It is vitally important for believers to note that, our forgiveness equals God’s forgiveness. Simply put, once a believer in Christ Jesus forgives others for the wrongs that they have done to them, then, and only then, can they receive forgiveness for their sins.
We all well understand that offenses will come. People that we know and people that we do not know will, at some point, offend us in some way or the other. Jesus said it this way in Luke 17:1, concerning offenses,
“Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!”
In other words, we cannot get around being offended in life at some point or the other. Offenses Will Come, again, there is no getting around it, but Jesus has a major “woe,” to the offender of His children! The offender had better watch out, he or she had better not pout because a ‘woe’ is hanging over his or her head that purposely offends His children; and it is not pretty.
On a side note about God’s woes. Believe me; we do not want to be on the receiving end of God’s wrath-filled woes. These are like the brutal forces of nature and the brutal forces of life converging on the head of the person or nation that is in its path. Therefore, stay away from God’s woes, in this particular case, by not purposely offending people who believe and trust in God.
Just be careful.
Yet, What Does Offenses Have To Do With Our Receiving Forgiveness From God?
Everything, because unless we forgive every offense that is done against us, we become disqualified (due to our refusal to forgive), to receive God’s forgiveness for our sins; and this is not good because it means we become disqualified from entering the gates of Heaven.
Now, some, at this point, may want proof of this from scripture. Let us, therefore, explore the Word of God.
Consider what Jesus taught on the subject of forgiveness when He said, for example, in Matthew 6:14-15,
(14)“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:”
(15)” But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Another place where Jesus taught us the importance of forgiveness was in Luke 6:37, when He said,
“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:”
Here, we find Jesus, basically, teaching that if we do not want to be judged, then we should not judge others. Next, if we do not want to be condemned, then we should not condemn others. Last, but not least, we find Jesus teaching us that if we want to be forgiven by God, then we MUST forgive others. Let me repeat, we MUST forgive others; we Must forgive others in order for God to forgive us.
There is no ‘ifs, ‘ands,’ or buts about it. We cannot, must not, and should not sugarcoat it. This is too important to our fellowship with God.
Do we see the conditions clearly laid out before us that we must meet, in order to receive total forgives from God? This brings us back to the little math-like equation found in our subject: forgiveness equals God’s forgiveness.
How Do We Forgive if Someone Commits A Major Offense Against Us?
Let us be serious here, there are no easy answers to this age-old question. When someone commits low-down dirty acts against us in words or in deeds, we will have a tough time forgiving them. Especially, if we live by the ways of the world shown daily through television, movies, books, magazines, and even from the experiences of other people. The wisdom of the world says, never mind about forgiveness, ‘just get even, at any costs, just get even.’
This is the philosophy of the lost, the philosophy of the condemned, and the philosophy of the unforgiven. Therefore, it is our duty as believers, not let the thinking of worldly people pollute our minds and come between God and us. It is just not worth it. Remember, our forgiveness equals God’s forgiveness and nothing less.
- It does not matter what our favorite character on a semi-violent detective television show says. In real life, he would be either dead or in prison.
- It does not matter what our favorite mystery novel character says. She or he is the figment of some writer’s imagination.
- It matters not what our favorite athlete says or does.
- It matters not what our favorite historical figure said or did. If he or she did not repent of their sins and forgive others, they might be in Hell right now.
The best way that we can begin to forgive others is to follow the philosophy and example of Jesus the Christ. I might add that His teachings are actually more than philosophy, because they concern proven eternal truths to live by. He taught us how to forgive in Luke 6:27-28 when He said,
(27) “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,”
(28) “Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.”
Notice, Jesus taught that we should do the very opposite of what our offender has done to us. When, for example, they become our enemies, we must love them. When they hate us, we must do them good. However, the next verse is where we get the secret to forgiving someone who is in the almost unforgivable category.
Jesus taught us to bless, and to pray for those that curse us and despitefully use us. If we combine what He taught, we discover that He actually taught us to pray a blessing on those that curse and misuse us. That is to say, when we find it difficult to love our enemies and to do well to those who have done harm to us, then pray for their souls. Pray for their blessing and salvation.
It is that simple.
We must pray a blessing on our haters. Then, as we do this regularly, we will find it easier to do good deeds to those who have done us wrong. Praying a blessing on our enemies can break, at least temporarily, the grip of hate that we hold in our hearts for them.
Why Make the Effort to Forgive When We Already Live in God’s Favor?
It is very simple but often overlooked; God is No Respecter of Persons. He does not play favoritism when it comes to judging any of us. Many of those who are very close to God often think that He will just over-look their wrongdoing because of the special favor that they believe that they have with God.
This could not be any farther from the truth. His Word says in Romans 2:10-12,
(10) “But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:”
(11) “For there is no respect of persons with God.”
(12) “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;”
This is not to say that some of us are not close to God. If anything, the closer we are to God, the quicker He will chasten or discipline us for our misbehavior. Furthermore, this is not to say that some of us have not prophesied, at times, led by the Spirit of God. This is not even to say that He has not filled us with His Spirit, and, at times strongly overtaken us with His glorious anointing.
What we are saying here is that God clearly warns each of us, that He judges us based on our obedience to His Word (which is done in and through faith in Jesus) and not simply based on our relationship to Him or to His church. Consider seriously, what the Apostle Paul said in Romans 11:17-22 concerning those of us who are gentile believers in Christ Jesus. He says,
(17) “And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;”
(18) “Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.”
(19) “Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.”
(20) “Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:”
(21) “For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.”
(22) “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.”
Unfortunately, we do not hear much about this from most modern preaching or most modern theology. Yet, the Apostle Paul, the same apostle that many preachers quote, teaches this very thing concerning our continual relationship with God.
Paul teaches that just because God engrafted us in His family by faith, does not necessarily mean that we will automatically stay in His family. It is a clear teaching regardless of what some theologians, some preachers, or some television evangelists teach us to the contrary. We must believe the report of the Lord and His Word and no one else!
We MUST believe the REPORT OF THE LORD, before we believe someone else’s far-off interpretation of the very clear Word of God! Moreover, the scriptures that we just read are clear and precise in their meaning. They are not open to private interpretation. Furthermore, it does not take a rocket scientist or a theologian to help us to figure out their meaning either.
We must get it in our minds that God does not play favors in judgment. People might, some men might, but the Bible says in Numbers 23:19,
“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”
God will do what He says and He says what He will do, whether we like it or not!
Therefore, in conclusion, forgiveness equals God’s forgiveness is not a suggestion or an opinion, it is a COMMAND! If we want to receive forgiveness, and we all need forgiveness on a daily basis, we must make it up in our minds that we will give forgiveness to each person who has wronged us or who has offended us in some way.
We cannot properly handle the Devil, if he has us bound in the jail of unforgiveness and bitterness. When we are determined not to forgive, we are in a type of jail. Once, however, we decide to forgive others of their trespasses and offenses against us, then we have our power back; and we can do what Dorothy Norwood says in her gospel song, “…Just shake the devil off…!”
- When he comes at us with sharp offense, we can shake the devil off.
- When he comes in as a flood, we can raise up a standard against him, and shake the devil off.
- No weapon formed against us shall prosper, and we can… shake the devil off.
- When our forgiveness is sure, our authority in Jesus stands strong, we can… shake the devil off!
- Let us not give place to the devil by not forgiving others, but let us stand up in Jesus’ name and… shake…shake the devil off.
- When people lie on us, let us just shake, shake, shake… shake the devil off.
- When friends and love ones stab us in the back, we can decide either to be bitter or to become better. Let us just shake the devil off.
- Let us not become “…weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9) I agree with Dorothy Norwood, we can just shake the devil off!
Jesus while wearied in the garden of Gethsemane, where He was tempted not to go to the cross, but He just… shook the devil off. While hanging on the old rugged cross on Calvary, the people that He came to save, mocked Him, spit upon Him, and cursed Him. Yet, we hear Him praying to God for them, crying out in Luke 23:34,
“…Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do….”
Especially on the cross, He could have easily succumbed to hatred, but he did not, He just…shook the devil off with a prayer of forgiveness! A-MEN