Updated: Mar 1
To Forgive or Not to Forgive...That Is The Question!
We’re told countless times...Forgive!
“Forgive those who hurt you a thousand times over because it’s you that will heal from the suffering”. Forgive the guilty one because it’s setting your heart free from the pain, otherwise the grievance will decay your heart! We are constantly bombarded with this advice by the very ones who lack familiarity with the fundamental definition of forgiveness. Even more concerning, they do not understand the ALMIGHTY ONE’s definition and principles of forgiveness.
How can you truly forgive someone if you do not know the true definition of the word Forgive?
Secondly, you must make a determination between the original concept of forgiveness in the 1st Testament scriptures and the contrasting view in the 2nd Testament scriptures, for they each give opposing guidelines and principles regarding the elements of forgiveness.
You may be surprised at the uncovering of both viewpoints from the 1st Testament and the 2nd Testament revealing the radical shocking difference that each portrays regarding the basic framework of forgiveness.
Let's begin by defining the word "forgiveness" within the english language. We will then examine additional terms that are crucial elements in clearly defining the issue we are dealing. It is important that the terms are being accurately understood in their true meaning.
To give up resentment against or stop wanting to punish (someone) for an offense or fault; pardon.
to cease to blame or hold resentment against (someone or something)
to grant pardon for (a mistake, wrongdoing, etc)
to free or pardon (someone) from penalty
to free from the obligation of (a debt, payment, etc)
to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, sin, etc.); absolve.
to pardon an offense or an offender.
Excuse, pardon, acquit, remit/forgive
Pardon: To allow (an offense or fault) to pass without punishment or disfavor.
Able to make moral or rational decisions on one's own and therefore answerable for one's behavior.
being the primary cause of something and so able to be blamed or credited for it.
Law To find not guilty of a criminal offense
to free or release (from a charge of crime)
to pronounce not guilty
to declare not guilty of a crime or offense; release from a charge.
Responsible for a reprehensible/blameworthy act; culpable/at fault.
Law Found to have violated a criminal law by a jury or judge.
Deserving blame, as for an error
responsible for an offense or misdeed
(Law) "plead guilty" law (of a person charged with an offense) to admit responsibility; confess
having committed an offense, crime, or wrong, esp. against moral or penal law; culpable: to be found guilty of murder.
Bear in mind the definitions associated with the terms and keep in mind some important aspects concerning the concept of forgiveness:
Who instituted the Law in which something is deemed right or wrong by which it becomes an offense? This determines who the offense is against.
Who holds the authority/power to distribute the determining of punishments and rewards?
Is man capable/equipped mentally to make moral and rational decisions? Will man be answerable for his behavior? If so, in what sense?
Is there a difference between the accountability of the Christian man vs. the non-Christian man?
Do both groups equally possess the ability to make moral decisions?
How shall man give an account? How was it determined? Who determined it?
The 2nd Testament concept of Forgiveness
Jesus said to various individuals, "your sins are forgiven" (Luke 7:48, Matthew 9:5-6, Mark 2:5, KJV).
The original greek word used for forgiveness in these passages is, ἀφίημι aphíēmi, (G863 Strong's Concordance) meaning, "to send (put) away".
This surprised the jewish leaders of that time because they recognized it as blasphemy for anyone to "put away" someone's sins other than the GOD of Israel. It was believed that only HE had the authority and power to pardon/forgive an offense to the law...given that HE is the one who instituted the law.
When Jesus boldly proclaimed and confirmed in the book of Matthew that he possessed the power on earth to forgive sins... he was indeed setting himself equal with the GOD of Israel in a subtle way, for he did not say straightforwardly, "I am God and therefore I have the power and right to forgive/pardon sins". While this may be a trivial matter to some, it is a grave source of conflict and divide within the Christian faith. There is a difference from having to assume or presuppose the claim that "he (Jesus) is God" in contrast to hearing it directly stated from his mouth "I am God". In considering his discreteness in coming forward and directly stating that "he is God" or "the son of God" has an undertone of fear. This highlights a stark difference in character as the GOD of Israel stated clearly in no uncertain terms that HE alone is GOD (Isaiah 42:8, KJV).
Jesus also began to set something else in motion, it was the idea that justice could be forgone/neglected or overlooked....in the sense that people would not and are not taking responsibility for their own actions. Jesus told them plainly, that the wrong things that they had done, the acts of breaking the laws of the CREATOR...were pardoned/allowed to pass without punishment. This is a major aspect of Christianity. The concept that sins are forgiven/pardoned and thereby Christians are not under the wrath of GOD and not condemned to suffer the wrath of the GOD of Israel. The very same wrath/punishment/judgment that is justly instituted and established by the GOD of Israel for breaking HIS commandments.
In some sense, Jesus instituted a dimension of irresponsibility in that he conveyed on a psychological level that men no longer had to be responsible/answerable before GOD for breaking HIS laws because he (Jesus) would be accountable/pay the penalty for them.
"And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2, KJV).
"Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:4-5, KJV).
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him" (Romans 5:8-9, KJV).
"Who was delivered (unto death) for our offenses/sins, and was raised again for our justification" (Romans 4:25, KJV).
"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6, KJV).
"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10, KJV).
The making of amends/reparation for wrong or injury done; atonement
Compensation for an insult or injury
Scripture is very clearly and simply stating that,Jesus was a sacrifice/propitiation for the sins of man through his suffering and death. In scripture Jesus was depicted as the ultimate sacrifice. The Christian faith is founded on the concept that,
Jesus was a human sacrifice offered up to the GOD of Israel as a way to make amends with HIM/be an atonement... for the sins of man.
Take a moment and think about that.
The 1st Testament Concept of Forgiveness
I hope you've paused for just a moment to consider this very crucial aspect of the Christian religion. This is the pillar upon which Christianity stands that Jesus was the human sacrifice offered to the GOD of Israel as a propitiation/atonement for the sins of man. The 2nd Testament presents Jesus as a divine one who has come to take the responsibility and punishment for the sins of man before a just God who who has an unquenchable desire to obtain justice by any means necessary...including the unjust killing of His son, or according to some Christian sects...Himself. According to Christianity this sacrifice was necessary for man to be forgiven and to escape the wrath/Judgement of the CREATOR, thereby re-establishing peace and reconciliation between GOD and man.
The question then becomes, Did HE accept it?
Did the GOD of Israel accept Jesus as the innocent human sacrifice to make amends and take the punishment for all of humanities offenses in breaking HIS laws?
Let us examine scripture...
The original hebrew word for forgive is"סָלַח çâlach" (H5545 Strong's Concordance) meaning, Forgiveness/to pardon (Please refer to the definitions previously listed).
While the word forgiveness carries the same meaning in the 1st and 2nd Testament, the concepts are drastically different. I recommend a strong knowledge base of the laws and the nature of the GOD of Israel. However, we will only focus on certain aspects according to their relevance to the concept of forgiveness and the nature of the CREATOR as revealed in scripture.
I would like to note the character and nature of the GOD of Israel in the judgments that HE has instituted.
Thus saith the LORD, "Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment" (Leviticus 19:15,KJV).
The original hebrew word for "Unrighteousness" is, "עֶוֶל ʻevel", (H5766 Strong's Concordance) meaning, "injustice, wrong, perverseness, wickedness". (And yes, the pronunciation of this word bears a strong resemblance to the english sound of the word "evil")
Let's examine some additional terms defined in english to establish accurate meanings.
failing to adhere to moral principles; not right or fair; unjust.
Being in violation of principles of justice or fairness; unfair: an unjust law.
Acting in violation of such principles; unfair in one's dealings and actions: an unjust ruler.
contrary to conscience or morality or law
Lack of Justice
An unfair act, contrary to justice
inequity; injustice by virtue of not conforming with rules or standards
The attainment of what is just, especially that which is fair, moral, right, merited, or in accordance with law
Law The upholding of what is just, especially fair treatment and due reward in accordance with honor,standards, or law: We seek justice in this matter from the court.
Conformity to truth, fact, or sound reason
the principle that punishment should be proportionate to the offense
(Law) the administration of law according to prescribed and accepted principles
To treat or judge fairly
Honorable and fair in one's dealings and actions: a just ruler.
Consistent with what is morally right; righteous
Law Valid within the law; lawful
conforming to high moral standards; honest
consistent with justice: a just action.
rightly applied or given; deserved: a just reward.
(Law) legally valid; lawful