Isaiah 12:1, “And in that day thou shalt say, O Lord, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me.”
Forgiveness is a precious experience for the one who feels their guilt. The subject of forgiveness is taught in more than one context in scripture.
(1) The Bible teaches that the family of God is forgiven of ALL their sins before the eternal judgment seat of the Father by the death of Jesus Christ. By His shed blood, there is no sin that could be laid to the charge of any of God’s little children. Romans 8:33, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” Though God was angry at us because of sin, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ His anger against our sin is “turned away” and now we are comforted by His loving arms (Zechariah 13:7, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones”).
(2) The born again children of God are able to find forgiveness in their experiential lives by coming to the Lord and asking. 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” What a great blessing it is to go to the Lord with a broken heart because of our sins and raise from our prayers feeling that God has forgiven us. This forgiveness does not add or take away from the forgiveness we have before the eternal judgment seat, but blesses us as His children to have fellowship with God in a temporal context in this world.
Now if we have been blessed to experience the forgiveness of God, we should be convicted to forgive our brothers and sisters of their trespasses against us. Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” I will encourage each of us to read the Parable in Mathew 18:23-35. The Parable ends with a warning and exhortation, Matthew 18:35, “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”
Several years ago, when I lived in Georgia, I was speaking to a person about visiting the Church. Their response to my invitation to visit? “Some of the members there hurt my feelings years ago and it makes it hard for me to go there.” My answer to them was, “If we are stumbling over anything, it is in front of us, right? If it’s in front of us, it is between us and our goal, right? We should refuse to allow anything to get between the Lord and ourselves. By holding the grudge, it is hindering you from being close to the Lord. The best way to move it out of the way is to forgive, forget it, and serve God faithfully.” Why should I do this? First and foremost, because of what God has done for me, a wretched sinner condemned unclean. Secondly, because holding a grudge and not forgiving hurts us (the person holding the grudge) more than anything else. It hinders my fellowship with God and my fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Amen!