In Part I, we explored what the Bible says about the nature of forgiveness: it’s offered freely by God and is not contingent on the type of sin committed. Oh, but we want so badly for those who have devastated us to pay the price. Unfortunately, that’s not forgiveness, that’s revenge.
What Does Forgiveness Have To Do With Me?
I could easily say, “I’m not the one who committed adultery! I’m not the one that blew up my family! She is a horrible person. Her sins are so much worse than mine.” And therein lies the problem in my thinking. There are no levels of sin with God (that concept cannot be found anywhere in the Bible). In His eyes, any lack of perfection in keeping His laws and requirements constitutes sin and therefore everyone is guilty (Rom 3:23-25). Sin is sin in God’s eyes. The only thing that differentiates one sin from another are the consequences. Yes, some sins have much greater consequences than others- that’s a fact.
I think that if we were all honest with ourselves, we’ve done some bad things in our lives. Maybe we haven’t murdered someone or murdered our marriage, but we’ve hurt others. We’ve misled others. We’ve lied. We’ve desired and perhaps lusted over another man or woman. We’ve cheated in our minds. We’ve been selfish and put our needs before our significant other’s. Remember, if you acknowledged any of that or any other sin, you are guilty. There is no such thing as “more or less guilty” in God’s eyes.
But Their Sin Is So Much Worse Than Mine
So I arrived at the realization that while I haven’t gone to the extreme that my wife did when she had the 3 month affair, I’m a well-versed sinner in other areas. At its core, the issue of forgiveness is humbly looking at yourself in relation to God. I ask, “how can I withhold forgiveness when He forgave me?”
The Secret Power That Enables Forgiveness
If it’s hard for you to forgive and you still want to fight this idea of “their sin is so much worse than mine”, don’t worry. I get it. I don’t blame you. However, I am not talking about forgiveness in human terms. I am talking about a supernatural forgiveness that transcends our ability to comprehend. It just doesn’t seem logical apart from God and it’s not!
Growing up as a child, I accepted God’s forgiveness at the age of 7. I’ve lived my whole life believing that what the Bible teaches is true. The great grace that God has given me during this whole experience is that I never turned away from Him.
Within 14 days of d-day, I went to lunch with my wife. As we sat in the car, I looked at her and told her “I forgive you.” I knew that if I didn’t do that early on, it would consume me.
Even more inexplicable were my thoughts towards the other man. I told his wife within days of discovery that I forgave him. To be honest, I wanted nothing to do with him. I never wanted to speak to him (he was a genuinely close friend before all of this), or hear from him. I would end all my thoughts towards him the very moment that I forgave him and released my hate. I was able to release the pain through forgiveness that he inflicted on me. He no longer holds any power or place in my life – and never will.
Some will say, “Martyn, you are just a very strong person but I could never do that.” You are right, you can’t do it by your own strength. A beautiful thing happens when God forgives you. The Bible teaches that He gives us His Spirit and the Spirit lives in us. Truth be told, I don’t know how I could do this apart from God. It’s not me, but the Spirit of God living in me that gives me the strength to take these steps.
What About The Serial Cheater?
One final point for those who may have significant others that have cheated multiple times. How many times do you forgive? Jesus was asked the same question and His response was 70 times 7 (Matthew 18:22). This was not meant literally but figuratively to mean you keep on forgiving every time. Why? Simple. There is no limit to God’s forgiveness. There are no exclusions or limits placed on 1 John 1:9. Also keep in mind that you can forgive but still move on from the marriage or relationship in the case of adultery. God doesn’t require that we stay with serial cheaters, but He does want you to forgive them for your benefit so that you can be free.
Like many things in life, you always have a choice. You can choose to leave your marriage over the adultery or you can stay. You can choose to tell your friends and family about the affair, or you can keep quiet. Don’t forget that you can also choose to forgive or withhold that forgiveness. I hope you’ll see that forgiveness is what may finally set you free. It is that miracle you’ve been searching for and it’s for your benefit.