What The Bible Says About

Forgiveness is a theme that runs from the very beginning of the Bible, through to the end.

First and foremost, God's word teaches us about His forgiveness toward us. Secondly, we are taught that we are to forgive others when they wrong us.

(Psalm 130:4 NKJV) But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared.

(Ephesians 1:7 NKJV) In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace...

The forgiveness of our sins through the shed blood of Jesus Christ is the redeeming message that we all need. Every one of us has sinned and we are all in need of a Savior.

Without forgiveness of sins, we are covered in darkness and blind to the ways of God. So let's look first at this side of forgiveness... our need for forgiveness from God, for our sins.

(Colossians 1:13-14 NKJV) He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, {14} in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

God's ultimate sacrifice was sending His one and only Son to walk the earth and die at the hands of sinful human beings. This was done for one purpose; to free us from sin and death.

Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin. In the Old Testament, animals were killed as sacrifices for the sins of the people. In the New Testament, Jesus died an unbelievably cruel death as a final sacrifice, paying for the sins of the world.

Through this death, we are offered forgiveness for our sins. All we have to do is reach out and claim it.

When the Apostle Paul was immersed in a bright light that shone all around him, he asked who it was that was speaking to him. A voice answered, saying it was Jesus of Nazareth. He spoke these words to Paul:

(Acts 26:15-18 NKJV) "So I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said, And He said, "'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. {16} 'But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. {17} 'I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, {18} 'to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me."

Jesus clearly conveyed a message of forgiveness of sin for those who chose to put their faith in Him. This is the ultimate gift, from a pure, holy God to an undeserving, unholy human race.

So now, let's take a look at the other side of forgiveness... us forgiving others who have done us wrong.

(Mat 18:21-22 NKJV) Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" {22} Jesus said to him, " I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Jesus was pretty clear about the fact that we are obligated to forgive others, even if they have done us wrong on multiple occasions. It's not optional, but required.

He went on to teach us that our willingness to forgive others is tied to whether we will be forgiven by God or not:

(Mat 6:14-15 NKJV) "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. {15} "But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.".

Forgiveness is a choice we make. We can choose to forgive or choose not to forgive someone. One of the things that many people don't realize is that forgiveness doesn't happen instantly.

We have to make the choice to forgive someone. That's just the first step. Once we make that choice, we then have to "walk it out". We have to decide within ourselves that we are going to forgive that person, no matter how hard it is, and then we have to follow through with that choice.

Complete forgiveness can take some time. It can range from days, to weeks, to months or even years. This will vary based on the person and the offense.

If someone steals a small item from you that isn't worth much or if someone says something out of line to you, it's pretty easy to forgive that quickly.

But if something happens that's more significant, complete forgiveness can take much longer.

Either way, forgiveness is still a choice that requires action on our part. And despite the fact that it is our choice to forgive or not, when we get right down to it, we had better learn to forgive others if we want God to forgive us!