The Contingencies of Forgiveness

Heard on TV:
I forgive…
When can we forgive?
When should we forgive?

Contingent on Repentance

Can we forgive before the act – no, by definition
Can we forgive in the middle of an act – again, no, by definition
Surely we can forgive as soon as the act is over – possibly, but it is contingent on them and what they do next

IF they are repentant then this means that they are not going to do the wrong thing again.

Luke 17:1 Then He said to the disciples, It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!
Luke 17:2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
Luke 17:3 Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.
Luke 17:4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”
Luke 17:5 And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”

If man must repent before God forgives, how can we be any different?

Can we forgive what God doesn’t?

How to Handle the situation when someone does not repent

We forgive if someone repents but what if they don’t? Does God forgive us before we repent?  If he does not then how is it that we can say that we should? Are we bigger than God? Do we understand this process better than God?

Look at Luke 15 and evaluate the father in terms of it being analogous to God the Father.

Luke 15:11 Then He said: A certain man had two sons.
Luke 15:12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.‘ So he divided to them his livelihood.
Luke 15:13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.
Luke 15:14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.
Luke 15:15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
Luke 15:16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.
Luke 15:17 But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
Luke 15:18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you,
Luke 15:19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ‘
Luke 15:20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.
Luke 15:21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
Luke 15:22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.
Luke 15:23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry;
Luke 15:24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.
Luke 15:25 Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.
Luke 15:26 So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant.
Luke 15:27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’
Luke 15:28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him.
Luke 15:29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.
Luke 15:30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’
Luke 15:31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.
Luke 15:32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ “

Spirit of Forgiveness

Jesus Christ on the cross was ready to forgive

Luke 23:32 There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death.
Luke 23:33 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.
Luke 23:34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.

Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;
Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

Problems linked to not forgiving:

Mayo clinic:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Improved mental health
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • A stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health
  • Improved self-esteem

Johns Hopkins

“There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed,” says Karen Swartz, M.D., director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure and immune response. Those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health.

WebMD etc; well documented

All Sin is Ultimately Against God

2 Samuel 12:9 Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon.

2 Samuel 12:13 So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.

Why then are some so willing to forgive at the drop of a hat?

They are mislead into believing it is Godly

So that they don’t have to do Matthew 18?

I suspect that a big part of the reason is this.


It is a way that we relate to another whether God or man, of course there are rules that govern this

Forgiveness is for the healing and reconciliation of a relationship (with God or man)

Isaiah 59:2

Matthew 18 is for the healing and reconciliation of a relationship

Can a relationship be reconciled if one person is still at odds – by definition, no

So can a person be forgiven (in other words a relationship healed) when they have not changed what is causing the problem or division in the relationship to begin with.

It takes two to repair a relationship – otherwise we cannot relate – or fellowship to the degree that we can and should

Contingent on Obedience

This is similar to the first point in that it is a continuation of it

The first point is more at stopping the wrong act, this is more doing the right thing

Following God’s ways

1 John 1:5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Not saying that we are forgiven because of our acting righteously, godly or obediently.

But if we are not obeying, then we are still committing the infraction

We are still sinning in other words and we cannot be forgiven until we change our ways and start doing what is right.

1 John 3:3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
1 John 3:4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.
1 John 3:5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.
1 John 3:6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.
1 John 3:7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.

Contingent on Asking for It

1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Admission of and asking for forgiveness

1 John 3:22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.

James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

It is not once forgiven, always forgiven

Not really a saying, but closely ties into salvation, ‘once saved, always saved’

Forgiveness is required for salvation

Contingent on Forgiving Others

Matthew 18:21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
Matthew 18:22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

This obviously meant to convey as many times as the offender truly repents

Matthew 18:23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.
Matthew 18:24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. [ $14,254,517,925.00 gold]
Matthew 18:25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.
Matthew 18:26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’
Matthew 18:27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
Matthew 18:28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’
Matthew 18:29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’
Matthew 18:30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.
Matthew 18:31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.
Matthew 18:32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.
Matthew 18:33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’
Matthew 18:34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
Matthew 18:35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

God forgave first and He forgave the most
He is the King in this parable
We are the servants
What do we have to do by comparison?
We are to be this living sacrifice
We are to keep perspective
God has forgiven the greater amount
We are to follow His example

Lord’s prayer – how we pray

Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
Matthew 6:15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

When we come before God, it is necessary that it be done

Matthew 5:23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,
Matthew 5:24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

What do we forgive? Is it the damaging of a relationship? Can a damaged relationship be repaired by only one party involved in the offense?

1 John 1:3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

In context of previous points

Our relationships must be fixed that we can have right and good relationships

What we are owed is nothing compared to what we owe

God the Father had to give His Son

The Son divested Himself of His God-hood

Contingent on a Price Being Paid

1 John 2:1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
1 John 2:2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
John 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Matthew 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

God is asking us to do something similar
Lay down our life
Become a living sacrifice
To sacrifice something / Give up something

Luke 11:4 And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.

God asks us to do what He has already done.

So when these conditions are met, then it is incumbent upon us to grant forgiveness.
And in that moment:

We Get to Act Like God

This is not a Lord it over them act. But we get to exhibit a portion of the grace and compassion and mercy that God has shown to us. We get to be God-like and show the power of God in us.

Proverbs 19:11 The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, And his glory is to overlook a transgression.

To err is human, to forgive is divine – Because it reflects God’s character in us