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What Does the Bible Say About Forgiveness?

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What does the Bible say about forgiveness? Do you know the simple steps of forgiving someone biblically? Do you struggle to forgive someone who has deeply hurt you? That said, do you realize there is POWER in forgiveness? When we make a choice to extend forgiveness to the one who has wronged us, the prisoner we release is our self.

Yet forgiving someone can be extremely hard to do at times and easier said than done. That being said, Christians are commanded to forgive. So What does the Bible say about forgiveness?

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When we have been wronged it seems easier to hold a grudge against the person (s), whether it’s a relatively small thing or much larger offense.

It can often seem like an insurmountably difficult choice for us to make, and in many cases, it can be a slow and painful process that will take time to work through.

So What Does the Bible Say About Forgiveness?


What does the Bible say about forgiveness? Power in Forgiveness

The Bible is very straightforward when it comes to forgiveness

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22

When I think about my own lack of forgiveness, especially when it comes to my fifteen-year abusive marriage, I often asked God “WHY” I should forgive him after so many years of abuse?

Now, I know it’s not “Angie’s” place to question God it was just hard to let it go for a very long time I’m afraid.

For me, holding onto the unforgiveness gave me a sense of security and safety net to say, I am no longer giving you the power to hurt me anymore.

However, in doing this I hurt myself more because it makes me the prisoner not him.

First and foremost let’s focus on what forgiveness is NOT

Forgiveness doesn’t mean you should forget the incident ever happened.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to continue to include the person in your life.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean you are excusing the behavior and action.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean you will not have feelings about the situation.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean there is nothing further to work out and everything is hunky-dory.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean you need to necessarily tell the person that he or she is forgiven.

Forgiveness is NOT something you do for the one that wronged you is something you do for YOU!

When we forgive it sets us free from the bondage of bitterness and to the path of freedom. Click To Tweet

The questions still remain:

  • Why We should forgive?
  • How We can forgive?

What Does the Bible say about Forgiveness in 5 Simple Steps

1. We Should Forgive because God Has Forgiven Us

In all honesty, where would you and I be today if we were not forgiven for ALL the wrongs we have personally committed?

In the above verses, there is no limit on forgiveness according to the scriptures. Jesus states, NOT seven times but seventy-seven.

In the first place, you or I do NOT deserve God’s forgiveness we deserve his wrath. Yet God in his loving mercy covers us with grace. So, if we expect to be forgiven for “OUR” wrongs we must forgive “OTHERS” wrongs as well.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

2. God’s Word Commands Us to Forgive

God’s word states we MUST forgive but this also doesn’t mean, however, that we can not put boundaries in place.

For instance, in my case in order for me to not get drawn into painful memories of abuse, I must separate myself from a situation where I feel emotions of rage or anger may take place.

For those of us who have been abused by another…it’s so important that we realize that we are talking about FORGIVENESS, not JUSTIFYING our abuser’s behaviors, and not allowing that person to keep hurting us.

We can place our boundaries. But we MUST forgive them. In not doing so it is against the word of God first and foremost, and it’s also allowing them to live rent-free in our minds.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

3. Forgiveness Gives Us the Freedom to Move Forward

Sadly many of us are held in bondage and chained like a prisoner due to bitterness, resentment, revenge, and anger. All of these issues, however, can be summed up in ONE word…UNFORGIVENESS.

Unforgiveness will hold You and I, hostage, as long as we allow it to do so and this is an area that Satan will use against us time and time again because it’s a weak spot for many, myself included.

Why is it so hard to forgive another who wrongs us? Years can pass by yet we’re still holding a grudge. It’s important to realize that hard as it can be sometimes to admit this is OUR PRIDE…simple as that.

But God says to forgive one another because the ultimate payment of sins was purchased in the sacrifice of God’s perfect Son.

To put it another way, You and I are recipients of complete forgiveness, so we must do the same. When we do this, You and I will finally recognize we are the ones who are set free.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:12-13

In the shadow of hurt, forgiveness feels like a decision to reward the offender. But in the shadow of the Cross, forgiveness is merely a gift from one deserving soul to another. Click To Tweet

4. Unforgiveness makes You a Prisoner

In all honesty, unforgiveness is like the game you play with the rope to see who can hang on the longest. Due to bitterness, resentment and our pride, we hold on to the rope tightly, pulling it by refusing to let go.

That being said, who is the one usually left standing at the end of the game? The one who chooses to let go.

While we do choose to play the game, we are a prisoner of the emotional war, further hurting ourselves the longer we hold on.

When we let go we will realize there is sweet Freedom in Forgiveness and surrender.

So, if we know we should forgive others, what stands in the way? I personally believe it’s our human nature of wanting to justify the wrongs done towards us.

Surrendering anger is a process by solely relying on God’s strength to soften our hearts to do so. Our human nature quickly forgets about the forgiveness we receive yet we want to rush to condemn others.

5. Unforgiveness Hinders Our Prayers

If you and I are living according to self, our fleshly desires will hinder our prayers. If we are not putting the needs of others above our own what does that say about us?

When we go to God in prayer, our first priority should be God’s will. The second should be the needs of others. How can we expect God to pour His blessings on us if we are harboring hatred and bitterness toward others? 

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. Mark 11:22-25

In these verses, Jesus starts with encouraging us in our faith and prayer life and then puts us in our place with…”But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive you.”

Sadly, much too often we expect God to bless our lives without going through any challenges or difficulties in our lives. We want God to move on our behalf while at the same time we are refusing to forgive the ones who have wronged us.

How We Can Forgive

1. How We Can Forgive: Take it to God in Prayer

First and foremost we must be honest with God and with ourselves with our feelings. To begin with, God already knows what’s in our hearts anyway but having a one on one conversation in your prayer closet with God will definitely declutter your mind and work through the process.

Speak boldly and loud! It’s your one on one time with God and it’s Ok if everyone else in your home may think your all sorts of crazy.

2. How We Can Forgive: Pray for Courage and Strength to Forgive

To begin with, I want to point out that I tried for years to find a way to forgive in my own strength and that did not go well for me at all.

Bitterness and anger is something that you MUST let go of. In other words, do yourself a favor and do what I should’ve done, to begin with… Pray for God to give you the courage and strength to forgive because it’s impossible to do so without it.

3. How We Can Forgive: Let Go and Let God do the Mending

It’s important to remember that when you reach the point of forgiveness within YOUR heart YOU must let it go and let God do the mending.

For one thing, ONLY God can soften the heart of another and YOU have done all YOU can do on your part.


Remember this sweet friend, when Jesus Christ forgives OUR sins, he remembers them no more and they are cast as far as the east to the west.

Just keep in mind, we MUST forgive like Jesus…and…forgive and forget. Here are 20 Bible Verses about Forgiveness and Healing so go check it out I promise you’ll be very encouraged.

For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more. Hebrews 8:12

As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. Psalms 103:12

4. How We Can Forgive: Let it Go and don’t Pick it Back Up

I’m going to place myself on the chopping block with this one. Much too often I will say “Ok God, I am”…”Letting Go and Letting God” do the work ONLY he can do with the “intentions” of leaving it at the foot of the Cross.

However, that being said, ask me often I tend to try and pick it back up? Sad to say, I am so guilty of doing this very thing!

In conclusion on What Does the Bible Say About Forgiveness?

As we read in God’s word Jesus teaches the ONLY way for you and I to extend forgiveness towards others is in the same way God has forgiven you and I.

There are NO boundaries! We are NOT to withhold forgiveness according to the wrongs committed or the number of wrongs.

Not only this, but we MUST be a good representation of Stewardship in Christianity and follow Christ’s example of forgiveness.

If Jesus can forgive those who mocked and beaten him to the point of death while hanging on the rugged roman cross our petty unforgiveness doesn’t come close in comparison.

So you and I MUST extend unconditional endless grace as Jesus shown on the cross and the same forgiveness that God shows you and I on a daily basis.

In other words, you and I MUST humble ourselves and freely forgive others with no exceptions.

Be sure to check out more from our What Does the Bible Say About Series:

I haven’t personally read the Northern Shores series but it comes highly recommended: Forgiveness with Daughters of Northern Shores

If I can help you in any way please drop me a line and I would love your feedback on today’s topic.

much love, your sister in Christ, Angie

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  1. Such an amazing blog you have written, this really made my day, as this is the most common issue which we sometimes couldn’t able to deal, but by reading this, things have become clear, will try to implement and share with others:)

    1. Thank you so much Zion! Glad it encouraged you! Your compliment has made my day. It is so rewarding to know what I write reaches people and changes lives for the glory of God

  2. I know how hard it can be to forgive. The first time I was told I needed to forgive the man who had sexually abused me, I was also told I had to ask for forgiveness! I was angry and it took years for me to learn the truth about forgiveness. Your blog can keep others from the confusion I experienced.

  3. Thank you Angie for such a well written and thoughtful reminder about what the Word says about forgiveness. God’s Word is our guide and leads us to the joy of the Lord!

    1. Amen and Amen Arlene. So glad you enjoyed it. My sweet friend are a treasure to me and I appreciate you always being there and supporting me. I Love you dearly

  4. In my life, I’ve seen how forgiveness brings so much freedom in my relationships. And you are so right that forgiveness is NOT forgetting that the incident never happened, and it’s not excusing the hurtful behavior. It’s releasing the pain and hurt to God and allowing for his justice. It is so freeing to give God the space to deal with our sins and those who sin against us.

    1. Thank you, Erin and you are exactly right. Not forgiving the person hurts you more by far for sure. God alone is the one who will bring justice. I appreciate your feedback and support so much.

  5. I love what you said about how staying angry and resentful can keep us chained down, while forgiving sets us free. This is a topic that is very good to hear so thank you for this.

    1. Thank you so much, LeeAnn. It’s a great feeling when we when finally realize by forgiving someone who has hurt us the prisoner we release is ourself and it’s then when we find true freedom. I appreciate your support and feedback very much.

  6. What a comprehensive, encouraging post! It took me a long time to pin down exactly what true forgiveness looked like and should feel like. You take us through all these things. And thanks for including my post on “Forgive and Forget.” You are so kind!

    1. Awe, thank you so much, AnnMarie. Sadly, I don’t always get it right and it’s a work in progress for sure. That’s why it says once we reach salvation we’re being sanctified daily and it’s ongoing till we reach eternity. You’re welcome on the link and appreciate you letting me include it.

    1. Thank you so much, Haley. I appreciate you leaving such positive and encouraging feedback. It took me a long time to realize that I needed God’s strength to forgive not my own. Thanks for letting me include your link as well.

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