Written by Traveler
I have noticed that this has become a hot topic lately, not surprising considering how many have been offended and hold grudges as a result. In fact unforgiveness has become a slow poison that has started to become quite noticeable among the saints, especially among those that fellowship on the web. Because of this it may be a good idea to look at this subject from a scriptural perspective but with the verses in their full context so that a distorted doctrine can be avoided.
There is a reason why forgiveness is strived for and that is because of the need for reconciliation, but not from our perspective, from Gods perspective. It is the need for reconciliation between men and God. It is Gods will that all be forgiven and brought into reconciliation with himself through Christ but this cannot happen if unforgiveness is the obstacle that is preventing this from happening. Part of dying to self is placing Gods will ahead of our own! To be a servant of God is to operate in accordance with his priorities first, not our own.
To demonstrate, below is a passage that none seem to want to take into consideration when dealing with this subject. It concerns how to treat your enemies, not how to forgive them.
Rom 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Rom 12:20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
Rom 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
There is no getting past this, helping to heap burning coals on someone’s head is not an act of forgiveness but doing good to them that hate you is a witness that can soften an enemy and bring about a form of repentance that can lead to reconciliation between that person and God down the road. This passage is looking at things from Gods perspective and we do it in obedience to God. Either the enemy will come to God and be forgiven or he will rebel further and be condemned, but he no longer has the excuse of no witness, However it is God that makes that final decision, not us. We just remain in submission to our Lord. Note that there is no stipulation in that passage that forgiveness has to be given unless asked for and repentance seen. Only that we return good for evil!
There is of course the other side of the coin, take for example the Lords prayer and what Jesus had to say about it.
Mat 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Mat 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
Mat 6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Now that passage above is often sited as a blanket statement that we are required to give unqualified forgiveness to all and sundry regardless of if there is any form of repentance seen or not. Look closer at the objective of the prayer. You are asking God for forgiveness, it is not an automatic thing that you are forgiven and saved from hell, if you do not ask for forgiveness. That is why in the Lords prayer we are instructed to ask for it.
But Jesus is pointing out that we are all sinners saved by grace and none of us are any better than the other or more righteous than our neighbour. It is pure hypocrisy to ask for forgivingness from God if we are not able to forgive our brethren that ask it of us as well. That includes forgiving ourselves.
This principle is explained so well in the parable Jesus told below.
Mat 18:21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Mat 18:22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
Mat 18:23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
Mat 18:24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
Mat 18:25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
Mat 18:26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
Mat 18:27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
Mat 18:28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
Mat 18:29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
Mat 18:30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
Mat 18:31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
Mat 18:32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
Mat 18:33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
Mat 18:34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
Mat 18:35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
Now in that Parable the king is God and the first servant is us. As God has dealt with us so we are expected to deal with our fellow servants in the body. ie; each other. The plea for mercy was given by both but just as the one was refused so the other was treated as well. There was no belligerence involved in either plea and forgiveness should have been given all round but where forgiveness is not sought there is no requirement for it to be given. God sets the example, we are expected to follow it!
The need for repentance to occur for forgiveness to be given is demonstrated well in the passage below. But also the warning of what happens if repentance for harm done is not sought.
Luk 17:1 Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!
Luk 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
Luk 17:3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
Luk 17:4 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.
First thing to note is from verse 3 where it states that if he repents then you are required to forgive him. I point that out because the problem we are facing as a body is that this repentance is not occurring and the unforgiveness is now becoming a real problem.
Now lets have some straight talk here and this applies mainly to the body that is attempting to fellowship on the web.
Religiosity and self righteousness are rampant on the forums as self appointed protectors of the sheep distribute blow after blow on those that are pressing in and leaving the wounded to fester in disarray while creating enemies of the gospels rather than disciples of Christ. The message given is Mormons are cults, JW’s are cults, Seven-day Adventists are cults, Roman Catholics are the whore of Babylon, Evangelicals are white supremests, Assemblies of God are cults, the list just goes on and on. Yet they are all reading from the same bibles and looking to Christ for their atonement. Each denomination developing their own spin on the doctrines they hold. And the bannings and tearing down continues unabated in a disgusting display of the modern day inquisitions.
We all have a common bible and a common faith in the blood of Christ, if left to talk or even argue with each other the scriptures would be explored and all would gradually come into unity despite the denominational differences but the God-sticks keep flying and the beatings intensify until bannings occur and communications cut off mid stride leaving no chance of reconciliation or repentance so resentment festers and unforgiveness blooms into full blossom. The winners and leader of the lynch mobs continue on without a care in the world looking for the next blasphemer to excommunicate totally oblivious to the carnage they leave in their wake and then when they start to feel the pinch they actually have the audacity to stand up and demand that they be forgiven as if it is their right, and the offenders are to be found on a multitude of forums.
There is a lot of leadership on the forums on the web that actually qualify for the mill stone around their necks as they are the offence that has cause the many to stumble but they do not grasp this as the banned have no voice to be heard and they have surrounded themselves with fellow wolves that run around praising each others tails so they all think all is well as a like minded clique. But the day of reckoning is coming while repentance to the offended can no longer take place as they are no longer there to receive it or forgive for it. This is repeated over and over in a ghastly display of religious bigotry that continues unabated.
So much for the fellowship of the saints and people are starting to wonder why there is so much unforgiveness surfacing as the remaining surviving flock learn to do the same exasperating the problem. Its absolutely ridicules.
Warnings about letting this kind of situation develop is given in the passage below.
2Co 2:4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.
2Co 2:5 But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all.
2Co 2:6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.
2Co 2:7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.
2Co 2:8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.
2Co 2:9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.
One thing I have noticed over time is that a persons understanding of scripture will differ from others depending on the type of ministry they are called to or the gifts they are given. Deciphering scripture as the letter of the law does not work very well unless the objective of what that law is trying to achieve is also applied. Complete unity in the brethren only occurs when the objectives of the gospels as viewed from Gods perspective is strived for. Each ministry will interpret the scriptures from the perspective of their own ministry. To an evangelist certain scriptures will stand out more, to a prophet others stand out more, to one in a ministry of helps different scriptures will again be more prominent to him.
Now realistically speaking, what do you think becomes of all those banned saints that did not fit into the predominant clique of a particular group. None of you involved are going to know because you are not going to have any contact with them anymore are you. Out of sight and out of mind. Did they find fellowship somewhere else or did they withdraw further into the wilderness or were they baby saints that turned their backs on the gospels altogether and who’s souls are now going to be required from your hands when Christ returns. How can you know as the very unforgiving act of a permanent ban was applied and they can never return. They are unforgiven by the banners and lynch mobs but the banners can’t figure out why they are themselves unforgiven. Go figure!
Now when it comes to sin and the forgiveness of it this passage is a blanket statement.
1Jn 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
1Jn 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
1Jn 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
1Jn 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1Jn 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Until the saints as a body can reign in the sinners that consider themselves the protectors of righteousness for the flock and understand that all the saints are on an equal footing of unrighteousness in the eyes of God and all have to extend the same kindness they have received from God towards each other, then the continues cycles of unforgiveness will never end but will steadily grow worse.
But the change has to start with you the readers.
God forgives with the repentance of the sinner, he expects us to follow his example. If any of us wishes to be reconciled with God we also out of necessity have to be reconciled with all that turn to Christ for their salvation as well. There are not going to be any cliques in the kingdom of heaven. That means we also have to receive the forgiveness from those we have rejected and give forgiveness to those same as in a two way street. With this is also required the appropriate acts of repentance. The idea that all have to forgive without undoing damage done where possible and that forgiveness is a right to be demanded as automatic are obviously mistaken and headed for judgement themselves.
Take it to hart, this is the way it is!