What is the basic biblical teaching on forgiveness? Is there a difference between an apology and asking forgiveness? What about hard cases such as repeated abuse? Is repentance necessary for forgiveness? What does pouring coals of fire on one’s enemy’s head mean? 


  • Forgive as you have been forgiven
  • Seriousness of sin and forgiveness Matthew 18:21-35
  • Not apology
  • Three part promise
  • Serious warning Matthew 6:12-15
  • Readiness, duty and difficulty Luke 17:3-10
  • Process: Attitude and Transaction
  • A Dilemma
  • Forgive…… If he repents, forgive….. ???

7 Steps of Forgiveness - Romans 12:17-21

•  Love your enemies

•  Renounce revenge

  • Do not repay evil for evil
  • Do not take revenge Lev 19:18, Rom 12
  • 1 Sam 25:31

•  Leave final justice to God

  • Romans 12:19
  • Alexander the metal worker has done me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. 2 Timothy 4:14-16

•  Seek reconciliation

  • If offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you…first go and be reconciled… Matthew 5:23-24
  • When you are praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him. Mark 11:25

•  Seek peace

  • If it is possible as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
  • Above all, love each other deeply for love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
  • A man's wisdom gives him patience. It is his glory to overlook an offence. Proverbs 19:11

•  Overcome evil with good Romans 12:20-21

  • Don’t let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs…be kind and compassionate. Ephesians 4:29
  • Don’t repay anyone evil for evil or insult for insult. 1 Peter 3:9

• Provoke / encourage repentance – Fire Therapy!


  • If your brother sins rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. Luke 17:3-4
  • Speck and plank – humility. Matthew 7:1-5
  • If your brother sins go show him his fault just between the two of you… Matthew 18:15 (note  context)
  • Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt. Leviticus 19:17


  • If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.  Carry each others burdens…If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing he deceives himself… Galations 6 1-4
  • Bold, tough love sets limits and provokes repentance and reconciliation.


  • A Process
  • Attitude
  • Transaction

Obstacles to Forgiveness

  • It feels as if justice will not be done
  • It feels like it denies the pain and seriousness of the damage
  • It feels like I should be able to trust again but I can’t
  • I would be powerless and vulnerable again if I let them off the hook
  • I can never forget
  • I am still in pain and hurting - I don’t feel I can forgive

Foundation of Forgiveness

  • Forgive each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

Recommended Reading and Reference

  • The Peace Maker, Ken Sande, Baker, 2004
  • Forgiving and Reconciling: Bridges to Wholeness and Hope. Everett Worthington, Jr
  • Bold Love, Dan Allender