Let me explain.
In the shadow of my hurt, forgiveness feels like a decision to reward my enemy. But in the shadow of the cross, forgiveness is merely a gift from one undeserving soul to another. Forgiveness is the gift that ensures my freedom from a prison of bitterness and resentment. When I accept forgiveness from God, I’m set free from the penalty of my sin; when I extend forgiveness to my adversary, there’s a sense in which I’m set free from his sin as well. – Excerpt From: Andy Stanley. Enemies of the Heart.
This does not mean that there is no punishment or consequences after forgiveness happens. But the healing process after being forgiven or even after forgiving someone tends to be much easier. In general, Christians have the ability to understand forgiveness better than others because of the example Christ gave to us of forgiveness.
“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 NKJV
There is another side to it though which can start a bad habit. We are sinners and we sin often. We also know 1 John 1:9, and sometimes we let that verse start to give us an “out”.
One of the very first Bible verses I memorized as a child was 1 John 1:9 which says; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This was to good to be true. I mess up, I admit it, God forgives me, I move on. Clearly I’d discovered a loophole. Over time this verse became an escape hatch.” I would go to sleep every night after confessing all my sins to God, knowing my “sin bucket” was empty. But in the back of my mind I knew I would probably fill it up again the next day. When I was tempted to sin, I would reason to myself, I know this is wrong, but if I go through with it I can always confess it and God will forgive me and everything will be fine. Before long my confession habit was supporting my sin habit. It was quite a system I had going. Im sure God was just wringing his hands and pacing the floor. After all, I’d found a loophole.” – Enemies of the Heart – Andy Stanley
The biggest example of forgiveness is Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our mistakes, for our sins, the actions or words, or thoughts we committed against God, those were the very things that Jesus Christ died for. Those actions, mistakes, sins, whatever you want to call them were the very reason God sent His Son to die on the cross. Psalm 103:3;10-14 “As far as east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” “For He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust.” My point is how can we stand up against someone and not forgive them, when Jesus Christ has forgiven us for all that we have done? How can we be so prideful and think that the offending party doesn’t deserve forgiveness. In all truth, we didn’t deserve God’s forgiveness or love for that matter. Isaiah 64:6, but God out of love for us gave us forgiveness as a gift, to all who would ask for it – Romans 5:8. This doesn’t mean that we can just keep on sinning and at the end of the day confess everything to him – Romans 6:1-14. We should be dying to our sin daily, and ushering in God to replace the empty spots where our sin once held us hostage.
You don’t forgive because the other person deserves it; you forgive because you’ve been forgiven.” – Excerpt From: Andy Stanley. “Enemies of the Heart.