Renunciation of vengeance, relational reconciliation, divine judicial forgiveness. Those are the three kinds of forgiveness. And Christians chronically conflate the three, which causes much harm and confusion to victims of abuse.
Let us look at the Scriptures about forgiveness. All scriptures are from the NASB unless otherwise stated. First the one from the Lord’s prayer and the subsequent explanation Jesus gave in the Sermon on the Mount:
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. … For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
Jesus reiterated this warning during the last week of his life, when he was instructing his followers about prayer:
Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also…
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