DEFINITION: Forgiveness is the act of pardoning someone for an offense.  Reconciliation is the ending of conflict between two or more people and the renewing of relationship.  Included in the biblical concept of forgiveness is receiving forgiveness from God for sin, extending forgiveness to others, and forgiving ones’ self.  Forgiveness includes the releasing of grudges and bitterness over past offenses.


    Forgiveness and reconciliation come through Jesus Christ.  “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

    God promises forgiveness for your sin.  When you confess your sins to God and repent, you are forgiven because He promises this in His Word (1 John 1:8-9).  By repenting and accepting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for your sin, you are reconciled to God.  You may not “feel” forgiven, but the Christian walk is by faith not by feeling.  God promised, and He cannot lie (Numbers 23:19).   Jesus said:  …”whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37).

    Broken relationships result in additional problems.  Bitterness, grudges, resentment, anger, etc., all result from broken relationships. These negative emotions affect you mentally, physically, and spiritually.  They are all sinful emotions that must be dealt with in order to receive and extend forgiveness.

    The Bible teaches forgiveness.  You need forgiveness from God and you are required to forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15).  You also need to forgive yourself.


    Be reconciled to God.  A proper vertical relationship with God makes positive horizontal relationships with others possible.  Confess your sins and ask God to forgive you.  Read Psalm 51.  You do not need to repeatedly ask forgiveness for a sin.  Once you have confessed and asked forgiveness, God forgives and forgets (Isaiah 43:25). Remain reconciled to God by praying the model prayer, designed to be prayed daily, which includes “forgive our sins as we forgive others”  (Matthew 6:12).

    Repent of your unforgiveness.  Repent of bitterness, anger, resentment, and holding grudges.  These are all sin and must be dealt with as such.

    Forgive others.  You may not feel like it, but by an act of your will you must forgive others. Follow the directives given in Matthew 18:15-19.   Forgiveness is not:

    -Justifying someone else’s wrongs which they have done to you.

    -Denying you were hurt in the first place.

    -Accepting with resignation what was done to you.

    -Waiting for time to heal the hurt. (It doesn’t).

    True forgiveness comes by:

    -Recognizing what was done to you was wrong, the result of sinful men in a sinful world. It is not necessary to go back and relive the event mentally, but neither can you deal with it by denying it.  Acknowledge what happened and how it affected you.

    -Confessing the hurt to God and asking Him to heal you of the harmful emotions.  You may never forget the facts of the incident, but what is needed is healing for the negative emotions relating to it.

    -Asking God to help you forgive others, even as Christ forgives you.   Recognize that God extends forgiveness to you as you forgive others: “Forgive us our trespasses AS we forgive those who trespass against us.” 

    If others offend you again,  forgive them again.  Peter asked Christ how many times he was required to forgive someone.  Jesus answered:  “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22). He was actually saying that your forgiveness must be unlimited.

    Forgive yourself.  Distinguish between true remorse and guilt and shame.  You are right to feel remorse, but guilt and shame are not from God.  Jesus bore your sins, your guilt, and your shame on the cross (Hebrews 12:2).  You do not have to bear these things (1 John 3:20).  If you have confessed your sin to God and sought forgiveness and reconciliation with others, then you must also forgive yourself.  See yourself as God sees you, a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Here are some guidelines to help you forgive yourself.

    -Acknowledge the sin that is causing your feelings of guilt.  Confess your sin to God, and  repent.  Ask God to forgive your sin and heal your emotions.

    -Recognize when God forgives, He forgets–He casts your sins as far as east from west (Psalm 103:12).

    -Claim the promises of 1 John 1:8-9 and  Romans 8:1.

    -By an act of your own will, release yourself from condemnation.  Control future thoughts by casting down “vain imaginations” of guilt and shame and “forgetting those things behind”  (2 Corinthians 10:5 and Philippians 3:3).



    Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  (Psalm 32:1)

    Read David’s prayer of repentance in Psalm 51.

    For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.  (Psalm 86:5)

    He hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us after our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his lovingkindness toward them that fear him.  As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:10-12)

    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.  (Proverbs 10:12)

    He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.  (Proverbs 28:13)

    “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord.”Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

    Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  (Isaiah 43:18)

    “I, even I, am he who blots out  your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”  (Isaiah 43:25)

    But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6)

    “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,  leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)

    Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:12)

    For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-15)

    If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.  But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.   If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15-17)

    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.”   (Matthew 18:21-22)

    The parable about forgiveness in Matthew 18:23-35 illustrates how your forgiveness by God is related to forgiving others.

    And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.   (Mark 11:25-26)

    But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.  Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.  Do to others as you would have them do to you.  (Luke 6:27-31)
    Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:37)

    All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.(John 6:37)

    A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.  (John 13:34-35)

    Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.  (Acts 3:19)

    Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered;  Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.   (Romans 4:7-8)

    Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. (Romans 5:1)

    There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.  (Romans 8:1)

    All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)

    In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. (Ephesians 1:7)

    …by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace,  and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (Ephesians 2:15-18))

    Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  (Ephesians 4:2-3)

    Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

    For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  (Colossians 1:13-14)

    For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.  (Colossians 1:19-20)

    Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)

    See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many (Hebrews 12:15)

    And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

    If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.  (1 John 1:8-10)

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