The problem is not that we need to forgive or not. Jesus tells us that we have to forgive. The problem is with what it means for us to forgive. If we forgive the carnal way, we will get sicker and we will just be worse off. This is because to forgive the wrong way is sin.
What does it mean to forgive? If someone stole my car, what does it mean that I forgave him? It does not mean that I took a sponge and erased his deed. That can never be done, but this is the idea we have. According to Matthew 18 to forgive means that the one who forgives supports the loss, he pays for the damage. The wages of sin is death. How can I forgive you for sinning? Can I pay for you? Only Christ can forgive us in the true sense, because all that I am is His. Only He was able to support the damage I have done through sin, by paying for it with His only life. This is why God alone can truly forgive for all things belong to Him alone, we are just administrators. What does it mean then that I forgive? Will get there soon.
Yes, I do need to repent if I hurt someone else. But before whom do I need to repent? David committed adultery and killed Uriah. Against whom did he sin? Whose laws did he break? According to Ps 51:4, he declares, “Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned, And done the evil thing in Thine eyes, So that Thou art righteous in Thy words, Thou art pure in Thy judging.” If we break God’s laws alone when we sin and if I thus sin against Him alone, then whose forgiveness do I need? To whom should I go for forgiveness? To man? Can man forgive me? No, because: 1) I didn’t break his laws 2) his body and life and all that man has is not his. God never asks us in the Bible to ask forgiveness of anyone for what I have done wrong. It says that I should forgive, but not to ask for forgiveness. Why? Because I only can sin against God. It does tell me that I have to “Confess your faults one to another” (James 5:16). I have to repent before God and tell others where I have sinned against God and that I repented before Him.
The idea that we should ask people for forgiveness is a Catholic teaching, based on the error that I am a god, according to Genesis 3, and that what I am and have is mine. Thus people focus on solving their issues with people and not God. They think that they can save themselves by asking forgiveness of people, and they do not realize that their sin has remained in the books of heaven because they did not solve their problem with the One they have sinned against. This is where psychology is basing its ideas on and its founders have said that through it people will not need to repent and will not need a Saviour any longer.
The Bible teaches us that we are to go to God alone for forgiveness, repent before Him, receive the cleansing blood of Christ and a new heart and life. This is the forgiveness that each of us desperately needs, and which Satan tries to keep us from receiving.
Then what does it mean for me to forgive? If to forgive means that the one who forgives has to pay for the damage done, then no human being can truly forgive, for nothing is ours. What of what I am and have is mine? Nothing. My life, my body, my things are not mine. All are from God. But we are asked to forgive, so how can someone who has nothing forgive? The only true answer is that for me to forgive means that I have to take God’s forgiveness given me and give it to others.
I have to tell the thief that he did not steal from me. He stole from God who gave me to administer those things, and woe unto him when God shall judge him. But God forgave me for my sins by paying with His own blood, and He wants to forgive this thief also. I then invite him to receive God’s forgiveness as I have done also. Thus only can I truly love the thief, for he has done me no wrong for nothing is mine. I am God’s servant and all I have is His.