How Does Forgiveness Really Work?

Forgiveness is a pukie religious, over used, misunderstood word a lot like love.

We hear it in sermons, bible studies and articles. We are bloodied and bruised by the beating over the head if someone thinks we’re holding a “grudge”. When someone has been hurt, they are quickly told to forgive because they will “feel” better. I see the word forgiveness thrown around so much in religious circles that it has a pukie quality to it. Yet God commands us to forgive. So what does it really mean? Why does knowing how God forgives, help us?


“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32

This is part of a healthy walk in love, but what is the context? Who is God telling us to forgive? These verses don’t come out and say it. So let’s find out by looking back in the context. We’re looking for who is this written to first then, who are we supposed to forgive?

Verses 1 on of chapter 4.

“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 [There is] one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;”  vs. 1-4

Who are the people we are supposed to forbear? What if a drunk driver took out your son? Do you forgive and forbear that guy who may still be a rank unbeliever? What if the guy never asks for forgiveness from you, never changes his ways, and never cares about what he’s done? His heart is still just as hard and calloused with pride as ever before? Is this the person you are commanded to forgive?

NO and a thousand times NO! Who are the ones we are to forgive? Those walking in the vocation wherewith we are called. Those endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit. Those who display and truly have lowliness and meekness and longsuffering. Who are these people? Our fellow believers walking together towards God’s greater good in their lives.

Let’s read on.

5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who [is] above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” vs. 5-7

This is the very definition of a believer. It is someone with God in them and who has a measure of the gift of Christ/Anointing which is also called the gift of the holy spirit. This is the context of verse 31-32. We are to treat our fellow believers with the respect that we deserve as God’s kids. And when things come up between them, we are commanded to be tender and kind and forgive them.

Ok. What if someone who is a Christian violates us? What if they wrong us in the deepest darkest way? What if they steal from us? They are not walking love. They could care less, but yes, they are technically born again.

Then what?

No one loses their sonship rights after believing Romans 10:9-10. But being genetically born into a family doesn’t mean you stay in fellowship with them. Yes, we have spiritual DNA, but as any parent knows it is still the child’s choice whether to remain in the will and fellowship of the Father.

So let’s say a child of God is walking OUT of fellowship with God and doing truly evil things. Do we have to forgive them then? This is what I love about God. He looks on the heart. He is no respecter of persons. But He is a respecter of the conditions of the heart. He knows what that errant child’s heart looks like.

Let’s keep reading.

8 Wherefore he (Christ Jesus) saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

14 That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;” vs. 8-14

Is that errant child being tossed to and fro? Are they carried about with every wind of doctrine? Oh yeah. When someone is in a rebellious pride filled head-space and not walking in love, then let me ask are you their minister? Are you the one God wants in there bringing them back to Him? Keep in mind that he/she is God’s child, not yours. You have to check in. God knows which minister will help to bring that person back to Him, but that minister may not be you. Recognize that. God is a big boy. He can handle it. He gives people MILLLIONS of chances to repent and have a change of heart.


So let’s say, you ask God and He says, “stay away”. God knows that by you being close to that person, you’ll get sucked into the drama, chaos and hurt all over again and disrupt your walk and fellowship with HIM. He knows that being near them causes a major tailspin and upheaval in your life?

There is never any reason or any person EVER worth breaking fellowship with God over, period.

The devil knows this too. The devil is happy because now he has someone he can use to screw with your life. So he’ll try to plant conversations, traps, and “consequential meetings” with that person. He’ll even convince your closest friends that you need to forgive and reconcile with them. Talk about manipulation. GOD SAID STAY AWAY. But the devil knows the human spirit is weak and, without guidance, they can be manipulated. The devil’s whole goal is to cut off your fellowship to God. Do you see what kind of battle this is? The mind games the devil plays? Do you see the bigness of renewing your mind? Your mind must be razor sharp, so that any “casual” mention is immediately repelled. You have to be on this every day, every hour and every minute. Otherwise you’ll trip over people I call “trip hazards”.

“Trip hazards” are tricky, because they are sincere, well-meaning friends being tricked by the devil.  In the next post, I’m going to handle “Trip hazards,” in the mean time here is a verse that shows us how God forgives. We’re supposed to be imitators of Him.

“IF we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

God forgives based on the condition of confession and confession is a heart thing. We have to own up to our faults then ask Him. This is a deep down change. People who are master manipulators are masters at apologizing, but this verse is about changing the heart and being cleansed to the point where you don’t want to mess up again, because of how big God healed you and how RIGHT God set things. Only God can see the depth of change in a person and that’s why it’s so important that we check in.

I’ve adopted this adage: IF someone is okay with God, and He’s okay with them, than it’s okay with me. I don’t like hanging onto anything bitter or painful. I give it up as quick as humanly possible. I know I have a long way to go, but I’m wise enough now to keep from stepping back into a relationship without a clear green light from the Father.  It’s just to risky and my renewed mind walk is too valuable.

I hope this helps you in the forgiveness department and…

God bless you today.

2 thoughts on “How Does Forgiveness Really Work?”

  1. For me, I had to forgive the non-believers as well or I might not have survived. My molester was a family member, not a Christ follower, but I chose to forgive him and pray for him. Because otherwise, the bitterness would have eaten me alive and was ruining my life. The freedom that comes from forgiveness, in my opinion, is divine intervention. I was able to forgive this person to his face. And years later, he is a Christ follower and my forgiveness was a part of him coming to Christ. It is individual and between each person and the Lord. If we didn’t forgive the non-believers as well, we’d be some mighty broken Christians who wouldn’t be pointing others to Christ. Without the Lord and His ability to teach me to forgive, I may have taken my own life. Jesus’ last words on the cross revolved around forgiveness. Luke 23:34
    Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Just my thoughts for what they are worth.

    1. Yes Melinda, I agree, with you about needing to forgive. But I think my point was clear that it has to come after God’s green light. God tells us He forgives, in 1 John 1:9, but not without a condition being met by the offender. Blanket forgiveness for all unbelievers sounds lovely, but where’s the practicality from God’s just judgement side? Where are the boundaries and consequences? Being a victim of molestation myself, and having it be a member of my family as well, I can tell you that all I want to do is forgive and forget, so there will be peace in the family. But we have to remember that God is just. Why would He tell us to forgive someone who is clearly unrepentent and not willing to come to terms with what they did. My forgiveness of the perpertrator will not get him deliverance. But God’s forgiveness will. Forgiveness, without a change of heart (which it sounds like your perpertrator had) is, from me, empowering the wrong person to continue in his wrong path towards more wrongness.
      I meant to put this in the post, but I also know there is a difference between forgiveness and access. I can forgive wrongs all day long, but I do not have to allow him access to me or my family.
      Also, if I forgive, I still may have some healing to do. Healing and forgiveness are not the same thing. Forgiveness doesn’t grant a healing, and healing doesn’t grant forgiveness. It is all God’s work in us and timing. Heaven knows I’ve come a long way since I first learned about my incident, but the betrayal, the anger, the rage (at times) still needs my renewed mind discipline and God’s touch before I can move on. For everyone that’s different. I guess, in my blogs, I try to be real. I’m tired of religiousity and fakiness on the side of the “God works in mysterious ways” crowd. I know God is Big. He’s big enough to help me and to make it all better, but if I know Him and I know I do, He also explains Himself so as not to be misunderstood.
      The pharisees still had freewill, they still had to go to God themselves because that’s how God set it up. Jesus saying “forgive them”, just shows us how much mercy and love he had. Each individual is and was still responsible for themselves. That’s why salvation is an individual decision.
      Well… I know this topic is a tough one. I blog about it because I need to sort it out. I need to search the Word and find answers so I can grow and be better. I would offer you, Melinda, a personal meeting so we can talk more. This is still a fresh thing in my world and I don’t know it all. I admire your ability to forgive the person who molested you. That is a large, complicated and hard step. Many women never do it.
      Also, I am starting my Supporting Godly Women meetings Wed. June 4th at 6 pm MST. We will be skyping in virtual callers for the meeting so if you live out of town, you can join us virtually. This topic alone could take weeks to explore. In the end, God knows what we need. It takes time, lots of patience and understanding.
      Would you agree that our society hounds the victim to forgive, but lets the perpatrator off easy? Look at the way our laws are set up. Look at how entitled athletes who rape and hurt women are and then they are rewarded with their positions and contracts back. No one asks the woman who still has to live with the nightmares, how they should be compensated. That is why I thrive in God’s Justice. He never forgives until the change is real, and He can tell because He sees their heart. He never makes a mistake. He never goes against His own justice. I love that about Him. He is truly the victim’s champion. But when He says “it’s a go” and “forgive”, we still have to decide to obey. That’s when we have to put down our pride and follow. Personally, pride sucks. I hate it. I search it out in my life like a exterminator looks for termintes. I’m ready to forgive when God says go.
      Just a thought, I know this is a public comment so I’m going to do something I rarely do. If you are the perpatrator in my life, and you know who you are, take a sincere look at your life. Quit trying to control everyone. Just figure out how to control yourself. You are not helping anyone by spreading gossip about me and saying mean things about me. This seperation is for the best. You will not need to call me anymore or get messages to me through the family. You just need to focus on you. When it’s time, things will change. But not before it’s time.
      I will know it. You will know it but first and foremost God will know it.
      All God’s best,

      P.S. As a side note, there are two posts I did a while ago about the difference between an error of heart and an error in judgement. It might be useful to look at the records I list there. By the five senses they do not make sense. But if you look at them from the spiritual point of view it makes perfect divine sense. How Do we change a truth intersection? and part two is; I hope these help and I’d love to talk with you more.

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