Forgiveness Is Conditional
Part I: Forgiveness is Conditional
Some of what is taught in evangelical churches today is taught on the basis assumption. I have a special impatience with those who assume, but the problem is that I am sometimes one of them!
Questions we will attempt to answer in this series include: Do I have to forgive someone who has not repented? How can I cope when I have ill feelings toward another? Is it okay to want God to even the score? Does forgiving imply forgetting? When I wrong someone, what, besides asking for forgiveness, can I do? Is it ever right to overlook the wrong things people do? Is it right to not get mad but to get even instead? If we forgive a person who committed a crime, should they be prosecuted? What does a genuine apology sound like? What about wrongs done in ignorance ("Father, forgive them for they know not what they do)?
Main Thought: Forgiveness is conditional, but what do we do when people don't meet the conditions?
Many people call "letting something go" forgiving...real forgiveness addresses issues.
So take a moment and actually THINK about how God forgives, WHO He forgives, and WHEN He forgives.
If God automatically forgave everyone unconditionally, everyone would be saved. No one would be lost. God's forgiveness is therefore NOT unconditional, but conditional...that is the pattern for us.
God is not ashamed to say He has not forgiven the non-repentant, neither should we!
Interpret the short statements in light of the longer, more detailed ones
Part II: Credibility and Ignorance
Questions we will attempt to answer in this series include: How can I cope when I have ill feelings toward another? Is it okay to want God to even the score? Does forgiving imply forgetting? When I wrong someone, what, besides asking for forgiveness, can I do? Is it ever right to overlook the wrong things people do? Is it right to not get mad but to get even instead? If we forgive a person who committed a crime, should they be prosecuted? What does a genuine apology sound like? What about wrongs done in ignorance ("Father, forgive them for they know not what they do)?
Last week we answered: Do I have to forgive someone who has not repented? Our answer was "no," and even implied you really cannot HONESTLY do so in instances of great offense without repentance.
Proposition One: We forgive as GOD has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32)
Proposition Two: God Does NOT Forgive Us if We Do Not Meet the Condition of Repentance (Confession)—1 John 1:8-9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
Proposition Three: God Does Not Hold Us to A Higher Standard of Forgiveness Than He Does Himself—see Luke 17:3
Today, we shall address two issues on the fringe of the subject of forgiveness, two issues we need to understand clearly.
7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance."
NIV Luke 23:34
Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
NIV Acts 4:10
It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.1 Corinthians 2:8
None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.The PEOPLE were held accountable for crucifying an innocent man, but NOT for crucifying the Son of God, for they were ignorant of that. They were forgiven for "that which they knew not what they were doing."
13 If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the L's commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, they are guilty. 14 When they become aware of the sin they committed, the assembly must bring a young bull as a sin offering and present it before the Tent of Meeting. 15 The elders of the community are to lay their hands on the bull's head before the L , and the bull shall be slaughtered before the L .
Part III: When The Offender Won't Repent
Thus far in our series, we have tried to answer the following questions:
Like God, we must stand ready to forgive when repentance occurs.
Today's question has been on the minds of many folks thus far. Okay, Vasicek, if we don't (or can't truly) forgive the non-repentant, what are we to do? Hate them? Get even? How do we handle it? Glad you asked.
Main Thought: Life in the real world involves dealing with people who will not repent or apologize for the wrongs they have done to us. The Christian way to handle such situations involves employing several truths.
NIV Matthew 5:44
44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you...
—Don't confuse an enemy with a neighbor you just don't like (the difference is malice)
—how love and emotional distance relate....
NIV Exodus 23:4-5
4 If you come across your enemy's ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him. 5 If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help him with it.
NIV Acts 23:2-3
2 At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!"
NIV Revelation 6:9-10
9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?"
NIV Romans 12:19-20
19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."
NIV Romans 13:4-6
4 For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing.
Part IV: Finale and Final Questions
Thus far in our series on forgiveness, I have attempted to answer these questions. Here they are, in review, with references.
—God is our model; He does not forgive us if we do not repent—Luke 17:3, 1 John 1:9, Acts 5:3-5; complete forgiveness may, at times, be impossible without repentance anyway...
This morning, I would like to answer a few final questions about forgiving and forgiveness.
1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.... 4 For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
—situations between believers should first be referred to the elders (1 Corinthians 6:1-6)
NIV Proverbs 17:15
Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent—the Ldetests them both.
You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
...as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.
1 Timothy 3:2-7
2 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap.
I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
This morning, as we conclude our series on forgiveness, let me encourage you to settle these matters in your mind and come to your convictions; they may disagree with mine, but you need to have them thought out BEFORE you need them!
And as we try to bring our faith to bear in the real world, let's be like God, standing ready to forgive and asking for forgiveness when we need it.
Highland Park Church
516 West Sycamore Street
Kokomo, Indiana, USA