God can forgive man’s sins only because Jesus has paid the penalty for them: Ephesians 1:7; “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Acts 13:38, “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins.”
Forgiveness of sins is part of the blessings Christians receive from God in Christ: Acts 26:18, “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”
Christians have been forgiven of all sins (Psalm 103:3; 130:4; Jeremiah 31:34; 36:3; Acts 5:31; 13:38; 26:18; Romans 4:7; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; 2:13; 1 John 2:12), and we are to forgive others (Luke. 6:37; 2 Corinthians 2:7,10; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13).
WHAT IS FORGIVENESS?
It is “the act of excusing or pardoning another in spite of his slights, shortcomings, and errors.” As a theological term, forgiveness refers to God’s pardon of the sins of human beings. (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary).
No religious book other than the Bible teaches that God completely forgives sin: Psalm 51:1, 9; Isaiah 38:17; Hebrews 10:17. The initiative comes from Him (John 3:16; Colossians 2:13) because He is ready to forgive (Luke 15:11-32). He is a God of grace and pardon in Nehemiah 9:17 and Daniel 9:9.
Sin deserves divine punishment because it is a violation of God’s holy character: Genesis 2:17; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Peter 1:16. But His pardon is gracious: Psalm 130:4 and Romans 5:6-8.
In order for God to forgive sin, two conditions are necessary:
1. A life must be taken as a substitute for that of the sinner’s: Leviticus 17:11,14 and Hebrews 9:22, “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”
2. The sinner must come to God’s sacrifice in a spirit of repentance and faith: Mark 1:4; Acts 10:43 and James 5:15.
Forgiveness in the New Testament is directly linked to Christ (Acts 5:31, Colossians 1:14); His sacrificial death on the cross (Romans 4:24); and His resurrection (2 Corinthians 5:15). He was the morally perfect sacrifice in Romans 8:3, and the final and ultimate fulfillment of all Old Testament sacrifices in Hebrews 9:11-10:18.
Forgiveness, Charizomai, is to be gracious and pardon a person who has wronged us.
Here is a test of your ability to forgive:
1. Can I thank God for the person who hurt me or for the lesson I have learned in pain?
2. Can I thank God for it?
3. Have I accepted my part of the blame?
4. Can I face it and revisit the scene without bitterness?
5. Can I reward the one who hurt me? I admit that is a tough one.
These are important questions. The need and art of forgiveness is more real today than ever. As Christ forgave, so must we.
Jesus left us a model and method for forgiving others. How did He forgive?
I. BY SUFFERING FOR OTHERS – VERSE 13 and John 15:18-20.
Sometimes we are called upon to suffer, and sometimes we suffer because of others.
1 John 3:16, “Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren.”
If you have been hurt and abused by others and have become a victim, the response should be to forgive, for there is no greater victim than Jesus.
II. BY PRAYING FOR HIS ENEMIES
Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
His Ingredients of Prayer:
A. He appealed to God on their behalf.
Hebrews 4:14-16, “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast [our] profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
B. He understands our pain―He has been there.
C. He focused on their weakness, not their wickedness. Acts 3:14-17 and 1 Timothy 1:12-13.
D. He desired restoration, not retaliation. He could have called 12 legions of angels.
What do you really want to do to the one that hurt you?
III. JESUS FOCUSED ON THE PRINCIPLE OF SIN, NOT THE PERSON OF THE SINNER.
Don’t focus on the one that hurt you. Anger with sin is directed to a person. Anger without sin is directed at the principle of sin. How can you tell the difference?
A. In principle, you see the sin is against Christ.
B. In person, you take it personally.
David focused on God, not on Goliath. You can know if you are concerned with your honor rather than Jesus’ honor.
IV. HE FOCUSED ON GOD’S PLAN, NOT HIS PAIN.
See God’s higher purpose for allowing your pain.
Jesus, by bleeding on the cross, saw God’s higher purpose. He saw with spiritual vision to destroy Satan. He knew that God doeth all things well.
See II Corinthians 1:3-7. Don’t fail to see the grace of God. Praise Him for it. He allowed your suffering and comforts you so you can comfort others. You can go on and be bitter, and your children will turn bitter; or you can decide to be comforted so you can comfort others. You are forgiven so you can forgive others.
Forgive all bitterness and get it out of your heart and mind. Then you, too, will experience victory as David did.
“By our unforgiveness, we stand between the other person and the Holy Spirit’s work in convincing him and helping him. By stepping out of the way through releasing somebody from our judgment, we’re not necessarily saying, “He’s right and I’m wrong.” Forgiveness means he can be as wrong as wrong can be, but I’ll not be the judge. Forgiveness means that I’m no longer binding a certain person on earth. It means withholding judgment.” ―Unknown
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Bro. Nikoley emigrated from Germany to the United States with his family at age 13. He served full time in the Nevada Air National Guard for six years. At age 32, He was saved, and in 1977, he graduated from Bible College. He pastored for over 31 years, 27 of them at Pomerado Road Baptist Church in Poway, California. Bro. Nikoley has served at Golden State Baptist College in the Bible Department and also as the Student Employment Director since 2007. He and his wife Mary have two children and have been married for 58 years.