15 Things Forgiveness DOESN’T Mean

As a follow up to this past Sunday’s sermon on Forgiveness, here’s another helpful teaching from Ray Pritchard’s The Healing Power of Forgiveness. Pritchard writes:

Sometimes when we say we can’t or won’t forgive, we are actually talking about something other than biblical forgiveness. Let me list a few things forgiveness does not mean:

1. It does not mean approving of what someone else did.
2. It does not mean pretending that evil never took place.
3. It does not mean making an excuse for other people’s bad behavior.
4. It does not mean justifying evil so that sin somehow becomes less sinful.
5. It does not mean overlooking abuse.
6. It does not mean denying that others tried to hurt you repeatedly.
7. It does not mean letting others walk all over you.
8. It does not mean refusing to press charges when a crime has been committed.
9. It does not mean forgetting the wrong that was done.
10. It does not mean pretending you were never hurt.
11. It does not mean you must restore the relationship to what it was before.
12. It does not mean you must become friends again.
13. It does not mean there must be a total reconciliation as if nothing ever happened.
14. It does not mean that you must tell the person you have forgiven them.
15. It does not mean that all the negative consequences of sin are canceled.

Why do you think these are important distinctions?

  1. #1 by E. Stephen Burnett on November 9, 2010 - 9:46 am

    These are vital distinctions because if Christians take true concepts defined by Scripture — such as love or justice — away from Scripture, and try to determine apart from Scriptural context what these concepts mean, we will end up with gross distortions of them.

    For example, a Christian might forgive a thief/murderer/rapist even while pressing charges against this person. God promises He will exact some measure of punishment on this Earth, using the civil authorities (Romans 13). Yet still He tells us to forgive others’ personal slights (as in “turn the other cheek”) and is Himself our example of perfect love and justice.

    Moreover, “love” as defined by Scripture may involve defending one’s own family members against an attacker, which is both loving to one’s family and the attacker. It would not be loving to enable his sin, any more than it would be to enable abuse with “forgiveness.”

  2. #2 by Albertina on October 4, 2014 - 5:27 pm

    When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove me from that service?

    Thanks a lot!

  3. #3 by Sidney McFly on January 4, 2016 - 7:02 am

    So other than the list of conditions and restrictions above, you are 100%forgiven. Good to know that we can forget about everything that ever happened eh? Kinda like where God says in Psalm 103. 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. Thank God when we repent from sin and accept Christ as our Saviour, He (God) accepts us totally and without conditions. Kinda unlike what’s being taught in the above post. Glad my God of the Bible TOTALLY forgives and not partially. Be well Sid McFly.

  4. #4 by EZ MZ on July 24, 2016 - 4:51 pm

    Sometimes people think forgiveness is to say ” be friends with” say “Hi”, pretend that darkness does not exist, run to what is evil, justifying evil, go along with or even enable sin and deception to occur in the name of Love while others get hurt. Actually Love is to hold dear what is true and good and to avoid that is evil. Forgiveness means its gone – but when that person continues to do bad things – forgiveness does not take part in it. Love does not help a person rob a bank, Love does not help a person to cheat or lie, Love does not help a person to follow a false belief or hurt themselves, Love is truth – and only those who seek it understand that.

  5. #5 by Debra Kent on September 8, 2016 - 9:27 am

    To truly forgive someone you must forgive and forget what that person has done to you. We are all victims of our actions. Our souls are trapped in these bodies that are made of sin and are compelled to act on sin. Our souls are prisoners in these bodies and when we wrong others it is the body that is acting on sin. We are not our bodies, we are our souls. But when the body takes over the soul is shut out and trapped inside.

    When a person wrongs you, it is not them that has wronged you. It is their body’s actions that wrong you. They are aware of what they are doing, but it is the body that has taken priority over their mind. The true person is the soul, and the soul is at the core of the mind and the body, but the body uses sin to overpower the mind and block the soul out. So when you are harmed by another person, remember that it is the corruption of sin that is harming you.

    When a person has wronged me, I weep for them. I cry and pray that Christ can open their hearts and cast out sin from them. They are victims of sin and the flesh and are begging for help, even if they dont realize it. Even if they want no help at all, and are completely happy 100% with their actions, deep inside, deep beyond the deepest levels of themselves is a tiny light crying and begging for help. Even the most unforgivable people are crying inside beyond the levels we can sense. And I forgive them, as they have been too long a victim of sin and the flesh.

    A man once stole my purse and threw it in the river. I was angry, but then I remembered to feel with my soul and not think with my flesh. Sin had corrupted this young man, had compelled him to do wrong to another. His soul was probably screaming for help, but was too far deep to be heard. I forgive this man, even though I lost my phone, keys, $200 and the last photo of my dog that died several year ago.

    I forgive him and love him and hope that he finds Christ.

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