John 20:23 (NKJV)

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them;
if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.


Unlocking the Truth - A Critical Spirit

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained. John 20:23

This Bible verse is the epitome of mercy. Jesus gives us the gigantic responsibility and privilege of granting forgiveness to others…or not.

Just as God had a choice of whether or not to grant us forgiveness, He gives us the choice of whether or not to grant someone else forgiveness.


This is the secret to any successful relationship. And let’s face it, we can’t go through life without other people, so we must face this decision every single day.

--Do we forgive the person who cuts us off in traffic, or let it get under our skin?

--Do we extend mercy to our co-worker who talked about us behind our back, or fume with resentment?

--Do we forgive our spouse who made fun of us in front of friends, or tuck a secret grudge into our heart?

Here are Jesus’ words again from John 20:23. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.

What a huge responsibility as disciples of Christ! If we forgive others, they are forgiven by God. If we do not forgive them, their sins are retained. “Retained” in Webster’s dictionary means: to keep in mind or remember. Greek meanings are: keep, dominion.

Those are very sobering words. To know that we have such power as disciples of Christ is humbling and quite daunting. We have a huge responsibility toward others (for their sakes and our own) to keep our hearts clear toward them.

What we dish out, whether it be resentment and judgment or grace and mercy, comes back to us.

Matthew 6:15 says, “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

If nothing else gives us the incentive to forgive, it should be that.

We all desperately need and want the mercy and grace of God. None of us are clear and clean in our attitudes and hearts toward one another, without the help of Jesus Christ.


The devil has had so much success turning people against each other, with his tools of envy, jealousy, deception, suspicion, guilt and fear; but no more.

We must access the love of Christ Who lives within us for those moments our flesh feels like lashing out—either verbally, or silently in judgment.

We must be aware of a critical spirit that has attached itself to us, and condemn it, and not others.

The fastest and most powerful way to defeat the devil at his own game is to ask God for spiritual sight and be aware when we see the devil at work, in our feelings, our words or our attitude.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.”

Be aware of what’s in your heart, and seek God when something surfaces that needs to be purged. His heart is quick to respond to one who desires righteousness, for that is evidence of the beauty of Jesus Christ within you.

God is drawn to the beauty of Christ within us; mercy will do it every time.

Do you want to be free from the chains of judgement and condemnation from others? Start forgiving them. What we measure out is measured back to us. (Matthew 7:1-2)

Make forgiveness a practice and see the beautiful righteousness of God’s mercy rise up in your relationships. You’ll know a new peace and freedom like never before.

Jesus Christ is the way. (John 14:6)

Study the Bible verse of John 20:23 and experience the joy of righteousness in relationships through forgiveness by the power of Jesus Christ within you.



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