A letter from a dear friend that I received today:
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
4 thoughts on “No Forgiveness Without Repentance”
I found this post very helpful, thank you. I would be very interested in hearing your reasoning behind, “One of the great errors of our time is to confuse a refusal to forgive unrepentant sinners with “holding a grudge.” I follow completely your scriptural references, but more specifically. Is it “One of the great errors of our time” simply because of people’s “unwilled” ignorance of God’s Word? I’m finding this erroneous view of forgiveness as prevalent inside the church as without, as demonstrated by the letter in your post. Is the church somehow taking it’s cue on this issue from the broader culture, or agendas embedded within it?
Absolutely I agree with you, Pastor Andrew. Thank you for your forwarding this. Everything I do at home, in my community or with my team at the Capitol to pray for the state of California, the USA and the World is done and modeled after biblical REPENTANCE from both the Old testament and the New Testament. God’s promises and blessings for obedience and the fulfillment of those promises in Jesus name; and His teachings for us individually and corporately I repent for my actions or lack of action and I chose to stand in the gap for others who also sin, knowingly and unknowingly, against God. I believe the Church is the head and not the tail. And we are to model after Jesus in all things big and small. The GREAT REVIVAL of souls, I dare say, will happen when the leadership of the Church –His beloved bride, weeps and mourns, as Jesus did over Jerusalem. It will bring resurrection life to the land in which the people live as the government / family is on His shoulders! We have a part in the redemption of mankind and for me it’s action with biblical know how.
Leslie Hines SIMPLE® Serve. Intentionally. Mankind. Practice. Living. Excellence. Psalm 119:130
I believe we have lost sight of what sin is, and it’s gross evil! Also the idea of original sin has lead to negation of responsibility, making all men slack in the fight against sin! There is no doubt the Christian who has entered by the straight gate is delivered from the power of sin! Those who have entered any other way have separated themselves sensuality having not the Spirit! 1 John is clearly dealing with this problem! But as Peter rightly said, they wrest at this word torturing it’s meaning to suit their purpose. It is abundantly clear, you cannot have sin and know God! No matter who you are, in the pulpit or in the gutter. But the answer is given that, if we confess our sins! What is this confession? It is certainly not the private acknowledgement of sin, No, It is the very public owning of our errors and the receiving our just reward! The true spirit we see in Paul, when he said, if I have done anything worthy of death, I refuse not to die! He that sinneth is of the devil!