My wife began drinking 14 years ago-when she was 45 years old. For 8 years my 6 children and I went through a terrible time. We went to counseling and learned a lot about alcohol and also women’s mid-life problems. She has been fine for over 6 years-alcohol free. Many times she has asked for forgiveness and I have given it. She went to AA and talked to the children about what happened. Now, I have feelings about the bad times and told her that we should see a marriage counselor. She agreed. Q>:What does the Bible say about me bringing up the past and forgiveness?
Ephesians 4:31,32 says, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” God commands us to forgive others on the same basis as He has forgiven us. If your wife has asked your forgiveness for a matter, you should forgive her the first time that she asks, and then reassure her after that, that you have already forgiven her for that sin. There is no need for counseling on such a matter. There is only the need for true forgiveness. If the matter is troubling you, then it is because you are letting the hurt run over and over through your mind, and by doing that, you are letting bitterness well up in your heart.
If you have repented of your sin (repentance is not cleaning up yourself — it is going to God with the desire that He cleanse you from your sin and false beliefs), and have then placed your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in Him alone (His death, burial, and resurrection for you), then He has forgiven you. Psalm 103:10-12 says, “He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” If you refuse to show such forgiveness to your wife, then you are asking for much trouble in the future in your relationship.
When people perceive that others will not truly forgive them, then they often get discouraged and quit even trying to do right, and plunge even deeper into sin. That choice is up to you — truly forgive, or reap even more hurt and trouble in your life. Hebrews 8:11,12 says, “And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and THEIR SINS AND INIQUITIES WILL I REMEMBER NO MORE.”
If people keep coming to ask for forgiveness, then we have to keep forgiving. Luke 17:3,4 says, “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee SEVEN TIMES IN A DAY, and SEVEN TIMES IN A DAY TURN AGAIN TO THEE, SAYING, I REPENT; THOU SHALT FORGIVE HIM.”
True repentance is accompanied by action. Acts 26:20 says, “But showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should REPENT and turn to God, and DO WORKS MEET FOR REPENTANCE.”
It is the same way with forgiveness. True forgiveness is accompanied by action. II Corinthians 2:6-11 says, “Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to FORGIVE HIM, and COMFORT HIM, LEST PERHAPS SUCH AN ONE SHOULD BE
SWALLOWED UP WITH OVERMUCH SORROW. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would CONFIRM YOUR LOVE toward him. For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; LEST SATAN SHOULD GET AN ADVANTAGE OF US: FOR WE ARE NOT IGNORANT OF HIS DEVICES.” If you are not willing to truly forgive, and show actions that back up your words, then Satan will use BITTERNESS to destroy you, and HOPELESSNESS to destroy your wife.