>Do you want to be Forgiven or Excused?


I recently read a sermon by C.S. Lewis called “On Forgiveness” (From the Weight of Glory published by HarperCollins).  I thought I would share some of the brilliant insights from Lewis:

Forgive Everyone/Everything or you will not be Forgiven Anything
“We believe (as Christians) that God forgives us our sins; but also that He will not do so unless we forgive other people their sins against us.  There is no doubt about the second part of this statement.  It is in the Lord’s Prayer; it was emphatically stated by our Lord.  If you don’t forgive you will not be forgiven.  No part of His teaching is clearer, and there are no exceptions to it.  He doesn’t say that we are to forgive other people’s sins provided they are not too frightful, or provided there are no extenuating circumstances, or anything of that sort.  We are to forgive them all, however spiteful, however mean, however often they are repeated.  If we don’t, we shall be forgiven none of our own.”

Forgiven or Excused?
“I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often in reality (unless I watch myself very carefully) asking Him to do something quite different.  I am asking Him not to forgive me but to excuse me.  But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing.  Forgiveness says “Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology; I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.”  But excusing says “I see that you couldn’t help it or didn’t mean it; you weren’t really to blame.”  If one was not really to blame then there is nothing to forgive.  In that sense forgiveness and excusing are almost opposites.”

Please Forgive Me but Understand …
“…the trouble us that what we call ‘asking God’s forgiveness’ very often really consists in asking God to accept our excuses.  What leads us into this mistake is the fact that there usually is some amount of excuse, some ‘extenuating circumstances.’  We are sp very anxious to point these out to God (and to ourselves) that we are apt to forget the really important thing; that is, the bit left over, the bit which the excuses don’t cover, the bit which is inexcusable but not, thank God, unforgivable.  And if we forget this, we shall go away imagining that we have repented and been forgiven when all that has really happened is that we have satisfied ourselves with our own excuses.  They may be very bad excuses; we are all too easily satisfied about ourselves.”

No Excuses
“When you go to a doctor you show him the bit of you that is wrong-say, a broken arm.  It would be a mere waste of time to keep on explaining that your leg and eyes and throat are all right.  You may be mistaken in thinking so, and anyway, if they are really all right, the doctor will know that.”

He Forgives!!
“A great deal of our anxiety to make excuses comes from not really believing in it (forgiveness), from thinking that God will not take us to Himself again unless He is satisfied that some sort of case can be made out in our favor.  But that would not be forgiveness at all.”

For more on forgiving others, pick up the book here:


  1. Do you want to be Forgiven or Excused?…

    I recently read a sermon by C.S. Lewis called “On Forgiveness” (From the Weight of Glory published by HarperCollins).  I thought I would share some of the brilliant insights from Lewis……

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