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Making Peace with Those We Offend

By Dr. Don Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
God promises to forget our sins but other people don’t. Offenses never “go away.” -

Are you convinced that you do not need to seek forgiveness from others for past offenses because Jesus’ blood has covered all your sins? In the 8th article of a 19-part series, Dr. Dunlap exposes this deception. He explains that when God saves us He blots out our transgressions and no longer remembers them against us. God does not, however, take care of the damage and bitterness that we caused when we offended others. That is our job.

When we make a commitment to maintain a clear conscience before God and our fellow man we soon find ourselves considering a long list of excuses with which to explain away our guilt.

As we begin to rationalize our guilt, we grow increasingly less likely to repent and ask forgiveness of the individuals we have offended. We are, therefore, unable to gain a clear conscience.

God often gives us witnessing opportunities when we ask someone for forgiveness.

The rationalization for guilt that seems to surface most frequently is the belief that Christians do not need to ask forgiveness of others for the offenses they committed before they were saved.

The reasoning goes,

After all, God knew that I was lost and behaving like a heathen when all that happened. He couldn’t possibly expect me to go back now and try to make it right.

Becoming a Christian, however, should increase a person’s motivation to clear his or her conscience. The fact that we have been saved is the best possible explanation for why we would ask someone for his or her forgiveness.

God wants to receive the credit when we attempt to mend broken relationships.

We glorify God every time we make an earnest effort to seek forgiveness for a past offense. As we attempt to explain the fact that the Holy Spirit has given us new discernment into right and wrong behavior, we might use a phrase such as,

I have become a Christian and God has helped me to realize how wrong I was to do what I did.

Although God forgets our transgressions, people remember them.

Another rationalization that Christians often believe is that it is unnecessary to seek forgiveness for past offenses because Jesus’ blood has covered all our sins, past, present, and future. When Jesus Christ saves us His blood cleanses us from every sin. God removes our transgressions from us as far as the east is from the west. While it is true that God blots out our transgressions and no longer remembers them against us, He does not take care of the damage and bitterness that we caused when we offended others.

Paul instructs us in Philippians 3:13,14 -

Forget those things that are behind.

He is, however, clearly referring not to his former offenses but to his former achievements, which are listed a few verses earlier in that same chapter,

I myself might have confidence even in the flesh…circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews…a Pharisee…as to the righteousness, which is in the Law, found blameless.

We should do everything that is scripturally possible to live peacefully with other people.

God forgets but people remember. The offenses never “go away.” Instead, with the passing of time each offense looms larger and larger in the eyes of the person that we offended.

Thus, each offense that we formerly committed becomes a “handle of guilt on our spiritual backs.” These “handles” give the Enemy of our faith the opportunity to pull us back each time we try to move forward in our Christian walk.

We give Satan ground to use these offenses to accuse us because we have disobeyed God’s directives for dealing with them biblically. Christians must be diligent to obey the command of Romans 12:18,

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.


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