Forgive Them



Defined by The American Heritageģ Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition.

1. To excuse for a fault or an offense; pardon.

2. To renounce anger or resentment against.

3. To absolve from payment of (a debt, for example).

Synonyms: forgive, pardon, excuse, condone

These verbs mean to refrain from imposing punishment on an offender or demanding satisfaction for an offense. The first three can be used as conventional ways of offering apology. More strictly, to forgive is to grant pardon without harboring resentment: "Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them" (Oscar Wilde). Pardon more strongly implies release from the liability for or penalty entailed by an offense: After the revolution all political prisoners were pardoned. To excuse is to pass over a mistake or fault without demanding punishment or redress: "There are some acts of injustice which no national interest can excuse" (J.A. Froude). To condone {usually implies approval} is to overlook an offense, usually a serious one, and often suggests tacit forgiveness: Failure to protest the policy may imply a willingness to condone it.

*†† (John 15:22 NIV)If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin.

*†† (Job 7:21 NIV)Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins? For I will soon lie down in the dust; you will search for me, but I will be no more."

Although these three are similar there may be subtle differences. However condone is never used in the Bible. God may accept excuses, He may pardon mistakes, and even forgive our sins but He never condones our bad behavior!


Letís look more closely at forgiving and forgiveness.

*†† (Luke 23:33-38 NIV)When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals--one on his right, the other on his left. {34} Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. {35} The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One." {36} The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar {37} and said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself." {38} There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Who was being forgiven and why? Who wasnít being forgiven and why? Now letís consider this. Are there things you wish you didnít know? Thatís a tough question to answer. Generally we want to know everything we can know. But that knowledge can subject us to judgment more intense than if we were ignorant. With knowledge comes responsibility.

*†† (Luke 12:47-48 NIV)"That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. {48} But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

*†† (John 15:22-25 NIV)If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. {23} He who hates me hates my Father as well. {24} If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. {25} But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: 'They hated me without reason.'

So knowledge can be a good thing but it must be used well!

*†† (John 19:10-12 NIV)"Do you refuse to speak to me?" Pilate said. "Don't you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?" {11} Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin." {12} From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, "If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar."

These religious leaders knew better or should have known better than to attack Jesus. And that probably explains why the soldiers received forgiveness while the rulers that sneered at Him did not.


Now not everyone that was a mocker and cried for the crucifixion of Jesus was knowingly doing wrong. But it is easy to be caught up in the passion of the moment. There is a thing called a mob mentality. Some people do horrible and outrageous things when caught up in a rioting mob: Things that at a different time they would never do or approve of. In the mob evil can be found and Satan can be found stirring up that evil.

*†† (Acts 3:13-24 NIV)The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. {14} You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. {15} You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. {16} By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see. {17} "Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. {18} But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. {19} Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, {20} and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you--even Jesus. {21} He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. {22} For Moses said, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. {23} Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.' {24} "Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days.


What I am getting at is simply this: We all stumble and sometimes fall. We all engage in hypocrisy to varying degrees. We all tend to see our brotherís faults, the same ones we have, in a harsher light than we see our own faults. The scripture tells us straight outÖ

*†† (Rom 3:23 KJV)For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

As difficult as it is to forgive, to pardon, and to accept an excuse for real or imagined slights it is imperative that we learn to do just that!

*†† (Mat 7:12 NIV)So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

*†† (Luke 6:37 NIV)"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.


God wants to forgive you and He is more than willing to forgive you but you must be willing to accept your guilt and His forgiveness. The key is repentance.

*†† (Acts 2:38 NIV)Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.


Speaking of the Holy Spirit, I suppose I should mention that there is a sin for which there is no forgiveness possible. With no doubt in my mind Satan has already committed this sin and so he will not have a change of heart. He will always be evil. There is no possibility for redemption for him. Here are the verses that speak of the unforgivable sin.

*†† (Mat 12:32 NIV)Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

*†† (Mark 3:28-29 NIV)I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. {29} But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin."

*†† (Luke 12:10 NIV)And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.