Q. How are believers supposed to treat verses such as: “But if you do not forgive men their tresspasses, neither will your Father forgive your tresspasses.” (Matthew 6:15) Is it guaranteed that the Holy Spirit will be successful in the sanctification process to rid us of habitual unforgiveness? If not, would the Father not forgiving us affect our salvation?
A. There are two components to your relationship with the Lord. The first is your salvation, which was guaranteed the moment you first believed (2 Cor. 1:21-22, Ephes. 1:13-14). At that time you were adopted into the family of God (John 1:12-13, Galatians 4:4-7) and there’s nothing you or anyone else can ever do to change that (John 10:27-30, Romans 8:38-39).
But, having forgiven us everything, the Lord now expects us to forgive each other for the things that come between us. Failure to forgive someone is a sin that can interrupt our fellowship with Him and is what Jesus was describing in Matt. 6:15.
By fellowship I mean that close relationship where there’s good two way communication and a steady flow of blessing. This is all spelled out clearly in the parable of the unmerciful servant (Matt. 18:21-35). The unmerciful servant did not lose his status with the king but for the period of time he was out of the king’s good graces he lost the protection and other benefits that came with it.
Forgiving others as we’ve been forgiven, puts everything right again and from the Lord’s perspective it’s like nothing has ever come between us.