Lesson #47: Forgiveness

Define forgive/forgiving: According to dictionary.com, forgive/forgiving is defined as “To cease to fee; resentment against” or “To pardon an offense or an offender”. 

Talk about what the Bible dictionary says about forgiveness: According to the Bible dictionary, forgiveness is one of the most widely misunderstood doctrines of scripture. Forgiveness can be defined in several ways. There is human forgiveness, divine forgiveness, forgiveness in the Old Testament, forgiveness for the unsaved, forgiveness for the believer who sins, the unforgivable sin (which is controversial), forgiveness as an obligation among people, and self-forgiveness. Let’s see what the Bible has to say about these.

Ask about divine forgiveness: What could divine forgiveness be referring to? According to the Bible dictionary, divine forgiveness is one of the most complicated and costly undertakings, demanding complete satisfaction to meet the demands of God’s holiness. 

Ask about forgiveness in the Old Testament: What could forgiveness in the Old Testament be referring to? Turn to Leviticus 4:1-21 for the answer. Old Testament forgiveness occurs when a sacrifice was made. In Leviticus, it was referring specifically to the Israelites. Whether someone sins intentionally or unintentionally, a sacrifice had to be made (usually with help from the priest) to atone for the sin that was committed. This sacrifice would be adequate enough to cover the sins at the time until the appointed time when God should finally deal with sin through Christ’s death on the cross. Read Isaiah 53:1-12 for the answer. It was prophesied that Christ’s life would be an offering for sin. 

Ask about forgiveness for the unsaved: What could forgiveness for the unsaved be referring to? Turn to John 10:22-32 for the answer. Forgiveness for the unsaved is referring to the forgiveness of sin that is offered due to Christ’s sacrifice. Even though forgiveness of sin is ever present, the unsaved may never receive the gift of salvation if they don’t recognize it. Faith in God and belief that Christ died to forgive or cover our sins is needed for those to receive the gift of salvation.

Ask about forgiveness for the believer who sins: Read Romans 8:1-17 for more on this. Salvation covers the sins from a believer’s past, present and future as condemnation is concerned. In other words, as long as our faith is in the Lord, our sins are forgiven and we will be saved. Is it easy to believe that our future sins are also forgiven? 

Ask about a believer’s obligation: As a believer, what are we obligated to do? We must live according to the Spirit. We must pursue righteousness, live selflessly and proclaim Christ’s love for us. 

Ask about punishment as a believer: As believers who sin, are we still subject to punishment from God on this Earth? Yes. Read Hebrews 12:4-13 for the answer. The word chastens refers to discipline or punishment from God. 

Ask about God’s discipline: What are some examples of God’s discipline for a believer? God will use testing, trials, and various predicaments to bring us back to Himself in repentance. The result of His discipline is a stronger faith and a renewed relationship with God (Read James 1:2-4), not to mention destroying the hold that the particular sin had over us. 

Ask about repentance: What should we do when we realize that we have sinned? Turn to 1 John 1:9 for the answer. When we sin, he directs us to repent. If we confess our sins, he will forgive us and purify us from unrighteousness. 

Ask about the unforgivable sin: Have you heard of the unforgivable sin? What is it? According to some biblical scholars, the unforgivable sin was only possible to commit during Christ’s life when he was ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit. This unforgivable sin was called the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. It appears that if you follow Satan and use his power to do what the Holy Spirit can do, it will not be forgivable. If I lived around the time that Jesus was alive and followed Baalzeboul, “the prince of demons,” and utilized Satan’s power to drive out demons, I would have committed the unforgivable sin. Jesus said that Satan can not drive himself out. We must overpower Satan rather than cooperating with him.  If this unforgivable sin existed today, churches would shut out those who have committed this sin. 

Ask about the obligation among people: Let’s see what the Bible says about forgiveness as an obligation among people. Read Ephesians 4:17-32 for the answer. What does this scripture say about how we should approach forgiveness? In general, believers should be kind to believers and non-believers. As a believer, we should be forgiving to all who have wronged us. Since Christ has forgiven us, we should do the same to all.

Talk about forgiving yourself: We have discussed several types of forgiveness so far, including giving forgiveness to others and God forgiving us for our sins. It is so necessary to address self-forgiveness as well. 

Ask about difficulty with forgiving yourself: In what instances do we have difficulty forgiving ourselves? When we have hurt someone we love and when we feel guilty and there seems to be no way to make up for our mistakes. Read Hebrews 10:16-17. Why should you hold resentment towards yourself when God promises to forgive our sins if we confess them? When you choose not to forgive yourself, you live a life of pain. Our discipline often does not include grace and mercy. God has a design on discipline that is constructive and uplifting. We should let the Lord of our lives be in charge of disciplining us, not us. What are you holding onto that you should let go of?

Conclusion: It is clear that forgiveness is complex and important to understand as a Christian. Please remember this: Since Christ forgave you for your sins and wrongdoings, we should forgive ourselves for our own wrongdoings and we should forgive others for the wrong that they have done to you. What resentment are you holding onto? Who do you need to give forgiveness to? Is there anyone that you want forgiveness from? Do you need to forgive yourself for something? If so, address it with God first and approach it with wisdom and truth. 

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