In part No. 1 of this discussion (Sept. 29, 2014), “Forgiveness — Repentance a Requisite?” I answered the first of these two questions: 1) Must unrepented sin be forgiven by God and/or man? 2) What ought the posture/attitude of the offended party be toward an offender who gives no evidence of a desire for forgiveness?
My answer to that first question was no. I know of no evidence in the Bible that God will force forgiveness upon a person who refuses to repent of his or her wrongdoing and does not want forgiveness for it — or that I can forgive an offender who steadfastly refuses to acknowledge, apologize for, repent of, or accept forgiveness for the sin he or she has committed against me.
And that brings us to the second question (above): What ought the posture/attitude of the offended party be toward an offender who gives no evidence of a desire for forgiveness?
My dear friend, JH, brings this issue into focus by writing — “Comment, if you would, on repentance being a requisite for forgiveness. Is there a difference between a forgiving spirit and forgiveness?”
Yes, there is a difference. I must never cease to have a forgiving spirit. Jesus answered the Apostle Peter’s question, “How oft shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? till seven times?” Jesus answered him, “I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but Until seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:21-22).
In other words, I must stand ready always to offer forgiveness to an offender who asks for it, time and time again without limit. I must have a forgiving spirit.
BUT, what ought my posture/attitude be with regard to the unrepentant man or woman who has sinned against me, the one who is not sorry, perhaps rejoices in the wrong he has done me, wishes he could hurt me more? What am I to think of him? Answer: I must have the “forgiving spirit” toward that person of which my friend has written. And — are you ready for this? — I must love him or her!
Jesus said, “…Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven…” (Matt. 5:44-45a).
God loves His enemies, those who are yet unrepentant, who yet resist His offer of forgiveness for their sins against Him. He “…so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16).
If God so loved the world and loves it yet, even those in it who are His avowed inveterate enemies, can we call ourselves His children and do less? It may prove impossible for us to forgive those who commit offenses against us, perhaps hate us, even willfully abuse us, because they do not want our forgiveness, will not accept it — but we must love them, bless them, do good to them, and pray for them. That’s what Jesus said. DB
Comment, if you would, on repentance being requisite for forgiveness. Is there a difference between a forgiving spirit and forgiveness?