If I Don’t Forgive Others, Am I Not Forgiven?

If I Don’t Forgive Others, Am I Not Forgiven? September 14, 2018

Jesus said if we don’t forgive others, we won’t be forgiven, but does this mean we’ll lose our salvation?


The Bible teaches that “since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1). This means there is “now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). After we are brought to repentance and faith, our standing before God changes. That’s only because it was “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). The condemnation is lifted, being justified by faith, and now we have the same righteousness imputed toward us that Jesus has. Of course, we’ll still sin (1 John 1:8, 10) but we’ll also come for a daily cleansing (1 John 1:9), so when Jesus was teaching His disciples how to pray, He conclude by saying that “if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt 6:14-15). Does this mean if we fail to forgive someone, we will not be entering the kingdom? Is the context of this chapter about losing our salvation? Is it really possible to not forgive someone and be lost forever? Some think that this is what these verses say, but let’s take a closer look…first of all at forgiveness.

Rejecting Forgiveness

God says in His Word that after a time, God will give people up to their own sins. They reach a point where they’ll never want to hear about God again. The Apostle Paul wrote that “although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Rom 1:21), so “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen” (Rom 1:24-25). After continually rejecting Him, “God gave them up to dishonorable passions” (Rom 1:26a). Three times it says “God gave them up,” meaning they want nothing to do with God, so God lets them have their way. It doesn’t mean God gives up on sinners, but after continually rejecting the truth, some are deceived “by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (2 Thess 2:9-10). This is why “God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess 2:11-12). Remember, they are not forced by God to disbelieve. They themselves “refused to love the truth and so be saved.” God never forces Himself on anyone. Whoever may come, may come to Christ and be saved (John 3:16).

The Lord’s Prayer

What is commonly called the Lord’s Prayer was not meant to be repeated over and over again, although since it is Scripture, some do, but the disciples had asked Jesus to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1), so Jesus gives them a template for how they ought to pray. That’s important because context is critical in reading text. Jesus’ statement in Matthew 6:14-15 is related to Jesus teaching them how to pray, so the context is not about salvation but about praying to God. It’s about prayer and forgiveness, not losing or receiving salvation. Jesus said if we have something against our brother or sister, we should first go to him or her, and then come back to the altar, saying that “if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt 5:23-24).

Context is King

To take a text out of context risks making a pretext, and a false one at that, so when believe that if we don’t forgive others, God will not forgive us, and therefore we stand condemned, we are not reading it within the context in which it was given. First of all, He is speaking to His disciples. He is telling them how to pray. He is talking about coming before the Father for a daily cleansing of sin (Matt 6:12). To keep ourselves in fellowship with God, we must keep short accounts with God. It doesn’t change the relationship when we don’t ask for forgiveness, but it does hurt our fellowship with Him. When my son broke the house rules, I forgave him, and even though he was disobedient, he remained my son. Our fellowship was hurt, but our father-son relationship was unchanged. Even if I offended my son and he never forgave me, he would still always be my son and I would always be his father.


I find it difficult to believe that if we don’t forgive someone, we’re destined for the lake of fire. These verses (Matt 6:14-15) don’t suggest that God will withdraw His justification from us. God will chasten His own children; those whom He loves (Heb 12:5-7), and this discipline includes those who refuse to forgive or harbor grudges against others, but these verses do not null or void John 6:37 and 39, John 10:28-29, John 11:25-26, John 3:16 and Romans 8. If we believe that forgiving sins will ensure our salvation, then we believe that works are needed (forgiving) in order to keep our salvation. We know that works will never save us (Eph 2:8-9), so to believe that if we fail to forgive someone, we are lost forever, is to do an injustice to the Scriptures. Jesus may have been saying that a person that is unforgiving may not be saved in the first place. That seems entirely possible, but if someone claims to be saved but hates their brother, they’re deceiving themselves (1 John 2:9-11), and are likely not saved at all.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

"What you are talking about is, unfortunately, the way our society has become. We have ..."

How Gifts Of The Spirit Overshadow ..."
"Pastor Wellman do you think you could lay out what behaviors will be tolerated on ..."

How Gifts Of The Spirit Overshadow ..."
"I didn’t post that verse to explain “seize” or “apprehend”.Please stop posting towards me. We ..."

The Truth Sets You Free Or ..."
"Wait, what? "See to it [says Colossians 2:8 that] you seize on the truth"? No, ..."

The Truth Sets You Free Or ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • pud

    The endless and repetitive gibberish continues…

    1. “jesus” never “said” anything….get this through your thick head. There was no stenographer following him around writing down verbatim what he supposedly “said” even when he WAS ENTIRELY ALONE! It reads like a STORY because it is a STORY! There is NO evidence any such person EVER existed at all!

    2. “since we have been justified by faith”…Bullshit. “Faith” is NOT a pathway to truth. “Faith” is gullibility. “Faith” is belief without evidence. All “faith” claims have equal irrational weight…you can “believe” any and everything without evidence no matter how absurd or ridiculous…invisible beings, demons, devils, alien abductions, Bigfoot…are ALL the same and none are supported by facts.

    3. “Salvation” makes your make believe, invisible, undetectable “god” a petty tinkerer. A sadistic busy body and celestial dictator demanding both fear and love…the very essence of totalitarianism. It is so stupid to buy into this ridiculous concept as it makes your “creator” of universes an agent with will and desire and unfulfilled wants and needs which is incompatible with omniscience and omnipotence…buy hey, what do you need critical thinking skill for anyway huh?

    4. “I find it difficult to believe that if we don’t forgive someone, we’re destined for the lake of fire.” LOL!!! There is nothing too ridiculous, impossible, irrational, stupid, contradictory etc for you to “believe” You jack will “believe” anything it seems. You’ve sacrificed all your critical thinking skills and your entire wretched life is spent in fear of offending this creature under your bed. You are ill…you need to seek professional help.

    Demonstrate the existence of this mythical “lake of fire” jack….waiting….waiting…coward.

    • Wow…feel better?

      • pud

        Always do! Did you learn anything? Of course not!

        • Eileen

          I do not know you, Pud, but never in my life have I encountered anyone so bitter and hate-filled. It saddens my heart for you. I have been praying for you for a long time and will continue to do so. Yeshua (Jesus) loves you, Pud, and it’s not too late for you to know this personally and turn to Him. I’m praying that one day, you will.

          • pud

            Well your personality perception skills are as lacking as your reality perception skill. I am neither hateful or bitter…I have a great life! I simply have contempt for your cult that makes its living lying to children. You can stare at the ceiling and bark at the moon all you like…will get you exactly nothing. You do not “know” anything…you are a pitifully indoctrinated lunatic in a religious cult that cares to believe what you want to believe and nothing for the actual truth of anything…I pity you. Truly I do.

  • Glory

    Let’s praise God in spite of all the haters that like to lurk this comments section.

    Thank You, the Katinas

    • pud

      Landslides in the Philippines buried dozens, including people sheltering in a church

      Let’s praise god! LOL….

    • You need to breathe more. Take a deep breath. Breathe in deeply and exhale. This will help to calm you down.

  • tovlogos

    Amen, a complete thought, Jack, tight and well covered. No doubt, you have been a blessing — subjects fitting the profile of some of your
    expositions such as — “Is There a Point of No Return” — show up because It is easy to see light in the midst of darkness; nothing strange about that…but a blessing.


  • pud

    Landslides in the Philippines buried dozens, including people sheltering in a church

    Imagine that! Dozens in their church praying feverishly for the invisible undetectable celestial dictator to save them….oops! Too busy or too indifferent jack?

  • Ellen EJ Lefavour

    While we are certainly justified through the grace of God by faith in the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and by no works of our own, there are many stony ground hearers or backslidden Christians who believe they are saved because of some words they once prayed, after which they returned back to their old ways, like the dog to his vomit or the pig to the wallow. Justification is one thing, sanctification another. If one who professes to be Christian refuses to forgive another, are they truly saved, spirit filled and cooperating with the Holy Spirit that He might do His work within as the Spirit of Holiness and truth? We are told repeatedly in the Book of Revelation, that those who overcome will receive the blessings and enter in. Of our own power, we can overcome nothing, but if we are not overcomers through Him that dwells within, we should ask ourselves if we are truly born again, spirit filled, surrendered and following our Lord that we might “be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren”. Being “not hurt by the second death” clearly indicates that they will be part of the first resurrection at the coming of our Lord (1 Thess. 4:16-17), not the second resurrection of the wicked, who will suffer the second death in the lake of fire. As a teacher, particularly when it comes to someone’s eternal salvation or destruction, it seems much more prudent to air on the side of what the scriptures actually say, rather making it all sound nice and politically correct for people. Personally, I would much rather have God say on that day “you really didn’t need to forgive those people, because I would have forgiven you anyway”, than to hear “depart from me you worker of iniquity”. And in life, I’ve experienced the freedom and joy of living without carrying that dreadful unChristlike burden of unforgiveness.
    Revelation 2:7 “To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”’
    11 “He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”’
    17 “To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”’
    26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations
    Revelation 3:5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
    12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.
    21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
    Revelation 21:7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

    • Take a deep breath. Just breathe.

      • Ellen EJ Lefavour

        Pray and study your Bible, just pray and study your Bible. Ask for the Holy Spirit’s leading. Jesus assures us the Father will give the Holy Spirit to any who ask.

        • You do know that the Greek word for breath is pneuma (= wind, breath, spirit). The Hebrew word for breath is ruarch ( = wind, breath, spirit). Just breathe. You’ll feel a lot better if you do so. Of course, breathing doesn’t establish any truth content of what one is reading, but it does have a calming effect on the mind.

    • Ulf Turkewitsch

      One cannot be saved one day and be condemned to hell on the next. If God did the work in you, and you are saved it is perfect because God is ABSOLUTELY PERFECT. You can’t have it both ways. It is a church that makes those rules of conduct, to keep control of their people. Not God.

  • Ellen EJ Lefavour

    I don’t know your heart and am not judging, but it seems like you may have someone in your life you really do not want to forgive, since you keep writing about this and making forgiveness not be a necessary thing, when it clearly is. How many times should I forgive my brother? 7 times, nay 7×70 times.

    • Breathe! Just Breathe! Take a deep breath and breathe.

      • Ellen EJ Lefavour

        Pray and read your Bible, just pray and read your Bible.

        • Deep breathing will help calm you down. It’s good for your mental health as well. Just breathe!

  • Guestie

    It is clear to me that there is a heirarchy if wants and needs. God wants people to forgive others. God wants people to believe in him. God wants people to do good works. Sometimes there are conflicts amongst these wants and, thanks to free will, God can’t have everything he wants. So he has to prioritize and pick and choose. When push comes to shove, God wants belief and adoration more than he wants people to forgive others. God, being a god, gets what he wants. Every manager knows that you get more of what you reward and less of what you don’t reward. And that’s why people tend not to be forgiving: God doesn’t want it badly enough.


    I am not in a forgiving mood to forgive others; however, I should forgive myself for letting people push me around.

  • Elephile

    I suppose if you could somehow find a way to stop being part of the universe, by which I mean stop ever having been part of the universe (or multiverse, if there is one), then you might “lose” “salvation”.

    Because then – and ONLY then – would you not be part of the ALL when God (Love) becomes ALL in ALL.