________ for _________. I am willing to forgive. I want to forgive.” Continue this until you feel a release.

3. Pray for healing from God for the pain. (e.g. “Father, I ask you to heal the pain associated with this situation.”) If you are feeling anger from it, go back to steps one and two.

4. Pray for God to remove the scars. Give God permission to erase from your memory, all that He does not want there, leaving only that which He would have you use for a testimony.

Keep going back to reoccurring memories and ask God to give you a positive image of that person.


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