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  • Writer's pictureGrant Fraley

Forgiving Others

Over the last few years, I have spent much time teaching the truth concerning the forgiveness of sins for the believer. The New Testament makes it clear the believer has received eternal forgiveness of all their sin—past, present, and future (see Hebrews 9:12; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14). This is a foundational teaching of the New Covenant.

Recently, it’s come to my attention there is an epidemic within the church. Surprisingly, it seems to be an even bigger issue among those who claim to have a revelation of the truth above. What is this epidemic? Unforgiveness. Unforgiveness has ravaged relationships, marriages, homes, families, churches, and more. It’s dangerous and destroys all in its path of influence. The Bible teaches unforgiveness is one of the schemes of satan and gives him an advantage (see 2 Corinthians 2:10-11). You see, the enemy NEVER has legal right to operate in a believer’s life—I don’t care what they have done—BUT he doesn’t need a legal right. He only needs an advantage. The enemy is terrorizing the life of many believers and they have no idea why. For many, the door they have opened is refusing to forgive those who have wronged them.

The New Testament makes forgiving others a priority in the life of a believer (see Matthew 6:12-15; Mark 11:22-26; Luke 17:3-4; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:12-13). This was not an Old Testament principle. In fact, the word translated as “forgives” in the Old Testament is the Hebrew word salach. It appears 50 times in the Bible and in every occurrence, it is always God who is forgiving—never man. It NEVER refers to an individual forgiving another. This is why in Matthew 9:1-8, Mark 2:1-12, and Luke 5:17-26, the crowd was shocked at the idea that an individual had the ability to forgive.

When Jesus came teaching the importance of forgiving others, He was introducing a Kingdom principle into the earth. The early Church taught it strongly, as well. We must understand—the same New Testament that teaches the believer is forgiven of all sin (past, present, and future), is the same document that teaches the believer should forgive everyone who has wronged them.

What is forgiveness? First, let’s establish what unforgiveness is. The New Testament law or rule all believers are to live by is the Law of Love. Paul breaks down what love is in 1 Corinthians 13. There, he says:

Love, “…keeps no record of being wronged.” (NLT)

Unforgiveness is when you keep a record of being wronged filed away in your heart. If love involves keeping no record of wrong, and we are commanded to walk in love—for a believer to walk in unforgiveness towards anyone is to be in active disobedience towards the Lord. That’s strong, but strong language is needed. Unforgiveness is deceptive, dangerous, and deadly. Anytime someone wrongs us, in our heart, it often creates a sense of debt they now owe us. What is it they owe? Maybe it’s an apology, innocence, time, among many other things.

With learning what unforgiveness is, we can understand what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is when you choose to no longer keep a record of those who have wronged you and what they did to you. It’s when you choose, in your heart, to release them from the debt you feel they owe.

It’s important to know two things about forgiveness. First, it’s an issue of the heart. Jesus teaches this in Matthew 18:21-35. When I speak about forgiveness, I’m not referring to sweeping anything under the rug or giving someone a pass for the natural consequences of what has been done. Biblically, we are speaking of when you refuse to allow what people have done to you to hold any weight in your heart.

It's important to know how much you have been forgiven. You have been forgiven completely of a lifetime of sin. Yet, so often, we hold onto what someone did to us in a very small moment. There is a lot of talk about supernatural debt cancellation in the Church, today. When you understand our sin is debt then you realize this: every believer has experienced a supernatural debt cancellation. Our debt has been paid in full by Jesus at the cross. Here’s the hard part: including the person who harmed you and what they did to you. Unforgiveness is a subtle form of self-righteousness. It declares, “the blood of Jesus was enough to forgive my sin, but not theirs!” It’s a subtle form of pride, “My sin can be forgiven against God, but their sin against me can’t be forgiven.”

Why should we forgive someone who hurt us?

“"I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:25)

God says He forgives for His own sake. We need to learn to forgive for our own sake. We aren’t releasing them from the natural consequences of what’s been done, but we are releasing ourselves from the torment that comes with unforgiveness. The word “remember” in the Hebrew means to mention, be mindful, recount, record, bring to remembrance, think on, or recall. Forgiveness is not a supernatural brainwashing that erases all bad memories. Rather, it’s an intentional choice to not mention, think on, recount, speak about, and recall those individuals and what they have done to us. Forgiveness cannot change the past, but it has the power to change the future.

Forgiveness is not trust, nor is forgiveness reconciliation. Forgiveness is given and granted. Trust is earned and built. If reconciliation is possible then repentance must be present. Forgiveness and repentance are the foundation of rebuilt trust (reconciliation). We are not commanded to do life with everyone, but we are commanded to forgive everyone. Here is another hard truth: your situation is not the exception. I have counseled many people who have described stomach-turning, gut-wrenching moments in their life. The enemy has harmed a lot of people using others. However, we must send away the harm unforgiveness is causing us in our hearts. Allow God, and if necessary, legal authorities to handle any necessary consequences, but your job is to be healed and live in a place of freedom.

Many thinks by holding onto unforgiveness they’re protecting their heart—in reality, they’re damaging it. Your heart was not created to harbor unforgiveness. It will cause damage to your heart and soul. Then, if this continues for a long period of time, it will wreak havoc on your physical body, as well.

How do you know if you’ve forgiven someone? When the thought, sight, or memory of that person no longer shakes your peace. What if those thoughts come back? What if the anger rises again? What if the nightmares return? Forgive them, again. Refuse to hold onto it. One of the meanings for the Greek word translated as “forgive” is to let it go. This is my word for you, today: let it go. It’s not worth it. God has placed more value on you than what they did to you. The only person who defines you is Jesus. The only event that defines you is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The only thing that happened to you that defines you is the new birth. Forgiveness is freedom. In freeing others, you’ll free yourself.


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