Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Rules of Forgiveness

I'm trying to understand the rules of forgiveness.
If the Bible doesn't contradict itself, and it doesn't, then how does this work?
God tells me to
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.--Colossians 3:13

OK. So, how does He forgive?
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins--Colossians 2:13
So, He forgave me before I repented.

But then He says,
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.-1John 1:9
In other words, I must repent to be forgiven. 

So which is it?

Well, it's both.

When Christ went to Calvary, He proclaimed forgiveness and freedom for all men, although most of them did not know Him, had not even acknowledged His godhead, much less repented.
He did it all, all He could do.
But men still have free will, the free will He gave them.
Jesus did all of his part.  Men were forgiven, but their relationship with Him was not yet repaired.
It takes repentance to do that. 
When we acknowledge and repent of sin, we restore our communion with God.

And that is how we must forgive.
We do what we can while the offender is still clueless, still dead in sin.  We forgive him as Christ forgave us.  Without recompense, without expectation.
Then, sooner or later, he may acknowledge and apologize, repenting for his sin.
That is when, as in Christ, are we restored.


  1. JoAnne--thanks for this reminder. Forgiving, 'without recompense, without expectation'--like Jesus did. OH, my flesh does NOT want to do that. But when I repent there is such freedom.

    Thank you, Father!

    1. I used to think forgiveness was just one action, but then this came. It helps to understand it this way. It's easier to forgive an unrepentant person knowing I have done what I can do, even if part of the transaction remains incomplete. Something to pray for.

  2. I used to say... forgiving is easy... but forgetting isn't. But I've learned that in order to fully forgive, one must try to forget.

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    I would like to invite you to visit my blog -, as well as my Facebook page -


    1. You are right, forgetting is harder. Part of the mythological progress to their heaven includes a trip through the river Lethe, the river of forgetting. I am so there...