Mat 18:26-30 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ (27) And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. (28) 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.’ (29) So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ (30) He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.
One primary reason that the Lord tells us things like this:
Mat 6:14-15 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, (15) but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
…is because the genuine Christian, having received forgiveness of his own sins, will certainly be ready to forgive others who humbly repent and ask for forgiveness. Jesus does not say these things to us in the commonly abused sense of “you better forgive anyone who sins against you or else!” but rather to demonstrate that biblical forgiveness demonstrates a heart that has been born again by faith in Christ. Therefore, as the Lord says, if someone who claims to be a Christian refuses to forgive someone who asks for their forgiveness in humility and repentance, that hard-hearted person is shown to be a fake.
And these fakes abound in our churches!
Narcissists, abusers, sociopaths – wicked people parading as Christians, inevitably refuse to forgive. Most often the offense they refuse to forgive is not a sin at all, but a violation of the wicked man’s own rule system. But our point here is, that these kind do not forgive.
Because they have never known the forgiveness of God themselves. They are not born again. They claim to have received much from the Lord but in fact He has not gifted them with salvation due to their hardness of heart. And as a result, the first Scripture cited above applies to them. Their ending will be this:
Mat 18:32-34 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. (33) And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ (34) And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.
Debt re-instated. Loan forgiveness now denied. And how long will it take this wicked man to pay all his debt? Eternity. His sin, unforgiven, sends him to hell.
I believe that the majority of Scriptures which instruct us in this matter of forgiveness actually have primary application to the wicked who are counterfeit Christians, having crept in among us. A real Christian, having experienced the amazing grace and forgiveness of God in Christ, is a new creation who forgives those who humbly ask and who are genuinely repentant. Those who have received much understand that much is required of them. And they gladly and richly give this requirement. Even when those who have sinned grievously against us refuse to repent, we earnestly desire that they come to repentance and we are most certainly willing to forgive if they should do so.
But these evil ones who are gods to themselves (the abusers and narcissists we deal with in this blog) and who demand that others worship them – do not repent. And they do not forgive. You might be tempted at times to go reason with them and plead with them to see and own their sin so that they might be forgiven. But it will be to no avail. They will only use your efforts against you.
AMEN! This entry came at the perfect timing for me, so thank you! I just heard a sermon the other day that focused on “bitterness” and “holding grudges” and “resentment” and this very same passage of Scripture as well as the “forgive as you were forgiven” text. NONE of it took into account the Christian’s response to the unrepentant abuser! It just put the burden on the victim to forgive, forget, and move on…or else!
I also read this yesterday from Proverbs 22:24 (ESV): “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.”
Like you have pointed out time and time again, God’s Word MUST be read IN CONTEXT and we must also consider the TOTALITY OF SCRIPTURE too.
Grace & Peace,
Yes — if you forgive an unrepentant abuse then you will indeed “entangle yourself in a snare.”
Offering carte blanche forgiveness to all, including unrepentant abusers who know exactly what they are doing, was the Easter message preached at an easter service evangelical church I attended last spring. I had to walk out of the service in the middle of the sermon because it was so triggering and there was still no caveat in the message made or offered for the abuser.
This was carte blanche message of forgiveness was what I grew up with my whole life and it is exactly one of the things that encouraged me to blindly walk right into the wolf’s den when I entered into the marriage with such an abusive and unrepentant person.
EXACTLY! The irony is – they somehow find a way to try and convince others you are in the wrong and unrepentant…… because you didn’t repent for somehow being responsible for their choice to be so horribly, masterfully disguised – abusive!!!
Particularly in this Thanksgiving holiday season….. am so grateful the Lord covers us as we break out of the grips of the abusers’ chains.
Let’s not forgive that rarely do abusers ask for forgiveness unless it is in front of an audience or is a tool to get what they want. It’s never genuine. Forgiveness requires repentance from the abuser – confessing one’s sin, turning away from it, and doing everything in their power to offer restitution and healing to the offended party. Abusers won’t do that. It costs them too much. Their idol of self and love of money won’t allow for it.
In addition, we aren’t to “forgive” those who do not ask it of us. Forgiveness starts in the heart of the perpetrator, not the victim. A lack of the Holy Spirit in the life of abusers also means a lack of conviction when they sin. They don’t feel the prick of conscience off guilt of having done something that violates God’s law and inflicts harm on others.
I most likely will not “forgive” my parents for their abusive behavior. Not because I wouldn’t like to but because they will not humble themselves and repent of their sin. They see themselves as the victim and I’m the one whose piled the abuse on them for not giving them what they want when they want it.
I don’t see in scripture where victims are commanded to forgive unrepentant people. When instructing the disciples on forgiveness it always started with the perpetrator coming to the victim and repenting. Not the other way around.
As Christians, it is vital we get a proper understanding of what genuine forgiveness is and what it looks like. Not doing so can be painful and dangerous. Walk in the freedom the Son offers. Be free.
Very good thoughts. I’m dealing with this theme with an unrepentant “sister in Christ.” She has so MANY “blind spots” I find it hard to see any change in things she does and says. I’m going to skip a lot, but I will briefly say the “final straw” was when she literally screamed at me (in a seniors lunch) saying she was trying to get me to answer whether I wanted coffee or not! Needless to say, I didn’t hear her and, furthermore, there was absolutely no excuse for her screaming at me. When I somewhat got my composure, I simply said (through clenched teeth) “THAT was unacceptable!” I ended up somewhat apologizing to her a day or two later (I know…I’m a doormat) saying I could understand her feeling of hurt if she thought she was being ignored, and I mentioned that I was hurt too. This was a perfect opportunity for her to acknowledge what she had done wrong and offer me an apology as well. None was offered. That kind of sealed in my mind what type of person I was dealing with. So I have been maintaining a pretty strict distance from her without acting unkind. My wish is to be a friend but I am pretty sure being closer to her is unwise. By the way, she also lives 2 doors down from me. And, without being invited, she joined my church after being 30 years at a different church. I believe she followed me into my church. I feel like a meanie. Some people, nicely enough, say that maybe I am too sensitive. Ugh.
Been there-done that. It’s tough breaking thru the ingrained patterns. So thankful for Pastor Crippen helping us as Christian’s to untangle it all.
Thank you for posting about your neighbor. I had a former fake, bully “Christian” friend do the same to me. She presents herself as a pious role model elementary teacher working in a Christian school.
I Offered her an unnecessary apology and gave her a full easy opportunity to make things right with me. She mumbled a few non Committal words that didn’t express true repentance or make me believe she valued me at all. It’s really sad how abusers and fake Christian’s can be so hateful and refuse to take any accountability.
They have no ability to self reflect. The only thing they are good at is acting and pretending to love Jesus but they don’t. In fact they hate others and in turn reveal their true character. They hide their true character under the facade of holiness. The truth comes out when you get close to them like a neighbor or a friend. They can’t hide the real them when it gets up-close and personal.
No body is perfect but these people refuse to acknowledge or repent for anything even the smallest conflict that could easily be turned around by a simple I’m sorry.
Everybody has an off day but that’s not what we’re talking about when it comes to fake Christian’s. They are wolves in sheep clothing seeking who they may devour. The only way they can get close enough to attack is thru lies and trickery. The fake Christian mask they wear everyday gives them many advantages. But that mask fools many good hearted people who long to please God. We won’t be fooled again! In Jesus name.