If I do not forgive others, does that mean my sins are not forgiven?


Staff member
If I do not forgive others, does that mean my sins are not forgiven?

If I do not forgive others, does that mean my sins are not forgiven? What does Matthew 6:14-15 mean?

Matthew 6 does not teach that our eternal destiny is based on us forgiving other people; however, it does teach that our relationship with God will be damaged if we refuse to pardon those who have offended us. The Bible is clear that God pardons sin by His grace based on Christ’s work on the cross alone, not on man’s actions. Our right standing before Him is established on one thing only: the finished work of Christ (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10). The penalty for sin that is rightly ours is paid by Christ, and we obtain it by grace through faith, not by any righteous deeds of our own (Ephesians 2:8-9). No one will be able to stand before God demanding that their sins be forgotten simply because they have forgiven others. Only when we are born again, given a new life through God’s Spirit, by faith in Jesus Christ are our sins forgiven. Therefore, Jesus is not referring to God’s initial act of forgiveness (reconciliation) that we experienced when we first believed the Gospel.

What He is referring to is the day-to-day cleansing we obtain when we confess our sins in order to restore fellowship with our heavenly Father—the fellowship which is interrupted by the daily tarnishing of sin that affects us all. This is not the wholesale cleansing from sin that comes with salvation by grace through faith, but is more like the foot-washing Jesus describes in John 13:10. The “whole body is clean,†He told the disciples, but their feet were dirty from their walking in the world. Forgiveness in this sense is what God threatens to withhold from Christians who refuse to forgive others.

In Matthew 6 Jesus is teaching disciples how to pray and in doing so outlines how we are restored into intimacy with God whenever we have displeased Him. In fact, Jesus instructs us to build into our prayers a request that God forgives us in the same way that we have forgiven others who have harmed us (Matthew 6:12). If there are those we have not forgiven when we ourselves pray for forgiveness, then practically speaking we are asking God not to restore a right relationship with us after we sin. To emphasize the importance of restoring broken relationships with our brothers and sisters, He states that by asking for God’s forgiveness for one’s own sins, all the while withholding forgiveness from someone else, is not only bizarre but hypocritical. We cannot possibly walk with God in true fellowship if we refuse to forgive others.

To be sure, an unforgiving spirit is a serious sin and should be confessed to God. If we have unforgiveness in our hearts against someone else, then we are acting in a way that is not pleasing to God, making our prayers and a proper living relationship with Him difficult. God will not hear our prayers unless we also show ourselves ready to grant forgiveness. If we are harder than iron in this regard, Christ’s exhortation ought to soften us.

A second biblically plausible interpretation of Matthew 6:14-15 is that it is saying anyone who refuses to forgive others is demonstrating that he has not truly received Christ's forgiveness himself. Any sin committed against us, no matter how terrible, is trivial in comparison to our sins against God. If God has forgiven us of so much, how could we refuse to forgive others of so "little"? Matthew 6:14-15, according to this view, proclaims that anyone who harbors unforgiveness against others has not truly experienced God's forgiveness. Both interpretations strongly deny that salvation-forgiveness is dependant on us forgiving others. Whether Matthew 6:14-15 is speaking or "relational forgiveness," or whether it is a declaration that unforgiveness is the mark of an unbeliever - the core truth is the same. We should forgive others because God, through Christ, has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32). It is inconceivable that someone who has truly experienced God's forgiveness could refuse grant forgiveness to others.

Nice article from GotQuestions.org
Reproduced with permission.
This is actually something I have been praying over and studying quite a bit lately. I am reading a book that from the very beginning said to forgive those who have wronged you. It was such a startling thing to me that I had to of course research it.

I do think that God wants us to forgive but I really hope that His forgiveness of us doesn't hinge on that. (My own selfish hopes not anything I can back).

I pray EVERYDAY for God to give me the strength to forgive. I know it's the thing to do!
Jeff this is an excellent observation. Remember that God doesn't have to forgive us, but chooses to do so out of grace. Because of this incredible example of God's love we should be ready to do the same to others.

"Then came Peter to him and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, until seventy times seven."

Remember the parable of the king who forgave his subject the debt of ten thousand talents, but that same servant could not himself forgive his fellow servant who owed him a hundred pence.

The fellow servant was thrown into prison, until he could pay back the small amount. When the king learned of this he said: "O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desirest me: shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?" The servant was thrown in prison until he could pay back the ten thousand talents.

So remember that God has forgiven us our debts, if we choose to hold a grudge against some small and unimportant thing that someone else has done against us, then are we truly not that "wicked servant" of the parable?
Good Word Jeff!

I pray this daily " Lord I forgive all who have hurt me, used me or abused me- I forgive my enemies and I pray the blessing of salvation on them in Jesus Name"
Remember, Forgiving someone does not mean you have to trust that person again. It also does not mean you have to act like everything is ok.
Forgiveness means you choose to not hold a wrong against the person who wronged you.
It may hurt alot to see that person. You may never trust that person again. But because you forgive someone, you choose to not hold 'it' above their head.
Forgiveness leads to healing.
Don't wait to heal before you forgive.... it may never happen
But forgive first and watch it lead to healing.
Forgiveness isn't always easy either... you may struggle terribly with it, but pray to God and ask Him to give you strength to forgive. Ask Him to display His loving forgiveness through you.