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  • Writer's pictureW. Austin Gardner

What Is Forgiveness?

Forgiveness means dismissing a debt.

In the New Testament, the Greek noun aphesis denotes a “dismissal” or “release.”

— When you grant forgiveness, you dismiss the debt owed to you.

— When you receive forgiveness, your debt is dismissed. (You are released from any requirement for repayment.)

— When you grant forgiveness, you dismiss the debt from your thoughts.

Jesus expressed the heart of forgiveness when He said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27).

Forgiveness is dismissing your demand that others owe you something, especially when they fail to meet your expectations … fail to keep a promise … fail to treat you justly.

Jesus said, “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39).

Forgiveness is dismissing, canceling, or setting someone free from the consequence of falling short of God’s standard.

— The holy standard of God is perfection, yet we all have sinned.

— The penalty for our sins is spiritual death (separation from God).

— The penalty for our sins (our debt) was paid by Jesus through His sacrificial death on the cross. Therefore, instead of being separated from God, we can have our debt dismissed by God and experience eternal life in heaven.

June Hunt, Biblical Counseling Keys on Forgiveness: The Freedom to Let Go (Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart, 2008), 2.

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