How I Used Truth - Lesson 2 - Annotation 6
Explain: "Whose soever sins ye forgive, they are forgiven unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained" (John 20:23).
6. Sin is transgressing the law of God, the good, first in mind, and then in act, falling short of expressing the perfection of God in soul (mind), body, and affairs. Forgiveness of sin is the releasing or erasing of wrong beliefs and the acts that result from such beliefs. The King James version of the Bible uses the word "remit" in the place of "forgive" but it carries the same connotation. Forgive is to "give" the Truth "for" the wrong; "remit" means "to send back" (i.e, send our manner of thinking back to Principle to be cleansed of error).
We forgive or remit sins every time we consciously center our thinking on God, the Principle of Absolute Good, and on the ideas that constitute this good; every time we replace a limiting thought with a clear, loving, Christlike thought. We than eliminate the cause of our sinning, namely, the false concepts we have been holding of ourselves, of God, of others. With this erasure of error causes in consciousness, we are able to lay hold of the God ideas upon which to think, and only good is produced in our life and the lives of others. We are then going through the process of "remission of sins," reference to which was made in Annotation 10 of Lesson One of this course (How I Used Truth Lesson 1 Annotation 10).
There is another point that is worth considering here. The passage says "forgiven unto them" (or "remitted unto them"). Later in the same verse we read, referring to sins, "they are retained." However, this latter statement does not say "unto them." From this we deduct that when we forgive or remit sins (false beliefs and acts) the mental picture we have been holding of another person is actually wiped out, so far as we are concerned. We no longer retain any memory of the shortcoming. However, so long as we do hold a mental picture of error — so long as we retain the memory of the sin — we are holding to it in our own mind. We actually fasten on ourselves the belief we retain of another's sin, until such time as we are willing to release that belief. However, the other person may have long since found his own freedom from the experience of the sin, in which case our holding to it does not cause him to retain it. On the other hand, if the other person is not strong in his own mastery, our retaining of the mental picture of sin or error may actually cause him to carry the burden of it in mind until it threatens to crush him. He may get freedom from his own wrong beliefs or those he has accepted from others whenever he turns directly to God within for forgiveness. Our retaining or holding the sin in mind is certainly not fulfilling the second commandment of Jesus to "love thy neighbor as thyself." When the belief in sin is retained in our own consciousness it is no longer that of another person; unwittingly we have made it ours by accepting it. We have much evidence of cases where parents have held in mind the wrongdoing of a child until the child has felt the condemnation. The child, not knowing how to find his release, gives way to the parents' belief, feeling that it is expected of him. This is by no means confined to children; psychiatrists have traced mental troubles in adults to carryovers of condemnation and resentment of other persons, in childhood and adult life.
The Bible verse considered here presents a principle that lies at the back of many healings and many failures in healing, either in mind, body, or affairs. We need to remember that these powerful words were spoken by Jesus after the resurrection. Jesus had appeared to His disciples, except Thomas, and "He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit" (John 20:22). Then follow the words, "Whose soever sins ye forgive, they are forgiven unto them; whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained" (John 20:23). We know that Jesus was speaking a truth that could free men from their beliefs of sin and its negative effects, once the work was done through the power of the Holy Spirit. In view of this command of Jesus, can we do any less than forgive or remit sins, those of ourselves or of others?
"In denying the reality of sin send out your freeing thought to others as well as to yourself. Do not hold any one in bondage to the thought of sin. If you do, it will pile up and increase in power according to the laws of mental action. No one can understand how forgiveness sets free the sin-bound soul and the sick body unless he studies mind and has some understanding of its laws" (Jesus Christ Heals 60).