Forgiveness is at the very heart of our Christian faith, so it’s little wonder that Satan has spent so much time and effort distorting the very essence of its meaning. His goal of replacing divine forgiveness with common secular humanism has come to pass, as most of us now, on the subject of forgiveness, believe his lies instead of God’s truth.
We’re told by the world we should forgive unconditionally, because that’s what God wants of His children. We are often directed to Luke 6:36-37 and other verses with the same or like sentiment. “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:” As usual, Satan’s lies come wrapped in but a small portion of God’s truth.
We are also told forgiveness is something we must do for our own mental well-being, as failure to forgive becomes a destructive emotional cancer. And therein lies a spiritual red warning flag, as God seeks sacrifice for one another. Only Satan seeks the best for self.
Godly forgiveness is, for both the sinner and the wronged, a healing process whereby both can become spiritually whole again. The person granting absolution regains that which was lost to the sin, while the sinner regains a rebirth ultimately seeking righteousness. For both the perpetrator and victim, the slate is wiped clean. But with secular forgiveness, that preached by those either consciously opposing the Word or those to whom the Word is unknown, both the sinner and the person who is the object of their sin are left with nothing. One is denied rightful restitution and assurance the sin against them will not be repeated while the other is left in the same retched sinful condition as before.
As a result of Satan’s deceptions, many of us have come to believe that forgiveness is the responsibility of the one wronged, and, as an expression of our Christianity, we are to forgive the sinner no matter what. But Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross calls into question that doctrine, for His payment for our sin came at great expense. It wasn’t just a matter of loving words or saying “I’m sorry,” but a loving and willing act of painful payment, which we could not do on our own, that was the ultimate and required sacrifice. How foolish of us to believe that our search for forgiveness, or our granting forgiveness, should follow any example other than His.
Jesus teaches the appropriate response for sinners seeking absolution so that we might know if our forgiveness is justly helping that person or giving them license for continued rebellion against God, and thereby making their sin a part of our life’s tapestry. The issue of forgiveness is that serious. Done right, it is a witness for the One we worship. Done wrong, it can help Satan make us a partaker of another’s sin. “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” (2 John 10-11) “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.” (1 Timothy 5:22)
Of course, forgiveness is such an easy subject for Satan to exploit, as, on its face, it seems spiritual no matter what tact one might undertake - as long as we “forgive.”
It is at this point we have to remember yet again that Satan and his lies are always there waiting to cause disaster, as for all the goodness true forgiveness brings, unbiblical forgiveness does harm with equal force and intensity. We cannot allow ourselves to be misled, because in not knowing God’s truth about forgiveness, our efforts, which we want to be righteous, do more harm than good to both us and the person who has sinned against us. Then too, in granting forgiveness when it is not warranted, we erroneously do so in God’s name even though we failed to seek and follow His counsel. Seeking unbiblical forgiveness is likewise destructive.
We are to forgive, but it must be according to Jesus’ example and teachings. This is the true path leading to forgiveness and the steps which must be followed, through Him, to be washed of our sins. It is also to help us know when, how, and why we are to forgive others. “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him: and if he repent, forgive him.” (Luke 17:3) The secular world calls for forgiveness no matter the circumstances, or, at best, in response to the offender saying, “I’m sorry.” Christian forgiveness is given in response to repentance.