Through My Eyes

Forgiveness:  Christ's Way
. written and presented to  my Bible Study groups for Survivors

Forgiving Our Enemies

A.  We are to love our enemy and do good to them. (Luke 6:35, 37; Prov. 25:21-22; Ex. 23:4,5)

B.  We are not to rejoice in their downfall. (Prov. 24:27)

C.  We are to bless them. (Rom. 12:14-21)

D.  We are not to seek revenge.

  1. We are to leave vengeance to God. (Roman 12:14-21; I Peter 3:9)
  2. There are consequences to pay for wrong doing. (Prov. 22:8)
E.  Go the extra mile. (Mt 5:7, 39-41, 43-46)

F.  We are to forgive our debtors as Christ forgave us. (Mt. 6:12-15)
     (We must take note how Christ forgave us.)

Forgiving Our Brothers & Sisters in Christ

A.  We are to forgive our brother.

  1. Whatever grievances we have against one another. (Col. 3:13)
  2. When we pray, if we have ought against someone, we are to forgive. (Mark 11:25)
  3. We are to forgive as God for Christ’s sake forgave us. (Eph. 4:32)
  4. If we don’t forgive, Christ won’t forgive us. (Mt. 6:12, 14, 15)
  5. Forgiveness is an act of obedience, not necessarily feeling.
B.  Forgiveness and Accountabiliy
  1. There are certain steps outlined in scripture to be followed when one is wronged by another believer.
    • If our brother sins against us, we are told to rebuke (confront) him.  “If your brother sins against you, rebuke him...” (Luke 17:3)  Also, Matthew 18:25 says, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you...”
    • If he repents, we are to forgive him.  “...If he repents, forgive him.  If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, I repent, forgive him.”  (Luke 17:3-4 & Mt. 18:15)
    • If he will not hear you, then you are to take one or two others along for witnesses. (Mt. 18:16)
    • If he will not listen to them, it is to be brought before the church. (Mt. 18:17; I Co. 6:4-8)
    • If he refuses to listen even to the church, he is to be treated as a pagan or a tax collector.  (Mt.18:17)
  2. Forgiveness and unforgiveness is binding.  If we forgive they are forgiven, if we don’t forgive a person, they won’t be forgiven. 

  3.       (John 20:23)  (I don’t understand this totally.)

We can learn from the example we have in Christ and his forgiveness for us.

A.   Payment has to be made for the sins we commit against God.

  1. That payment is death.
  2. Christ paid the debt in full.  Our sin cost him his life.
B.  Christ’s forgiveness requires accountability.
  1. We must confess our sins (repent) to receive his forgiveness. (I John 1:7-9)
  2. Change is required.  “Go and sin no more...” (John 8:11)
C.  We can learn further what Christ expects of us by reading what Jesus said:
   “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. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents [7] was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. The servant fell on his knees before him. `Be patient with me,' he begged, `and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. `Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, `Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. Then the master called the servant in. `You wicked servant,' he said, `I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.  Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?'  In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”  (Matthew 21-35)

     “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, `Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.  Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.  After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.  So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.  When he came to his senses, he said, `How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!  I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.'  So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, `Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate. 
         “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. `Your brother has come,' he replied, `and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'  The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, `Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'  `My son,' the father said, `you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'”   (Luke 15:11-32)


I believe the issue of forgiveness is relationship.  We cannot be in relationship with another when there is unrepentance and/or unforgiveness between us.

Christ holds forgiveness out to us with outstretched arms.  He does not harbor any ill feelings, resentment, or bitterness toward us.  He does not seek to see us punished, yet his forgiveness is not ours until we repent.  Repentance, I believe, is not only being truly sorry for sins committed against God, but also involves the decision to turn from those sins and live as he would have us to live.

If we followed his example, we would be ready and willing to forgive, guarding against resentment and bitterness lest they take root in our hearts.  When the one who has wronged us repents, we would be ready to extend the forgiveness that has already taken place inside.  I also believe forgiveness is a process and doesn’t necessarily happen all at once.  Christ knows our hearts, therefore, knows if we are truly repentant.  We don’t know people’s hearts, so we can only judge by their changed behavior, etc.

The issue of forgiveness does not override, or wipe out the wrong-doers’s responsibility for his/her actions, nor does it take away the consequences.  I do believe if we have forgiven, we will no longer desire to see the person punished on our behalf, and yet there are circumstances when corrective measures must be sought in order to protect others.  I believe we can be truly forgiving, and at the same time seek to see someone put in prison.  I find no scripture to support letting offenders off the hook when serious offenses have been committed.  When Christ forgives us, we escape the penalty of death for our sins, but we usually still pay the consequences for that sin.

There is a difference in scripture between our enemy and our brother concerning accountability and forgiveness.  Again, I believe this is due to the fact that those who don’t believe are not bound by the law of Christ nor understand it; they are not in continual relationship with us, but do need our example of forgiveness.  Our brother is someone we do want fellowship with, however (or should want fellowship).  Also, in regards to our enemies, there is the knowledge that God will take care of them, and who can better serve justice than He.

I believe we have erred in the church today by telling each other to forgive, yet, not requiring each other to repent.  Both must be taught and practiced in order for there to be true fellowship with one another.

Christ doesn’t take forgiveness lightly, and I don’t believe he expects us to either.  He gave his life that we might be forgiven.  Our sin had to be atoned for.  We can more easily forgive our brother when we realize what it took for us to receive God’s forgiveness.

Our forgiveness toward others must not be taken lightly, either.  If it is, it becomes cheap forgiveness.

If unforgiveness rules your heart and you still want to keep it that way, I would strongly advise you to read again the parable of the servant who was forgiven but didn’t forgive.  He was forgiven what today would be millions of dollars.  There was no way he could repay it in his lifetime.  And his master forgave his debt and set him free.  What did he do, he went to another servant who owed him a couple bucks and demanded payment.  He had the man thrown in prison because he couldn’t pay.  To look at this in terms of your life, you have to be in touch with what God forgave you for.  He forgave  every single one of your sins for your entire lifetime, including the fact that his son had to suffer and die for your sins.  What a slap in his face to turn around and refuse to forgive another one of his children after what he did for you. 

by Annie Nelson 
copyright: January, 1996 



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