Forgive as Christ Forgives

I think we are to forgive even if there is no rebuke and if there is no repentance, but there is a difference in what the forgiveness is. A person can forgive someone internally, move past the offense and not worry about it. But if there’s a break in the relationship over the offense, I believe that is where external forgiveness comes in.

I have forgiven many people in my life who never knew they offended me. I decided to just get over it, continue on with the relationship as is and it worked out fine. But there are other offenses that are serious, that truly I struggle getting over.

In these cases if I don’t deal with the issue it will create friction with that person and eventually lead to an outburst or destruction of the relationship. Rebuke, going to the person to explain what the offense was and how you were hurt by it, is in order.

The hope is that the offender repents and you can forgive, shake hands and continue the relationship. If the person does not repent, I think we still forgive, but there is no restoration of the relationship. We move on even if the other person decides they want to break the relationship. Internally we know we did all we could, it’s time to move on even though the relationship is over.

In the end, we are to forgive like Christ forgives. Christ does not forgive everyone, if He did then all would be saved and we know this is not true. Who does Christ forgive?

Christ rebukes everyone over sin–the God-breathed Word reproves all men, the Spirit is at work in the world convicting men of sin, the Gospel and the Cross are a giant rebuke of sin. But only those who repent are forgiven.

That is how Christ forgives. Without repentance there can be no forgiveness, we show that reality in our relationships. Divorce is largely a result of unrepentant offenders and an inability to forgive and move on. Divorce and marriage are constant analogies to the relationship God has with His people.

Forgiveness is tough, but in order to live in a world of fallen sinners it is necessary if you have any hope of being with other people.

2 thoughts on “Forgive as Christ Forgives”

  1. I think we all can agree with the statement that “Christ forgives all men of their sins.” But there are conditions to this forgiveness, repentance and faith on our behalf.
    True forgiveness leads to reconciliation, I think to say that true forgiveness has taken place when one party has no desire to reconcile is misleading. We can offer forgiveness, but if the other person has no desire to repent, true forgiveness has not taken place.
    I believe we are called to forgive, but are we called to forget if there is no repentance? I don’t believe so, we must protect the flock from wolves who would harm God’s sheep.

  2. I wrestled over this topic a few weeks back and came to the conclusion that we can extend forgiveness for what is done in ignorance or secret (although we should also labor to bring real knowledge to the sinner), but we may not indiscriminately forgive those sins which are done openly, else we end up supporting the sin. My reason is based on the following biblical example:

    On the cross Jesus cried out, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Does this mean that the crucifixion of the son of God was all forgotten, and the Jews were never reminded of it again? Not at all! On the other hand, the first thing the apostles did after the descent of the Holy Spirit was to speak words like this:

    Acts 3
    14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;
    15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.

    The forgiveness that Jesus asked for was that the consequences of the sins of those people would not be visited on them in full yet, that they would be given more time to understand their transgression. This time was given, and some were saved because of it.

    But the majority refused to repent, and 35 years later, Jerusalem and the nearly million unrepentant people in it were destroyed. But even before that happened, after Stephen was stoned and Paul’s testimony was refused, Paul said:

    Acts 13
    46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.

    Note that he did NOT say, “you refused the gospel, but we forgive you!” There’s not a word of forgiveness here, but a recognition that their decision was made, and it was time to move on. There was a separation made.

    This action of separation is also mentioned in Corinthians, when Paul told the believers to separate themselves from the unrepentant brother. I don’t believe such actions should be done out of spite, but it is a last step to help the sinner. By separating from him, you show him that his sins will bring a final separation between himself and God. It’s a help to him so he realizes the seriousness of the condition he is in, and has time to reflect on it.

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