Forgiveness: What It Is & What It Is Not

Forgiveness: What It Is & What It Is Not? “The majority of the ground gained by Satan in the lives of Christians is due to unforgiveness,” stated Neil Anderson (Bondage Breaker, 194). I couldn’t agree with you more. When we know that unforgiveness produces bitterness, wrath, rage, unkindness, and even despair, it’s easy to see why. Nothing is more essential to us than understanding what forgiveness is and is not.


So, in this research, I’d like to look at five forgiveness myths or five misconceptions that many of us have bought into about what it means to forgive someone else. Then I’ll go through five forgiveness facts, or five fundamental aspects without which real forgiveness can never happen.


Forgiveness: What It Is & What It Is Not 

Five Common Misconceptions About Forgiveness

  1. Forgiveness is not the same as forgetting, contrary to popular belief.

So many people have encouraged us throughout the years to “forgive and forget.” It’s a beautiful phrase, but it’s also quite deceptive. Why?


First and foremost, God does not forget, despite what you may believe Jeremiah 31:34 says (“For I will forgive their wickedness, and I will forget their transgression no longer”).


The prophet’s wording is a metaphor, a word image, intended to convey God’s merciful desire not to hold us accountable for our transgression. He has forgiven the loan and will never ask for payment again. God’s omniscience would be called into question if he could actually “forget.”


God has always known everything and will always know everything, but he has vowed never to use our sin against us or to treat us as if the truth of our wrongdoing was present in his thoughts.


Second, it is psychologically difficult to “forgive and forget.” You may be sure that if you decide to forget anything, you will most likely forget it.


It’ll be the one item that stays at the forefront of your mind. We all forget stuff, but it’s something we do unconsciously over time. Life, experience, and old age all conspire to obliterate some memories from our minds, but this is rarely if ever, the case with sins committed against us and wounds we have sustained.


  1. Forgiving someone does not imply that you are no longer hurt by their actions.

The only way to stop hurting is to stop feeling, and the only way to stop feeling is to die emotionally in most situations. Passionless robots, on the other hand, cannot genuinely love God or people. This might be the main cause of people’s reluctance to forgive.


They know they can’t get rid of the sting of the offense against them, and they don’t want to appear dishonest by stating they forgive when they don’t.


  1. Forgiving someone who has wronged you does not eliminate your need for justice.

Make no mistake: revenge is not a negative thing! If that were the case, God would be in a lot of trouble, since, as Paul reminds us, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to God’s wrath, because it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, declares the Lord” (Romans 12:19). 


It is perfectly OK to want justice, but it is not acceptable to seek it for oneself. Allow God to deal with the wrongdoer in his own time and manner. He’s a lot better than you or me at it.


  1. Forgiveness does not imply that you should allow the perpetrator to harm you again.

They may injure you once again. It is entirely their choice. You must, however, establish limits in your connection with them. The fact that you make rules for how and how much you engage with this person in the future does not imply you have failed to forgive them honestly and completely.


True love never helps and abets another’s sin. The offender may be upset that you have put boundaries in your friendship to keep them from harming others.


  1. Forgiveness is seldom a climactic, one-time occurrence.

It’s usually a lifelong process. Forgiveness, on the other hand, must begin somewhere and at some moment.


There will certainly come a time, a moment, when you decide to forgive.


Forgiveness: Five Reality Checks 

  1. God pardoned us by taking on the damaging and terrible consequences of our sin against him in Christ.


  1. God forgives us by erasing the debt we owe him via Christ. That is to say, we are no longer held responsible for our crimes or forced to pay for them in any manner.


  1. Forgiving people as God has forgiven us entails renouncing our desire for vengeance.


  1. Forgiving others as God has forgiven us entails a will to do good rather than harm to them. Read Romans 12:17-21 in particular.


  1. God forgives us by reconciling us to himself through Christ, repairing the connection that our sin had destroyed.


Read also: What is Forgiveness and What are the Benefits?

Read also: What Is Forgiveness and How Do You Do It?