Copyright Rev. Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. 1992



What is forgiveness? Some thoughts from Mr. McKenzie: "Sign on a company bulletin board in Grand Rapids: 'To err is human, to forgive is not company policy.'" "Have you noticed that it's much easier to forgive an enemy after you get even with him?" (McKenzie, E.C.; "14,000 QUIPS AND QUOTES FOR WRITERS AND SPEAKERS"; New York: Greenwich House, 1980)

The result of God's forgiveness: Rom. 5:18, "Therefore as by the offence of one [judgment came] upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [the free gift came] upon all men unto justification of life."

Acts 13:37-39, "But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. Be it known unto you therefore, men [and] brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses."

Some suggest that forgiveness pardons us for our sins. We are more than pardoned. We are righteous because we paid for our sins. We did not personally pay the price, but Christ paid the price for us.

Forgiveness is a part of our salvation. "The forgiveness of sin is accomplished for the sinner when he believes upon Christ and is a part of his salvation. Many things which constitute salvation are wrought of God at the moment one believes; but forgiveness is never received by the unsaved apart from the whole work of saving grace or the ground of believing on christ as savior." (Taken from the book, MAJOR BIBLE THEMES by Lewis Sperry Chafer and John F. Walvoord. First edition copyright 1926, 1953 by Dallas Theological Seminary. Revised edition copyright 1974 by Dallas Theological Seminary. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. p 186)

One of the word's translated forgiveness is Strong's number 859, which is the Greek word "aphesis" which is translated forgiveness six times, but it is also translated liberty, deliverance and remission. (remission being the more common translation)

Vine tells us that aphesis "denotes a dismissal, release." (Vine, W. E.; "AN EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF NEW TESTAMENT WORDS"; Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co.) Christ used the term to portray the loosing of those that were in bonds (Luke 4:18-19) It relates to the freeing from sin, or the removal of the handcuffs and release from prison.

Forgiveness is available through the shed blood of Christ. Matt 26:28 and Col. 1:14 both boldly set forth this fact. We have forgiveness because of the blood that was shed. Indeed, there is no forgiveness from God except through the shed blood of Christ. The Old Testament saints brought their blood offering to COVER their sins, until the perfect sacrifice could be offered in the heavenly holy of holies.

The Old Testament saint was required to bring a sacrifice for a covering for his sin, due to the fact that there was no finished work accomplished, whereby sin could be taken away. The blood of animals covered until the blood of Christ took the sin away.

Forgiveness comes from repentance. Acts 2:38, "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." This invitation was to gain the remission, or forgiveness of sins. We have seen in previous studies that repentance is one of the first steps toward the salvation that is offered.

Forgiveness is based on different things in different economies. "Though, on the divine side, the freedom to forgive sin is always secured, directly or indirectly, through the blood of Christ, the requirements on the human side vary to some extent with the different ages of time. During the period between Abel [I would say Adam not Abel personally] and Christ, forgiveness was made, on the human side, to depend on the presentation of a specified sacrifice. During the present age, it is made to depend, for the unsaved, on faith in Christ; but for the saved, who are already under the value of Christ's blood, forgiveness is made to depend upon confession and is impelled by the fact that God has already forgiven (Eph. 4:32)." (Chafer, Lewis Sperry; "SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY"; Dallas, TX: Dallas Seminary Press, 1947, Vol. II. p 272)

Forgiveness comes from God. Mk. 2:7,10, "Why doth this [man] thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, [Thy] sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)" Even the Jews that rejected Christ knew that forgiveness could only come from God. So why do so many seek forgiveness through works and deeds?

Forgiveness may be a SLIGHTLY post salvation item. Acts 26:18, "To open their eyes, [and] to turn [them] from darkness to light, and [from] the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." The phrases "turned to light" and "released from the power of Satan" precede the forgiveness. The action of the Holy Spirit linked with the persons belief system evidently brings the person into a place where they can see adequately and begin to respond to God, even before their forgiveness is realized.

Forgiveness is expressed in many ways. I would like to list some of these for you. Isa 38:17 "Thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back"; Mic. 7:19 "Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea"; Jer. 31:34 "I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more"; Isa 43:25 "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions"; Ps. 103:12 "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us."

Forgiveness may be a synonym for justification. This is the thought presented in THE INTERNATIONAL STANDARD BIBLE ENCYCLOPEDIA. "Paul rarely uses the term "forgiveness," but in its place prefers justification. They are to his understanding practically synonymous (Stemen's, Theology of the New Testament, 418) He preferred the latter, however, because it was better fitted to express the idea of secure, present and permanent acceptance in the sight of God. It connoted both a complete and a permanent state of grace. In popular thought forgiveness is not so comprehensive, but in the Bible sense it means no less than this. It removes all of the guilt and cause of alienation from the past; it assures a state of grace for the present; and promises Divine mercy and aid for the future. Its fulness cannot adequately be conveyed by any one term or formula." (Orr, James; "THE INTERNATIONAL STANDARD BIBLE ENCYCLOPEDIA"; Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub., 1939, par. 7)

We have only looked at one of the Greek terms translated forgiveness. I would like to just list the others and share some of Vine's comments on these.

"aphiemi" "primarily, to send forth, send away...denotes, besides its other meanings, to remit or forgive" "firstly signifies the remission of the punishment due to sinful conduct, the deliverance of the sinner from the penalty Divinely, and therefore righteously, imposed; secondly, it involves the complete removal of the cause of offence; such remission is based upon the vicarious and propitiatory sacrifice of Christ."

"charizomai" "to bestow a favour unconditionally, is used of the act of forgiveness, whether Divine, Eph. 4:32; Col. 2:13;3:13; or human, Luke 7:42,43 (debt); II Cor. 2:7,10..."

Scofield says of forgiveness, "It means, TO SEND OFF or AWAY. And this, throughout Scripture, is the one fundamental meaning of forgiveness -- to separate the sin from the sinner."

Unger states in his dictionary, "Forgiveness under this consideration [for the unsaved] is never an isolated operation but always connected as an integral part of the whole divine undertaking for man called "salvation." Forgiveness is only one of the many transformations wrought of God in the unsaved in response to simple faith in Christ." (Taken from: "UNGER'S BIBLE DICTIONARY"; Unger, Merrill F.; Copyright 1957, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission.)

Chafer mentions, "The underlying thought which the word FORGIVE universally conveys when expressing the act of God is that of putting away, releasing, or pardoning. It is the taking away of sin and its condemnation from the offender, or offenders, by imputing the sin to, and imposing its righteous judgments upon, Another." (Systematic Theology, Vol. II, p 270)


1. A person is forgiven of ALL, sins at salvation! God doesn't select out a few choice ones to hide away so He can bring them out later to beat you over the head with. ALL ARE GONE.

As a believer, as you confess them, they are also, ALL GONE.

2. If a person wants forgiveness - salvation is the only way to receive it - that is, true, eternal forgiveness.

3. All sin is cared for at once - all penalties and causes. Just after salvation we are without sin.

How hard is it to be saved? So simple a child can do it. You simply reach out and take the gift.

So apply that to Col 2:6, "As ye have, therefore received Christ Jesus the lord, so walk ye in Him," Your walk should be as easy as your salvation.

Realize that one! How does that relate to the terrible struggle that supposedly goes on between what is taught, as the old and new nature? There is no struggle. You accept the walk of the Spirit, and enjoy it.

4. If you were given a new car, with a twenty five coat of candy apple red paint job, wouldn't you wash it when it got dirty? Wouldn't you park in a garage to keep it clean? So, why do so many Christian's allow their new soul paint job get so dirty before confessing?

Forgiveness at salvation should be special, and we should want to keep clean. I John 1:9 is not limited. You can use it at any time of the day, at any time of the week, and at any time in the year. God provided all that is necessary for us to continue on in holiness. All we need to do, is to make mental decisions in keeping with that provision.