Forgiveness is a serious matter with God. It is so serious that He purchased forgiveness for us with the blood of His One and only Son Jesus. The Bible says God gave Jesus for our sins that He might deliver us from the power of sin and death and this present evil. When we refuse to forgive, we are refusing the work of Christ through His shed blood. God paid a high price with the death of His Son to purchase our deliverance and forgiveness, and for us to refuse to forgive is a rejection of what Christ had done and God calls that wicked.
Matthew 18:32-35 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” NKJV
In the parable of the unforgiving servant Jesus gave example of the importance of forgiveness when we have received forgiveness from God. The master forgave his servant a large debt because he had compassion on his servant. God forgave the children of Israel their sin debts when they brought the sacrificial lamb as an offering and covered their sins. Under the law people were required to forgive others or they would not be forgiven.
In this parable the servant though he was forgiven a very large debt, he refused to forgive his fellow servant a small debt that was owed him and had the servant thrown into prison. God called this person a wicked servant. Just as it is in all the Old Testament laws man is required to perform the law and his failure will result into consequences.
Forgiveness is important to God and the Bible tells us to forgive those who have wronged us just as we were forgiven for our sins against God. Jesus gives a strong warning under the law that if a person does not forgive, they will not be forgiven and at this time Israel was living under the law of the Old Testament which was based on man’s performance.
The law was given for mankind to realize the requirements of God and the impossibility of humanity obtaining a perfect life on their own. The law not only revealed to mankind their sins but their need for salvation. Israel was given the ritual of the lamb sacrifice that pointed to a time when the True Lamb of God, Jesus would come and take on the sin of all mankind forever.
Jesus brought a new Kingdom order of Grace through His life, death and resurrection. By Grace are we saved, it is a gift of God and not by our works. God forgave us our debt of rebellion and treason against Him by giving His Son Jesus to pay the debt that was owed. Sin costs God a great price and the debt will be paid by Jesus. We are no longer under the law to forgive others so we can be forgiven because we are under grace. We are forgiven by God’s grace and we now we forgive other because we have already been forgiven. When we forgive or refuse to forgive it only reveals our heart. It shows who we listening to and obeying God our Father or the lies of the devil.
Jesus said we must forgive from our hearts not just in word or pretense but with a true heart. Some people may say “I forgive them enough or love them enough to get to heaven,” but is this a declaration of true forgiveness or is this self-deception? Some people will go through the motions on with the pretext and the appearance of forgiveness but their heart is full of hate. Our decision to forgive or not to forgive exposes the true condition of our heart condition whether we realize it or not.
Those who accept Jesus as their savior and substitute payment for their sins are born into a new life and the Holy Spirit in them gives them the ability to forgive others by His grace. When people refuse to forgive, they choose to stand on our own merit and thereby refusing the completed work of Jesus. The forgiveness we give and the love we show only reflects our true heart which is the heart of our heavenly Father. We forgive not to be forgiven by God or to earn His Favor but because we have the Spirit of God’s Grace in us, we can forgive. It is not a natural response but a supernatural gift of God through faith in Jesus.
Many people think it does not matter if they forgive. They want to hold on to their hate and bitterness because of their pride they will not forgive. Forgiveness will reveal who we are and who our lord and master. God’s people will act like God their Father whom image they bear. God is love and He has forgiven His people the Holy Spirit to be His representative of love in the earth to all creation. If a person does not forgive, no matter what they say, their nature and heart will reflect their true make-up whether it be the character of God or the enemy.
John 8:44 You are of your father, the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and doesn’t stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks his own, for he is a liar, and its father. WEB
Jesus told the religious leaders of His time that they were murderers and liars like their father the devil, but He has done what He had seen His Father, God do. Though we may call ourselves religious or saved our actions reveal the truth of who we are. Forgiveness is no light matter but it is a matter of heritage and son-ship and a reflection of who one’s true father is.