Forgiveness and salvation

The Bible clearly says that our salvation is by grace, not by works. How does this fit with Matthew 6:15 which says “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”


@cindyvanandel this is an excellent question, thank you for posting it. I find forgiveness very difficult at times, do you have any times in your life when you found it very difficult to forgive?


Thank you for this question. Forgiveness is one of the most vital parts of our Christian walk and sometimes, the most difficult act to live out. I was reading, a few days ago, an article in VOM. The article focused in on Northern Nigeria. One woman in particular suffered the loss of her husband who was brutally murdered by Boko Haram. She had two children and was dependent on her husbands income. She had to do side work to provide for her family. Her relatives would not help because she was a Christian. She was able to afford food and shelter but soon found herself homeless after another attack where her village was set on fire. This happened 3 times. Her life, as well as her children’s lives were threatened constantly. She was finally able to get help and settled in another home. She said in the article that she had forgiven her attackers and that she prayed for them daily. She said she did this because “we are commanded to.”
The story goes much deeper, I am just paraphrasing but I pushed back in my chair, stunned and humbled. I am a pretty forgiving person but I have to admit, I have never been tested in ways like this or in ways that some others have been tested.

Forgiveness is an act, not a feeling. A choice to say “I forgive” even if we do not feel it at the time. It may take years to actually “feel” that you have forgiven someone. In some instances you may have to distance yourself from the person, depending upon the offense.
We all need forgiveness. To withhold it, is detrimental to our walk with Christ. Harboring unforgiveness will stifle our growth and cause us to lose the “Joy of our salvation.”
The link below is by Alistair Begg titled: “Forgiven and forgiving.” I like what he had to say here:

“Is forgiveness something we must request of God daily? Alistair Begg reminds us that while we are no longer ruled by sin, it still remains in our lives. Our sin cannot destroy our relationship with God, but it can damage our enjoyment of that relationship. Daily repentance is therefore essential. As God faithfully forgives us, so we must forgive others—not so that we might win our salvation, but so that we may understand the vastness of God’s redemptive grace.”

There is a part 2. If you can find the time to listen or read the transcript, I trust it will give you some clarity. I hope this will help :pray:t3:


Hello, @cindyvanandel! That’s an excellent question, and it prompts me to ask a question in return: Are salvation and forgiveness the same thing?

I am not sure they are. I understand them as related but distinct. Forgiveness is an aspect of our salvation, but not salvation in its entirety. We are not saved by our forgiveness, but offering and receiving forgiveness is a mark (or fruit) of salvation. Salvation results from a work (or works) of God on our behalf, one of which is forgiveness.

I’m curious to know how you understand the relationship between the two. :slight_smile:


Thanks for these responses. I really appreciate them. I think that Kmac maybe understood my question most clearly. I know that salvation is a gift from God, but was puzzled when I heard a teaching that implied that if a person doesn’t forgive, then he is not forgiven and thus not saved. It sounded as if our salvation is contingent on something we do, and not solely on God’s mercy. I agree also that forgiving others flows from our understanding of God’s forgiving us and from our loving God and others.

In response to Kmac’s question, I do think that our salvation and our being forgiven by God are intricately connected. My understanding is that we are saved because Jesus’ sacrifice paid the price for our sins. Which I guess I have always taken to mean God forgiving us for those sins. For example in Psalm 103:12 saying “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” Are you saying that a person can be saved but not forgiven?