Christian Forgiveness: Should Christians Forgive And Forget?  Is That Biblical or Even In The Bible?



Christian Forgiveness: Should Christians Forgive And Forget?  Is That Biblical or Even In The Bible? “Forgive and forget," that is a common error today, the Bible does not teach Christians to “Forgive and forget.” 

Let me ask you one question, “How does God forgive sinners?”  God forgives people that ask for forgiveness and people who do not ask for forgiveness are not forgiven.  Will God ask you to do something that He does not do?  God's model of dealing with wrongs committed against him can be found in the book of 2 Chronicles 7:14:

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

Hell will be full of millions of people who never asked for forgiveness and heaven will be filled with people who repented of their sins and accepted Jesus as their savior.  Here is a quote from the PFO Quarterly Journal, January-March 2008, page 9:

“Biblical forgiveness is a transaction.  When repentance is offered and forgiveness sought, then forgiveness can and must be given.  In the true biblical sense, God’s forgiveness is conditional (based upon our repentance), but to whom it will be given is unconditional.

The act of confession and then forgiveness is also to be employed amongst believers.  Consider the instruction of the Lord Jesus:

Take heed to yourselves.  If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him,' (Luke 17:3).’

The operative phrase there (and similarly in verses cited above including 1 John 1:9 and 2 Chronicles 7:14) is, ‘If he repents, then forgive him.’”

It is very clear that we must forgive everybody who sincerely apologizes to us while we are not obligated to forgive people who do not seek our forgiveness.   

Let me give you two examples of the absurdity of the “Forgive and Forget” mantra parroted by so many in the church today:

You are in your house with a friend and he walks up to you and punches you in your face and breaks your nose.  Your friend acts like nothing happened and then starts to talk to you about your job.  Should you just, “Forgive and Forget” or should you ask him, “What is your problem?”

Your wife commits adultery on you and tells you about it and then she goes about her business like nothing ever happened.  Should you just, “Forgive and Forget” or should you ask her, “What is wrong with you?”  Do you see how living by the pious mantra “Forgive and Forget” is so absurd and unrealistic?

Another scripture that relates to this issue can be found in the book of Ephesians.

"And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."
Ephesians 4:32 

How did God forgive us?  Does God just forgive every person who sins against Him?  Of course not!  God only forgives those people who acknowledge they have sinned against Him and then they ask for forgiveness.  "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. 

Now keep that in mind and read the scripture verse again from Ephesians 4:32, "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."  Do you now see what is required in order for forgiveness to be given? 

I was also lead astray by the pious statement, "Forgive and Forget" until I heard a Bible teacher explain these verses.  I was shocked at first because I blindly repeated what I had heard over the years.  After praying about it and examining these Bible verses for myself I realized I had been deceived like so many other Christians. 

"Forgive and Forget" is not biblical and I am thankful for the Christian teachers who have the intestinal fortitude to say so.  If somebody sins against us and then they sincerely repent we must forgive them every single time!  That is being like Jesus, we must never refuse forgiveness to a person who sincerely seeks it from us.

"Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven,"
Matthew 18:21

We must always be aware of a root of bitterness (Hebrew 12:15) over a person who has sinned against us.  Many times it is advantageous to just forget about it and move on.  The last thing any of us needs is a person who makes a big deal out of every single petty perceived transgression committed by other people against them.  A Christian who acts like that is a prime example of Babe in Christ who is lacking in spiritual maturity.

"And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.  I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?"
1 Corinthians 3:1-3 

Sometimes a person needs to be confronted about their grievous behavior towards us.  If they refuse to repent turn it over to the Lord and pray for them.  Do not become bitter about it, God is in control and He will see us through.  Remember, many times it is better to be the "Bigger Man" and let it go.

"He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends.  Rebuke is more effective for a wise man than a hundred blows on a fool,"
Proverbs 17:9-10

"The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, And his glory is to overlook a transgression,"
Proverbs 19:11

"Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.
Luke 17:3
"And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."
Ephesians 4:32