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Lesson taught by Pastor W. C. Roach - May 22, 2010 at Temple of Praise, Spanish Town, St. Catherine

What Does the Bible Says About Forgiveness?


It is not uncommon for Christians to have questions about forgiveness. Forgiveness does not come easy for most of us. Our natural instinct is to recoil in self-protection when we've been injured. We don't naturally overflow with mercy, grace and forgiveness when we've been wronged.

Is forgiveness a conscious choice, a physical act involving the will, or is it a feeling, an emotional state of being? The Bible offers insight and answers to these and many more common questions about forgiveness. We'll take a look at the most common questions and find out what the Bible says about forgiveness.

Frequently Asked Questions About Forgiveness

  • Is forgiveness a conscious choice, or an emotional state?
Forgiveness is a choice we make through a decision of our will, motivated by obedience to God and His command to forgive.

The Bible instructs us to forgive as the Lord forgave us:

Colossians 3:13

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (NIV)

  •  How do we forgive when we don't feel like it? How do we translate the decision to forgive into a change of heart?
We forgive by faith, out of obedience. Since forgiveness goes against our nature, we must forgive by faith, whether we feel like it or not. We must trust God to do the work in us that needs to be done so that the forgiveness will be complete.

God honours our commitment to obey Him and our desire to please Him when we choose to forgive. He completes the work in His time. We must continue to forgive (our job), by faith, until the work of forgiveness (the Lord's job), is done in our hearts.

Philippians 1:6

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.(NLT)

  • How will we know if we have truly forgiven?
Corrie Ten Boom, a Christian woman who survived a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocaust, said,"Forgiveness is to set a prisoner free, and to realize the prisoner was you."

We will know the work of forgiveness is complete when we experience the freedom that comes as a result. We are the ones who suffer most when we choose not to forgive. When we do forgive, the Lord sets our hearts free from the anger, bitterness, resentment and hurt that previously imprisoned us. Most times, however, forgiveness is a slowprocess.

Matthew 18:21-22

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. (NIV)

This answer by Jesus makes it clear that forgiveness is not easy for us. It's not a one-time choice and then we automatically live in a state of forgiveness. Forgiveness may require a life time of forgiving, but it is important to the Lord. We must continue forgiving until the matter is settled in our heart.

  • What if the person we need to forgive is not a believer? 
Prayer is one of the best ways to break down the wall of unforgiveness in the heart. When I begin to pray for the person who has wronged me, God gives me new eyes to see and a new heart to care for that person. As I pray, I start to see that person as God sees them, and I realize that he or she is precious to the Lord. I also see myself in a new light, just as guilty of sin and failure as the other person. I too am in need of forgiveness. If God did not withhold his forgiveness from me, why should I withhold my forgiveness from another?


  • Is it okay to feel anger and want justice for the person we need to forgive?
This question presents another reason to pray for the person we need to forgive. We can pray for God to deal with the injustices, for God to judge the person's life, and then we can leave that prayer at the altar. We no longer have to carry the anger. Although it is normal for us to feel anger toward sin and injustice, it is not our job to judge the other person in their sin.

Luke 6:37

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (NIV)

  • Why must we forgive?
The best reason to forgive is because Jesus commanded us to forgive. We learn from Scripture, if we don't forgive, neither will we be forgiven:

Matthew 6:14-16

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)

We also forgive so that our prayers will not be hindered:

Mark 11:25

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. (NIV)



In summary and in closing, we forgive out of obedience to the Lord. It is a choice, a decision we make. However, as we do this "forgiving," we discover the command is in place for our own good,and we receive the reward of our forgiveness - freedom.




What are the benefits of forgiving?

It is necessary for our own forgiveness. Jesus said, "But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” (Mark 11:25, 26)

It restores Christian fellowship. Now it is time to forgive him and comfort him. Otherwise he may become so discouraged that he won’t be able to recover. Now show him that you still love him. (2 Cor. 2:5–10)

Spiritual cleansing. James says that the elders of the church should pray over those who are sick and the Lord will make them well, adding, "And anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven." (James 5:15-16)

Examples of forgiveness:

  1.           Esau and Jacob. (Genesis 33:4–15)
  2.           Joseph (Genesis 45:8–15)
  3.           Moses (Numbers 12:1–13)
  4.           David (2 Sam 19:18–23)
  5.           Solomon (1 Kings. 1:52, 53)
  6.           Jesus (Luke 23:34)
  7.           Stephen (Acts 7:59-60)
  8.           Paul (2 Timothy 4:16) 


Try this forgiveness activity.

 How to Forgive and Walk in Mercy

Have there been wrongs committed against you that you are still holding on to?

How To Forgive in 5 Steps:

  1. Make a list of the actions, not the people, that have hurt you.
  2. Pray and ask God to heal those broken places that this has caused in your life and your relationship with Him.
  3. Ask God to forgive you for your unforgiveness and to help you to release any anger or resentment you have held in your heart. To truly show you how to forgive.
  4. Destroy the paper with the offenses on it once and for all!
  5. Write the names of the offender(s) on a separate sheet of paper without their actions. Start using this as your prayer list. Commit to praying for these people regularly.

Once you have done this, you may still feel like you have not fully forgiven the person. But, forgiveness is a conscious spiritual decision. And you have made it. Sometimes it just takes a second for your emotions to catch up with your spirit.

If you have angry feelings about the offender again, just take that thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5)! Confess aloud that you have forgiven that person.Then begin to pray for them. Over time, your emotions will come in line with your spirit.

Forgiveness Bible Verses

The below mentioned forgiveness bible verses will tell you a lot about forgiving others and also asking forgiveness for the sins we have committed. Read on...


There are many times we are hurt by other people's behavior and actions. This is when hatred comes in our mind, that may lead to angry thoughts, which may eventually result in improper actions.


The Holy Bible says a lot about the good qualities that should be possessed by us and also practiced in our everyday lives. It is well said that forgiveness is the best revenge.


Remember that forgiveness is not at all as easy as you think, but it surely is the best solution to live a peaceful and a problem-free life. If you forgive others and forget about their bad behavior or actions, we can move ahead in life and achieve our goals effectively. The following are some good bible verses about forgiveness.


God's Forgiveness Bible Verses

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. - Ephesians1:7

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. - 1 John 1:9

As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. - Psalm 103:12

And Jesus said, ''Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'' And they cast lots to divide his garments. - Luke 23:34

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. - Hebrews 4:16

In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now. The Lord replied,"I have forgiven them, as you asked''. - Numbers 14:19-20

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. - Acts 3:19




Forgiveness Bible Verses Towards People

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


For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. - Matthew6:14-15


Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. - Colossians3:12-13


If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. - Romans 12:20


Then Peter came up and said to him, Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times? Jesus said to him, I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. - Matthew 18:21-22


And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. - Mark11:25


May 28, 2010 at 9:30 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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