And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
— Ephesians 4:32
It comes up every now and then among Christians the question of what we should require for forgiveness. There is no better place to look than the verse referenced above. The Apostle Paul’s instructions do not end there, however, as he goes on to say:
“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children…” — Ephesians 5:1
We that are in Christ have this instruction to forgive. How should we do it? As God, for Christ’s sake has forgiven us. How has God for Christ’s sake forgiven us?
In our dealings with each other, we often have requirements for one another? Should we wait to hear the proper amount of sorrow or the right kind of “I’m sorry”?
Should there be evidence of a changed life and the proper repentance?
Should we wait until we know for sure that the wrong done against us will never be repeated?
How does our theology shape our forgiveness?
Some have a theology which says that God requires a proper repentance and changed life in order to be truly saved. Or at least this evidences true salvation which many find themselves tossed and turned with lack of assurance not knowing for certain whether they are truly saved. And this is natural. How can one know whether he is right with God looking to himself for evidence of salvation?
The answer of faith rests entirely on hearing and believing what God has said. “What saith the scriptures?” should be the question and we should search the scriptures to find God’s answer on the subject.
In the book of Ephesians, as is the general way that the Apostle lays out instruction, he begins the book with doctrine, and in the second part he shows how that doctrine works out in our lives.
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace…” — Ephesians 1:7
Back to the end of chapter 4:
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” — Ephesians 4:32
How has God forgiven us?
According to the riches of His grace, for Christ’s sake, through redemption in Christ’s blood.
How are we to forgive one another?
Even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us. How is that? By grace. How do we forgive? By grace. Is there a threat that follows this? No, for we are to forgive by grace. It is the Christian’s duty to forgive, but also, it is his privilege. We are free to forgive, because God, for Christ’s sake has forgiven us. We are not dependent on others to allow us to forgive because God has given us the example and the ability. We can forgive because we are forgiven.
We are forgiven in Christ because of grace. We can forgive because of grace. It is that simple. We do not need the proverbial “pound of flesh” for satisfaction, because we have total forgiveness in Christ. He has indeed forgiven us all trespasses (Colossians 2:13). It is a high calling, but that is our calling in Christ.
Don’t let the false gospel of “lordship salvation” rob you of your joy. You may be “free grace” in doctrine. Be free grace in action too. Forgive others as you have been forgiven freely by God. It is freeing, and you will give no place to the devil.
Husband, father, engineer...Enjoys fishing, archery, guitar, running, and lifting, but most of all reading and studying God's Word.