What is Biblical Forgiveness?

Written by Dr. Jen Clark


Forgiveness is a gift given to us by Jesus when He died on the Cross (Eph. 1:6-8). Jesus forgave us and He tells us to be forgivers, too (Matthew 18:20-22). We first receive forgiveness when we are saved. Forgiveness restores us to harmony with God at the time of salvation, cleanses us from sin, and removes the wall of hostility that separated us from God.

After a Christian is saved, he or she does not “try” to forgive, but allows Christ to forgive through them. For the believer, forgiveness is the answer for the everyday issues of life—offenses, rejection, fears, and resentment—both big and small. If you let God reveal the baggage of the past to you, forgiveness will set you free.


What do we get when forgiveness is applied? Peace

When we receive forgiveness, we have peace with God (Rom. 5:1). Forgiveness is not fully accomplished until bad emotions are replaced by peace. If you still feel hurt or angry, forgiveness is still incomplete


Why does forgiveness seem so hard to many people?

Many Christians don’t know how to let the Lord do the forgiving, so it may seem like a hard thing to do, or a long process.


What is the answer?

We forgive by the grace of God. Christ Himself does the forgiving through us. Christ the Forgiver in us does all the work. And everything He does is easy for Him! Forgiveness is always easy because Christ the Forgiver does the forgiving for us by the grace of God (Gal. 2:20-21).


Forgiveness defined:

• Forgiveness must be from the heart and it includes mind, will and emotions

• Forgiveness is a Person. Christ is the Forgiver so He forgives through us.

• Forgiveness is not an option; it is a command.

• Forgiveness releases us so that our lives won’t be poisoned.

• Forgiveness releases others so that God can work in their lives.

• Forgiveness is canceling a debt.

• Forgiveness is ceasing to sit in the place of judgment and releasing them to God.


Forgiveness is NOT:

• NOT being a doormat.

• NOT pardon in the sense of removing consequences.

• NOT absolving another’s sin.

• NOT just pretending to forget

• NOT reconciling with a person when boundaries still need to be established.

• NOT releasing someone from personal responsibility.


KEYS for forgiveness:

• Christ is the Forgiver so forgiveness works every time!

• Forgiveness is instant, not a process.

• There is no “big or little”. It is all easy for Jesus!

• Sequence is important, so always go in God’s order.

• Pray through one thing at a time until you get peace