Can I Forgive Without Repentance?

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Can we forgive when the offender does not repent?

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This lesson comes from our question/suggestion box. Can I forgive someone who does not seek my forgiveness? Despite the best efforts of mankind, we do offend and are offended. What do we do when we cannot resolve those differences, particularly if we believe that sin has been committed?

I) Definitions

Forgive – aphiemi {af-ee’-ay-mee}
i. to send away:
ii. 1a) to bid going away or depart, i.e. a husband divorcing his wife; 1b) to send forth, yield up, to expire; 1c) to let go, let alone, let be i.e. to disregard, to leave, not to discuss now, (a topic, used of teachers, writers and speakers), to omit, neglect; 1d) to let go, give up a debt, forgive, to remit; 1e) to give up, keep no longer
Forgive – charizomai {khar-id’-zom-ahee} – used only by Paul
i. to do something pleasant or agreeable (to one), to do a favor to, gratify:
ii. 1a) to show one’s self gracious, kind, benevolent; 1b) to grant forgiveness, to pardon; 1c) to give graciously, give freely, bestow; to forgive; graciously to restore one to another; to preserve for one a person in peril

II) God’s forgiveness of man

Conditional upon our repentance – , ;
Luke 13:3 ESV
No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
Luke 13:5 ESV
No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
1 John 1:9–10 ESV
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Complete – ; ; ;
Psalm 103:12 ESV
as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
Isaiah 38:17 ESV
Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back.
Micah 7:19 ESV
He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
Hebrews 10:17 ESV
then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
But, this does not depend on us, only God can forgive in this way –
Mark 2:5–10 ESV
And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—

III) Man’s forgiveness of man – two views

Conditional upon repentance:
i. we are to forgive as God does – ; ;
Matthew 6:12 ESV
and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Ephesians 4:32 ESV
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Colossians 3:13 ESV
bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
ii. we are to forgive if our brother repents – ;
Luke 17:1–4 ESV
And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
Matthew 18:21–35 ESV
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
iii. Joseph seems to test his brothers before revealing himself to them –
Unconditional:
i. while praying, we should forgive at that time –
Mark 11:25 ESV
And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
ii. Jesus and Stephen asked forgiveness for unrepentant men – ;
Luke 23:34 ESV
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.
Acts 7:54–60 ESV
Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

IV) Reconciliation

Means changed position
Part of forgiveness – perhaps the most difficult part
Price of forgiveness can be very high, and impossible to remit – – like the death of Stephen, whom Paul could not bring back to life
Matthew 18:24–27 ESV
When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.
Not holding a grudge –
Hebrews 8:12 ESV
For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”
Concl: Bitterness has destroyed many relationships, we can be no less merciful than God in being willing to forgive – .
Matthew 5:7 ESV
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
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