“Most of the ground that Satan gains in the lives of Christians is due to unforgiveness. We are warned to forgive others so that satan cannot take advantage of us. (2 Cor. 2:10-11). God requires us to forgive others from our hearts or He will turn us over to our tormentors (Mt. 18:34-35). Why is forgiveness so critical to our freedom? Because of the cross. God didn’t give us what we deserve; He gave us what we needed according to his mercy. We are to be merciful just as our heavenly Father is merciful (Lk 6:36). We are to forgive others as we have been forgiven (Eph.4:31-32).
Forgiveness is not forgetting. People who try to forget find they cannot. God says He will “remember no more” our sins (Heb. 10:17), but God, being omniscient, cannot forget. “Remember no more” means that God will never use the past against us (Ps. 103.12). Forgetting may be a result of forgiveness, but it is never the means to forgiveness. When we bring up the past against others, we haven’t forgiven them.
Forgiveness is a choice, a crisis of the will. Since God requires us to forgive, it is something we can do. (He would never require us to do something we cannot do.) But forgiveness is difficult for us because it pulls against our concept of justice. We want revenge for offenses suffered. But we are told never to take our own revenge (Rom.12:19). “Why should I let them off the hook?” we protest. You let them off your hook, but they are never off God’s hook. He will deal with them fairly — something we cannot do.
If you don’t let offenders off your hook, you are hooked to them and the past, and that means continued pain for you. Stop the pain; let it go. You don’t forgive someone merely for their sake; you do it for your sake so you can be free. Your need to forgive isn’t an issue between you and the offender; it is between you and God.