No Forgiveness Without Repentance
Posted on March 13, 2014
I read this today and wanted your thoughts on it please:
Some months ago I was listening to Issues, Etc. This Lutheran pastor was telling us about a woman he counseled years ago. She had been accosted by two men. During her long emotional/spiritual recovery she told her pastor that she simply couldn’t forgive. He told her this:
You are united to Christ. All that He is and all that He does is yours by virtue of the fact that God has placed you in Christ. You HAVE forgiven your assailants. When God sees you, He sees all that Christ is and does. Christ has forgiven your assailants, so you have forgiven them as well. Now, all you have to do is rest in that fact. Just rest…. Don’t try to “work up” forgiveness. It doesn’t work. Just rest in the fact that when God sees you, He sees a perfectly forgiving woman. REST IN THAT. So, she took his advice. Some weeks later she told her pastor that she felt the debilitating, paralyzing anger begin to slip away as a direct result of his advice.
Thank you Pastor.
Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I disagree vigorously with that statement about forgiveness, and I believe that it undermines the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s a popular idea among some Christians, but it is clearly contrary to the Bible (Ac. 5:31; 26:18). The Bible says that God forgives only those who confess their sins and turn to Jesus Christ. If God forgives everybody’s sin apart from confession and repentance, this means that everyone is saved, and the Bible does not teach this. It’s certainly true that God loves the world, but the fact that he loves the world doesn’t mean that he has already forgiven the world. The world must repent.
1 John 1:8 is very clear: if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins. There’s no promise that God will forgive the sins of those who do not confess and repent of their sins.
Sometimes to counter this fact, Christians will cite Jesus’ prayer on the Cross for his Father to forgive those who crucified him because they did not know what they were doing. The fact is, the Father did forgive them when they repented at Pentecost.
One of the great errors of our time is to confuse a refusal to forgive unrepentant sinners with “holding a grudge.” But these two are not the same. Luke 17:3, 4 is very clear: We are called to forgive our repentant brother or sister 490 times in a row (and even more!). But we may not forgive those who refuse to repent. If we do offer forgiveness to those who refuse to repent, we are making a mockery of the Cross of Jesus Christ and, in effect, trampling his precious blood under foot. We are saying that Jesus’ blood was not necessary for forgiveness.
This is a common, but evil, practice. When we refuse to forgive unrepentant sinners, we are following the path of our holy God. We must sufficiently love unrepentant sinners to love them all the way to the Cross.
I hope this helps, my dear friend.
Much respect, in Him,
P. Andrew Sandlin