Forgive and Forget? No!

If a Christian has been personally wronged by another Christian, should he just forgive and forget? I don’t believe he should. I think that would be a terrible mistake, and this attitude (while well-meaning) is very dangerous for local churches. It papers over disputes, and presents a false front of unity where, in fact, bitterness and sin often abound below the surface. Here is my position, briefly:

If a Christian offender has been made aware of his offense against another Christian, and if the offender refuses to repent and ask for forgiveness from the victim, then victim should not forgive him

Now understand - when I write this, I’m envisioning two professing Christians in the same congregation; one of whom is defiantly unrepentant. My position is drawn from this passage (Luke 17:3-4):

Take heed 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, and says, `I repent,’ you must forgive him.

What is the situation?

One Christian sins against another. Matthew 18:15-19 deals with how a church should handle disputes among brethren. This passage addresses the individual aspect. This is about how you and the other Christian should handle the matter. This is important, so get this straight in your head up front - when we talk about forgiveness, there is a difference between a believer and an unbeliever. These are completely different categories. How so?

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What Is Forgiveness?

(From Theologically Driven. Used with permission.)

In the past few months I have encountered several conflicting ideas about forgiveness in unexpected counseling situations. Nor is the confusion confined to the uninformed or immature.

The biblical idea of forgiveness is an elusive one that is often missed entirely or sometimes mixed with other ideas—ideas that are not necessarily bad, but that are not exactly what the Bible is trying to convey by its use of the word forgiveness, either. Note the following:

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"[I]f you had asked me at another time I would have told you that I had forgiven this person"

"When 'that person' who hurts you comes back to mind (and they will.) The right thing to do (not the easy thing to do) is to choose in that moment to forgive. No matter how many times you have done it in the past, you need to learn how to do it over and over again."  CPost

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The Tragedy of Self Deception: Relationships

Posted by permission of Think on These Things and Voice. (Read Part 1.)

The only means we have to free ourselves from habitual self-deception is the mirror of the Word of God.


Scripture never condemns anger per se. As a matter of fact we are given examples of appropriate, godly anger in the life of Jesus and a number of His followers, and we are actually commanded to “be angry” at times (Eph 4:26a). Obviously if God is angry at sin it cannot be wrong for believers to be angry at the same sins. Righteous anger reacts against actual sin, not against inconvenience or violation of personal preference. Righteous anger, instead, is concerned about the Lord and His glory. It is focused on what offends God and injures others, not about what harms the angry person. Righteous anger is self-controlled and concerned for the good of others.

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Should Forgiveness be "Unconditional"?

The forgiveness controversy

Back in 1999, I preached a series on the subject of forgiveness. Many folks in our congregation had never heard the approach I took. A number commented that they heard Christian leaders on the radio or in magazines take the opposite position during the weekdays between my sermons.

The world and much of evangelicalism believe that we should forgive unconditionally. Secular psychologists and popular preachers have formed an alliance that intimidates many of us from even considering the alternatives. Yet many Bible teachers believe that forgiveness is conditioned upon repentance. I am in the latter group.

Bible-believing Christians agree that we are to forgive others as God forgives us. If you believe God forgives unconditionally, this would logically lead you to Universalism, the belief that everyone is saved; no one is under the wrath of God because God’s wrath is not directed toward those who are forgiven. If God forgives unconditionally, then none are unforgiven. Most evangelicals recognize that multitudes are lost, yet many say that God forgives unconditionally. Do you see the contradiction here?

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