The enemy is a master in the art of lying and he has certainly perpetrated several when it comes to the meaning of forgiveness. Confusion about what’s true and what’s not is a sure recipe for bondage. Let’s sever four more links in his chain of lies.
Forgiveness does not mean the person who committed the offense gets off scot-free. Sin has inherent consequences. We are governed by both spiritual and judicial law. Yes, our responsibility is to forgive, but we also have laws in place that are designed to protect us. Those laws have penalties when they are broken. If a person murders, rapes, abuses, steals, extorts, robs, maligns, or does something illegal that person must suffer the payment demanded by justice. Actions always have consequences. We must forgive, but our system of law requires their punishment.
Another lie he has conned us into believing is that if you forgive you should never confront the offender. Just forget it and move on. Listen—there are some things that must be confronted. The key is the confrontation must be done in love not in vengeance. Its aim is restoration not retaliation. But we must call wrong what it is. Wrong is always wrong and it is never right Confrontation often causes the offender to recognize and become aware of what they have done. It sometimes results in repentance and reconciliation.
Yet another lie says forgiveness and reconciliation are necessary or true forgiveness has not occurred. Forgiveness does not require reconciliation in every instance. Some people are toxic and dangerous. God does not require you to have a friendship or even a relationship with such a person. If the Holy Spirit desires reconciliation, he will walk you through the process, but forgiveness is not dependent on reconciliation. Forgiveness requires a choice and an act by one person, while reconciliation requires two.
Finally, forgiveness does not mean you get the luxury of waiting to forgive until the offender comes and begs for forgiveness. No, we are to live in a continual attitude of forgiveness. Jesus forgave us and demonstrated his love for us while we were yet sinners. He died for us. We are to imitate him.
So, once again, don’t believe what someone else says about the Bible without doing your own homework. That’s how lies become woven into the fabric of our belief system. Do you remember Satan’s classic statement to Eve? “Has God said…” He introduced a lie that forged a chain of bondage and—the rest is history.