Two Types of Forgiveness

As you accept that what happened can never be made right you must also, recognize that justice will not remove the memories or pain. This is important because that is really what the victim of abandonment or abuse is looking for, a way to make the memory fade and the pain go away by satisfying the mind and hearts need for justice. Time may lessen the pain and the memories may not dominate your thought life as much as before but the scar will be an ever present reminder the whole of your life. But there is hope to be found in the midst of such great hurts. But it has to be accessed through one essential key that will unlock it and free you to dance with such great and soul wounding scars. I am going to mention something Jesus said here that the majority of the time it is quoted is taken out of context. Please keep reading after you read the verse.

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. – Matthew 6:14-15

Where this is so frequently misapplied is in the realm of salvation. This is not saying if you don’t forgive everyone your heavenly Father won’t forgive your sins either and you can’t be saved. We know it doesn’t mean that because God Himself doesn’t forgive everyone, He only forgives the believing and repentant sinner and God would never ask or expect us to do something He himself does not do. It is also important to note that if forgiving others is essential to our own eternal forgiveness then salvation is not free and the “work” of forgiveness is required to obtain it, which denies everything else the Bible says about salvation as a gift of God and not of works. (Ephesians 2:8)

So what does this mean? It means several things the first being that there are two types of forgiveness, judicial forgiveness in the eternal sense and parental or lateral forgiveness in the earthly or temporal sense. Christ died for us “while we were yet sinners” Romans 5:8, and our sins were pardoned while we were yet undeserving. This is judicial forgiveness and there is nothing more Christlike than when we forgive unthinkable sins committed against us, Jesus did and even prayed for those who nailed him to the cross for their sins. It is not judicial forgiveness however that is in view in Matthew 6. Jesus had just answered the disciples inquiry about prayer and gave them a model for prayer which included the petition for forgiveness for trespasses as we forgive the trespasses of others. This sets the context for us so we can see the true meaning of this frequently misappropriated statement.

What Jesus is saying is that we are to be like Him even in the realm of underserved forgiveness. The “this life” consequences of our own sins in the form of guilt and shame and all the associated aspects of sin can only be experienced to their fullest by forgiving others. If we are not willing to forgive the underserving then we cannot experience the freedom that comes from forgiveness. The point is this; Forgiving others is about your joy, your happiness, your peace, even your healing and not the worthiness or admission of guilt by the one who hurt or harmed you. God says, in essence, I want you to forgive so unforgiveness doesn’t damage your health, your emotions and leave you living life in a continual wounded state, is how we could understand this. The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, And his glory is to overlook a transgression.

Excerpt from “Dancing With the Scars” now available on Amazon.

1 thought on “Two Types of Forgiveness”

  1. Thank you Pastor Barry for explaining Matthew 6:14-15.

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