Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Should I forgive God?

Increasingly, I have been hearing teachings that we should not only forgive each other but we should also forgive God. Many of those teaching such doctrine have come to realize that there are many people who are angry with God and have blamed God for difficult situations in their lives. For many of these people, their anger and judgment towards God has bound them and hindered them from progressing in their relationship with God and into the things of God. They teach that by forgiving God we can be set free from the bondages caused by our anger and judgment towards God. However, the scriptures never teach, demonstrate, nor imply that we need to, or that we should, forgive God. So do we need to forgive God? Is forgiveness of God the correct remedy for our anger and judgments towards God? To properly answer these questions we first need to understand the nature of forgiveness.

When Jesus sought to teach the disciples about forgiveness, He told a parable about a man who owed a king a large sum of money.
"For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made." (Matthew 18:23-25)
The sum owed was more than the man could ever expect to repay, yet he begged and pleaded with the king. "So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.'" (Matthew 18:26) The king was moved my the man's supplications and, rather than giving the man more time to replay his debt, he released him from the entire debt; he forgave him the debt. "And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt." (Matthew 18:27)

In teaching on forgiveness, Jesus chose to define forgiveness in financial terms; the forgiveness of a debt owed. Even today, if a financial institution cancels a debt you own, they refer to it as the forgiveness of the debt. When we sin, we own God a debt. "For the wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23) Jesus paid our debt by His substitutionary death on the cross, thus making the way for us to be forgiven of our debt. "When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." (Colossians 2:13-14)

Forgiveness is the canceling of a debt. If a debt is not owed, then there is nothing to forgive. When considering the question of forgiving God, we must recognize that there is nothing that God needs to be forgiven of; God has never sinned, therefor He does not need to be forgiven.
"For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15)

"This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light , and in Him there is no darkness at all." (1 John 1:5)
So, if God does not need to be forgiven, then how are people who are trapped by their anger and judgments towards God supposed to get free? Their freedom is not to be found in them forgiving God, but rather in being forgiven by Him. God is not the one who needs to be forgiven, we are! We are the one who was angry unjustly towards God and who judged Him without a cause. We need to ask God to forgive us for judging Him and harboring anger towards Him. It is only by repenting and experiencing His forgiveness for us that we will be able to be free from our own anger and judgments towards Him. Freedom is found in His forgiveness towards us, not our forgiveness of Him.
"Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." (Acts 3:19)

David Robison

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  1. Good post, David. It could also be said the other side of this coin of forgiveness is our need to accept the forgiveness that is so freely given by God. We seem to have a problem accepting forgiveness, both for ourselves and others.

  2. Good point Andy. There are some who teach that we need to forgive ourselves as well, but I think you are right, what we need is to learn to accept God's forgiveness of us. Forgiveness is really the key to freedom.


  3. crashmaster1:59 PM

    Whilst you are technically and absolutely correct, God does not need our forgiveness, He has never done anything wrong. However I think some folks have tried to expressed and emotional concept, difficult, if not impossible to express in words. One does need to unload the feeling that somehow God is responsible for our plight. Otherwise, how can we accept His forgiveness for having had those feelings in the first place?

  4. I agree, however, I believe that the best way to "unload the feeling that somehow God is responsible" is to confess those feeling to God and to ask Him to forgive us for our judgments against Him. The key is not us forgiving God but God forgiving us.

    Thanks for reading and responding, David

  5. I think the ability to forgive God (or the inability to do so) could for some of us at some point mark the cross road of deciding to continue to follow Christ, or to give it all up.

  6. Thanks for you comments. I agree with you that we sometimes become disappointed or even angry with God, but the remedy is not to forgive God, for He has done nothing to be forgiven of, but rather to repent of our unjust judgement of God and to receive His forgiveness and love. David

  7. Anonymous12:40 AM

    David I'm bitter and angry. also confused why I can't or won't let it go. I constantly feel God is punishing me.

  8. Anonymous12:43 AM

    I have repented David but I keep falling back into this bitter attitude. what must I do? is there hope for me to change?

  9. I am sorry for the delay on answering. However, change in our life often takes time. We must learn to do good while we hope for good. Sometimes having someone walk though our pain with us can help us to sustain patience and faithfulness thought our trials. I know God knows who you are and as you trust yourself to him and let people into your life that know you and can help you, in time, you will find the freedom you seek.