Posted by: missionventureministries | January 18, 2011

WE SHOULD FORGIVE – BUT DO WE FORGET? – Hebrews 12:14-15

The most amazing thing that God assures us is that when He forgives our sins, He forgets them as well. God wipes it completely off His mind. “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” – Isaiah 1:18

As humans it is hard for us to forget, however there are numerous scriptures commanding us to “forgive one another.  In Matthew 6:14 we read – “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”  Ephesians 4:32 states: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Joseph is a great example of a forgiving heart. The Bible gives us many reasons why Joseph could have been a very bitter man. His brothers hated him and sold him into slavery. His master’s wife falsely accused him of a serious crime which had him thrown into an Egyptian prison. Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer promised to help him get out yet left him in prison. Despite all these things, Joseph did not allow any root of bitterness to take hold in his life. 

A Christian who does not forgive can reap bitterness and the loss of eternal rewards. “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many”-  Hebrews 12:14-15.

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” – Matthew 6:14-15. 

Forgiveness is a decision of the will. Since God commands us to forgive, we must make a conscious choice to forgive. This frees the forgiving one from the past. The offender may not desire forgiveness and may not change, however Jesus said: “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Matthew 5:44. Ideally the offender will want to seek reconciliation, but if not, the one wronged should still make known their decision to forgive.

Many times God gives us the ability to forgive and forget as times heal the wounds of our past. However, there are times where it is impossible to truly forget trespasses that have been committed against us, especially when circumstances arise that remind us of them. We cannot selectively “delete” events from our memory. The Bible states however that God “will forgive (our) wickedness and will remember (our) sins no more” – Hebrews 8:12.

God is all-knowing. God knows that we have “sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23. However, having forgiven us, He treats us as if the sin had not occurred. If we belong to Him through faith in Christ, God does not hold our sins against us. In that sense we must “forgive and forget.” If we forgive someone, we must act as if that wrongdoing had never occurred. We remember the transgression, but we live as if it had not occurred. Ephesians 4:32 tells us, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Several things will occur once the forgiveness process is complete. First, our negative feelings will disappear. Second, we will find it much easier to accept the people who have hurt us without feeling the need to change them. Third, our concern about the needs of the other individuals will outweigh our concerns about what they did to us.

The Bible says: “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord” – Romans 12:19. Let us then understand that God is the only One who judges.

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