13 12 2013

“Forgive and forget…isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Then why do I continue to remember what others have done to me?”

Let’s look at what forgiveness is NOT today.

First, forgiveness is NOT “forgive and forget.” God does remove, release, and cover our sins:

“Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” Hebrews 10:17

God is stating that He is not holding our sins against us any longer. Why? Because of the work of Jesus on the cross. All we ever did – or will do – has been paid for in full by Jesus…

if we have accepted His sacrifice as atonement for our sin.

“The life I now live I live by believing in God’s Son, who loved me and took the punishment for my sins” (Galatians 2:20b God’s Word).

(Thanks for the Scripture reference, Viewoutsidethepew!)

Without a relationship with Jesus, you’re on your own.

“And when you were dead in your transgressions…He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us, and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to His cross.” Colossians 2:13-14

Back to the “forgetting” thing. If we are going to mature and become like God, then shouldn’t we be able to forget what was done against us?

That sounds right, but the Bible doesn’t say God “forgets.” He’s not a dottery old man who has trouble remembering things. Scripture says that He chooses to not bring what we’ve done back to remembrance. There is a difference.

Sometimes it would be dangerous to “forget.” More on that in a moment.

Second, forgiveness is NOT tolerating sin. It does not mean that we allow someone to keep hurting us. It is not saying, “Oh, it’s okay” when it’s NOT! God does not call you to be a doormat.

Get this:

Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of reeling; the chalice of my anger, you will never drink it again.

And I will put it into the hand of your tormentors, who have said to you, 

“Lie down that we may walk over you.”

You have made your back like the ground, and like the street for those who walk over it. Isaiah 51:23

Abuse is NOT God’s will for you, nor is it your just punishment for sin. Jesus took all our punishment on the cross. Don’t lay down for those who are out of control “in the name of Jesus!”

Third, forgiveness is NOT demanding repayment or revenge; nor is forgiveness contingent on justice for the consequences suffered.

As we consider this, we must realize that no amount of unforgiveness can ever undo what was done – and no amount of apology can ever rewind the clock and erase what took place. This is a cold hard fact. You’ve heard it said, “what’s done is done.” That’s true. That time is past, and no amount of unforgiveness or repayment can change history.

When we demand repayment, or insist on revenge, we have set ourselves on God’s throne. We will be the judge…the jury…and we will decide when they’ve paid enough for their sin.

I’m thankful that God does not treat us in this way – aren’t you?

We must forgive…and then leave justice up to God.

Fourth, forgiveness is NOT rationalization. It is NOT trying to understand the reasons why: “I’m sure he had no idea…” “She really is not like this usually.” or “He was under a lot of stress.”

Nonsense! See their actions for what they were – sin. Forgiveness is not denial. We tend to accept abuse when we believe we don’t deserve better treatment.

You’re a child of God, for heaven’s sake, not a punching bag!

(This is not to be confused with being martyred for faith in Christ…that is an entirely other matter.)

Finally, forgiveness is NOT bad boundaries. To forgive someone does not necessarily mean that we keep the relationship the same.

It may be necessary to put emotional – if not physical – distance between us and those who sin against us.

It may take time to rebuild trust.

Forgiveness does NOT mean that we have to continue to put ourselves in harm’s way. Get some distance between you and the offender, some help from a wise Christian counselor, and some time to heal. It’s lunacy to continue to put one’s hand on a hot stove…physically and emotionally.

(If you need some information on this, I recommend Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend.)


In the next post we will discuss what forgiveness IS.


Our current study is on the Discipline of Forgiveness. It begins here.

You’ve dropped in on the series Intimacy with God. It begins here: C’mon In…

The section on Living by the Rules starts here: Where Image Is Everything

Learn about other Obstacles to Intimacy here: A Clogged Conduit

Are loss and grief obstacles to intimacy? Our discussion on the matter begins with Plastic Hearts



4 responses

14 12 2013
Pure Glory

Well said! Forgiveness is the key to living life rather than in the grave of the past that poisons and kills.

15 12 2013

Amen. 🙂


13 12 2013

Great points here. Forgiveness, for me, is simply letting go of my right for justice and giving it over to God. I have found it’s a lot easier for me to give it to God than to dwell on the offense. And, as you pointed out, it really helps to remember how our offenses have been forgiven by God!

15 12 2013

Sadly I’m more for mercy for me…and justice for others. Until we can let go of the hunger for justice, forgiveness is very difficult! I’m getting better, though! 🙂


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