For much of my life in relationship with Christ I viewed forgiveness as “letting someone off the hook for some evil they committed against me”. I’ve forgiven someone, only to find out I hadn’t actually forgiven them. As I grow in my relationship with God, He gives me more insight as to what it means both to me and to Him. I would like to share some of this with you.
1. Forgiveness from our perspective.
Forgiveness is not abandoning all of your past experience and reason to keep or start a close relationship with someone who severely abuses you. Forgiveness does not need to come with a joyful feeling of closeness with the person you have forgiven. Forgiveness is not a feeling.
Forgiveness is choosing not to hold someone in judgment for something they’ve done to offend you. It’s forgiving a debt that they owe you.
[Luk 11:4 NKJV] And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one."
The word “indebted” here according to Strong’s; to owe, to be under obligation, (morally) to fail in a duty.
Forgiveness from our perspective is to release the debt, the obligation, or the moral duty that another person has failed us in. This debt can be any aspect of life where another person has failed your expectation, or has forcefully imposed their will upon you and against your will.
2. Forgiveness from God’s perspective.
[Psa 51:4 NKJV] Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done [this] evil in Your sight--That You may be found just when You speak, [And] blameless when You judge.
Here we see David, a man after God’s own heart, confessing his sin to God. He had just committed adultery with Bathsheba, tried to cover her pregnancy by bringing her husband back to sleep with her, and having failed to cover it up, killed her husband Uriah by sending him to the worst part of a warzone and withdrawing everyone else. This was adultery, deception, and premeditated murder. David follows this up with “Against You, You only, have I sinned.” This is true. While his actions were against other people, the standard which he broke was God’s. No man other than Jesus gets to claim God’s standard because we are all sinful.
When we hold onto unforgiveness, we effectively say “My standard is higher than yours.” This results in us judging the other person. When we judge someone else in this way, we exalt ourselves to God’s position, to His judgment seat.
[Jas 4:12 NKJV] There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?
[Rev 20:11 NKJV] Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.
[Rev 20:12 NKJV] And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is [the Book] of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.
[Rev 20:13 NKJV] The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.
3. Each person is going to be judged by God Himself according to their works. This is His job alone, because He alone is holy. It’s His standard that WE ALL break. When we forgive someone, we step down from God’s throne of judgment. We rejoin the rest of our sinful race and acknowledge that God alone is holy. We humble ourselves. We are owed nothing but death, right?
[Rom 6:23 NKJV] For the wages of sin [is] death, but the gift of God [is] eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
4. How does God deal with beings lower than Him that exalt themselves to His position, His throne?
[Isa 14:9 NKJV] "Hell from beneath is excited about you, To meet [you] at your coming; It stirs up the dead for you, All the chief ones of the earth; It has raised up from their thrones All the kings of the nations.
 They all shall speak and say to you: 'Have you also become as weak as we? Have you become like us?
 Your pomp is brought down to Sheol, [And] the sound of your stringed instruments; The maggot is spread under you, And worms cover you.'
 "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! [How] you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!
 For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north;
 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.'
 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit.
5. Ok, this is Satan. What about me? After all, I believe in Jesus!
[Mat 18:33 NKJV] 'Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?'
[Mat 18:34 NKJV] "And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
[Mat 18:35 NKJV] "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses."
6. Get to the point!
God loves you, He sent Jesus to die on your behalf, so that you wouldn’t have to be a slave to sin, and a child of Satan.
Unforgiveness is obeying Satan. It gives Satan a place in your heart and your life, and God gives him permission to send “torturers” to you.
When we forgive someone, we get down from God’s throne. We are humble before Him, and trust Him in His judgment. This submission to God removes the permission given to the “torturers” for this specific issue.
God loves you, but the only way you get to sit in His chair is on His lap!