Forgiveness comes from the Greek word, “Aphiemi”, which means “to let go, give up a debt, forgive to remit, keep no longer.” The Webster dictionary defines the world “forgive” as “to grant relief from payment of.” Forgiveness is excusing a debt that someone owes you. For example, if a criminal goes to court and the judge wipes clean his record of wrongdoing, that criminal has been forgiven. Christ did this for believers, he forgave them by wiping away their sins or “debts” with His blood.
Corrie Ten Boom, a survivor of the Holocaust, gave the illustration that Godʼs forgiveness of our sins was like He was throwing the record of our transgressions into the deepest sea and putting out a “No Fishing” sign. That meant He wonʼt hold those sins against believers.
Because we are all sinners, no one deserves the gift of salvation. The Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God; not as results of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Because of Godʼs immeasurable love for us, He sent His only begotten Son to pay off our debt of sin. We will talk about this more in depth next week, but itʼs important to know who has wiped away our stained record and made us clean.
Godʼs act of forgiveness is an example to us for how we are to treat others. God commands believers in Mark 11:25-26 to forgive others lest their heavenly Father not forgive them. It is simple: because God has forgiven us much, we ought to forgive others when they offend us. We are never more like our Father in Heaven then when we demonstrate to others the grace of forgiveness. Forgiveness can be one of the best witnessing tools because it points people to what Christ did for us on the cross.