Christian Pilgrim


98. Forgiveness

Christianity is NOT about forgiving everyone everything unconditionally. We can only forgive if we receive a credible outward profession of repentance from the other party.

Matthew 18:21,22 - "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven."

This verse seems to imply unconditional forgiveness, but vv.15-18:

"Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

The context is that your brother has wronged you and you are disciplining him. If he remains unrepentant, then you do not forgive him but instead get him excommunicated from the visible church.

Also, the following parable has the debtor bowing down and worshipping the king (v.26) in a credible outward profession of repentance (which, it turns out, was not genuine), which rightly elicits our forgiveness.

We must only forgive "if he repents" (i.e. a credible outward profession of repentance):

Luke 17:3,4 - "Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. 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."

We must confess our sins AND forsake them in order to obtain mercy:

Proverbs 28:13 - "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."

But we must forgive "if we have ought against any" unjustly, i.e. if the problem is within ourselves and not in the other person:

Mark 11:25,26 - "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses."