The Bible is full of the need on the part of man to request and receive forgiveness. If it were not so needed on our behalf it would not be so prevalent on the pages of the Bible. But it is.
In fact, in one particular place in scripture it is stated that him who is forgiven much will love much. Jesus told us of that fact. The very one who suffered for every one of our sins understood that once you and I received His forgiveness that we would never be the same again; for then knowing how much we had been forgiven we would overflow with love for what He had done for us when we were so undeserving. Is it also like that when we are forgiven by man?
But what happens to you and I who are the recipient of such grace and mercy from our Savior and Lord if we refuse to forgive our brother or our spouse. And why is it so necessary that we like Jesus do forgive these others even as He has forgiven us? Is the refusal to forgive itself a sin? For if it is a sin and if it remains, then it may be the only sin that Jesus will not ever forgive in your life and mine, should we hold on to it. You see when we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin, and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness*; but a refusal to forgive is not a confession, therefore it is not forgiven. Jesus said that if a man sin against you seventy times seven that you must forgive him**. The sin of un-forgiveness is no different than say the sin of homosexuality. It can be forgiven — if it is recognized as sin and — if it is confessed to God as sin. No we are not able to conquer any sin on our own, but recognizing our helpless estate and needing His help in order to overcome it we confess it and call out to Him for His forgiveness He will cleanse us. But what if it is treated by us as not being a sin; then just as the homosexual who refuses to confess his sin, it cannot and will not be forgiven. And eventually un-forgiveness will cause us to lose our first love. Love for the individual, and our Love for Christ.
Surely this is not what happens if we refuse to forgive? When we sorrow over the fact that another has wronged us that sorrow Paul says is punishment to the one who wronged us, and if it leads to their repentance, then he says it is sufficient and our forgiveness should follow.^ Otherwise, Satan will take advantage.^^
When is our grief enough over anothers sin? When it has produced repentance in the one bringing us sorrow. But even if they never repent we must forgive otherwise our inner man will be eaten away by Satans wiles, and in fact our willingness to forgive even in the face of their unrepentant heart may, just may bring them to repentance. Jesus said concerning those who nailed Him to that cross — Father forgive them for they know not what they do.
- 1 John 1:9
** Matt. 18:22
*** 2 Cor.2:2-11
^ 2 Cor 2:6
^^ 2 Cor. 2:11