Forgiveness: A Two-Way Street

coming-going-street-traffic-sign-1The Bible has much to say about the beautiful characteristic of forgiveness because forgiveness is a major foundational principle to our well-being!

The Bible tells us:

“. . . if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. . .” (Matthew 6:14-15).

From this and many other Scripture passages, we can see that forgiveness is like a two-way street. We NEED forgiveness in both directions — coming and going.

Let’s look at the first direction of forgiveness, the receiving of God’s forgiveness, or what I call the ‘coming toward us’ direction of forgiveness.

First of all, every one of us needs to receive God’s forgiveness.

We need to receive forgiveness because every one of us is flawed with varying degrees of selfishness, bitterness, hatred, and deceit. In other words, everyone of us has a problem with sin.

Sin: A Common Problem

Whether we acknowledge it or not, whether we understand it or not, sin dwells within each one of us (Romans 7:17-24), and it creates an inner turmoil and burden of guilt.

But what is sin? The apostle John tells us:

Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (1John 3:4)

As this verse teaches us, sin is “transgression of the Law.” The English word ‘law’ refers to the Hebrew word ‘Torah’ — which is God’s commandments, instructions, and guidelines. Any time we disobey any of God’s commandments, instructions, or guidelines, whether we know it or not, we commit sin.

Consider what King Solomon tells us about sin, as well as the prophet Isaiah and the apostle Paul:

“. . . there is no one who does not sin . . .” (1Kings 8:46a)

“We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way . . .”  (Isaiah 53:6a)

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God . . .” (Romans 3:23)

As these Scriptures reveal, regardless of who we are, or where we come from, sin is a problem common to every single person. Each one of us has turned to our own way, and all of us have refused the good and right way of Yahuwah Elohim [the LORD God].

The universal problem of sin is why we all NEED to receive forgiveness. We have all committed sin — knowingly or unknowingly.

The natural tendency of all of us is to deny our sin. But that only creates more problems, more burdens, and brings about a hardness of heart:

“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper . . .” (Proverbs 28:13a)

“. . . lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”  (Hebrews 3:13b)

Hiding our sin prevents us from prospering — prevents us from living the abundant life that Yahuwah offers, a life established in a genuine sense of well-being:

“You [Yahuwah] will show me the path of life: in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalms 16:11). (See also John 10:10; Psalms 16:8-11; Proverbs 3:13-18; 4:20-22; 8:32-36.)

Only by the receiving or the ‘coming toward us’ direction of God’s forgiveness, can we have a true awareness of being released from the burden of our sin.

Only by receiving God’s forgiveness can we obtain an inner freedom and peace, and a sense of well-being within our soul.

God’s Mercy

So how can we find freedom from the burden of our sin? The second half of that verse in Proverbs 28 tells us the answer:

“. . . but he who confesses and forsakes them (his sins) will obtain mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13b)

We can see clearly from this verse that God promises us mercy if we take these two steps: 1) confess the sin; and 2) forsake the sin.

First, we must confess our sin — that is, we must acknowledge to Yahuwah [the LORD] that we have committed sin.

Confession brings our sin out into the light, into the open before God. When we honestly and humbly acknowledge to Him that we have sinned, then we open the way for the Holy Spirit to come to us, to deal with us regarding our sin, and to bring us into freedom from guilt.

Second, we have to forsake and give up our sin. We have to turn away from it. We have to come out of agreement with that sin. We have to make a decision with our will that, with God’s help, we will stop committing that sin.

Both of these steps are necessary if we are to experience God’s mercy.

Father gives us the additional promise of forgiveness in 1John:

“If we confess our sins, He [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:9)

When we honestly confess our sins, then God, who is faithful and righteous, has promised to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness! This forgiveness and cleansing is the deepest heart’s desire of everyone — to receive release from the weight of sin, and receive a “clean slate” — a freshness for beginning anew.

To receive this merciful forgiveness however, we must meet Father’s conditions — to confess and forsake our sins.

We Are Transformed

We all need Father’s mercy and forgiveness! No one is exempt from the need for God’s forgiveness!

The very first time we personally experience Father’s forgiveness of our sins, and the cleansing power of the blood of Yahushua Messiah [Jesus Christ], it is the most joyful experience we ever encounter!

After our initial receiving of Father’s forgiveness, we then must continue to receive the ‘coming toward us’ direction of God’s forgiveness daily, as we walk in God’s Light — in God’s truth.

Why is that?

Because every day we find ourselves failing to follow Yahuwah’s ways; every day we ‘come short’ of bringing glory to God. Therefore every day we need to confess and forsake our sins, and personally receive His forgiveness:

“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Yahushua Messiah [Jesus Christ] His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1John 1:7)

As we grow however, in our knowledge of Yahuwah’s Word, we learn what is considered sin, and we try to avoid repeating those sins. And so, as we mature in the knowledge of Messiah, we sin less and less; and our need for confessing and forsaking sins becomes less and less.

By Father’s mercy and grace, and by the love of the Holy Spirit shed abroad in our hearts, little by little, we are transformed by the renewing of our mind, as we walk in Messiah’s righteousness and true holiness (Romans 5:1-5; 13:14; Ephesians 4:23-24).

This receiving of God’s forgiveness, this ‘coming toward us’ direction of forgiveness, is explained in greater detail at The Good News of God’s forgiveness and What Is Sin?.

Let’s now look at the second direction of forgiveness — the giving direction, or what I call the ‘going from us’ direction of forgiveness.

Giving Forgiveness

Everyone needs to GIVE forgiveness.

We all need to give forgiveness, because we have all been hurt by others.

We have all been hurt, offended, violated, or injured by someone else, whether it be intentional or unintentional, whether it be justified or unjustified.

Everyone has to face the challenge of giving forgiveness to others.

I say the ‘challenge’ of giving forgiveness, because giving forgiveness can be a very difficult road to travel. Many of us would rather not be traveling in the ‘giving’ or the ‘going out from us’ direction of forgiveness.

It is not at all easy to give forgiveness to those who have hurt us, to those who have done something wrong against us, and especially to those who have purposefully hurt us, and have no remorse for it.

Whenever we have been hurt, we naturally tend to become bitter, and want to strike back. But to be angry and resentful is actually an attempt to take revenge, which Father warns us to not do:

“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith Yahuwah [the Lord].” (Romans 12:19)

Of course there are times, if we are in a life-or-death situation, when swift action is needed, and perhaps a literal striking back is necessary.

But the most familiar situation we face when an offense occurs, is our natural tendency to react impulsively: anger, resentment, blame, bitterness, hatred, and unforgiveness — in other words, retaliate! But as the Scriptures warn us, seeking retaliation is not for us to do, because vengeance belongs entirely to Yahuwah [the LORD] (Deuteronomy 32:35).

If someone has wronged us, if someone has angrily misunderstood us, or if we are subjected to an injustice, then the need to give forgiveness is vitally necessary for our own sake:

“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)

As this verse reminds us, if we desire Father’s mercy and forgiveness for our own imperfections, failures, and flaws, then we must extend mercy to others, by giving forgiveness to others, as well as giving forgiveness to ourselves!

Great Humility

Giving forgiveness often demands the help of the Holy Spirit, because giving forgiveness to others requires true humility!

True humility recognizes that without Father’s mercy toward us, we are doomed.

True humility knows that we ourselves need forgiveness for our own sins of selfishness and hatred.

When we realize how much we need forgiveness for ourselves, then giving forgiveness is much easier.

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” — C. S. Lewis

sunset-with-bird-with-scriptureFather wants us to be merciful to everyone, even if they do not deserve mercy.

Yahuwah extends His kindness and mercy to each one of us, even though we do not deserve it.

And being mercy-FULL is Yahuwah’s nature:

“For I [Yahuwah] will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:12) 

There are so many awesome stories about people who have been merciful and have given forgiveness to others, and as a result, freedom and peace has replaced hatred and suspicion.

Think of Joseph and his forgiveness of his brothers who sold him into slavery (Genesis 50:15-26); what great harmony and peace that resulted!

Think of Corrie ten Boom‘s story and her time in the Ravensbruck concentration camp, and her forgiveness of the prison guard; what abundant love of God that resulted!

But especially think of Yahushua Messiah [Jesus Christ] and what He said on the cross: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34); what infinite blessings that resulted for all of us!

Let us therefore remember that whenever it happens that we are faced with an offense, an injury, an injustice, or even a crime against us, let us first and foremost seek Yahuwah’s grace and mercy and insight, for what He may be trying to say to us.

Let this occasion become a time for turning to Father with all our heart, and seek Him for the lesson. Let us seek to be near Father at this time, seeking to be as Yahuwah desires us to be — merciful and giving forgiveness in all situations:

“But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” (Luke 6:35-36)

Father’s Merciful Forgiveness

This is just a very brief look at forgiveness. There is so much more that could be said about the principles of forgiveness, and so many more Scripture verses to ponder. (see Matthew 7:3-5; 18:21-35; Mark 11:25-26; Luke 6:38; Galatians 6:7; James 2:12-13.)

In a nutshell, we need to understand the major importance of forgiveness, both for the sake of our own well-being, and for the sake of maintaining our relationship with Father.

Multiple blessings await us whenever we receive God’s forgiveness, and whenever we give forgiveness!

“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” — Corrie ten Boom

“Forgiveness is one of the most beautiful words in any language. But what makes it such a special and beautiful word?

Consider some of the results that flow from forgiveness: reconciliation, peace, harmony, understanding, fellowship. How our world today stands in such dire need of these things!

In contrast, consider some of the consequences that flow from our failure to give and receive forgiveness: bitterness, strife, disharmony, hatred, and war. At times, it seems as though the entire human race is in danger of being overwhelmed by these evil, negative forces.

If we are ever to rise above these conditions, it will be only as we learn and apply the principles of forgiveness.” — Derek Prince

Yahuwah’s mercy toward us is abundantly demonstrated in so many, many ways. But His offer of forgiveness of our sins is one of His most valuable and most merciful gifts.

Let us therefore remember, that forgiveness is a two-way street!

Thank You Father, for Your forgiveness through Yahushua Messiah, the Saviour! Help me to seek You daily, that I may be as You are, loving others and extending forgiveness to all. In Messiah Yahushua’s name, I pray. Amen.

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“There is a difficulty about disagreeing with God. He is the source from which all your reasoning power comes: you could not be right and He wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than its own source. When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on.”
– C. S. Lewis
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