Jay Adams calls "apologizing" the world's unsatisfactory substitute for forgiveness.

"uh...sorry"..."that's ok." That is apology and it's not repentance, and it's not real forgiveness.

There is another question that parallels "what is forgiveness".

What does forgiveness DO?

What makes "forgiveness", "forgiveness"?

Is it a feeling? No - Scripture says nothing about "feeling" forgiving. Scripture tells us to forgive.

Eph.4:32 tells us, "...forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."

The "as" gives us a model. Strong's gives the definition

1)according as
...a)just as, even as
...b)in proportion as, in the degree that
2)since, seeing that, agreeably to the fact that
3)when, after that

What does Scripture tell us about God's forgiveness of us? Does He simply sit in heaven and "emote"? No, He gives us a promise.

Isa 43:25 "I, I am he who blots outyour transgressions for my own sake,
and I will not remember your sins.

Jer 31:34b For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."

If forgiveness were merely a "feeling", we could not rely on this promise.

If forgiveness were merely "forgetting", it would not be a purposeful relinquishing of the debt. I can "forget" my keys. But the Almighty Creator of the universe cannot forget anything. It is a commitment to not recall, not bring it to remembrance, not to bring it up, remind, mention or record the offense.

If I make that promise to forgive - to not bring it up again - and I do, that is breaking a promise. I went through a really rough time with my daughter a couple of years ago. That which was done is no longer between us - and the repentance/forgiveness process works.

We went through this book. I DID bring it up again and my daughter (as my sister in Christ) reminded me of the promise. I had my own repenting to do. The process works.

Forgiveness is a promise.



Several years ago I was working with first graders trying to "get" math. One young lady really struggled with the concepts and one day she huffed and puffed and finally rolled her eyes and said, "I am so happy that Jesus invented erasers!"

Jesus is like that.

Psalm 103:12
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Isaiah 43:25
"I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.

It is people that have the eraser problem.

In another place, we're rehasing divorce and remarriage...Here is a quote from Mark Driscoll's church's position paper.

"...The consequence of sexual sin is grave and not resolvable for the offending spouse, outside the mercy and grace of the other spouse. Hardness of heart will demand punishment. Mercy and grace will work toward authentic repentance and restoration."

There are a couple of problems with this position.
1) This entire position leaves out GOD! Forgiveness and restoration depends not on God, but on people.
2) This position assumes that if the "offended" spouse refuses to forgive, it must be because the "offending" spouse is not authentically forgiven. It is dangerous to assume that.
3) Nothing is said of the sin of having a hard heart. If (generic) you refuse to forgive a repentant person, that is one of the things that should make you question whether or not you are even a Christian.

In this position, restoration depends entirely on another human being. A sinner can stand repentant before God and it just wouldn't matter.

Another place our human erasers have problems is with the false separation of forgiveness and restoration.

When we are forgiven by God, He does not hold our sins against us.
Often, when we are "forgiven" by people, we hear, "I forgive you, but I just can't..."

One (now departed) woman I knew said, "I forgive him, but I don't have to like him and I don't have to talk to him and I don't have to accept him." Is that forgiveness? It sure certainly isn't restoration.

And it is the opposite of 2 Cor 2:7-8 7 " you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him."

There are three things needed for a sinner to be restored to the body. Forgiveness, comfort, reaffirming love.

Jay Adams says in "From Forgiven to Forgiving":

The word reaffirm is a specialized term...meaning to officially reinstate. When one repents and is readmitted into the church, he may not be accepted as a second-class citizen of the kingdom of God. God has no such citizens. The repentant one comes back with full rights and privileges of membership into the church...Now, in most reconciliation contexts, someone will not be reentering the church after having been disciplined out of it, but, in an unofficial way, the same thing holds. Neither you nor others should remain aloof from the brother or sister who is reinstated. Fu7ll fellowship must be restored. He should be restored with active, loving words and deeds by all..."

If you don't have this book, I strongly urge you to follow the link and get it (I don't get a cut, Baker is just my favorite Christian bookstore), read it and put it into practice. Putting the principles in this book into action has changed my relationship with my daughter. She knows that if she has repented for an action and I bring it up again, she can (and does) call me on it. I do the same with her. This recipricol accountability has changed things.

I know that it is impossible for a person to truly take a another at his or her word and forgive and not hold it against them. It is truly impossible. How can we comfort the person who sinned against us?!?

The answer is that we can't. Romans 7:18 says, "...For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. "

But there's hope, Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

A (then unsaved) friend of mine was once going through a very difficult situation and she said to me, "I'm not going to be able to do this without God, am I." Nope.

And no, forgiving God's way requires God. It keeps us humble and it keeps the forgiven one restored.

I think God planned it that way.