Unforgivable
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Does anybody remember the call-in radio show with Dr. Laura? For a while, Laura Schlessinger had a very popular radio advice program where she told people exactly what she thought about their behavior and how they should fix themselves. She often didn’t let the caller get to the actual question before she started telling them how to fix it.

I will never forget the day I heard her tell a caller that she didn’t have to forgive the person who had wronged her – that some things were just unforgivable. I guess I had never really thought about how I felt about forgiveness, but as soon as Dr. Laura told me what she believed, I knew that my belief was different.

I had a similar experience when I was teaching fourth graders. I was talking to the parents of one of my students and one of the parents said, “I’ve told Tommy that if anybody hits him, he’s to hit them back harder.” I don’t believe I had ever heard a parent make such a comment, and I’m not sure I was able to completely hide the shock I felt.

I realize I have led a sheltered life and it was good that my closed little mind was forced to expand to take in these other ways of looking and dealing with the world.

Given the opportunity to review my belief system alongside these other  philosophies, I still can’t fit either statement into the way I believe followers of Jesus Christ are supposed to live their lives.

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

You’re right, Micah doesn’t say the word “forgiveness” in that verse at all. But try to picture for a minute what a person who is godly, humble, merciful, and just would look and sound like. See if you can pick him out in this parable:

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 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. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.

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“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!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.” Matthew 18:23-30

Ellen White commented on this parable in the January 1, 1892 edition of Home Missionary.

“While we must depend so entirely upon the mercy of a sin-pardoning Saviour, shall our hearts remain hard and unsympathizing? Can any provocation authorize unkind feelings, or should it cause us to harbor resentment or seek revenge? Can we cast the first stone in condemnation of a brother, when God is extending his mercy to us, and forgiving our trespasses against him? Should God enter into judgment with us, our debt would be found to be immense, yet our heavenly Father forgives the debt. Men will be dealt with by God, not according to their opinion of themselves, not according to their self-confidence, but according to the spirit they reveal toward their erring brethren. We are not forgiven because we forgive, but as we forgive.” (Home Missionary January 1, 1892)

Is there anything that another human can do to us that we can, with good conscience, refuse to forgive?

Now that doesn’t mean I always feel like forgiving. I’m not at the place where letting go of hurt is easy. Knowing what is right and being willing to do right every time are two very different things.

A friend once defined forgiveness as “giving up the right to continue to punish someone for the wrong they have done us.” Using that definition, if someone has wronged us and we say that we have forgiven them, can we still go from person to person recounting the terrible thing they did to us? Can we still glare at them from across the room? Forgiving them says that we have decided not to punish them for what they’ve done.

Again, our example has to be Jesus. He has every right to punish each and every one of us, and yet he forgives us instead. He even goes a step farther and refuses to remember that we ever did anything wrong.

“He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:19

I read a great story this week that illustrates this text.

“One old father was reading Micah 7:19 about God’s putting away of our sins by throwing them into the depths of the ocean. He rejoiced over it and shouted, ‘Glory to God!’ His unbelieving son did not like it, so he brought a scientific encyclopedia for his father to read instead of the Bible. After some time, his son again heard his father shouting, ‘Glory to God!’ The son came and asked his father, ‘What do you read here that you are so excited about?’ The father replied, ‘I read that scientists, even with the best modern equipment, are sometimes unable to go deep enough to explore all the depths of the ocean. It means that our sins are buried there, and no one can dig them up!’1

Jesus forgives us for the unforgivable every single day – He gives up the right to ever punish us for those actions. In light of that kind of mercy, how can we do any less than forgive anyone who has wronged us?

“How did the birth of Jesus change the world? Historian Rodney Stark argues that there was one huge factor that helped capture the attention of the ancient world—Christianity’s revolutionary emphasis on mercy. Stark writes:
In the midst of the squalor, misery, illness, and anonymity of ancient cities, Christianity provided an island of mercy and security ….. It started with Jesus ….

“In contrast, in the pagan world, and especially among the philosophers, mercy was regarded as a character defect and pity as a pathological emotion: because mercy involves providing unearned help or relief, it is contrary to justice …. [Thus] humans must learn ‘to curb the impulse [to show mercy]’; ‘the cry of the undeserving for mercy’ must go ‘unanswered.’ ‘[Showing mercy] was a defect of character unworthy of the wise and excusable only in those who have not yet grown up.’

“This was the moral climate in which Christianity taught that … a merciful God requires humans to be merciful.”2

Micah summed it up well when he wrote, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

  1. Jiri Moskala , The Lesson in Brief, Lessons 1–13, and The Learning Cycles 7, The Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide
  2. Rodney Stark, The Triumph of Christianity, (HarperOne, 2012), page 112
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Unforgivable — 34 Comments

  1. Your topic hit the nail on the head. I have tried in my walk to acknowledge human frailty and forgive and move on. However, I now have to teach my 5 yr old son to do that at the expense he may be looked at as week. My son was recently attending academy and it seems all parents at that school tell their kids to hit back harder rather than tell him turn the other cheek. I am telling my son to shout stop and then if they continue defend him self. This seems like my walk today and I'm in an environment of some so-called missionaries with a mean spirit and clique attitudes which are amazing. This causes one to go away from the assembly of the faithful. However I don't want to go that route however I don't want my son to see these indiscretions. I am praying for wisdom and direction.

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  2. Thank you for this thought-provoking post, Lilliane.

    Perhaps the person who said that some things were just unforgivable was thinking of something like sexual abuse?

    I believe it is important to make a clear distinction between forgiveness and reconciliation. When we forgive we give up on the job of making the other person "pay" for the wrong s/he has done. We leave the "vengeance" to the Lord. We can do that without the other person asking for forgiveness.

    However, it would be nothing less than stupidity go expose oneself to the same bad situation again. Thus if there is no repentance on the part of the offending party, there is no restoration of relationship. It is the same with God: He forgives us before we ask, but if we do not repent, there is no restoration of relationship and no salvation.

    In the case of sexual abuse, the abused may have to avoid the abuser for life, even if the latter apparently repents. The wounds are so deep that any contact constitutes a re-wounding. This is the cost of sin.

    We belong first to the Lord, and thus it is our responsibility to stay away from situations that will damage the Lord's property -- meaning that we do not allow ourselves to remain in situations where we will be abused, no matter how "holy" the words of the abuser may sounds.

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    • [Moderator Note: Please use full name when commenting, thank you!]

      Thank you very much for your insight. Indeed forgiveness cannot always produce reconciliation and Jesus's example teaches us that we don't need to be asked to offer forgiveness. May God bless us all as we forgive as He forgives us.

      However, can anyone help clarify if "to do justly" is the same as to do justice?

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      • To do justly is to do what Jesus would do if he was in the same situation.To do justice is to do as the law says. When the woman of Samaria committed adultery she was supposed to be stoned according to the law, but becoz nobody could claim to be a saint nobody could deliver that judgement, hence the justly thing to do was let her go and repent of her sins, which is what Jesus did.

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        • No one could stone the woman taken in adultery because no one remained to accuser her. Jesus also did not condemn her because He was neither a witness or her husband. The law stated that only the husband could bring the unfaithful wife to law along with the other individual who was guilty, not just the woman. The whole thing was a trap for Jesus and was carried out unlawfully. By Jesus exercising such mercy and honoring the justice of the law, the woman was led to repent and follow Jesus.

          The men who were bringing accusations against the woman were guilty of greater sin. The conviction of their guilt forced them to flee, leaving no one to accuse.

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    • Inge, it is true that there are situation that require great wisdom. Yes, forgiveness should not place the forgiver into the same bad situation, which means there was never true repentance in the first place. This is not limited to sexual abuse either. No sin truly repented of is unforgivable if we would one day stand faultless before the One who forgives all who repent. Jesus is our example and God's grace is sufficient.

      I would like to point out that Jesus taught forgiveness should be given to the one asking as often as "70 times 7", and He made no exception. Does this mean we keep count?

      I believe Jesus directly refers to Dan 9, and God's forgiveness to an erring nation until they ceased to repent. This was shown by what they did to Jesus and His followers, and God had to give them up to their choice, and the whims of their chosen king, Caesar.

      Forgiveness is the response of any child of God to anyone asking for it, and calls for the forgiver to forget. If we, like God, cast that remembrance to the bottom of the sea, it means we never think on it again(Isa 43:25). This is God's example, who is Perfect, while we ourselves are like those who need our forgiveness, and it matters not the particular sin. True repentance is to be honored. If a person does not repent, they must be dealt with as specified in God's word, and left to God's dealing in His time.

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      • Robert, how do you know when apparent "repentance" is true or not?

        You wrote,

        Yes, forgiveness should not place the forgiver into the same bad situation, which means there was never true repentance in the first place.

        The way I see it, there are situations in which we forgive while we remember "where the crack is." Now that demands an explanation: Years ago, I marveled that a friend forgave one of his friends who had deeply betrayed his trust. And they continued to be friends. I asked him how he could do that. He replied that the friendship was like a valuable vase in which he had discovered a crack. He had invested much in the friendship, and it was too valuable to give up. In handling a cracked vase, we need to handle it while remembering the crack so that it does not develop into a full break. In like manner, when we discover a "crack" (weakness) in a person, our relationship changes as we need to remember the weakness.

        Now I don't know whether or not you are a father, and that makes a difference. Suppose you hired a babysitter to watch your only son and that babysitter severely mistreated your son. Would you hire that babysitter again on the basis of his professed repentance? (If you would, I would say that you are an irresponsible parent.)

        Another example: An acquaintance comes to you with a sorry tale of his suffering family and asks for money to buy food. You find out later that he bought beer with the money you gave. Would you give him money again the next time he claimed his family needed food? (If you would, I would say you are foolish. Better to buy the food and take it to the family.)

        Let us consider the example of a known pedophile attending your church. He says he is repentant. Would you allow him to be in contact with children -- such as helping in a children's class, going to the washroom unsupervised, etc? (If you would, you would be acting in an irresponsible manner and putting children at risk not just in the present but for eternity. A truly repentant pedophile will willingly submit to boundaries and to being chaperoned to the bathroom.)

        Unless you reject my examples outright, you should be able to see that living in a sinful world means we need to recognize that we cannot judge the sincerity of repentance and should adjust our behavior accordingly.

        I know of too many women that will submit to abuse again and again and again in the name of Christianity -- which the abuser actively invokes: "If you are a Christian, you have to forgive me." They are facilitating the abuser as they become of no use to God or society because of the restrictions he imposes on their lives. He acts as their god. And too often pastors will support the male abuser, saying that the woman must forgive. They do not realize that they thereby violate the very first commandment which says, "You shall have no other gods before me." As I mentioned before, we belong first to God, and when we allow others to control us, as only God should, then we dishonor God.

        The bottom line is that the love of Christ constrains us to forgive, but we must not forget and put the offender in the way of temptation. While we ask "lead us not into temptation," we should not lead another into temptation by creating or permitting a situation that would tempt a person to re-offend.

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        • How could I reject your examples Inge? There is true repentance, which is seen, and if not, care must be taken where there is still reason for concern. But true forgiveness to one who has sincerely repented will not keep remembering that transgression. God won't, so how can we?

          As I said above, some situations require great(divine) wisdom to know now to deal with them, and placing a weak soul where temptation is present is never the right thing to do, and yes, they will submit to every wise discretion if truly repentant. True repentance acknowledges real needs.

          Still, 70 times 7 is not just a figure of speech, but is not meant to keep anyone in a harmful situation either. Forgiving has a real meaning, to give up, grant release, and cease to harbor feelings against. Anything short of this is not forgiveness, and we would never find peace in God's presence should His forgiveness be anything less than full and complete. Isaiah 43:25 is what Jesus died to give us. His parable of the two debtors shows that our forgiveness must be equal to God's.

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        • Robert, you wrote:

          Forgiving has a real meaning, to give up, grant release, and cease to harbor feelings against. Anything short of this is not forgiveness, and we would never find peace in God’s presence should His forgiveness be anything less than full and complete.

          I agree completely. The peace is experienced by releasing that person to God and trusting Him to take care of making things right.

          However, to "cease to harbor feelings against" someone does not necessarily equate to having a continuing relationship with that person -- as in my examples of abuse of children and of women. (Can you not think of many people against whom you harbor no ill feelings but who are not on your active list of friends?) I believe it is very important to make that point, because too many women submit to abuse in the name of "forgiveness," and they are encouraged to do so -- often by their pastors -- in the name of Christianity. I believe the pastors are wrong and misrepresent God in such treatment of abused women. They rob the women of individuality and service to their Creator.

          And I will repeat that we cannot really tell whether someone else is demonstrating "true repentance." Thus, in some cases it is best to distance oneself from an offender for safety's sake. However, forgiveness means that the offended person does not talk about the offense to others, unless there is a demonstrated "need to know" -- as in cases of pedophiles and men who prey on women. Sometimes the "not talking" part is the hardest part.

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    • I have adopted the attitude that when someone persistently offends me I avoid that individual for the sake of peace in my life. Whether I err in that regard I'm not certain. However having said that, I do believe there is only peace in forgiveness regardless who the offender is.

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    • RE: Inge comment May 16 3:53pm

      Inge, thank you so much for your comment. It cleared up an issue I have been struggling with for a very long time.....of forgiving someone and still having to be their friend, when you have been deeply harmed by them.

      Being very young/new in Christ, I haven't been able to fully understand all of the concepts the Bible has yet to enlighten me on. For a long time I rejected the love of Christ solely based on harm I endured, and my perception that God directed/participated/allowed this on me. I could never come to grips fully with the why and in addition with the why I would have to continue to be kind to the harm doer. I have tried to keep my heart open and unfortunately in this world that means open for attack, even when humble, loving, forgiving and generally kind. It brings me peace to know that I can forgive and really need to, but that I do not have to stay or have contact in anyway with my harm doer, and this is okay to do.

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      • Dear J.K.,

        Thank you for sharing :) It is because of your kind of situation that I believe the distinction between forgiving and forgetting is so important.

        You didn't say whether or not the person who did you harm realizes the harm done and has repented. The situation is very clear when there is no repentance. Even a relationship with God is broken by lack of repentance.

        But if a harm doer repents, does that mean you will still be friends? That depends entirely on you. After all, it is up to you to choose your friends, since we can have only so many real friends. If your heart and mind tells you that this is not a good relationship, you are free to move on. But you can still have an attitude of love toward such persons (See 1 Cor. 13), not doing them harm but acting in their best interests - at a distance.

        Even Jesus, when He walked this earth, wasn't "friends" with everybody. He had some special friends in Mary, Martha, Lazarus and His disciples. And among His disciples, there were some closer to Him than others. (It probably depended more on their attitudes than His.) To all others, He demonstrated love and kindness, even when they were not part of His special circle.

        The ones we call real "friends" are similar to the ones in His special circle. In situations where harm has been done, setting healthy boundaries often includes not letting such a person into your special circle but avoiding contact as much as possible. (Let the Lord look after that person.)

        May you continue to draw closer to Jesus and experience the peace and joy that a walk with Him brings. :)

        By the way, it's wonderful to know that, since Jesus ascended back to heaven, his "special circle" of friends is not limited to just a few, because He is no longer limited by the limits of humanity. But, through the Holy Spirit, we may all be as close to Him as were Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and His closest disciples. :)

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  3. When God tells us to “love mercy,” I take it as, not only showing mercy to each other, but also to continue to accept His grace as long as there’s breath in our nostrils. What do I mean? Many times when I sin, for example, I get discouraged. I feel like giving up. Resign from the faith and go deeper into the addiction. Then I remember what God says in Romans 5:20: “where sin abounded, grace abounded even much more.”
    It was really bad at one point. I sinned on the Sabbath day. I was crashed by guilt. I felt helpless. I told myself that I’m not going to church anymore. Then the Lord brought to my mind that verse, “where sin abounds, grace abounds even more.” I wept, confessed my sin and headed to church.
    So when Micah says, “love mercy,” I know precisely what he means. I also learned, if I love and accept God’s mercy, it’s much easier to forgive myself and move on. Another component that’s missing in our society is self-forgiveness, which is a requirement for self-love, self-acceptance and self-worth.
    A lot of people out there are very hard on themselves. So yeah, I’ve grown to love mercy. It’s the only thing that keeps me alive more than the air I breath, literally. I had a very tough childhood. Sometimes I feel like that gives me the license to dive into sinful living, as my brother is doing. Victimhood is empowering, they say. God help us all to love His mercy!

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    • Cycle breaking through God is empowering. The worse the past and the bigger the obstacle overcome, the bigger the ignition of God's love and mercy, and the greater the feeling of self worth. We will be eternal witnesses to why sin can never happen again and how through Gods mercy we overcame death!

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      • Moderator's Note: "Please use full names when commenting."

        "Cycle breaking through God is empowering." That is both beautiful and powerful. Thank you!

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  4. Forgiveness is not letting a bad deed go unpunished. Its recognizing Jesus was punished on the cross because of it. Desire of Ages page 25 says Jesus was treated the way we deserve so we can be treated the way he deserves. Well we can take it a step further and say Jesus was also treated the way my enemy deserves to be treated so I can treat my enemy the way Jesus deserves to be treated. Thank you for this post Lillianne!

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  5. Often there is confusion between Christ's sacrifice and our daily life. If Christ take punches in His face going on the Cross some say that is our example.
    But I don't agree. The cross has a special meaning and not profane meaning. In usual every day life we can force peace by not hitting others in the face, although if they attacked us, the only way to peace is to stop them. Sometimes that can be done by clever doings or by the Law.
    There can be situations when we must protect weak by hurting a bully. If we hurt him, that is even good for him to stop and rethink his ways. Neighbors, if too nice, are helping criminal to do crimes, and more victims are hurt and even they are because of trauma and they also become dangerous criminals. We must hit a bully in his face. That is mercy.

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    • Perhaps we are not to be the one hitting the bully in the face. Did you ever read of Jesus doing this? He knew what would become of His followers at the hands of those who crucified Him, but what did He do? He committed all things into the hands of His Father, as instructed by God's word. (See Psalm 37, etc)

      Jesus' commission has nothing to do with hitting bullies, but rather, we are to lift up Jesus before all men. Jesus' forgiveness left Him in the hands of the cruelest of men possessed by Satan, and will often leave us in the same place. Does this mean we take matters into our hands according to our finite wisdom? Or do we take the yoke of Christ, who is meek and lowly of heart, and follow HIM wherever He leads, no matter what? Following Jesus holds the promise of eternal life one day, but today, might hold for us a fiery furnace or den of lions, if we are among the fortunate ones. Some have suffered much worse as faithful witnesses.

      This life is not about getting even, bringing justice to every case or anything else save following Jesus' example of perfect faith in God. What did following Jesus gain His disciples? Are we to expect anything less?

      Perhaps we can see why few will have "the faith of Jesus".

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      • Like I say dont mix Cross and every day life.
        Our churches will be much better place if there are more order.
        In the name of mercy we are giving space to the devil.
        Why you read only about Jesus when He is on the Cross? Jesus even then said to those who killing Him: You will not see me anymore. You will see me on the end when coming with the power of Father to give you what you deserve.
        Althought He pardoned even His killers (like Roman solider) if they repented.
        There is also Jesus from the Revelation. Is it the same One ?

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        • Goran, what are the instructions of Jesus to any who would come after Him? (Luke 9:23) It would seem to me that the cross is central to our lives and how we live them. What did Jesus teach us to do if someone strikes us on the cheek, takes our coat, or commands us to carry their burden the legal mile?

          To not mix the cross in everyday life is to deny Jesus. I hope you see that.

          The first attribute of God when declaring His glory to Moses was "merciful", so how does being merciful give space to the devil? Jesus taught; "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."

          We give space to the devil when we yield to his temptations to sin.

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        • Goran, I agree with Robert that the cross is to be central to the life of the Christian. When Jesus asks His followers to "take up your cross daily and follow me," (Luke 9:23) He is asking us to deny self in favor of His way of doing things. He is asking us to be obedient instead of pleasing ourselves.

          However, that does not necessarily mean to go through life passively. The Jesus of the Gospels is the same as Jehovah/ Yahweh of the Old Testament. And He did not ask His people to to be pacifists. That's why I think that your examples of "kind" neighbors enabling criminals is relevant. The "kind neighbors" may be guilty of contributing to crimes. I also appreciate your example of protecting the weak by hurting a bully - and that that may even be kindness to the bully.

          I don't think we can make hard and fast rules as to when is the time to act and when is the time to take abuse. But if we live close to Jesus He will show us the way. He promised to do so through the Holy Spirit when He said that the Spirit would guide us into all truth. (John 16:13) With God truth is always practical. It is demonstrated in the life. Thus I believe it is right to read this as a promise that the Spirit will teach us how to act in difficult situations.

          Because we cannot make hard and fast rules, we also cannot judge the actions of others. It is up to God to judge, and He judges by the intentions of the heart.

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    • We must make a distinction between forgiving a person a particular act and actually supporting a behaviour. I do not see that exercising mercy or forgiveness somehow has to help a criminal to commit crimes. Choosing not to engage with a person in the violent or negative behaviour does not mean one supports the behaviour or cannot engage help from others, particularly from those clearly charged with that responsibility (parent, teacher or police)to stop a person who is out of control or might hurt himself others. The whole purpose of having law enforcement is to have a neutral system to deal with a problem fairly and decisively, and prevent an epidemic of "pay back", which is so destructive in any community.

      Forgiveness requires humility. In fact, sometimes we are actually wrong when we perceive an offense and try to ascribe a motive, because our judgment about the motive can be wrong. Even if we are right, or the offense is an incontrovertible fact, the hurt is still a personal experience and so to forgiveness is a personal decision, and is separate and independent of that person repenting or changing. Forgiveness is a decision you make with the help of God, to stop a cycle of negativity. In doing so you release yourself as much as you do the other person.

      There is another reason that forgiveness requires a mega-dose of humility. Because it is based on the very real recognition that in the eyes of God, you are not actually ANY BETTER than that other person. You both have the sin disease, manifested perhaps in different ways, and are constantly in need of God's forgiveness, acceptance and healing. He loves you both. You are actually not better, although perhaps better OFF, but only by the grace of God. When I feel wronged or am affected by behaviour that is unacceptable or downright evil (in my perception), I try to be grateful to God that through his Grace I have a knowledge of Him, I am given by his grace to know right and by his power to choose right. Sometimes we take for granted the fact that through or genetic factors or early socialisation, early or daily choices or an enabling environment we don't all struggle with the same wounds and weaknesses. Sin, particularly habitual sin, weakens us our will and can be debilitating. Many people are under the power of the devil. We need to pray for them, and also to determine to by no means come (back) under the power of the devil ourselves.

      Sometimes in addition to forgiving an act, it is also necessary to try stop the person in an ongoing behavour. Which is a separate matter from forgiveness, but is related, because this is also an act of love in a way - for the person or for others. But we are given guidelines on how to go about this, such as in Matthew 18:15. (This of course applies to moral issues. As a church, we do not try to handle criminal matters in this way, because secular authorities are there to do that - thank God, because we have the gospel to preach, so there is enough to do other than policing peoples lives. But even in times when religious leaders had responsibility for public order and law enforcement, to punish a crime there were also clear guidelines, and one needed two or three witnesses. No one was permitted to be put to death on the basis of one witness - Deut 17:6.)

      To "not give the devil a foot hold" - is not actually referring to an external matter, but an internal one. It is choosing not to allow his principles to drive and direct our own throughts, intentions and motives. It's an inside job. Satan is the prince of this world and the author of the principles the world ascribes to: However "reasonable" and logical they may seem, they lead to only death, that is, a separateness from God. In faith, in believing God, and by his power acting according to his commands (even when it seems weak or silly), we declare that we belong to the Kingdom of heaven, which runs on different principles entirely.

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  6. Having read the number of comments, I believe that we must study the character of Jesus Christ as well as 1 Corinthians 13 in more detail.

    How I understand forgiveness is not based on how the wrong doers behaves or responds; my forgiveness is based on my forgiveness of those who have wronged me be it physical, mental or spiritual.

    On the flip side, my repentance is not based on the reaction of the person that I have wronged; it is based on me acknowledging my sin and going to that person letting them know how sorry I am for the wrong that I have committed. The wrong act is now behind me, I no-longer want to carry out any acts to injure or hurt anyone. My life is hid in Christ in God and I no longer live the life of the old man. I become dead to sin (Romans 6). As I begin a new life in Christ Jesus, All my sins are behind me.

    Is this how we see a repentant sinner?

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    • Yes Donald, our repentance and forgiveness is between us and our Savior first, and then with others as far as they will accept it, but not dependent on their acceptance, but promised to be accepted by God through Jesus' blood, which establishes God's covenant to us. Jesus' life must become our life, for it was for this purpose that He lived it, which includes His death to self in favor of doing God's will. This is the faith of Jesus that the remnant of God will possess. This living faith is seen in the life when His law is written in our hearts.

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  7. I'm trying to go straight to the subject. I believe that God will show his people when is true repentance even in the case of pedophiles.

    In my church there was a pastor that was accused of it, I don't know if convicted but his wife did acknowledged to my wife that it was true and that he repented. He is out of ministry now and continues to come to church and is a member, an elder and even preaches good sermons sometimes. By getting to know him for a while God gave me assurance that his repentance was original and I accepted that my 16 year old son do Bible studies with him in preparation for baptism. Everything went well and there was no suspicions whatsoever.

    Another member of the church tried to become friend with my son even though he was almost my age by the way of music. One time I allowed him to go with my son at a music clinic and sleep for one night at the hotel in the same room but not bed. Someone that was a member of our church approached my wife and told her how this person tried to get to close with her son also and became obsessive and they had bad experiences with him. My son told us that he never attempted anything toward him but his demeanor was that of a pedophile. I took action and I requested a meeting with him and the pastor and I informed him that he is not to be around my son anymore by himself. He became very defendant and very uncomfortable. The pastor was aware of his past but never informed us.

    If this person was not guilty he probably would've had a peaceful attitude and at easy as when you know that you are innocent. I continued to talk with this person on limited basis and I did not spread anything what I got to know about him. I believe that I did the right thing in both situations and I was not irresponsible in the first situation and mean and without mercy in the second. So I know that the true repentance can be experienced and seen in the same time.

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  8. So pedophiles are not only in RC but in SDA also ?

    Robert, I forgot what is our disagreement?
    Quotes that you give have nothing to do with our behavior pattern.
    No body bully Jesus, even a possessed one who makes everyone afraid, fall on his knees in front Jesus. Cross is not an example of behavior. Cross and God's role in it are given in Scriptures. It has special meaning.
    On the way to cross Christ is not suffering from bullies. He can call 12 legion of angels to deal with them, or He can just look them and subdue them. He is suffering because it is God s will to punish sin.
    See: Isaiah 53
    "Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
    He has put Him to grief"
    "For He was cut off from the land of the living;
    For the transgressions of My people He was stricken."

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    • Goran, our disagreement was the place of the cross in our daily lives. Jesus said we are to take up our cross daily if we are to follow Him. It must be central to our daily life, and we are told to have the mind of Jesus, which led Him to take up that cross. Jesus said to learn of Him, who was meek and lowly of heart.

      If we do this, it will show in our lives.

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      • Robert, I agree with you but also think that Mercia well said in example what I tried to say. I am in between of that. God bless us all.

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    • [Please use full names when commenting. Thank you.]

      Goran thank you. I think definitely you are right that forgiveness does not mean weakness, but probably the opposite. God calls on us to be merciful and that includes not supporting injustice towards those who are vulnerable.

      Your example of Jesus illustrates very well how forgiveness does not imply weakness at all. What makes forgivness powerful is that it is a choice. Jesus said, no body can kill me - I lay down my life myself. He chose to humble himself and follow through, so that God could be glorified and we could be saved.

      I also have a comment about the significance and purpose of Jesus's sacrifice. Sin is not like sand or flour to be shifted from one to another, removed or replaced arbitrarily, or even abstractly "punished". Sin is a condition of separateness from God, the source of life; an insidious disease that is ultimately deadly. The battle against sin is a battle for hearts and minds, because it both originates and is perpetuated by obscuring the truth about God - who He is and what his intentions are towards us. We are saved only as we are convinced that we actually have it and can trust enough to submit to the treatment, the cure, which is to allow God into our lives - to be connected to Him in a way that infuses us with his life-giving Spirit (Breath). And so God was not merely doing a mechanical thing of "punishing sin", but "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself", illustrating in no uncertain terms that this is a God whose love for us truly knows no limit. And so Satan's lies are put at naught and he defeated forever and we each have a chance to be saved. In our daily lives as believers we have the opportunity of showing that we love and trust God by obeying his commands - including his command to forgive, as we are forgiven. This is our part in the fight against sin.

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  9. WOW - this is my first time reading comments on this site and I must say that even though it looks like people disagree, I think every comment is true and should be put together to explain the whole aspect of living a life as a follower of Christ.

    Robert, I am sure if you walk along a street and hear a woman crying for help while being abused and raped by a man you would rush to help her and defend her and that would mean hitting "the bully" in the face! Jesus gives us a command to look after the weak and He is not only talking about handing out soup on a cold day to the poor! This includes ANY injustice to any child of the Lord and that includes all men! But that does not mean killing the rapist right there on the street corner (even though I am sure that if it was you wife or daughter you would want to)!

    To talk about fully forgiving and forgetting is like saying we should love like God loves - and yes we must BUT we are sinners, we lack in every aspect of what God asks of us, if not He didn't need to die on the cross now did He? So yes it is true that if we could, forgiving would be forgetting and trusting again but we are NOT GOD, we do not know if people truly repent as God does and we can not forget!

    Any person who experienced ANY type of abuse will ask - how can we forget? I almost lost 10 years of my walk with Christ just struggling with this - Lord why can't I forget, am I a lesser Christian because I can't forget what happened? Then one beautiful wonderful day the Lord made it clear. I am human and sinful, I can't forgive like God forgives (maybe you can and that is great for you!) BUT for now that's fine because that's why Jesus died, to fill the part I can not do! Since then I have truly grown in my walk with Christ and thoughts of my abuse still surface from time to time, but I have peace cause I know that I have forgiven as much as humanly possible and that's fine cause through Christ He will fill up the rest and I am still forgiven fully by His grace just because I admitted that I am too weak to do it!

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    • Dear Mercia (a beautiful name that reminds me of God's mercy!)

      Thank you for your comment. :) In it you have just demonstrated beautifully what it means to live by faith in Christ -- to accept our righteousness instead of trying to create our own righteousness. :)

      Accepting the righteousness of Christ does not lessen our desire to obey -- which is what many people fear. Instead, it actually gives us the power to obey, as we focus more on Him and less on ourselves.

      May God continue to richly bless you!

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    • Mercia, we are not commanded to lose our memory, but to forget our need for revenge. I would invite you to study prayerfully Psalm 37 and believe it.

      I have never had to witness someone getting attacked and I'm thankful for that. I can't tell you what I would do except that I would pray for wisdom and see how God would lead. When I first moved to this area in 1990, a man stole a woman's purse as she was unlocking her apartment door. A man working next door heard her cry for help and pursued the thief, only to have the thief turn and gun him down. He died in the hospital, leaving behind a wife and 4 or 5 young children, for the price of a purse. The woman who's purse was stolen would be more than happy to lose it a thousand times to restore the life of that good Samaritan, but it's too late. We cannot right every wrong and it's not our place. God has not placed badges upon us and told us to clean up the streets. We are given the Gospel to teach by precept and example. Look at the story of the Good Samaritan; he did not go after the thieves or even berate the priest and Levite, but only stopped (at great risk to his own safety) and helped the victim in every way needed.

      Do you find anywhere that Jesus hit bullies in the face? They were everywhere around Him, but Jesus' mission (and ours) was not to be a policeman. Jesus came to save sinners and our commission is to be His witnesses to that Truth.

      Also study the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) and pray to see what Jesus is teaching you there.

      Yes, we can always be asked: "What would you do if...?", but until those if's take place, we can't really say. I can only study the life of Jesus and apply it by the power of the Holy Spirit.

      In respect to your thoughts about our abilities vs God's abilities:
      Psalm 18:32, Luke 1:37, John 15:5,12, Philippians 4:13, 2 Tim 3:16,17.
      These are not only commands, but promises!

      It was the purpose of Jesus' life and death to bring sinners to repentance that they might live the life of Christ while in this sinful world, without "spot or wrinkle or any such thing". (Ephesians 5: 25-27, Titus 2:11,12)

      The Bible is filled with God's "exceeding great and precious promises" that allow us to become partakers of His Divine nature. (2 Peter 1:4)

      Study these promises, believe them and claim them. Only those who have the mind of Jesus and partake of His divine nature will receive the Seal of God.
      God will work in us to will and do of His good pleasure. Psalm 37 can be our experience by faith in His promises.

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      • I must add this; if anyone could complain of being abused, it was Stephen. But what was his dying prayer? Did he mean it?! Under those circumstances, he could not have even thought it, much less prayed it out loud without it coming from his sanctified heart, filled with the love of Jesus through the Holy Spirit which filled him by faith. Stephen was a deacon, a man with passions like ours, yet he had been transformed by God's grace.

        So can we. Will we believe it? We must!

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  10. Lillian,
    Thank you for this article. It gives one pause to consider experiential forgiveness. Thanks for the reminder of Micah 6:8. May God continue to richly bless you and your ministry!

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