Forgiveness Is Not A Transaction

I don’t think forgiveness is a transaction between me and the person who wounded me. I believe that forgiveness is a transaction between me and God. Rather, I believe that forgiveness is an internal acquiescence and recognition of a transaction between me and God that has already happened.

When someone sins against me, confesses, repents, and asks for forgiveness, what is my duty? Clearly to offer that forgiveness. Colossians 3:13 says that “as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

But what is happening to the weight of that sin that was committed against me? Do I take it from the shoulders of the one who has sinned against me and put it on my own? Can I carry that weight? No, the idea that I get to grant forgiveness in a legal sense gets blasphemous pretty quickly. There is nothing I can do or not do that will add or subtract in the slightest from Christ’s all-sufficient work at Calvary.

I believe that when I choose forgiveness, what I am doing is acknowledging the forever all-sufficiency of the cross of Christ. Choosing to no longer hold accounts of wrongs done with those who have hurt me means that I am admitting that Christ’s death was sufficient for their sin as well as mine. It is me admitting that holding unforgiveness in my heart is tantamount to telling Christ that this particular sin will require a little more payment, and that I’ll work it out between me and the one who wounded me, thanks.

Forgiveness is not me lifting a weight from a friend’s shoulders. It’s me telling a friend that it’s okay to drop it at the foot of the cross and leave it there.

Originally posted to my Facebook page, September 15, 2012.


  1. Good stuff, talked a bit about forgiveness in class today. My professor asked: Can we declare someone’s sins forgiven? (context Mark 2,Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man) So, what do you think Rick? Can we declare someone’s sins forgiven as Jesus did?

  2. I believe that I can remind another believer of the truth that he is forgiven. Further, I believe it’s my job. I’m still wrestling with this and often get in trouble when I let things out that aren’t fully baked, but here’s what I think:

    I don’t think I get to declare someone’s sins forgiven like Jesus did. Neither do I believe that I have any right to consider another’s sin against me as a negative entry in their account with me. I believe both these things for the same reason. I don’t think I have a moral or legal ground to stand on from which I can bring any debt to bear. If that’s so, then it stands to reason that I lack the authority to forgive said debt.

    It’s not so much a question of ability as it is a question of function. Asking me to forgive sin would be like asking a hammer to do a good job of wiping up a liquid spill on a counter top. A hammer lacks the properties to even do a bad job at that task. It can’t do it at all.

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