Forgiveness vs. Justice


Does forgiveness mean there can be no earthly justice?


Forgiveness concept

Definition of forgive:

: to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong) : to stop blaming (someone)

: to stop feeling anger about (something) : to forgive someone for (something wrong)

: to stop requiring payment of (money that is owed)

to give up resentment of or claim to requital for <forgive an insult>

to grant relief from payment of <forgive a debt>

to cease to feel resentment against (an offender)

What Is Forgiveness?

Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.

Just as important as defining what forgiveness is, though, is understanding what forgiveness is not.

Experts who study or teach forgiveness make clear that when you forgive, you do not gloss over or deny the seriousness of an offense against you.

Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offenses.

Though forgiveness can help repair a damaged relationship, it doesn’t obligate you to reconcile with the person who harmed you, or release them from legal accountability.

Instead, forgiveness brings the forgiver peace of mind and frees him or her from corrosive anger.

While there is some debate over whether true forgiveness requires positive feelings toward the offender, experts agree that it at least involves letting go of deeply held negative feelings.

In that way, it empowers you to recognize the pain you suffered without letting that pain define you, enabling you to heal and move on with your life.


Forgiveness is for those who ask for it, or for those who want it, but do not know how to ask.


Justice concept

Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics,rationality, law, natural law, religion, equity and fairness.

1. the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral

rightness: to uphold the justice of a cause.

2. rightfulness or lawfulness, as of a claim or title; justness of ground

or reason: to complain with justice.

3. the moral principle determining just conduct.

4. conformity to this principle, as manifested in conduct; just conduct,

dealing, or treatment.

5. the administering of deserved punishment or reward.


Compare definitions:

Forgiveness releases the debt due to the offence

Justice administers deserved punishment.

So, does this mean when we forgive someone, they do not have to be punished for what they did?

In mild cases, where someone bumped into you, or insulted you, this may seem easy.

But what about more serious cases?

Do killers get forgiven, and not go to jail?

Do child molesters get forgiven, and continue in the neighborhoods?

While it may seem logical for religious people to leave everything to God, who will execute divine justice in the long run,

Do we forgive those who hurt others, and then look the other way, waiting for eternity so God can finally do something?

When we pray, can we ask God to punish evil people, after we have forgiven them?

If we ask for punishment of the wicked, is this un-forgiveness?

Yes, we can pray that the wicked repent and be saved, but what about in the meantime?

While they are unrepentant, they are doing a lot of damage, and it seems a moral imperative to stop them.

If we do nothing, or ask that nothing be done, then aren’t we supporting the evil by our inaction?

Is there a time when forgiveness equals submission to evil, and permission to continue? When forgiveness becomes avoidance behavior?

There are many martyrs who did not resist evil, and submitted to it. So they died.

Does this glorify God, or testify of His goodness?



The Bible instructs us to forgive as the Lord forgave us:

Colossians 3:13 
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Notice that believers are instructed to forgive other believers.

It is not describing blood thirsty killers who want to destroy your life, or sex molesters that want to take your child away from you, and have the child for themselves.

Bible verses about forgiveness refer to those repentant in heart:

The classic example Jesus used was the prodigal son. The son returned to the father and asked for forgiveness.


The world we live in

It does not want forgiveness, only permission to hurt you.

It does not repent.


Christianity in an increasingly godless world

How far should forgiveness go?

Paul recognizes this when, in writing about our attitude to those who wrong us, he says,

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Romans 12:18).

This is the point.

If it IS possible to live in peace with someone, then work toward reconciliation.

If it is NOT possible, then there will be no reconciliation, so either do not submit to the abuse, fight it (resist the devil), or both.

Bible example of godly intolerance:

Jesus discussed those who harm children

In Matthew 18:1-10, Jesus teaches a familiar lesson that contrasts unbridled ambition with undefiled faith. It includes a dire list of consequences for those who harm the undefiled.

"Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me," he says. "But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea."

That’s strong language. Jesus continues by admonishing the guilty to mutilate body parts that cause them to sin rather than have their bodies and souls thrown into hell. "See that you do not look down on one of these little ones," the gentle Savior warns.

Luke the Evangelist adds something in his telling (17:1-6). Jesus ends his lesson with a far different warning:

"Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and seven times a day returns to you, saying ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him."


Fairness, and tolerance toward others in godly love, to show them the love of God, is one thing.

This is good.

This is equal treatment in spite of natural, God given differences.


But Tolerance toward evil is a lie!

Many Christians will tolerate evil, saying they have to forgive.

Satan is saying he will do what he wants, and we will submit.

So the destruction continues, because people are afraid “not to be fair” to the evil one.

Tolerance and diversity are both modern tools of Satan to get what he wants from submissive, ignorant Christians.

Liberal society, which is based on “Do what thou wilt,” naturally accepts everything and anything contrary to God.

So, liberal society is an asset to Satan , in his “tolerance and diversity” campaign.

Of course, tolerance and diversity is not tolerant of Christians, Jews, the truth, or normal lifestyles.

It demands submission to its twisted view of what is acceptable.

I just read that the Archbishop of Canterbury has advised children that they should submit to sodomy.

He is clearly an agent from hell.

Evil tolerates nothing that disagrees with it.


So back to forgiveness.

When do we forgive, and when do we not forgive?

In another post….

Forgiveness is Conditional

Forgiveness is given when the offender is sorry for what they have done, or would like to re-establish a relationship.

The desire to reconcile is there.

They may or may not know how to show it, or may be hampered by their own pride, or erroneous mindset.

It is not extended to those who have no remorse, at least in the physical sense.

We still have to deal with our own feelings, and put the situation in God’s hands.

For the victim:

It is my view that we may establish peace within ourselves about an offense, and make the decision that we will not act in like fashion as the evil doer.

It is also my view that we forgive those who are sorry, and do not bother with those who aren’t.

This is what the Father God does.

Here, I feel like it is appropriate to seek just punishment for anyone who is unrepentant, for the evil done, and for the safety of self and others, especially for true evil acts.

If someone cheats me, I want my money back.

If someone kills my child, I want them in jail.

I can decide to ”forgive,” in the sense that I will leave the vengeance to the Lord, and may use the justice system to seek some earthly justice in the meantime, to defend righteousness.

20 Responses to “Forgiveness vs. Justice”

  1. A really Great Article that addresses a lot of my questions as far as forgiveness especially when someone has purposefully hurt you, named you their ‘enemy’ because they were ashamed of what they had done and worked overtime to take away your credibility so no one would believe what they had done to you in secret. I struggle much with this. I ask God daily to “Work in their lives in whatever way HE sees fit and to let them acknowledge what they have done” I never know if my prayer is answered since I break all ties with them after their betrayal and hurt. I think many are going to have to face things they knew they did wrong yet did not seek forgiveness from those they hurt. I keep reminding myself of the scripture that God says, All deeds done in the light or darkness shall be revealed and judged. I have to depend on that to actually find any peace with what another has done. Especially when they are so called Christians yet have no moral compass and do not treat everyone equally. Thanks for the Article, it helps greatly. God Bless You.

    • dear shannon

      many times we cannot get earthly justice for offenses done to us….there is no particular law broken, or there are no witness to stand up for us, or it is so expensive that it is impossible, or pursuing justice hurts us more than it helps the situation.

      at that point, we have no option left except to give it to God, to deal with them

      but if there is any way to resist and stick up for yourself, you should do it.

  2. Hello Marianne thanks for this subject,

    Shannon I relate to what you wrote; through most of my life I have had to forgive those close to me, without any acknowledgment or remorse on their part. I appear as the guilty one. These last few years has been a deep healing journey for me in releasing any malice or bitterness despite their denial and yes they have walked away, because I finally spoke truth. I also have close family who claim Christianity but will harbor any and every offense toward me, without any desire to rectify, so no reconciliation possible because they cut me out of their lives at present, as control, I don’t even know what I have done, the Truth is, it’s not me.
    In Scripture Jesus spoke of more than once;our greatest enemy can be that of our own household, as a warning.
    Marianne, you bring up many scenarios on the facets of forgiveness human agonize to deal with. I can relate to what I personally experienced, rejection by those I love most; and yes wrongfully being treated [severely] by this worldly system. I have attempted to seek restitution only to be beaten down further. Life is not fair but we serve a just God.
    Loving God above all and releasing all inward pain for HIS glory gives us peace. Vengeance is HIS. Shalom

    • Above all, I need forgiveness so therefore I am [required] to forgive.
      Mark 6:15
      Mark 11:26
      Hebrews 4 12-13
      1 Samuel 16:7
      Romans 12 17-21

    • susan

      It is hardest when the offenders are in our own family. we cannot easily walk away from people who surround us, especially when it is part of our commitment to be with them at the time.

      family takes advantage of us more than anyone else…and it is sad, if our own family will not back us up, then this sets us up for more abuse from the outside world.

      however, for our survival, we have to resist them to some degree, and let them know where we stand, with their support or without it.

      just pray for them….it makes us tired to pray and see nothing, but keep praying anyhow..god does hear us.

  3. Hello Marianne,

    Three days after the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, the Pope went to the prison to forgive his enemy. I asked, why did the Pope not have the man over to the Vatican for dinner to forgive him. My friend exclaimed, ‘He forgave the man! He din’t let him out of prison!’. This makes a lot of sense. You do not let a known murderer out of prison to harm other people.

    We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. If I were murdering children on a play ground, I would want someone to love me enough to shoot me in the head before I murdered one more child.

    We are to love our enemy. Sometimes this means giving our enemy a coat, sometimes this means sending our enemy to prison, or shooting our enemy for his own good and the protection of the innocent. We are not to bear hatred for our brother, or enemy, in our heart. We are not to sit by idle while our neighbors life is at stake. Jesus commands His Apostles that the one without a sword must sell his coat and buy one. Jesus was not talking about duck hunting. Jesus taught forgiveness and justice for the protection of the innocent. The two can coincide in your heart.

    NAB LUK 22:35

    “And the man without a sword must sell his coat and buy one.”

    NAB MAR 9:40

    But it would be better if anyone who leads astray one of these simple believers were to be plunged in the sea with a great millstone fastened around his neck.

  4. God article. The only forgiveness verse I can think of to add another dimension to this is when Jesus was on the cross and prayed, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” as they were crucifying Him. In that case, forgiveness was extended to non-believers. So there are times, when things are done to us – that we can chose as Jesus did to forgive people for their evil. Thats different than seeing evil committed against another person – and rightly seeking justice so that it prevents further evil from happening – because this was directed at Jesus. God tell us to respect the authorities in our nation – justice system (however flawed it is) serves a purpose to check evil’s action among us. It is right to support that. But looking at Jesus words on the cross – it says that we have the ability to forgive someone evil and not seek justice when God places it upon our hearts to do so. Had evil been stopped from enacting a very in just sentence upon our sinless Lord and Savior – we wouldn’t be forgiven and set free from our just sentence. So at times, God may ask of us to forgive the offense of evil and not seek justice – if it is in conformity with His eternal plan.

    • hi jennie

      that is true…. God sees the heart, and knows what that person’s future is….as the centurion stood at the base of the cross, and declared, this is truly the son of god!…

      some people sin out of ignorance, and eventually they will learn more, and repent….our forgiveness at the time of offense is like a seed sown toward their salvation.

    • Hi Jennie,
      I have learned so much about forgiveness and what it really is. It is not being a doormat>scapegoat; I was assigned that role within family and all the wrongs fell on me from infancy. No wonder I had a hard time truly loving myself and having people in my life who were not abusive + being able to love others too>unworthiness.
      Jesus himself fled constantly from hostile crowds and only succumbed to man when HIS time had come to die for us. This in itself was and still is such a revelation for me! Forgiving oneself is just as commanded as forgiving others’, as already stated by Marianne 🙂 GOD [Alone] sees the heart.
      Glory to HIS name~

  5. news – g-gay-americamichael-glatze-turned-christian-celebrates-marr iage-to-wife-7476

    Former Editor of ‘young gay america’Michael Glatze Turned Christian Celebrates Marriage to Wife aderQuits.html

  6. let us pray for Michael Glatze and Charlene Cothran and those who delivered from homosexual life style by God.

    pray for God’s protection on them ,

    May Holy Spirit empower them to walk with God and be firm on the truth

  7. Amen.

  8. Forgiveness is the ONLY reason why people go to hell. Forgiveness is the key to EVERYTHING on this journey with the Lord. It is important that we forgive whether it be ourselves or others. And unfortunately in order to be able to TRULY forgive someone we have to be able to FORGET. I know that’s hard to do as humans (trust me, I know all too well), but if OUR Father who art in heaven says that when He forgives us, He doesn’t remember it no more, then he requires the same of us if we truly LOVE Him. We don’t forgive to justify ourselves to any persons on earth, but because of our relationship with the Lord so that He may be pleased. In heaven, a person who was murdered on earth is able to be BEST FRIENDS with their murderer if they are there in heaven with them because of their ability to FORGIVE and FORGET of what took place on Earth. And if the murdered has not passed away, then the person goes to the Father and travails be that he or she will be saved through His grace. We need to have compassion on those who we think may have wronged us or who we may have wronged ourselves. And as for the people in hell, the ONLY reason that they are there is because they REFUSED to forgive others or refuse to forgive themselves for the way that they lived on earth. And even in hell, OUR Father still LOVES them. I love all of you my brothers and sisters and I pray that you live your life according to your PERSONAL relationship with The Father.

  9. My son is experiencing a crisis of faith. He has recently learned about the Russian’s rape of many millions of women and girls during the fall of Berlin. He is always asking me, “Will those who say they are sorry without doing something in reparation be allowed into Heaven? He is very angry that the world has not acknowledged the Russian’s crime and hold them accountable. Of course they will not do that in Russia, that closed system where detractors are killed or jailed and the press is state owned. He wants assurance that there will be justice in heaven for these women. He also doesn’t believe these men when one of them expresses remorse. He thinks they are just mouthing the words. He thinks that what they did was so abominable and evil that they deserve punishment despite any words of forgiveness. Are there acts of evil so vile perpetrated by someone so irredeemable evil that they can only expect justice after death.

    • joyce

      vile behavior is not limited to russia or a certain time period. it is going on in many , or most, countries today.

      there WILL be justice in heaven for ALL victims

      god is merciful to those who repent, and a terror to those who refuse to repent

      he is not just “love,” he is holy also, and no sin can come before him and live.

      the wicked will be recognized and given

      rev 9:

      20 The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the works of their hands. They did not stop worshiping demons and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk.

      21 Furthermore, they did not repent of their murder, sorcery, sexual immorality, and theft.

      tell your son to read revelation 8-10 to see what happens to people who do NOT repent of their sins. actually the entire book of revelation he should read.

      FAKE repentance does not count. god is not stupid.

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