The mortal sin of unforgiveness in Scripture

Updated: Jan 2

By Luke Lancaster

Another example of a mortal sin is unforgiveness. This is serious because of how much God puts up with us and OUR sins. Think about it, God is immensely forgiving of us, even when we offend him “seven times a day,” as Prov. 24:16 says. Why does God forgive us so much? And if we realize that, how in the WORLD could we possibly sit out in unforgiveness towards our neighbor? Heck, the Lord compares His relationship to us as to being married to a prostitute.

He says to Hosea the prophet, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry, for the land commits great harlotry by forsaking the Lord” (Hos 1:2). Oh, how moving of an image. Imagine being God, who deeply loves his people, and yet is rejected day in and day out, with few people apologizing. This is why it is a grave sin.

Jesus even says so. For after teaching the disciples how to pray the Lord’s Prayer, he expands on it by saying that, “if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Mt. 6:14-15).

Unforgiveness can become a mortal sin, and even Protestant scholar Mel Shoemaker recognizes it, “A failure to forgive others may result in the forfeiture and loss of the Father’s forgiveness and our salvation” (The Theology of the Four Gospels, 253).

Now of course forgiveness is a process and is not going to be perfect on our part, but Jesus asks that we at least try. We have to be willing to pray for the person that hurt us as Jesus did, who willed the good of those who were crucifying Him, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34).

© March 19, 2020
St. Peter Institute for Scripture and Evangelization.

1098 Ann Arbor Rd. West PMB 3069,

Plymouth, MI 48170

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