Forgiveness Part 1: Do I Have to Forgive?

If you do a search for “forgiveness” on Amazon, you’ll get a list of over 4700 books, so apparently it’s a hot topic. Everyone gets hurt, offended or betrayed in life, and we all have to deal with forgiving others. Often the lack of forgiveness is like a big, black cloud that hangs over the heads of people, keeping them tied up and held in a prison of anger and bitterness.  Countless people ask me how they can forgive someone—usually their spouse—for some transgression that has been committed against them. It is not at all unusual to hear people say that the specific thing they are struggling to forgive happened 5, 10, 20, 30 years ago, yet they are still dealing with the memory, the pain and the inability to work through it. Many relive the event in excruciating detail as if it just happened yesterday, saying they can’t, won’t, or don’t know how to forgive the person.

While non-Christians may have their own steps and formulas on how to forgive, from a Christian world-view I can explain it very quickly and to the point. Quite simply, the Bible teaches that if we won’t forgive other people, then God will not forgive us.  In Matthew 6, Jesus teaches His disciples “The Lord’s Prayer” that says, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Debt means sin or offense.) Then in verses 14-15 Jesus continues and says, “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) Seems like a very straight-forward concept, yet many Christians don’t get this and even when they hear it, they don’t believe it.  There may be things in Christianity that are debatable—such as finer points of theology, speaking in tongues, what is the proper form of baptism, how to interpret the end-times scriptures—but not this. Forgiveness is pretty black and white, fundamental Christianity 101; if you don’t understand forgiveness you don’t understand Christianity.

You would think that once you put into people’s minds they are running the risk of eternal damnation for their souls, they would start to wake up and get a clue. (Which is exactly the case if your sins are not forgiven by God, by the way.) Sadly, many Christians believe that as long as they have “said the prayer”, they can live anyway they want, do anything they want and it doesn’t matter.  It does matter. Further on in Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus talks about forgiveness by relating a parable about a servant who owed his master a lot of money—let’s say the equivalent of a million dollars. The master comes to collect and the servant begs to be let off the hook because he can’t repay it. So the master reconsiders, shows mercy and lets him off; erasing the considerable debt that the man owed. But then that very same servant turns around and finds another guy who owes him some small amount— let’s say $100. He starts choking the guy, demanding his money, then throws the guy in jail till he pays him what he owes.  When the master hears what the servant did, he calls him back in and says, “You wicked servant. I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” After that the master turned the guy over to the jailers to be tortured, until he could pay back what he owed. Then check out what Jesus says, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

You are fooling yourself if you think you can remain bitter and unforgiving toward someone else and have that be okay with God. The Bible warns not to “deceive yourself” and I truly think this is one of the areas that people are full of self-deception. As Christians one thing that is totally non-negotiable for us is forgiveness. There are lots of things that are for us to decide that won’t affect whether God forgives us or not. How much you pray and how much money you give is up to you—the standard is 10%, but it’s still your call. Whether or not you go to church—God’s not going to send you to hell if you don’t go every Sunday, even though you know you should go. How much you read the bible—once a month, 8 chapters a day—is up to you. There are all kinds of things we get to play with and have wiggle room on. But the one thing that is absolutely not up to you, not negotiable in any way shape or form, is forgiveness. You cannot live in unforgiveness and think you are okay.

I was talking to this one woman who was attending our church and she was there every Sunday on the front row loving and worshipping Jesus—but she had just divorced her husband.  I asked why, and she said, “Because he called me fat! I hate him!  I want him to die and go to hell!”  Seriously!? I think people are delusional.  You can clap, sing, praise God and think you are a Christian all you want, but the truth is you will have to answer to God for your lack of forgiveness.  Sadly, you don’t hear this taught by pastors. I know because when I say these things, people look at me like I just dropped in from Mars!  They become indignant and can’t believe that I’m saying such a thing. One lady was talking to me in my office and she got so mad that she slammed out the door yelling at me, “How dare you imply I’m in trouble with God because of what my husband did!” She wanted no part of dealing with her own sin of unforgiveness. Many people have a problem with this teaching and I understand that it is extremely strong, but I don’t see how they get around these scriptures.

People often say “I am growing in forgiveness”, or “I’m learning to forgive”—I don’t buy it. Either you have forgiven or you haven’t, there’s no growing!  Hear me on this…and if this freaks you out and scares you, it should! Jesus said, “Many will say to me on judgment day ‘Lord, Lord’”. Then He’s going to say “I never knew you” and you’re not getting in. (Matthew 7:21-23) Make no mistake, one of the fundamental reasons is because people absolutely refuse to forgive those who have hurt them. You may know people who say they have been a Christian for 20 years or more but can’t or won’t forgive someone. I say those people need to really reconsider whether or not they are Christians. I think there will be surprises on judgment day as to who is and who isn’t a real Christian.

I am not being condemning here, only showing the gravity of this situation. The Church has suffered, because pastors have not taught the great importance of forgiving and the dire consequences if we don’t.  Christians tend to be very compassionate in trying to help people forgive, but the thing that should really motivate us is when we truly understand the seriousness of choosing not to forgive another person.  Honestly, that teaching has been withheld in Christian circles and I am certain that if we really understood it, we would be less inclined to walk in unforgiveness.

Here is an analogy to help clarify this. Let’s say you have a problem with eating chocolate cake. You are really tempted to eat it any time you see a delicious slice.  Now, it’s a pretty easy temptation to work around and deal with because most of the time it’s not going to kill you if you slip up. After all, you have been doing so well avoiding the cake and sticking to your diet. You rationalize that you can work it off later, walk farther to burn the calories, or reason that you will only indulge a little by having one small piece.  Now, if you knew that the cake was laced with cyanide, would it still be a temptation? No, not at all! It breaks the temptation entirely and no way would you yield to that because you totally get it— you understand the gravity of the situation and the consequences.

That’s what pastors teach about forgiveness: We know it’s difficult, just do your best, try harder to avoid it, but if you can’t, it’s really not that bad, you’re still ok. I believe that people struggle with not forgiving others because pastors have failed to teach the perilousness of it. They aren’t telling believers that the cake is saturated with cyanide.  If we fully comprehended what the Bible says about the sin of unforgiveness, if we really understood the huge price we will pay on Judgment Day, I think we would be much quicker to let others off the hook, release our grudges, and forgive.  Jesus was not ambiguous in any way—if you refuse to forgive people, God will not forgive you. My question to you is: Can you afford that?

**Check back next week for Part 2 “What is Forgiveness?”

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51 Responses to “Forgiveness Part 1: Do I Have to Forgive?”

  1. Me says:

    Just want to say that one huge reason people maintain a state of unforgiveness is because they are basing it on their feelings, not being that even forgiveness is by FAITH and not determined by how they are still feeeellling after they CHOOSE to forgive. It’s a CHOICE, just like salvation, sometimes the emotions line up immediately, sometimes not. Brnging it back continually to the Lord until victory is obtained in the emoiton area as well is often times a necessity – when the negative feelings crop up again in our thoughts it’s time to stop and say ‘no you don’t devil, I have forgiven that person. Lord I ask that you bless so and so, I did not choose to forgive based on my feelings, but on Your Word.” etc etc. More people THINK they are subject to holding unforgiveness just because they don’t understand the difference of forgiving by faith, and maintaining it, and forgiving by feelings. Just what I’ve experienced. “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who despitefully use you…” I really don’t want to leave my personal info, hope that’s not an issue and you’ll forgive me:) God bless

  2. Rhonda says:

    I’ve heard some preachers say unforgiveness will keep u out of heaven & some have said salvation is a done deal & will not keep u out of heaven, but it will affect your prayer life-God will not honor your prayers. Please clear up the confusion 4 me. Which is it-salvation a done deal but will hinder prayers, or will keep u out of heaven?

    • B says:

      Hey Rhonda, read those verses by yourself and you decide what it’s saying. Otherwise you’re gonna have one side telling you to believe one way and the other side telling you to believe the other way. The verses are actually quite clear, I’ll let the Bible speak to you itself!
      As a side note, the question usually isn’t “What does the Bible say?” as much as it’s “Do I believe what It says?”

    • Ryan says:

      Rhonda, your salvation is based completely upon whether you accept Christ as your Savior. It is very simple, and I did it when I was very young. Salvation is a gift. All you have to do is receive it. It is an eternal, unbreakable covenant.

      John 6:47 Verily, verily I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

      Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

      Romans 10:9-10 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

      Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

  3. Ruby Neumann says:

    Sorry Mark. You are barking up the wrong tree on this one. Forgiving someone from the heart takes more than a threat of hell from their friendly neighbourhood preacher. Forgiveness is the fruit of LOVE. Can you elaborate on that. Have you ever been able to genuinely do something out of obligation more than out of compassion.

    I forgive because I first love… it is that simple. I will not genuinly forgive someone if there is no love in my heart. The horse before the cart works a lot better that the other way around.


    Ruby from Edmonton Alberta

  4. Calla Lily says:

    Thank you for addressing a subject that most pastors will not! It is indeed a VERY important subject, and many church-goers are in danger of spending eternity separated from God because they refuse to forgive! It is such a tragedy that so many pastors will not broach this weighty subject because they fear repercussions from their deacons or the board! Rise up, pastors, be bold and proclaim ALL of God’s Word!!!

  5. Deborah says:

    After going through a divorce and really holding a grudge against my exhusband, I found that by preying for him and his current wife that I was able to forgive. It did’nt happen overnight.

    • phil says:

      If it helps you any ~ The more you walk with , and grow with God,, The faster and clearer your choices will be.. All of life is about Glorifing God.. Everything else is temporary gifts.. Your life; Your choices , No one elses.. Enjoy what He has given and don’t grieve what He takes back (or Allows to be taken from you.).. ((ask Job))

  6. blank says:

    As a christian, what can you do or how can you have peace, If you apologize to someone and they wont forgive you?

    • Ralph says:

      The Atonement can cover that if you will let it. We often do things that affect others negatively. Part of repentance is to forsake and turn away from the sin and to make restitution to the extent that you can. There is a point at which, in many cases, you cannot undo what you have done. You have to trust the Lord to take care of that – after all that you can do. He can heal you, and the victim of your sin or weakness as well. It may take time on either side, but have faith in His healing power and stay close to Him.

    • Christ's child says:

      Blank: May I pass on something said to me years ago: if you have genuinely forgiven someone and they refuse to forgive in return, don’t let it worry you. You have done what Christ requires of YOU. You cannot force them to forgive you and Christ will deal with them if they hold unforgiveness. Remember the freedom of choice Christ so willingly gave to each of us. The person who is not forgiving will have to answer to our Father in Heaven for that unforgiveness. I hope God will speak to your heart in this matter.

  7. Ralph says:

    This is a tremendous topic and you are on track. The only thing I see missing is the role of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in helping us forgive. His sacrifice can remove not only the effects of sin from the sinner, but can take the burden from victim as well. If you add that piece to the pie, including the concept of turning to the Lord and letting Him cleanse your heart from the hurt and anguish inflicted upon you by others, you have a whole. He must be sad to watch us suffer with “not forgiving” and “not letting go” when he has paid that price as well.

    Thank you for bringing this up.

  8. Becky says:

    Isn’t there a difference between forgiving and forgetting? I can forgive someone for abusing me but I don’t have to forget that the deed was done and put myself in that situation again to be hurt. Is my thinking wrong here? How do I separate forgiveness and forgetfulness in my mind? I mean when God forgives us, is it like we never commited the sin? He still treats us with the same love. So how should be I be towards an abuser?

  9. Tammy says:

    Hi, my name is Tammy.
    From what I’ve read so far below, are some very clear topics.
    I’ve always understood it from teachings I’ve learned, that all that we do is always from the sincereity of our own hearts.
    I know the Amish is also taught well on this subject of Forgiveness, & they also say God demands it from us to allow the consquences to take place much quicker, if any.
    Vegenance is mine, says the Lord, & apparently that works both ways.
    What I don’t understand though, is how can we forgive when our minds are haunted by sins of others, such as pedophiles,molestors,rapists,murderers, & domestic violence?
    These are very difficult times trapped in our minds by others that have truly abused us for their selfish lust. What are we to do, we such tragedies happen, & the laws of law have failed us? My daughter asked me one day, if everyone keeps telling us we’re the victims, & not the accuser of the crime,then were’t they the victim at one time to in their lives for them to do such crimes against us? Sadly, I believe the answer is yes, but the difference you would think, would be they are adults now, & they should know better, & this is why we have prisons if the laws of law do not fail us, which often times, sadly, they do. However, the hauntings of our minds is very difficult to “just let go, & let God”, because the healing process can take years, even if you’re lucky enough to afford professional counseling. Is anyone out there that can shed light on this? I would very much appreciate it. I’ll check back later to see your comments.
    Thank you.

  10. Deborah says:

    Hello. This is a very difficult thing for me to talk about. My husband was unfaithful to me, with my best friend. I haven’t spoken to her in over a year. I told her a long time before that if I had to choose between her and my husband, I would choose him. When it happened, I told her that I forgive her. I hugged her and tried to stay her friend for a while. We called each other sister. I felt so very betrayed. I trusted them both with my life. When it happened, I told him that I just wanted him to be happy and if he wanted to be with her, I would let him go. I gave him 30 days, during which he had a training for the military to decide. The training was in another state. While he was gone, I had to quit my graveyard job, which was supporting us, because he was getting ready to deploy to Iraq 3 weeks after the training was over. He said he wanted to work things out with me, so we are still together trying to make it work. I struggle with the feelings of anger, and sadness, and betrayal. I forgave them both, but I can’t make the feelings go away. If I forgave them, wouldn’t those feelings go away? When he got back from Iraq, after a year, we went to a marriage retreat with others from the military. It is there we discovered you! I miss her so much. I still love him enough to let him go. I don’t know how long it will be before I can trust him again. I only know that I pray daily and sometimes that is all that helps me get through the days. I know he loves me. I love him too. We have 2 children and I have two older kids who were very upset over the whole ordeal. They love him too. They keep asking if we are getting a divorce. I tell them we are not and we are working things out. They are having to learn to trust him again too I think. He is a student and I am taking classes as well. We are trying to improve our life. It has been very hard. Do you have any advise for me? While he was in Iraq, I was faithful, but one of his friends wife was not faithful to her husband. Her husband asked me how to handle it. I am not one to give advise, as I don’t want to lose friends over a bad decision on their part. I told him how I dealt with it and told him I would pray for him. I still look at my husband and see our future together. I see us growing old together. Sometimes when we are together, I still feel lonely. I miss him. Or do I just miss the trust I once had in him?

  11. Brenda says:

    I agree with what has been said. For years I had been trying to forgive my spouse; the problem was he was not making it easy. The things I wanted to forgive him of he made a practice of doing it to me or the children regularly. I would say many times “I forgive him. I choose to forgive.” Then my feeling would get hurt and those old feeling would surface again. Then I learned that I had to forgive by faith. I prayed the prayer of faith and still that seem to help only for awhile. One day I was reading I Peter 2:24, “He bore our sins in his body on the tree.” The Holy Spirit pointed out to me that our sins are carried in our body. I thought, unforgiveness is a sin. Unforgiveness can make you sick or keep you sick. This helped me to forgive (let it go) for real.

  12. Dave says:

    Here is an extreme test of this theory. Does Dr. Petit in Connecticut have to forgive the man who raped and killed his wife and 2 young daughters in such a heinous way that he is now on death row? Some things are unforgivable.

  13. Louise says:

    Hey Mark,

    God knew I needed to read this right now. You are right in saying that God calls us to forgiveness since unforgiveness stunts life, growth, love and blocks His love from flowing through the vine and giving nourishment to us, the branches. We begin to wither, to feel dead and we become unable to give and receive love. We begin to dry up and nothing seems to be worth anything. Unforgiveness hurts us so much and makes us feel as though God is very far away. That is a lie, but one that takes root and begins to look more real every minute. That is why God commands us to forgive, it is for our own good and because we are blocking the abundance of blessings he has in store for us. It saddens Him so. I do agree with what Ruby says, that love is the only way. His way. Yes, we must choose it, but in my experience, to try and do that solely by your will or your own strength, no matter the motivation, is futile when the hurt is deep. I have found I need to come to God and ask Him to soften my heart and help me to receive Him. He always breaks down the wall, even if sometimes He does so one brick at a time, only He knows why that is necessary. But as this happens, I need to continually reat in His care and let myself be loved by Him. Only by His grace can we truly forgive, and by His grace we always can! It can take time and prayer and repeatedly asking God to bless the person is HUGE, no matter how you feel.
    i know Mark, that you mean to shake people to realize how important this is, and it is!! (as it will ruin your life!)
    It is most difficult when the offense keeps happening and the person does not seem to understand how it hurts. But lets face it, there are probably people out there whom I have hurt and I never had a clue!

    Thank you for opening the discussion, Mark. God so loved us that he sent His only Son, let us get rid of any blocks that stop us from living in HIS GRACE!

    Trust me, the alternative sucks!!

  14. Kerry Dugan says:

    I believe your forgivness sermon (letter). Just a note on how I had to forgive families that had hurt my dad as pastor.
    In dealing with the stuff, I made myself drive by their homes at night and make myself pray FOR them. It took awhile. A lot of gas to, but thank God I found a way to work it out in my heart. Glory goes to God!

  15. Marlene says:

    I agree with your forgiveness article, with only one question? God doesnt forgive us unless we ask for it when we are aware of our sin. I cant say that my ex husband is in the category of “forgive them Father,for they know not what they do”. He is aware of his sin against our marriage but remains stubborn and arrogant and curses me if I want to put things right. I have been through a long 3 year break up with him and have a forgiving heart towards him and anyone else in my life as I am also a sinner,but he has not been repentant and asked me to forgive him so how does God see that? I have confessed my forgiveness towards him even though he hasnt asked for it. He will not communicate with me without being hostile so I have left the marriage and have divorced him after 40 years of forgiving him without him asking for it, perhaps Im a fool, maybe I went too far with the forgiveness thing? Guess there has to be a balance there somewhere? Our heavenly Father forgives us so lovingly when we ask for it and I feel the same, but I have forgiven anyway but it isnt as easy to feel so when I have any negative thoughts I confess again. Yours In Christ Marlene Addison

  16. Beverly says:

    Pastor Mark, First let me say that my husband are going to see “Laugh Your Way” live with you this weekend:)! We are so excited. We have had several friends watch this with us at our home and plan to now host it for our church in January.

    Anyways, forgiveness, While I absolutely agree with you about forgiveness and the desparate need to understand the seriousness of not forgiving I have to concur with Ruby. If you do not chose to love the individual you will never be able to take the step to forgive them. All things should flow from LOVE. Jesus is our example of Love and forgiveness. I have only ever been able to genuinely forgive once I chose to love that person despite whatever transgression they had done towards me or others. This love is not necessarily a feel good love but one of acknowledging that God first loved me and then forgave me when I acknowledge His love and responded to His love.

    Thank you, Bev

  17. Joe says:

    As much as I like you Mark I’m not sure what you are saying. It sounds like you believe this verse means you can’t be saved or you will loose your salvation if you don’t, won’t, or can’t forgive everyone who has ever offended you and FROM THE HEART? Is that what you believe? I’d really like to know.

    Please reply, Joe

  18. Joe says:

    The more I look at this verse I think it’s talking about ‘showing mercy.’ What I think though is that you personally don’t believe in eternal security. A debate that has gone on for thousands of years. If that’s the case I understand your train of thought. You and I both know I can put dozens of verses here that I believe show we can be secure in our relationship with Christ. Foe me personally I do not know how anyone could sleep at night if they weren’t sure of their salvation. Have I DONE ENOUGH to know I’m saved. I could never know, but I BELIEVE HE has done enough (-:
    Grace and peace, Joe

  19. Cassandra says:

    I understand the importance and am very convicted by this. I have a hard time seeing the person that has wronged me. I can forgive per se and not be angered in my heart. Let it go as one would say, but then when Im around that person I can not talk easily/comfortably. I guess what Im trying to say is HOW do I deal with that issue of forgiving and not setting up for more hurt? What tools can I use? There are people in my life that harmed me and are abusive and I have forgiven them but they are no longer allowed in my life because of that harm. But there are those who have just hurt me and those are the ones I dont know how to deal with. I want help though, I dont want to be this way. I dont know how to resolve conflict.

  20. s david says:

    thanks Mark for this topic about forgiveness. I had because of the lack of unforgiveness gone into adulterous relationships which has completely wiped off my innocence as a child of God.
    Now am asking for God to have mercy on me but i don’t know how to tell my wife all i had done, which might break my marriage.
    DO you advice i believe God and still confess to her or to begin to walk in forgiveness and turn away from my sins? please i need your Godly advice sir.

  21. Betty says:

    I understand what you are saying with the forgiveness article. I am a forgiving person, however, how do you forgive a husband for molesting his step-daughter? He is serving 10 years in prison and will no longer have contact with us. How do we forgive what has happened because of what he chose to do and what it has done to us? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  22. Barbara says:

    I too was betrayed by my husband who had many affairs during the 23 years we were married. I have been divorced about 25 years now – and the divorce occurred prior to my becoming a Christian. So one of the first things God went to work on me about was forgiveness becaue I was a very bitter person. What I learned, forgiveness is not once and for all – its a minute by minute process. satan will constantly throw it back up in my face – even after 25 years. Jesus said forgive 70 times 7 – which indicates to me, its a continuing process. Forgiveness does not mean what he did was okay. It doesnt mean that I have to allow him to continue to do it, it doesnt mean that I will forget – it means I have given up my right to get even with him. God told me to pray for him. In the beginning it was one of the hardest things I have ever done – pray for a man that had betrayed my trust so badly. But as I was obedient and prayed for him, I was released from the bondage of my own bitterness and hatred. Praise God. There is FREEDOM in CHRIST

  23. Barbara says:

    Jesus died for my sins – once for all. I dont believe that lack of forgiveness on my part can keep me out of heaven after I have accepted and confessed Jesus is LORD of my life. That would be saying that Jesus death on the cross for me was not enough to cover the sin of my unforgiveness. I stand on faith that Jesus death was enough to cover all my sins, past, present and future and I am confident of that.

  24. Jude says:

    Forgiveness is not easy! It is easier if the person is repentant but that is not always the case. This is the whole point of forgiveness. It’s seeing forgiveness bloom when the scorner is non-repentant. That is really, really hard! But then I compare this to Jesus on the cross! How easy was that for Him? Forgiveness is our cross! Eternity is our reward!

  25. Patricia Woessner says:

    I have learned that yes, we all have to forgive. No question about that, but there will still be consequences to the person’s actions. It is very hard to forgive someone, and to let it go… not mention it to the person, not try to use what they did to hurt them in a conversation. As humans we want to keep bringing things up, especially when it is convenient for us, so we can make the other person feel guilty… but this is a part of forgiving that we just have to learn to BITE our tongue! It’s hard for me, but I try every day!

  26. Theresa says:

    How do I forgive my husband when he keeps doing the same thing over and over again? Over time, I did forgive him for the first time but during the 14 years we’ve been married, he’s done the same thing over and over and is currently doing it now. Isn’t there a point where the person that is supposed to forgive can become a “doormat”?

  27. Alta M Seitz says:

    first of all, I have the BIGGEST CRUSH on Pastor Mark! (like everyone else-in Christ & love of Christ). I really enjoy his teaching but really enjoyed this one today. I feel I forgive totally but sometimes if you stop, listen & read what he says…maybe you (me) can go waaay back & dig deep in your heart to be SURE that you have forgiven all. Cause if there is one tiny black shadow in there…better check it out cause we want no surprises when we face our LORD! It’s not easy sometimes to face our sins if we kinda poke them under our pillow or out of mind so we don’t really think about or remember them….I think “face them now” so there are no stumbling blocks later to Jesus. I pray I’m not thinking wrongly of what I’ve put above. I pray for our Lord’s guidance in all I do and pray that I hear his answers, all of his answers and not just what I want/need to hear. Just thank you Pastor Mark for making learning God’s word understandable, clear & very enjoyable. He has truly blessed you with a special talent for his glory! PS Bless your wife for putting up with you too! Ha,ha, haaa. just joking there.
    Hugs to both of you. Alta in Idaho

  28. Christian says:

    I think you forgot Eph. 4:32 when it said, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” In the Old Covenant, you forgive so God forgives you. In the New Covenant, Jesus died for the forgiveness of sins and that we forgive those because Christ has ALREADY forgiven us. He showed not only mercy but also grace. It’s when we recognize what Christ’s has done that we forgive. That is the reason why we forgive. When we forgive to get God’s forgiveness, we undermine the finished work of the cross, and we set ourself back under the law. God is so GOOD that way :)

  29. Diana says:

    What is amaziing about forgiveness also, is that it releases us from feelings of hostility, anger, & bitterness which can do physical and emotional damage. The Lord said: vengence is mine.

  30. Paula says:

    Hi Rhonda,
    I just wanted to respond to your question. Pastor Mark posted “Many will say to me on judgment day ‘Lord, Lord’”. Then He’s going to say “I never knew you” and you’re not getting in. That’s for the response for those who have been taught incorreclty. YOU CAN LOOSE YOUR SALVATION. You do have to forgive , YOU WILL NOT ENTER into heaven if you dont. It’s plain and simple.(Matthew 7:21-23)“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.” People try to think that we could get away so much, God has saved us by his grace and mercy . But he is also a consuming fire. He’s Holy we are to reflect love and that includes FORGIVING if God can Give his only begotten son for us , and we cant even forgive for him. What makes us think were reflecting Christ? Think of the fruit of the spirit. We all fall short but, The holy spirit will strenghten us and consecrate us as we contiually mature in Christ. SO To all who think YOU CAN NEVER LOOSE your salvation , YES YOU CAN. We have to continually seek GOd and ask the Holy Spirit for help in consecration unto him . To have a sincere relationship with him to reveal to us what he does no like in us so we can fix it with HIS HELP. Sorry if i’m to blunt but somethings cant be suger coated. Noone is promised tommorow better to know the truth , and the Truth will set you FREE!PRAISE THE LORD!
    God Bless, Paula

    • Laura says:

      The Word, the Holy Bible teaches that there is only ONE sin that will keep us out of heaven and that is to turn our hearts away from the prompting of the Holy Spirit as He witnesses to us the truth of the Cross. If we believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and we believe we need a Savior. As we accept this truth and ask God to forgive us then we are grafted into God’s family. The below verses state the same.

      John 6:47 Verily, verily I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

      Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

      Romans 10:9-10 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

      Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

  31. Paul Heisig says:

    Hi Mark,
    I am concerned about the doctrine of unforgiveness. Is this the unforgivable sin? If I chose to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and the blood of Christ covers all my transgressions how do I lose my salvation. Am I able to sin greater than the blood of Christ? I believe we can loose fellowship with God, but not salvation. Please help me with the doctrine you are teaching, based on the scriptures you quoted it seems clear, but it goes against once saved always saved, that we are capable of losing our salvation that God would remove us from being His children. Can a mother ever say that her child, who she bore, was not hers? Once we are children of God can He now reject us?
    Thank you in advance for this challenging statement, and your response,
    Paul Heisig

    I have enjoyed your teachings on marriage and greatly respect your thoughts on Biblical doctrines.

  32. Jill says:

    I read your article “Forgiveness part 1 – Why to I have to forgive?” and thought it was really good. One thing is for sure, you can not live for Christ if you are choosing to live in unforgiveness as it severs your relationship with God. However, if a person cannot forgive or is incapable of forgiving, then maybe that is a pretty good indicator that the person does not have Christ as their Savior and Lord. They simply lack Christ’s power to forgive. “For it is in Christ that we can do all things…”

    However, I wasn’t so sure about unforgivenss is a ‘salvation issue’. And so I asked a pastor friend of mine who is a Bible Teacher that I have been studying under, what his thoughts were about what you had to say — interestingly, we had just had this discussion about ‘salvation’ the week before at Bible Study.

    This is what he shared with me after reading your article:
    I read the article and he has some great points.
    I believe that a forgiving spirit is certainly evidence that we have experienced God’s forgiveness thru Christ.
    But what bars us from eternal life is rejecting Jesus. Upon receiving Jesus, since one is forgiven – that one will be forgiving.
    So, if one is unforgiving as a Christian, it should cause a big question to arise, i.e.: Have I really experienced God’s forgiveness?
    The answers lie in Psalm 32, 51, 130 and Matthew 5 and 18 (as was noted) Also the parable in the last part of Luke 7!
    Anyway I don’t know is we can say definitively that un-forgiveness bars one form eternal salvation?
    But it does raise the ? if one has experienced God’s forgiveness. – Bruce

    Pastor Gungor, thanks for all you do! I have shared “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage” with many, many other families.


  33. Amaranthe says:

    OK, so its not that we don’t understand. It is that we can pray and say we do forgive, knowing we haven’t because we are still full of anger and bitterness and sometimes even want to pay back even though we don’t because its a sin. How can you actually get rid of the bitterness and anger??? My question has also been on the same subject not to let the sun go down on your anger, again you pray and say and try to act normal but, still angry.. Its not like you pour it out like a bucket and say now its gone…

  34. mark says:

    I understand forgiveness. You seem to have alot of knowledge on this topic. Thank you for that. Here is my problem and hopefully you can help me. My wife cheated last year and I cought her by reading her emails. She then came clean and asked for my forgiveness. I did forgive her but forgetting is more difficult because of all.the reminders. But im getting better. My wife really is not my problem, its the other man. You see we have to ask for forgiveness from God in order to get it. If we don’t ask we wont get it right. He never asked so why do I need to forgive him. She did and I gave it. So I am really struggling with this. I want to burn this guy so bad but if I do I will burn his wife as well. I don’t belive she knows. It has been just over a year. I was thinking of contacting her to make sure she has the whole story but hurting someone that way is not my style. I don’t care about him at all but I don’t want to bring pain like that to her. I want closure. I have a bit of a vengeful thing im dealing with but lucky for him im not at all violent. So my question is do I have to forgive him. I feel like I should but I just can’t seem to or maybe don’t want to. Probably just don’t want to. I want to be obedient to God. So if you have some scripture on forgiving those that don’t ask for it and don’t want it or don’t care if you give it that would so much. My head is still spinning even after a year. But I have only read and heard of man and God forgiving when the sinner asks for it. Why do I have to if not asked. Thanks

  35. Cheri says:

    I’m way behind on my podcasts, so I just heard the discussion you all had in March about the lady who had been taught that the offender has to ask for forgiveness before you can forgive them.

    What you said about Jesus asking the Father to forgive those who were crucifying Him was right, but fell short of the full picture.
    If those people never asked God to forgive them, they would be condemned and sent to hell even though both Jesus and God the Father had really forgiven them.

    The distinction is a matter of relationship.

    We must forgive to be like our heavenly Father and Lord, but if the other party never admits to their wrong, there is a break in fellowship. It is only when the other person asks for forgiveness and shows accompanying changes that the relationship can be restored.

    My dad is a Biblical counselor and this is a big part of what he teaches hurting people. He describes forgiveness without the other party’s cooperation as loving them with a bulletproof vest on. Until they show that they can be trusted, it would be extremely foolish to just go back to the way things were- which is the definition of forgiveness that many people have in their heads.

  36. sharline says:

    Hi is it true that if you are not forgiven you can’t die, and will suffer much torturous pain physically and mentally until you are forgiven by the people you have hurt.?

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