What the Scriptures Teach Us About Forgiveness

All of us need forgiveness

D&C 109:34 We all have need of the Lord's cleaning power; D&C 56:14 The Lord tells the brothern that they have many thing for which they need to repent; D&C 38:11 "For all flesh is corrupted before me; and the powers of darkness prevail upon the earth ..."; Acts 8:22 We need forgiveness for the thoughts of our heart, see also Isaiah 55:7.

Even Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5-7) when he was called to preach unto the people felt unworthy because of his unclean speech. The Lord is willing to take us from where we are and build us to what we need to be. This same scripture is in 2 Nephi 16:5-7 except that the phrase "Woe is me" is changed to "Woe is unto me" and some of the punctuation is different.

Sometimes people with major sins find it easier to repent than people who think they are doing fine without the Lord's help. Luke 7:39 is the story of Simon the Pharisee and the women who washed Jesus's feet.

Forgiveness of sins comes through Jesus Christ

Acts 13:38 Forgiveness comes through Jesus Christ not the law of Moses; Numbers 15:25 When the priest made sacrifices for the congregation, it was to receive forgiveness for sin; Acts 5:31 Forgiveness comes through our Prince and Saviour, Jesus Christ; 1 John 4:5 Christ was manifested to take away our sins.

Joshua 24:19 In Old Testament times the peoples worshiped many different gods. The Lord is a jealous God, in that you can't worship Him and still worship other gods. Hosea 13:4 "... there is no Saviour beside me."

One man can not atone for the sins of another. In Exodus 32: 32 there is the idea that somehow Moses could atone for or compensate for the sins of the people, but in verse 33 the Lord makes clear to him that the people will suffer for their own sins.

In the story of the man with the palsy Jesus teaches that in addition to having the power to heal, he also has the power and authority to forgive sins. Matthew 9:6. Christ heals him and tells him that his sins are forgiven. It must have had a big impact on the disciples since it is included in all the synoptic gospels, Mark 2:10 and Luke 5:24. The pharises are right, Luke 5:21, only God can forgive sins. This is an example of where Christ indirectly affirms his Messiahship. He wanted to make sure that the people knew that he had the power to forgive sins. He asked is it easier to say "take up your bed and walk" or "your sin are forgiven you?" In other words only God could do the healings that He did. Many other have and will in the future perform healings, but they can only do it in Christ's name.

Forgiveness comes through the blood of the lamb. This is an interesting metaphor, since blood stains are usually so hard to remove from cloths. Possibly this helps remind us how much the process of the atonement is different from everyday life. Isaiah 1:18 "... though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow ..."; Amulek also talks about the blood of the lamb making garments white. Alma 34:36. "... their garments should be made white through the blood of the Lamb." Ephesians 1:7 "... we have redemption through his blood ..."; 1 John 1:7 "... the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."; Mosiah 4:2 King Benjamin's people call for the "atoning blood of Christ" to save them from their sins.;

Alma describes the joy the atonement brings in Alma 36:20.

The Lord is anxious to forgive us

D&C 29:2-3 He will gather his people as a hen gather her chicks, but we must repent. I always liked the symbolism of a hen gathering her chicks. Maybe that is because we used to have chickens when I was young and I have seen first hand how hens gather their chicks.

Psalm 103:3 One of the blessings the Lord gives us is forgiveness. Psalm 32:1 "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven ..."; Paul refers to this scripture in Romans 4:6.

There are a number of interesting phrases about the Lord removing our sins: remember them no more D&C 58:42, cast them into the depths of the sea Micah 7:19, bloteth them out Isaiah 43:25, Wash you, make you clean

Isaiah 1:16, and abundantly pardon Isaiah 55:7.

Micah 7:19 The Lord "...wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea"; D&C 58:42 and Hebrews 8:12 The Lord is willing to forgive and forget our sins; Isaiah 43:25 "... bloteth out thy transgressions ... and will not remember thy sins."; Psalm 86:5 The Lord is "... ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy ..."; Psalm 130:4 "there is forgiveness with thee..."; Isaiah 55:7 "... for he will abundantly pardon."; Daniel 9:9. "... mercies and forgivenesses ... though we have rebelled against him;".

Nehemiah 9:17 The Lord didn't abandon the children of Israel in the wilderness, but led them to the promised land in spite of all their sin. Jeremiah 33:8 The people were taken into bondage, but still the Lord is willing to forgive. Sometimes we must pass through difficult times to become sufficiently humble to repent and let the Lord's forgiveness take effect. D&C 95:1 Who the Lord loves He chasten so that their sins may be forgiven.

D&C 42:25 Adultery can be forgiven.

What must we do to be forgiven

Ezekiel 18:21 This scripture explains repentance. Ezekiel 33:15 is similar. The scripture goes on to say that if a righteous man turning evil, his righteousness won't be remembered.

We need to confess to be forgiven. Psalm 32:5 If we confess our sins we can be forgiven; 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins we can be forgiven; Mosiah 26:29 Confession is part of the forgiveness process; Moroni 6:7-8. If people confessed their sins they were forgiven; D&C 64:7. The Lord forgives those who confess; Proverbs 28:13 "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper..."

Isaiah 1:16 We need to repent to be forgiven. Verse 17 goes on to tell us that we should relieve the oppressed and help the fatherless and the widow. The theme of helping the oppressed and fatherless appears numerous times in the Old Testament. In our days when we talk of repenting we usually think of repenting of personal sin not repenting of our inaction to help others. The next verse, 18, is the the one about being made clean "... sins be as scarlet ... be as wool."; D&C 1:31-2. "For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance;" but repentance can remove the sin. Zechariah 1:3 "... Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you..."; Malachi 3:7 "... Return unto me, and I will return unto you..." The next few verses talk about tithes and offerings; D&C 84:61 We can be forgiven but we must keep the commandments; Alma 19:36 To be forgiven we must "... repent and believe on his name."

If we preach the gospel it can help us receive forgiveness. D&C 31:5. Thomas B. Marsh is told that if he labors to teach the gospel his sins will be forgiven. Edward Partridge was told a similar thing D&C 36:1. In D&C 60:7 several of the brothern are told that if they are faithful on their missions their sins will be forgiven and they will be made holy.

James 5:15 We can be forgiven of sins through faith. Enos 1:8 Enos was forgiven of his sin because of his faith in Jesus Christ.

Mosiah 4:10 "... humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity ..."

In D&C 50:36 the Lord tells the Elders of the Church their sins can be forgiven if they hear the words of the prophet.

It is a commandment to forgive others

Romans 12:17 "Recompense to no man evil for evil ...". Proverbs 24:17, "Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth." Matthew 5:25, "Agree with thine adversary quickly." Proverbs 25:21 and Romans 12:20, "If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat." Luke 17:3, We must be willing to forgive our brothers. Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27-28, Luke 6:35 and 3 Nephi 12:44, Christ commanded us to love our enemies. Romans 12:14 Bless them which persecute you. Leviticus 19:18 We must not avenge, nor bear any grudge but instead love our neighbors. 2 Corinthians 2:7 We need to forgive offenders.;

To be forgiven we must forgive others. Luke 6:37 "... forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:" Matthew 6:14, D&C 82:1, and Mark 11:25. The Lord's prayer teaches us that we must forgive to be forgiven, Matthew 6:12, Luke 11:4, and 3 Nephi 13:11.

Forgiveness and love go together. The Law of Moses already included "love thy neighbour as thyself" Leviticus 19:18 Christ's expansion of the law was to make it apply to everyone. See the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).

A version of the golden rule is found in Luke 6:31. The parable of the servant who wasn't willing to forgive his fellow servant illustrates that we need to forgive to be forgiven Matthew 18:23.

Mosiah 26:31 If we don't forgive others we are brought under condemnation. D&C 64:9 "...he that forgiveth not his brother ... there remaineth in him the greater sin." Matthew 18:21 We are to forgive until seventy times seven. Also D&C 98:40. D&C 64:10 "I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men." The Lord isn't really asking us to do something that He doesn't do. He is always ready to forgive. He is just telling us to let Him take care of justice and judgement.

Ephesians 4:31 We need to forgive other as God has forgiven us. Ephesians 4:32 and Colossians 3:13 are very similar in idea. It is interesting that in Ephesians it talks about God forgiving us for Christ's sake and in Colossians it refers directly to Christ forgiving us.

We can not truly be of service to God if we carry grudges against others. Matthew 5:23 We need first be reconciled with our brothers before offering to God. See also 3 Nephi 12:23.

The Savior is the ultimate example of forgiving others. Even as he was being crucified, he said: Luke 23:34 "...Father forgive them; for they know not what they do. ..." Nephi also forgave his brothers for what they did against him. 1 Nephi 7:21.

Miscellaneous scriptures on forgiveness

Genesis 50:15-17 Joseph brothers were afraid that when their father died Joseph would take revenge against them so they sent a message to Joseph telling him that their father had said for Joseph to forgive them.

Mark 4:11-12 Why the Lord teaches in parables. If we truly hear we can repent and be forgiven.

Jeremiah 50:20. There won't be any more iniquity in Israel and Judah. We can tell that for sure this prophecy refers to the millennium, since Israel (10 tribes) hasn't been gathered again.

Isaiah 40:2 Jerusalem has suffered double for her sins.

Mormon 8:32 "... for you money you shall be forgiven of your sins."

D&C 68:22. The High Priests are to be tried before the First Presidency of the Church. In our times that becomes the High Council of the Church. If they repent they are to be forgiven.

The unpardonable sin; Matthew 12:32 Blaspheming against the Holy Ghost will not be forgiven in this life or in the world to come. See also Mark 3:28 and Luke 12:10. Alma 39:6. Sining against the Holy Ghost is an unpardonable sin. D&C 76:34 The son's of perdition can't be forgiven. D&C 132:27. Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is to assent unto Christ's death after feeling the Holy Ghost.

Moses 6:53. Adams baptism overcame his transgression in the Garden of Eden