Forgiveness is huge in God’s world. He is love. He forgives us. We must forgive others. Jesus emphasized this over and over. It is in the “model” prayer he gave us. To ignore it is to give our enemy an opening. We don’t want or need that.
God’s goal for us is that we love and forgive. God doesn’t want us to hold grudges.
And so, there must be no delay. We must forgive, over and over. We are forgiven. Let’s get on with it. Now.
I wrote for this purpose: to test your character to see if you are obedient in everything. Anyone you forgive, I do too. For what I have forgiven—if I have forgiven anything—it is for your benefit in the presence of the Messiah, so that we may not be taken advantage of by Satan. For we are not ignorant of his schemes. | Christian Standard Bible. (2020). (2 Co 2:9–11). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
Paul urged the church family to forgive the man, and he gave solid reasons to back up this admonition. To begin with, they were to forgive him for his own sake, “lest [he] be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow” (2 Cor. 2:7–8). Forgiveness is the medicine that helps to heal broken hearts. It was important that the church assure this repentant member of their love.
What is important here? They should confirm their love to the forgiven brother for the Master’s sake. After all, discipline is as much a matter of obedience to the Messiah as it is obligation to a brother.
The problem was not simply between a sinning brother and a grieving apostle: it was also between a sinning brother and a grieving Savior. The man had sinned against Paul and the church, but he had most of all sinned against the Master. When timid church leaders try to “whitewash” situations instead of facing them honestly, they are grieving the heart of the Lord.
Paul gave another reason: they must forgive the offender for the church’s sake. When there is an unforgiving spirit in a congregation because sin has not been dealt with in a biblical manner, it gives Satan a “beachhead” from which he can operate in the congregation. We grieve the Holy Spirit and “give place to the devil” when we harbor an unforgiving spirit (Eph. 4:27–32).
One of Satan’s “devices” is to accuse believers who have sinned so that they feel their case is hopeless. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin so that we will confess it and turn to Jesus for cleansing; but Satan accuses us of sin so that we will despair and give up. We must always hear a message of good news. That is the way of Jesus
When an offending brother or sister is disciplined according to the Bible, and changes their mind (aka repents), then the church family must forgive and restore the member, and the matter must be forgotten and never brought up again. If the church family—or any person in the family—carries an unforgiving spirit, then Satan will use that attitude as a beachhead for new assaults against the church.
Paul was able to overcome the problems that he faced because he had a clear conscience and a compassionate heart That is what Jesus wants us to do. Jesus requires that we love.