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What Are the Hardest Sins to Forgive?

Aaron Brown
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And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. – Matthew 6:12

One defining quality about the Christian lifestyle is the attention we give to forgiveness.

This verse in the Bible makes it clear, forgiveness is a two-way street. Forgiveness that is received is also meant to be given.

The origin of forgiveness begins in our relationship with God. Through his son Jesus Christ, there is redemption from our sins (Colossians 1:14). God forgives, but does not need to be forgiven because he is blameless. On other hand, humanity exercises forgiveness differently.

Our sin nature renders us in need of forgiveness from God, others, and ourselves. And we also give forgiveness. As the verse in Matthews indicates, we are to forgive others just like God forgives us. This includes family, friends, coworkers, even strangers—any one who commits offenses against us.

In this fallen world, everyone is a sinner and thus liable to commit a sin against another (Romans 2:23). However expected committing sins may be, forgiveness is also an expectation.

Forgiveness is required if we expect our heavenly Father to forgive us (Matthew 6:14).

Ask anyone who has been severely hurt, especially by someone they trusted, and they will tell you forgiveness is not easy. Talking about forgiveness is easier than the action.

What makes forgiveness more difficult is that some sins corrupt our ability to trust. Sometimes relationships are damaged so badly beyond repair that we lose sight of a need for forgiveness. Love may become replaced by hate. Positive vibes become replaced with trauma.

The less forgettable an offense is, the harder forgiveness is to achieve.

If you struggle to forgive others, know that you are not alone.

Here are the 5 hardest sins to forgive.

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1. Lying

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A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth causes ruin. – Proverbs 26:28

The Bible has much to say about those who lie, and none of the descriptions are positive. God abhors lying so much that he mentioned this sin as one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:16).

People who lie misappropriate trust and use deception for personal gain. Is a healthy relationship possible without trust?

In American society, trust is so important there are laws against using false identities, expressing false testimony in court, and in business, contracts are signed to avoid deception.

There is no relationship without trust.

God has revealed in his relationship with believers since the history of the Bible, that he is to be trusted. We can pray to him and expect to be protected or delivered because he keeps his word.

A person who doesn’t keep their word is not someone we keep around. Still, they like ourselves will need forgiveness even if we forgo a relationship with them.

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2. Verbal Abuse

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No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. – Ephesians 4:29

God intends for us to use our language to show love to him and others. We are to build one another up, not tear each other down. However, our sinful nature renders us just as capable of spreading curses instead of compliments, slander instead of support.

People who have been on the receiving end of a verbally abusive parent or boss will know first-hand the potential effects of bad communication.

Verbal abuse can make people lose confidence in their self-image.

What’s worse is that even after someone recognizes that their words were hurtful, trying to forgive them can be downright difficult; especially if absolutes were used.

Examples of absolute statements would include “You always act like a child,” or “You never do things right!”

Did the person mean what they said or were they speaking emotionally? If the person meant what they said then they believed their insult. No relationship can be sustained where one person demeans another.

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3. Stealing

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Stealing is another sin that appears within the Ten Commandments. This sin is often seen in regards to taking someone else’s possessions, but many things can be stolen: land property, a sense of privacy, someone’s chastity, or freedom.

Stealing literally robs someone of something they would otherwise have. What makes this sin particularly detestable is that stealing requires effort and some conscious planning.

Accidentally taking a pen home from a business meeting is one thing, but to smuggle clothing from the store is another issue.

Within the context of a relationship, stealing has the ability to swiftly end any level of trust, and render two people who were friends into enemies.

4. Cheating

Within romance, one of the hardest sins to forgive, and one that ruins enough marriages is the act of cheating. Through Scripture, there are multiple direct and indirect references to marriage. God wants us in community with one another so much that he made a companion for Adam (Genesis 2:23).

This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24

Cheating is to have a companion, but still step outside of that relationship to engage with another. As the saying goes, to have your cake and eat it too.

There is plenty of trauma to experience on the receiving end of cheating, trauma that could potentially last a lifetime.

There are some couples that have successfully recovered from cheating showing that forgiveness is possible. While everyone will not choose to keep a relationship, choosing to forgive is still what God desires.

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5. Physical Abuse

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Refrain from anger and give up your rage; do not be agitated—it can only bring harm. – Psalms 37:8

Anger can lead to bad places. What may begin as verbal abuse, could turn into physical abuse. What begins as physical abuse, could eventually turn to murder.

The key difference between verbal and physical abuse is not what the old saying indicates.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”

Words do hurt, but words hurt internally. Physical abuse carries an internal and external hurt.

There are people who carry around permanent wounds of their physical abuse (given or received), a constant reminder of their past for them, and anyone who sees them.

The Bible urges believers to not give into anger. While we may feel anger, as God has too, we are not to take our anger out on others or inflict suffering upon anyone. Physical abuse is not a sign of love—but forgiveness is.

Choosing Forgiveness

Whether the sin is big or small, everyone responds to sin differently. One person’s reaction to cheating may be to try and heal the relationship. Another may choose to leave the relationship. What both parties should have in common is expressing forgiveness.

That is what the Bible tells us to do. What’s more, we are no more deserving of forgiveness than others.

So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female. – Genesis 1:27

God has created all of mankind in his image. That includes the people who offend us. Thinking about all people as being what my pastor calls “image-bearers” of God makes forgiveness much more appealing.

If everyone is made in God’s image, then they each have inherent worth. We all do. Forgiveness is not an asset to be experienced by some. It is a gift meant for all of us.

Forgiveness will always be a difficult process. But knowing that when we show this form of love we will also receive forgiveness from God is encouraging. And we will in part be fulfilling the second greatest commandment (Matthew 22:39).

Is there someone you need to forgive or maybe someone you want to ask forgiveness from?

May God touch your heart after reading this article and lead you along a renewed path of forgiveness.

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