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Scripture Reading:  Colossians 3:12-17


Bible Question Box:  Forgiving Those Who Sin Against Us

(April 2005)



1.  One of the hardest things to do is to forgive someone who has sinned against us.

2.  Yet, Jesus taught that our forgiveness of those who sin against us directly affects the forgiveness we receive from God – Matt. 18:21-22, 35.

  a.  Heart of compassion that enables forgiveness – Matt. 18:27, 33.

  b.  Action of forgiveness comes from the heart – Matt. 18:27, 35.


Question:  Can you please clarify this for me? 

   -Eph. 4:32 is used to say we are to forgive as Christ forgives – meaning we forgive when asked. 

   -Mk. 11:25-26 is used to say we forgive even if the person in sin doesn’t ask for forgiveness.

   -As Christians are we to forgive another if they do not ask us to forgive when sinned against?



  A.  Definition:  To Send Away (to send from).

      -aphiemi:  primarily, “to send forth, send away”…(n) denotes “a dismissal, release” (Vine).

    1.  To cancel, thus showing mercy (cf. debt, Matt. 18:27).

      a.  To dismiss / release; remission of sin.

      b.  To cover, conceal, wipe out, put away – Rom. 4:7.

    2.  To pardon, no longer hold a person guilty.

  B.  Forgiving Sinners is an Act of

    1.  Mercy & grace (compassion):

      a.  God’s mercy toward sinners – Psa. 51:1; Eph. 1:7.

      b.  Our mercy toward those who sin against us – Matt. 18:33.

    2.  Love:

      a.  God’s love toward sinners – Rom. 5:8.

      b.  Our love toward those who sin against us – 1 Jno. 4:7-11 (1 Pet. 4:8).

  C.  Being Forgiven is the Results of Obedient Faith Eph. 2:8 (sinner is commanded to seek forgiveness of God’s terms to be forgiven – cf. Acts 17:30).

  D.  Forgiveness is Not:

    1.  Ignoring the sin / Permitting sin / Overlooking sin (1 Pet. 4:8).

    2.  Continuing to harbor ill will, resentment, bitterness, malice, anger, etc. toward one who sins against us.


II.  WE ARE TO FORGIVE OTHERS AS GOD FORGIVES US (completely, immediately, with finality) – Eph. 4:32.

  A.  Always (without limit) – Matt. 18:21-22.

  B.  From the HeartMatt. 18:35; Col. 3:12-14.

    1.  Compassion, mercy, grace & love – Psa. 86:5.

    2.  Otherwise, we are not ready, eager & willing to forgive – Not like God!  cf. Eph. 4:31; Col. 3:13.



  A.  We Must Have a Heart that is Always Ready to Practice Forgiveness – Matt. 18:35.

    1.  God does – cf. Lk. 23:34 (1 Tim. 2:3-4; Tit. 2:11).

    2.  We must keep such a heartCol. 3:12-13; Matt. 18:21-22.

    3.  Shown by not harboring grudges, by doing good, etc. – Eph. 4:31; Rom. 12:17-21 (cf. Stephen, Acts 7:60).

  B.  Actual Forgiveness Takes Place when God’s Conditions for Forgiveness are Met by the Sinner – Acts 26:17-18 (Matt. 7:21).

      -Note:  God (not man) sets conditions for forgiveness (in His word).

    1.  God’s conditions

      a.  Become Christian – Acts 2:37-38, 41.

      b.  Christian who sins – Acts 8:22; 1 Jno. 1:9.

    2.  We must give forgiveness when God’s conditions are met by the sinner –Lk. 17:3-4; Matt. 18:21-22; Matt. 18:15.

      a.  Sinner is rebuked & disciplined – 1 Cor. 5:1, 4-5.

      b.  Sinner repents – Christians forgive him – 2 Cor. 2:6-10.



1.  Eph. 4:32Yes, we must have hearts of mercy & compassion that are ready to forgive even when sinners do not repent (Lk. 23:34; cf. Rom. 10:21).

2.  Lk. 17:3-4No, we cannot actually forgive (grant, give) forgiveness one who has not met God’s conditions for forgiveness.

3.  Mk. 11:25-26:  If God forgives one who we are not willing to forgive, then we will not be forgiven our sins…we will be lost!