Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin
Dispensation of promise.
Seven Myths of the doctrine of Forgiveness.
There is a tremendous difference between the doctrine of rebound and the doctrine of divine retribution. Rebound deals with the principle of the individual agreeing with God and admitting that he or she was wrong and wanting to get back in fellowship with God and willing to take the responsibility for doing so. Whereas divine retribution deals with God bringing divine discipline upon the individual for the decisions that he has made.
One says “I have sinned” while the other says “I accept the responsibility of my actions”. In rebound, we confess our sins, in retribution we reap the consequences of our sins. However, and it’s important to note, and that is the fact that there never was a believer who named a known sin to God privately, without any system of human works, or human power, or gimmicks, who was not immediately forgiven. However, and this is important to note, “forgiving your sins does not mean forgetting your sins.”
When the Lord says in Heb 8:12, “For I will be merciful to their iniquities, And I will remember their sins no more.” In Heb 10:17, “Your sins and iniquities I remember no more,” that it is an anthropopathism ascribing to God a human characteristic such as memory so that we can identify His attitude toward our sins.
Of course God has omniscience or “all knowledge” and He can remember all things but...He desires for us to understand His attitude toward our sins and our iniquities...that is He treats us as if He doesn’t remember our sins. He wants us to recognize His forgiveness toward our sins.
For example, the greatest illustration of divine forgiveness is found in Joh 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
God forgave all the sins of the human race and He doesn’t remember them anymore BUT forgiveness of sins does not mean that every member of the human race will go to heaven. And so, when I say it is an anthropopathism, it does not mean that God does not or cannot remember anything, it means that --- that is how He wants us to view His divine attitude.
On our part, there must be repentance and a change of mind and a viewpoint on the part of us who have sinned living as those whose sins have been forgiven. This is why our Lord said in Mat 3:8, “Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance;”
Mat 3:1-8, Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet, saying, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight!’ Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair, and a leather belt about his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea, and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance;”
As the AMP versions says Mat 3:8, Bring forth fruit that is consistent with repentance [let your lives prove your change of heart]; A lot of individuals want to be forgiven for what they have done to others but they live their lives as though they have not sinned or failed. No matter how great the sin or sins, God is faithful, God is just, and God is dependable but that does not mean that one has the right to live in self-justification concerning what they have done to others.
One of the most misunderstood verses in all of Scripture has to be Matthew 6:14-15, where the Lord said the following: Mat 6:14-15, “For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” This is one of those verses that you’ll never see on a t-shirt, coffee mug, or desktop screen-saver with roses in the background.
This is not a popular verse because it digs deep into the uncomfortable areas of our lives and deals with some difficult actions on our part. It teaches us that if we’re going to be the recipients of God’s grace, then we must give grace to others, and that is true. The Lord gives the challenge that if you don’t forgive others it may be proof that you’ve never truly received God’s forgiveness yourself. Or, in a positive glorious way, He is teaching us that the most practical way to show the world that we understand the Gospel of forgiveness is by showing the world that we know how to forgive. Forgiveness is trusting God to be the ultimate and perfect judge which means that He knows how to settle our disputes much better than we do.
So, what is forgiveness?
One of the best definitions on forgiveness comes from—of all places—the Wikipedia dictionary, where it is described as “the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense and lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.”
True forgiveness is not just “letting go” of anger, bitterness and resentment, but, it’s also wishing well for the one who hurt you. Are you truly able to pray to God for someone? Not just praying and informing God of their transgressions but actually asking the Lord to bless that person. Now, that is extremely difficult, isn’t it? Let’s be honest.
Most of our unforgiveness and bitterness is caused by some really silly and trivial situations. However, there are stories that involve true heartbreaks, letdowns and victimizations. In these kinds of stories, forgiveness can only come from God because it takes a God-sized forgiveness. And, it’s in stories like these that myths about forgiveness seem to handicap us, confuse us and keep us from truly experiencing victory.
So, this evening I have decided to identify some of the myths about forgiveness, and call them what they are: myths.
Myth #1: Forgiveness means you have to forget. Unfortunately, we don’t have a memory to be erased. Memories are very real, especially if they’re memories wrapped in hurt AND ABUSE. They may always be there. However, this is a wonderful opportunity to operate in a lifestyle of saying, “I have NOT been able to forget but in Phi 4:13, I can forgive.” I remember it very well, and yet by God’s grace I still choose to forgive.”
Myth #2: Forgiveness means that you’re condoning and understanding their actions.
Many times we feel that choosing to forgive is saying that in some cases I can understand what a particular person did to us and it was okay. However, this is a myth. Forgiveness is trusting God to be the ultimate and perfect judge. He knows how to settle our disputes much better than we do. After all, He’s the expert at dealing with sinners and sinful actions, not us. Let’s not forget how He has perfectly dealt with our sinful actions towards others.
Myth #3: Forgiveness means you have to be a doormat for others.
Often, we are reluctant to forgive because we are afraid that we will be hurt and taken advantage of all over again. However, forgiveness doesn’t mean that I have to subject myself to being continually abused and used.
Nor does forgiveness mean that I have to like someone and be with them again, it means I have to love them but I do need to have fellowship with them - illustration - Joh 3:16. In fact, I could become guilty of enabling a person to continue in their carnality if I allow them to continue to treat us as their doormat.
As Pro 27:6 says, Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. Forgiveness means that I’m going to protect and free myself from you by not carrying bitterness within me.
Myth #4: Forgiveness means you have to have fellowship with others and accept them as your friends.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you have to continually be close or friends with someone. Sometimes, the healthiest thing for two people is separation or distance. Now, we are commanded by Scripture to forgive, love and be kind to others. But that does not mean that we must do that or we have not truly forgiven them.
Eph 4:32, we read that we are to be kind to one another, tender‑hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
However, nowhere in Scripture are we commanded to be friends with them and have fellowship and contact with them. For example, in Eph 4:22-5:2, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one of you, with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.
Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender‑hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
Myth #5: Forgiveness comes from an apology.
Sometimes we think that the two words, “I’m sorry” are supposed to heal all wounds. Esau did that! True forgiveness cannot come from an honest statement from someone, but rather, an all-powerful God. In Heb 12:15-17, See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it may be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.
God must first forgive the one who is doing the forgiving; then the forgiving one must truly experience and enjoy God’s forgiveness. Then and only then can that person be in a healthy place to allow God to grant forgiveness through them to the transgressor. In short, forgiveness comes from God, not us.
Myth #6: Forgiveness is based on the other person’s actions.
Often people will say, “I will forgive that person when they ask me for it and start doing things to deserve my forgiveness.” However, this is a myth because we’re commanded to forgive, whether someone asks for it or not. Victory in this area is going to come from obedience to God and not other people’s actions. Remember, grace is giving something to someone, even when they don’t deserve it.
Myth #7: Forgiveness is easy.
Sadly, and truthfully forgiveness is not easy, it is impossible but with God all things are possible, but many times true doctrinal forgiveness means true doctrinal separation without holding a grudge.
Joh 13:1, Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He should depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
That included Judas Iscariot.
The same one that John wrote about in Joh 13:2, And during supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him,
The same one who in Joh 13:18 we read, “I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.’”
He loved the same one who in Joh 13:21, When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.”
He loved Judas, even though Judas was betraying Him, but he exposed Judas, he didn’t just say, I’ll let Judas betray Me again, He told His disciples that Judas was going to betray Him. Moses did the same thing to the musicians who attacked his ministry, Korah, Dathan and Abiram. He forgave them but he did not cover them! Paul did the same thing when he exposed Hymenaeus and Alexander, he didn’t expose them, he forgave them but he also exposed them.
1Ti 1:18-20, This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered over to Satan, so that they may be taught not to blaspheme.
It was the apostle who said in 2Ti 4:14, Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.
I did not say what the apostle John said in 3Jo 1:9, I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say.