Below are six key concepts as part of a theology of forgiveness that I think we need to understand. This is not an exhaustive list, but these are some key truths that we need to understand about what the Bible teaches on forgiveness.
1. The Principle Of The Sixth Commandment. Matthew 5:21= Jesus is teaching and listen to what he says, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, Raca! Shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘you fool’ shall be in danger of hell fire.”
Jesus Christ brings up the ten commandments and more specifically, the sixth commandment. He says, “Everybody knows, “Thou shall not murder. But if you harbor unforgiveness or bitterness or anger or rage or malice in your heart towards an individual, you are guilty of murder.” One of the things Jesus Christ taught about the law wasn’t just about our actions, but about our thoughts.
He says, “If you come to a place in your life where you refuse to forgive somebody or you hold on to that bitterness or resentment, you are guilty of violating the sixth commandment.” So the first principle or first element is the principle of the sixth commandment.
2. Your Offender Has Offended God Even Greater. In Psalm 51 we find King David has sinned by committing adultery with Bathsheba. He’s murdered her husband and lied about it. Yet in Psalm 51, when David is confessing and getting right with God, what does he say?
“Against You, and You alone, have I sinned.”
He says, “God, the greatest sin I have committed wasn’t against Bathsheba. It wasn’t against Uriah. It wasn’t against my people. It was against You.” Any sin or injustice committed against you or against me is committed against God. And the offence is greater towards God because God is holy. God is perfect. He is without error. God has never made a mistake. That offence toward him is even greater than the offence is toward you. You are not the only one who has been offended in this situation. You are not the only one who has been hurt in this situation. This is an offence to God himself.
3. God Forgives Us As We Forgive Others. In Matthew 6 we have the Lord’s Prayer. The disciples never asked Jesus Christ to teach them anything except how to pray. They never asked him, “Lord, teach us how to preach.” “Lord, teach us how to sing or worship.” But they said, “Lord, teach us how to pray.” As Jesus Christ begins to teach them how to pray, one of the things He says is, “You pray this way…”
“Father, forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”
“God, use the same measure of forgiveness in my life when I offend you or sin against you that I use in forgiving others when they sin against me.
4. Unforgiveness Undermines The Authority Of God.
Romans 12:14= “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”
Romans 12:19= “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.”
God says, “If somebody sins against you or if somebody offends you, you bless those who curse you. You pray for those who sin against you.” He says, “I’ll take care of the revenge. I’ll take care of making things right. I will handle the justice.” But when you and I say, “God, I’m going to handle this one. I don’t trust your authority. I don’t need your authority.”
By our actions, we can kind of say, “God you know what, I just don’t think you can handle this one. God, you are moving too slow. God, you are not just enough. Give me the sword and I will handle it.”
What we do by taking revenge ourselves is we undermine the authority of God and say, “God, I’m going to take this one because you are not doing your job right.”
5. Unforgiveness Makes You Unfit For Worship. In Matthew 5 Jesus says, “If you are on your way to make a sacrifice at the altar as part of your worship and you realize your brother has something against you or they have sinned against you or there is something wrong in that relationship, leave your offering, go back and make things right, then come and give Me your offering.” Unforgiveness hinders our ability to worship.
6. When You Are Offended, That Is An Opportunity. Matthew 5:44= “I say to you, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be the sons of your father who is in heaven.”
He says, “When somebody offends you or wrongs you that is an opportunity for you to display sonship. It is an opportunity to display the fact that you belong to God.
We are never more like Jesus Christ than when we forgive. When you learn to forgive and begin to display that ability to forgive people, you begin to display that fact that you are a son of the King. I believe this ability to forgive when we’ve been hurt deeply is a supernatural process that only the power of God can do. Trials and tribulations are an opportunity for us to grow and to manifest the fact that we do belong to God.
Now, this isn’t a comprehensive theology of forgiveness, but these are some key principles that we need to understand as we deal with conflict in our daily lives.