There are two types of repentance in the Greek, which English fails to separate with its one singular word.
1. metamellomai (3338) = to be sorry because you got found out
2. metanoeo (3340) = to be genuine sorry for the wrong you’ve done
When the Bible talks about forgiving and forgetting it’s only referring to the second Greek meaning. God doesn’t forgive those who aren’t sorry and genuinely repentant eg the Jews, Judas, the man on the cross who told Jesus what to do, Satan, fallen angels, the wicked.
Forgive as He forgives
God tells us in Matthew 6 to forgive in the same manner as He forgives us. The point is, God only forgives those who repent and He only forgets the sins of those who do. If you refuse to repent then your sins are listed against you and used to judge you for hell; they’re not forgotten. In v.15 God clearly says that if you don’t forgive then I won’t forgive you. The point is, it’s the attitude of the heart that God is measuring, not the words of someone’s mouth; and that’s the same process of analysis for a genuine Christian; you should measure someone’s heart attitude and not blindly forgive everyone.
In fact, Luke 17:3 clearly states that if someone trespasses against you then you should actually rebuke them (address the issue with them and point out their sin), and only forgive them if they repent (and this repent is ‘metanoeo’).
It’s the motive, not the action
In Luke 6:37, the Lord declares that you need to forgive in order to be forgiven. This simply means that to be forgiven you need a heart that’s willing to forgive. If you’re not willing to forgive then you won’t be forgiven by God.
Clearly the church has taken such a verse and dictated over people’s forgiveness with fear of not being forgiven. They’ve used fear tactics to get people to forgive or else they’ll go to hell. If that’s your motive for forgiving then it’s not of God; rather, you’ve been tricked by the demonic to come under its influence by guilt and fear. Forgiveness from God’s perspective does not gain personal benefit. If you’re forgiving so you feel better, or if you’re forgiving because that now obligates the person that hurt you to say sorry, then your forgiveness is fake ; it’s metamellomai.
Forgive and forget is a tool of the demonic
I don’t know who started this lie but it has been adapted into the church belief system because it makes the offended person have to consent to the will of the offender. It gives the offender the power to accuse the person they have offended. Roman Catholicism would dearly love every paedophilic victim to forget they were ever abused. God doesn’t; and we shouldn’t either.
I recall a man in our fellowship who rose up and disrespected my pastoral authority. When I challenged him on the matter he blatantly declared “I’ve forgotten the matter, so if you’re remembering it, you’re the sinner.” At that instance his true heart condition was confirmed to me. I perceived I was talking to a demon. Forgive and forget is too often a convenient tool for the sinner to cast judgment on the one they’ve sinned against.
The real truth is that a genuine Christian is not to carry a grievance against someone who has hurt them, and if they do they are required to repent and forgive the offender.
Forgive (aphiemi) = cancel the debt against someone who has hurt you
Forgive means to no longer hold a grievance against the person who has offended you. It means putting the consequences of their actions in God’s hands and taking the vengeance out of yours. It really means to trust God’s process and to no longer demand justice for yourself. The reality is that unless you’re a genuine Christian you cannot achieve this objective, you can only act as if you have.
The example of the servant in Matthew 18 who couldn’t pay his debts and the Lord forgave him, but then that servant turned and abused another servant for not paying debt to him, clarifies the differences of the heart in the process of forgiveness, and clarifies that the remnant are not to just blindly forgive everyone.
The demonic is just around the corner to latch onto and torment anyone who has a heart that holds onto its hurts, v.34. That’s why God strongly suggests ‘forgive’. People don’t realise what latches onto them.
David’s example is Christ-like
Besides Jesus Himself, perhaps one of the best biblical examples of forgiveness is David. He was told-off by his brothers; he was mocked by Goliath; he was lied to and abused by King Saul, yet he never held a grievance and he never forgave King Saul, and he never forgot what King Saul had done to him. It would be foolish to forget and keep walking back into the same trap that King Saul was continually re-setting for him. To forget what spirit was in King Saul would have been David’s demise. Instead, he kept a constant look out for his enemy and turned in trust to the Lord’s plan. That’s the example that all genuine Christians must follow.
There’s a time NOT to forgive
Think about hell and Satan and Judas, and have a look at Jeremiah 18:23, John 20:23, Mark 3:29, Romans 9:21-22, Isaiah 2:9, Hebrews 6:4-6, Nehemiah 4:5, and Ecclesiastes 3:1.
Pride refuses to forgive or forgives for some benefit for itself, but humility is willing to forgive because it’s not thinking of itself, and that’s the difference. Therefore, humility has the power not to forgive, whereas pride is obligated by the law to forgive or suffer the consequences of the tormenter.
Forgiveness does NOT mean reconciliation
David did not reconcile with King Saul, neither did Jesus reconcile with the Jews even though He forgave them from the cross. Reconciliation requires the perpetrator to be genuinely repentant even though you may forgive him.
Be aware, be alert
If you’re a remnant, then, like David, you’ll be consistently attacked by demonic spirits which sit in people’s spirits waiting to pull you down and destroy you. Remnant need to learn to walk by faith in God’s plan and leave the justice to His judgment.
Pastor Jerome Sidney