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Who's forgiving who?

John 20:23

  “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them, if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

We all know {or we should know} that we are required to forgive. To be precise, we are to forgive each person who wrongs us 490 times in one day for the same sin!! That means there is never a time we are to hold unforgiveness. Knowing this, we should never find ourselves in a state of bitter rage after we suffer a wrong done to us, yet we certainly do. Our study verse today will show you something you’ve probably been hitherto unaware of. Pay close attention to the precise wording in this verse:

  “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them, if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

In particular, observe that this verse is NOT referring to God forgiving sins of people. Every sin that every man has ever committed or will ever commit has already been forgiven by God entirely, thus, the issue of forgiveness of sins with respect to God is already settled. {See Hebrews 1} Thus, we can assure our hearts and minds that this verse is speaking to us, the followers of Christ and states that if we forgive the sins of anyone who sins against us, then those sins are forgiven them. However, and this is the most impactful part, if we retain the sins of any, they are retained- but not by the person who has sinned against us! The end of the verse is very exact when it fails to say that the sins retained are retained by “them” as it had averred in the first half of the verse. 

The impact of this comprehension is astounding and pervasive, for in it we recognize why unforgiveness affects the wronged party more than it does the sinning party. It has been stated best that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die! In fact Proverbs 18:19 states that contentions are like the bars of a castle. These contentions keep the person holding them locked away from experiencing the freedom that Jesus Christ died to give us! 

    In conclusion, if you have unforgiveness in your heart, please understand that you are retaining the sins of that person and not letting go. When you do this, you become an inmate to isolation, self-pity, depression, anger, rage, etc. While the one who has wronged you walks in peace and freedom. You will not walk in the joy and peace of the Lord. So walk away from unforgiveness and receive your freedom right away. 

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