436. Core 2 Topic 2 THE FREEDOM THAT COMES FROM  FORGIVENESS. [A Guide On How To Really Forgive Another Person.] 

Unfortunately many people in our world today are in bondage and are unable to live with freedom to be the people God wants them to be  [and which they would long to be if they knew it would be possible and knew how they might be able to achieve it!] This article is about forgiveness and the freedom that comes when we REALLY forgive those who hurt us.  

We see a contrast in a parable Jesus told between what could have been and what actually happened. It is the story of the Unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:27. He could have lived in the freedom of being forgiven but chose not to forgive and finished up in bondage. We saw in the parable that the three main elements of true forgiveness are namely, the decision to show mercy, cancelling all the debt owed and letting the one in debt go free. Because he chose not to show mercy, refused to cancel all the debt and had the debtor imprisoned,  he himself was imprisoned, still owing all the debt of which he could have been forgiven. 

This article is an outline for how we as individuals can learn to forgive and live in the freedom of knowing that we have been forgiven and have now become forgiving in our attitude to all people. 

As we will see below, we need to forgive others, as God does, when people repent and ask Him for forgiveness. Ephesians 4:32  “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” We have seen in previous articles that the word used here for “forgive” is {charizomai; χαρίζομαι} from [charis; χάρις] meaning grace. It is to bestow grace, giving someone something they could never earn or deserve. That is what true forgiveness really is. Granting someone complete pardon for whatever harm they have caused us. That’s how God has acted towards us. That’s how we are to behave towards others. Difficult, but by no means impossible.


What God says about our sin. We need to be forgiven by God.  We are all sinners in God’s sight. He has told us so in His word.

Romans 3:23. “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That means every person ever born [except for Christ]. The word for “sinned “ [hamartanō; ἁμαρτάνω]  means missing the mark, failing to be  perfect. No one has ever been  perfect.

1 John 1:7-10. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Deception is the failure to be real or to accept reality. Thinking we are not sinners needing forgiveness is in the heights of self-deception. 

2 Peter 3:9,  “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” Those who fail to repent of their sins will never receive forgiveness from God nor will they ever be able to know the release that comes from forgiving others.

What God says about our forgiveness. 

Hebrews 9:22. “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. We read that God’s purpose in the shedding of the blood of His Son was to provide forgiveness of sins to all those who truly repented and trusted in His death for them.

1 Jn 5:11-13, “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” We “have” the Son when we personally come to receive Him as our Saviour and Lord or in other words, believe in His name. In receiving Him into our lives, we receive in Him, eternal life.

Ephesians 1:7, ”In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” When people trust in Jesus Christ for salvation they are seen to be  “in Christ.”  Once they were in the world  but now as believers they are “in Christ” through their faith union with Him. They belong to Him and all that He has for them, are theirs in Him, “and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. “ Romans 8:17. In Him they have redemption through the shedding of His blood on the cross. That redemption includes forgiveness of all sin and the gift of eternal life. So forgiveness is a present possession for believers. That includes forgiveness for all past, present and future sin, for the death of Jesus paid the price for all the sin of all humankind.


Having experienced the freedom of God’s forgiveness, we can be free to forgive others. What God says about our complete forgiveness. 

Psalm 32:1-2, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2  Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit .”It is a great blessing to know that God has forgiven our sins and no longer holds them against us. He has covered them over so that they no longer appear before Him. [That by the way is the meaning “of the word atonement. “ It is the “covering” of sin by God Himself.] It is interesting that the writer users 4 different words to describe sin, namely transgression, sin and iniquity and deceit. 

Psalm 103:12 “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” King David recognised the depth and extent of God’s forgiveness. He removes our sins to the extremities of the worldso that they are no longer anywhere near us. God takes them a long way away from us. To infinity!

Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.“ The stain of sin is gone. Many people have stated that they felt stained by their sin, perhaps marked out for punishment. But as they repented and asked for God’s forgiveness, they felt that the stain had disappeared. They felt that they no longer bore the stain of sin and all thoughts of punishment had disappeared.

Isaiah 38:17  “Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back.”In human terms we cannot see what is behind our backs. That was how God motivated Isaiah to write this description of forgiveness. God no longer has unconfessed sin before Him. When people are forgiven by God He no longer sees their sins before Him. 

Isaiah 43:25  “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” There are two figures of speech in this verse. One is that He blots out or obliterates those sins so they no longer exist. The other has to do with God’s memory. Though He can never forget anything [being all-knowing, omniscient] He promises not to bring back into His memory the sins we have confessed to Him and which He has forgiven. 

Isaiah 44:22  I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you. “Blotted out” means removing. God has blotted out or removed our sins from us even as He removes mist or clouds in His  world. 

Isaiah 55:7  “let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” As the writer of Psalm 130:7  put it, “O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.”

Forgiveness is not wrought from an unwilling God. Rather He delights to forgive those who turn to Him. 

Jeremiah 33:8, “I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me.” Cleansing, when one feels dirty is a wonderful experience. It is also wonderful in the spiritual sphere when someone confesses their sin to God and feels as though all the dirt and defilement of their sin has been washed away. The guilt they once felt has gone. 

Micah 7:18,19, “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. 19  He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”

We note a number of terms associated with forgiveness in these two verses. God pardons iniquity. He passes over transgressions. He is no longer angry at the sin of the sinner. He destroys our sins by trampling them under His feet. He casts them into the depths of the sea never to be seen again. They are all wonderful word pictures that show the completeness of God’s forgiveness towards repentant sinners.

As we sum up the truths of all these verses we recognise that when God forgives, He does so, absolutely and completely, holding nothing against us of the sins we have confessed to Him.

If we are to forgive those who hurt or damaged us in any way then we have to forgive them as God in Christ forgave us, Ephesians 4:32. That is, absolutely and completely, holding nothing against them of the sins they committed against us. 


How can we forgive those people absolutely and completely, holding nothing against them of the sins they committed against us? 

It may sound like an impossible task. 

But those who have followed the truths in the steps below have been transformed by God through the experience, and have entered into a degree of freedom and victory in their Christian lives, they never thought possible.

I Believe That If You Were To Follow These Steps, Your Lives Also Would Be Transformed!

C].  FORGIVING OTHERS. THE ELEMENTS INVOLVED.  “I know I should. I’ve decided I will.  How do I go about it?”

Forgiveness is not a feeling, though there are very deep emotional factors involved in forgiving other people. It is a decision we decide to make which may come from, or lead to varying degrees of feelings. 

Some people are at the stage of knowing that they should forgive, not only because  they know God wants then to do so but because they are held captive emotionally and spiritually by their bitterness and unforgiveness. They long to be  free.

Others have progressed from there and have decided to forgive all the people involved of all their sins against them. But how does one go about forgiving in this way.

HOW TO FORGIVE EVERYONE OF EVERYTHING. [Here are some steps to follow.]


1.1. Do not excuse them.  Call sin, “sin”.  Sin is an offence against us, but also against God.  The prodigal son was right in seeing this! Luke 15:21 “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’” God wants to undo the damage sin has caused us.

1.2. Why people seem to excuse the person who sinned against them.  (You can’t forgive them if you don’t see them as guilty.) I remember counselling a young woman who had just shared with me that her own father had raped her when she was 15 years old. I shared that she needed to forgive her father for his sin against her to receive more healing from the Lord. Her response surprised me. She said, “I know why he did it. My mother was never affectionate nor loving towards him or me. So he turned his affections towards me!” I told her that what he had done was wrong, that he had indeed sinned against her and now she could forgive him of his sin. [The act of sin is always wrong, no matter what is the motivation behind the act.] I was glad when she recognised this truth and tearfully forgave her father. She later left my office a totally changed woman. Sin is always sin no matter how hard we try to rationalise wrong behaviour.


2.1.     Not just the big things, but the little things as well. (Nothing is too big or small to cause hurt to us). Someone has said that there are no small sins because there is no small God to sin against. All sin is an affront to the majesty of God and needs to be repented of. Every sin has consequences but it seems humanly speaking that some sins have more damaging consequences than others. However every sin causes hurt and damage. 

2.2.     To forgive does not necessarily mean to forget what happened. 

Often people will say, ”I can’t forgive that person because I will never forget what he did to me!” But remember that God cannot forget anything because he is all-knowing, omniscient. But He chooses not to remember our sins when we confess them to Him. He forgives, even though He cannot forget! He tells us He will not remember our sins any more.

2.3.     To “not remember” means to try to not consciously bring the memory of their sin back against them again. As we forgive those who hurt us we can choose to let go their sins against us and can ask God to help us to break the pattern of our thoughts if they come back into our memory. We can choose not to remember and dwell upon sins committed against us. 

2.4.     God can heal the memories (ie., take away the pain and the associated feelings.) There is a danger in what is called the “healing of the memories.” There are some who engage in this ministry who go beyond what God has written in His word.  They may say to the person being prayed for, “ I want you to imagine Jesus being back with you in that sad situation. But then they may add something like,” “Can you see Him cleaning up the room around you so that it looks sparkling clean etc.” They may add other details which they try to get the person to imagine happening. This can become a form of mind-control if one is not careful.  

This is different to praying with people and allowing them time to let the Lord reveal to them anything He wants them to know. 

One woman I was praying with, in the quietness got a picture of Jesus entering a room where difficult things had taken place and cleaning and repainting the room in her favourite colour. I let her tell me what she was seeing and it was very healing for her. It is Jesus who needs to reveal to the person being counselled any pictures He wants to plant in their minds and not a counsellor getting them to imagine things that may not be real. 

Very often many of the memories remain but the Lord has healed those memories so that there is no longer any pain associated with them whenever they resurface in the person’s memory. A friend who had learned to forgive everyone, shared with me how she had always crumpled emotionally whenever she had any contact with her ex-husband. She told me that she had been to a recent wedding where her ex-husband was also in attendance. She found she could face him and even converse with him with no emotional turmoil at all. She knew the Lord had heard her prayers for healing and had answered her.

2.5.     He can set us free of bondage to those people, or to the places where hurt occurred. I know of people who travelled a great deal in the city but would bypass a certain suburb where they had been abused as children. When they had forgiven the people involved they found not only could they drive through that suburb but could also pull up outside the house where the abuse took place and thank God for His healing of their previously damaged emotions.


3.1.     There is power in words, as we affirm our forgiveness of the person before God.The writer of Proverbs wrote in 18:21  “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Our words can build us up or they can destroy us. I mentioned in a recent blog article that a woman who had been suffering from severe shaking of her hands, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, went home from a Seminar I taught on forgiveness and asked God whom she needed to forgive. She realised that it was her own mother who had hurt her deeply. She asked the Lord to forgive her for holding resentment against her mother and then said, “Mother I forgive you, in Jesus’ name!” The shaking stopped immediately and never occurred again! There is great power in true affirmations!

3.2.     We need to keep affirming that forgiveness, when the person or the situation hasn’t changed. It may be that God has worked in our hearts to want to forgive everyone who hurt us of everything. But we are still faced with people who have never said “Sorry!” to us or shown any sort of softening towards us. How can you forgive someone who doesn’t want, or see the need for our forgiveness? The answer is to keep on affirming to ourselves that we have forgiven them. For example, we can affirm before the Lord, “Thank You Lord that You gave me the grace to be  able to forgive that person. I keep forgiving them and pray that You would touch their hearts to know You and to know Your love for them.” In that way you are not only affirming your own forgiveness of them but are also praying a positive blessing on them. 


As I just mentioned above, as we forgive people, it is helpful to pray a blessing on them as well. Does it mean that because we asked God to forgive them that they are now forgiven by God? Of course not. Forgiveness for any individual comes only when they personally repent and ask God to forgive them. 

What does it mean to bless them? Praying that God would touch their hearts and bring them to Himself is praying a blessing on them. The best blessing they can receive from the Lord is to be forgiven by Him and be born again into His kingdom. 

Being willing to pray a blessing on those who hurt us is a sign that we have really forgiven them. If someone refuses to be willing to pray a blessing on those who previously hurt them after forgiving them, then they need to be encouraged to do so.  

  • Jesus said, “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” Luke 6:28. 
  • St Paul echoed almost the same words, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” Romans 12:14.  And in 1 Corinthians 4:12 he wrote, “… When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure.”  
  • Peter also stressed the need to be positive in our attitude to those who sin against us, “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9. 


It is part of our human nature to blame others when things go wrong in our lives. They are at fault, not us! They sinned against us! However we don’t always get it right when we are attributing blame. It may have been that something we said or did [or didn’t do] caused some hurt and pain to the other person and so they are negative in their attitudes against us. We may be totally oblivious to the fact that we caused them pain and that there is a reason for their negative attitude to us or their rejection of us. 

So it can be part of our prayer of openness to God [based on Psalm 139 verses 23-24] to allow Him to show us anything from the past that may have caused offence to other people. If He shows us that we were unwise or unloving in our words or behaviour, then we can recognise that as sin and confess it to God. At the same time we need to be careful not to accept any thoughts of false guilt that the devil as the accuser may have  placed in our minds. 

True guilt when recognised has to be  repented of and God’s forgiveness sought.

False guilt when recognised is to be thoroughly rejected and God’s protection of our minds sought.   


All sin has an effect, whether it’s the sin we commit or the sins committed against us.  All sin leads to hurt and damage. Everyone in this world is damaged in some way or other. And we need to remember that the damage from the sin does not always equate with the seeming sinfulness of the sin omitted. Some simple statement by one person might be received by another person as a severe criticism of them. 

In the Psalm of Asaph he tells us of the damage that holding bitterness does to us. We cease to be rational human beings and become like irrational animals,  Psalm 73:21-22, “When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, 22  I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you.” No wonder St Paul wrote, “Get rid of bitterness!” Ephesians 4:31.

St Paul also wrote about the need to be careful in our speech, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32  Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:29-32. Healthy speech builds up, is always appropriate and imparts grace to those who hear it. Unhealthy speech damages people and healing is needed through forgiveness. 

Only God knows the depths of the damage that the sin of other people has done to us and that is why it is so helpful to pray the prayer of openness to God from Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test my thoughts. 24 Point out anything you find in me that makes you sad, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” [The Living Bible]. God may be grieved because of sins or attitudes He sees within us, but He is also saddened when He sees barriers to His love and grace being poured out on us because of some unresolved hurt from the past.


Very often our friends who know about some of our difficulties in the past may bring up something negative about a particular person who caused us hurt and harm. They do it to show that they are aware of what we have been through and to remind us that they are on our side. But it is all too easy to adopt a victim mentality and to be negative about those people who hurt us.  However once we have really forgiven them, we can no longer do that. What we need to do, is to say that we have forgiven them and are praying for their welfare. So we are positively affirming our forgiveness of them and setting an example of how to forgive. And even how to bless them by praying for their welfare.

The more we get into the habit of affirming our forgiveness of people, the easier it is to continue in this positive way. 


We believe that the Lord wants to heal His people so that they can fulfil His purpose for them. When we pray for healing, we are meant to believe that God answers prayer and will bring His healing in His way and in His time. So we need to pray with watchfulness and thanksgiving to see how He may be bringing His healing and with thanksgiving that He has heard our prayer and is answering. 

 Some folk have found it helpful after praying for healing to add something like, “Lord, thank You for hearing my prayer and I thank You now for the healing that is coming in Your way and in Your time. Give me the eyes to  recognise Your answer that I might the more glorify You for Your goodness and grace.” Then we praise God for every increment of healing we recognise.  


When we realise that God has been at work in us by His Spirit enabling us to forgive all those who hurt us, we need to consider what we are to do with our healing. There are as number of options, but we need the Lord’s guidance to choose the appropriate ones. For example, the Lord has healed us of our unforgiveness and bitterness towards a person who hurt us deeply and we feel we should reach out to them to see if we can re-establish some relationship. 

The questions we need to ask ourselves are these? Should I make contact with them?  If the answer appears to be Yes, then what sort of contact should I make with them? Phone? Text? eMail? Visit them at their home? What sort of attitude should  I have as I approach them? One friend asked me for advice. She and her sister had not had contact with each other for over 20 years even though they lived on the opposite sides of the same city. My friend had learned to forgive everyone including her sister who had been quite nasty to her many years before. She felt she should try to reach out to her sister but wasn’t sure how. It came to Good Friday, the celebration of the day a sinful world was reconciled to God by the death of Jesus. Could it be a time when she and her sister were reconciled? She had thought out her approach as she contacted her by phone. She was going to say, ‘Hi Sis! I thought I would ring you today because I’m sad we are not friends. If there is anything I have done to hurt you, please forgive me. I would love us to be  friends again.” To her surprise her sister said, “Oh Sis, I’m the one who should be asking you to forgive me. I was really mean to you all those years ago. I need your forgiveness. I’d love to be  friends again. Can I come over to your place? I can be there in less than an hour!” On that Good Friday a wonderful reconciliation took place as two sisters embraced and vowed to be best friends again. My friend, the first sister, was absolutely stoked that what seemed an impossible situation had been turned around by the Lord as she had learned how to forgive. 


At the end of these seminars on Forgiveness I would put on the projector screen this cryptic saying, “It only takes one to dance, but two to tango!” As I let those words sink in, eventually someone would say, “I think i’ve got it. It only takes one person to forgive for them to dance in the freedom of their forgiveness. But it takes two people to bring about a reconciliation!”

That was the meaning. When one person forgives all those who hurt them, they can dance in the freedom of being forgiven by God and in becoming forgiving. They don’t have to wait for the other person to forgive them or to ask for forgiveness. They are free to dance in the freedom God gives to those who forgive in the same way God forgives, that is, absolutely and completely, holding nothing against those who hurt them! Hopefully there may be a reconciliation but not always, as sometimes the other person doesn’t respond to an invitation to be reconciled.

“Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32. [The Message translation].

Blog No.436 the Freedom of Forgiveness. [How to Really Forgive Another Person!]. Posted on Wednesday 12 October 2022

About Jim Holbeck

Once an Industrial Chemist working for the Queensland Government but later an Anglican minister in Brisbane, Armidale and Sydney. Last position for eighteen years before retirement in 2006 was as the Leader of the Healing Ministry at St Andrew's Cathedral Sydney.
This entry was posted in Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Glorification, Healing, HEALING MINISTRY Core Teaching, Holy Spirit, Justification, Mental Health, New Covenant, Prayer, Real Life Stories, Salvation, Sanctification, spiritual warfare, Studies in Psalm 139, Temptations and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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