What is Christian Forgiveness?

Believers are commanded in the Scriptures: "Even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do" (Colossians 3:13). We know what it took to secure our atonement. Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and he was raised from the dead three days later. He became sin who knew no sin that we might become the righteousness of God. He has paid for our sins and cleansed us from them. So then, what does it mean that he has forgiven us? A couple other New Testament passages are informative: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the [one] to whom the Lord shall not impute sin" (Romans 4:7). “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more" (Hebrews 10:17). The Lord does not count sin against those who believe, and he no longer remembers those sins. God, in his infinite mercy, decides to no longer hold us accountable for our sins. There are no eternal ramifications for our sins.

Thus, as one writer says, “Forgiveness is often misunderstood. Yet forgiveness is one of the most basic of Christian qualities. Forgiveness can transform our relationship with God, with others, and even with ourselves” (Richards).

Here is a summary: To forgive is to forego the desire and to repudiate any obsessive demands for another’s punishment. It is to close one’s mind and heart to any claim on another’s sin-debt to us—be it real or merely supposed. To forgive is also to refuse the passions and potential hatreds aroused by another’s transgressions against us—and that to the point where it has no hold whatsoever on our memories. Forgiveness is the dispassionate remembrance of past offenses.

Again, hear and obey the call of Scripture on this matter and reap the benefits of a transformed life: "Even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do."