Some people’s idea of forgiveness involves merely overlooking a matter, at least for a short period of time. They “bury the hatchet,” but leave the handle sticking out just in case they need to resurrect the matter that supposedly has been forgiven. They leave a matter buried as long as it is to their advantage to do so, but are quick to recall it when they feel they can use it as leverage. In such cases, true forgiveness has not taken place.
Thankfully, God doesn’t treat man in that fashion when He forgives him of sin; otherwise, we would forever be under the condemnation of an omniscient God. Jeremiah prophetically pointed to the forgiveness provided man through Jesus Christ when he said that our sins and iniquities would no longer be remembered by God (Jeremiah 31:31-34). God instructed Israel in the Law of Moses to offer animal sacrifices for their sins. In so doing, however, there was no remission or forgiveness. They served only to remind the people of their sins (Hebrews 10:1-3). By contrast, Jesus offered himself for sins for all time (Hebrews 10:12). The basis for divine forgiveness is stated when the writer of Hebrews said, “Apart from the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22). Jesus shed His blood at Calvary to become man’s sin bearer. We deserve eternal condemnation in the eternal flames of hell, but obedient man does not suffer that fate because of God’s mercy. We appropriate the blood of Jesus when we are buried with Him in baptism (Romans 6:3-4). Baptism is the culminating action of obedience that washes away our sins (Acts 22:16).
There is a direct relationship between our receiving forgiveness from God and our willingness to forgive our fellowman. If we don’t forgive those who wrong us, neither will God forgive our sins against Him (Matthew 6:14-15). We are told to, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). Forgiveness lifts heavy burdens from life; whereas, harboring malice and ill-will compounds problems rather than solves them. Forgiveness involves forgetfulness and no longer resurrects old wounds. Is there someone in your background whom you have not forgiven? If so, such an attitude will do you more harm than the other person.