These verses have stopped me in my tracks over and over.
Aren’t we forgiven everything through Jesus Christ?
What does it mean “God will not forgive us our sins?”
Please help me find real understanding of these scriptures?
@carolinegreen Great question That verse can seem very difficult to understand, but thankfully there is a simple explanation. I think we can see it in two places - one is in 1 John and the other the parable of the unforgiving servant.
We know from 1 John that God forgives anyone who confesses their sin—every time.
1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
But we also see in Scripture that to receive God’s love we must let that love dwell in our hearts—God must live in us. A person who tries to receive God’s forgiveness without allowing that love into their hearts is deceiving themselves. They did not understand what it means to be forgiven or else they also would forgive.
The basic idea is this: the one who has truly received the love and forgiveness of God will show that love and forgiveness to other people because God’s Spirit lives within them
- in 1 John, we see that the one who claims to love God and yet hates their brother or sister (does not forgive them) is a liar
- in the parable of the unforgiving servant, we see that we must show others the same mercy that God has shown us
The Scriptures are below. I hope that helps God always forgives, but receiving His love will always lead us to love others.
1 John 4:16-21 - And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
Matthew 18:21-35 - Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
This is my own personal opinion, but this is how I think of it. The Bible talks about our relationship to God as that of a marriage. So, through faith in Christ we become married to God. However, like in an earthly marriage, spouses can do things that make the other happy, or not so happy. But those good or bad things we do don’t effect the permanent bond in marriage, they just effect whether or not we are getting along in the marriage. So, I think when the Bible talks about if you forgive, I’ll forgive you, I don’t think it’s referring to the permanent marriage bond made through faith in Christ, I think it’s just saying if you forgive others, I’ll forgive you of the things that you are doing that make me upset in our marriage and we can have an even better marriage relationship.
As we know this passage is in the middle or so of the be attitudes which teaches us about Christs humility, meekness, and trust. Luke has this passage also but it reads some different which sheds a lot of light for me in understanding my part in Math 6; 14 15. Hope you see what I am saying.
God be gracious to you
This is a really important question! @SeanO has offered some good insight as Jesus explains the problem with the unmerciful servant in Matthew. Sean sums it up with
he one who has truly received the love and forgiveness of God will show that love and forgiveness to other people because God’s Spirit lives within them
Jesus reminds us that unforgiveness damages or impairs our relationships with each other and with God when He says:
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. Mark 11:25
Paul encourages us to act on our understanding of how we have been forgiven by God through Christ by holding it out to others.
Be kind and compassionate to one another forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
As we are called not just to the knowledge of the Lord but in relationship to live it aloud in action and truth.
I think too, we need constant reminding of the gospel message! By being mindful of our own need for forgiveness, we should present our sins to the Lord regularly and allow Him to mold us more into His likeness. Then when we encounter a person in our life who has offended or hurt us, we recognize ourselves and want to offer it to them. Otherwise we carry that burden of unforgiveness with us and it becomes a bitter load.
Caroline, has this discussion thread helped you?
Thank you to each and everyone of you who have answered my question. All of you have most certainly helped me to see Matt 6 in a new light and in particular the cross referencing scriptures make it more understandable for me now. I have some more hours of meditation and thought ahead of me as I go through your scriptures - which I look forward to enormously. I am grateful
God Bless you all
Caroline, thank you for your question my fellow Alum.
First the word you are using here is Sin, but is better translated, debts or transgressions or trespasses. Second Jesus is speaking to the disciples, saved people (except Judas). He has had a prayer lesson and concludes with a reminder that follows the teaching in V.12. Believers should forgive as those that have received judicial forgiveness (Eph. 1:17; 1 John 2:1-2) from God. Believers cannot know the parental forgiveness, which keeps fellowship with the Lord rich and blessings from the Lord profuse, apart from forgiving others in heart and word. The sin of an unforgiving heart and a bitter spirit (Heb. 12:15) forfeits blessing and invites judgment. But not eternal judgement. As in V.12 “forgive your trespasses” here refers to restoration of personal relationship with God, not to initial justification. So, if we look only at Vs. 6:14-15 we are looking outside the context of V.12. Which does not mean that believers need to ask daily for justification, since believers are justified forever from the moment of initial saving faith (Rom. 5:1,9; 8:1; 10:10). Rather, this is a prayer of restoration of personal fellowship with God when fellowship has been hindered by sin, transgressions. I hope I have shed a little light on this for you, God richly bless you my sister…
Thank you Carey Nelson! That makes a lot of sense - appreciate it
Hi I feel others have adequately answered this but I just wanted to encourage you because I was one struggling to forgive a brother from my heart so I looked for sermons on forgiveness and the one that I watched actually did not talk about forgiveness a single time, however it was about how amazing it is that we have have the Holy Spirit in us and how much that enables us to do. So with God it is absolutely possible to forgive everyone from your heart and Jesus said that without Him we can do nothing, but when we abide in Him that’s when forgiveness becomes possible may God bless you
Bless you for those encouraging words of forgiveness made possible through Jesus and your yielded heart. I have carried that kind a baggage before and it became an unbearable load until freedom came by Love and forgiveness. Thank you