What is forgiveness?
We are forgiven when those we have harmed through our fault change their attitude to us.
Psalm 32:1 Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! 2 Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! 3 When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. 4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Interlude 5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
- How is the fault of the writer described?
- How does the Lord’s attitude change with forgiveness?
- How does this interaction compare with a situation where someone has done wrong to you, and sought forgiveness?
Forgiven through Jesus
Forgiveness costs the one forgiving. Our forgiveness by God does not come cheaply, it cost Jesus His life. It does not matter how much evil we have done, He forgives because everything has been dealt with by the Cross of Christ.
Colossians 2:13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.14 He cancelled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.
- Can you remember forgiving someone who had really hurt you?
- How easy or difficult was it?
- What was needed for us to be forgiven?
- What has God given us beyond forgiveness?
Jesus’ Forgiveness Seen
Through Jesus we have both forgiveness and cleansing. The Lord deals with our past and makes us pure before Himself. Here is the example of one man who found forgiveness.
Luke 23:39-43 39 One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” 40 But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.”42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” 43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
- What did the second criminal consider about his own life?
- How did the two criminals differ in their attitudes towards Jesus?
- What assurance did Jesus give to the second?
- What does that say about his state with God?
- What is your attitude to God when looking for forgiveness?
Matthew 6:14-15 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. (NIV)
Refusing to forgive is a sin. If we receive forgiveness from God, we must give it to others who hurt us. We cannot hold grudges or seek revenge. We are to trust God for justice and forgive the person who offended us. That does not mean we must forget the offense, however; usually that’s beyond our power. Forgiveness means releasing the other from blame, leaving the event in God’s hands, and moving on.
It is one thing to be offered forgiveness but how do we receive it? Forgiveness is not automatic. We cannot presume upon people to forgive, it is the same with God. One of the greatest obstacles to being forgiven is that we would prefer to live in denial that we have done anything wrong.
1 John 1:7-10 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts
- How do we approach God and others?
- What does it mean to walk in the light?
- If forgiveness is offered, why do people claim to have no sin?
- What does it mean to be cleansed of ALL wickedness?
- On what is forgiveness based – how do we know if we are forgiven?