By John I. Penn, D. Min.


For many people, forgiveness is one of the most confusing and misunderstood spiritual principles to practice. It isn’t easy because many people think it is a matter of the human will. Forgiving others or even ourselves is humanly challenging.

Forgiveness is a powerful way to experience the healing that may otherwise elude us. The healing of the person with paralysis gives us hope that forgiveness is possible. In forgiving the paralytic of his sins, Jesus opened the way for him to experience God’s amazing grace. Forgiving the person with paralysis demonstrated the spiri­tual nature of healing. God offered him divine mercy through grace, which resulted in his healing.

The Pharisees and scribes did not understand Jesus’ motive of why he healed the paralytic on the sabbath. They had a head knowledge of the Jewish sabbath law but knew nothing about divine grace. Understanding grace requires both heart and spiritual knowledge. They did get one thing right—only God can forgive sins. However, they failed to see the incarnation of God manifested in the words and deeds of Jesus Christ. In the healing of the person with paralysis, the disciples could not see a demonstration of the power of grace. Forgiveness is a gracious gift that opens the way to all wholeness and salvation.

When we choose to forgive a person, who has hurt or wronged us, God fills our hearts with His love, making forgiveness possible. As stated earlier, forgiveness is both an expression of grace and mercy. It releases God’s power of grace to let go of the pain and hurt. It benefits both parties, freeing them of their wrongs. However, whether the other person accepts or rejects it, we are only respon­sible for forgiving.

Forgiveness can only be achieved with God’s help. God gives the repentant person the ability to forgive someone who has hurt or wronged them. This is called grace.

The goal of forgiveness is always to lead to healing, reconcili­ation, and peace. However, because of the nature of sin and the complexity of the human personality, this does not always lead to the results that God intends.