No Forgiveness For The Unrepentant
NO FORGIVENESS FOR THE UNREPENTANT
By Sister Renee Pittelli
Have you ever had it happen that when you rebuked an abuser, not only did she refuse to apologize, repent, or change her hurtful behavior, but she then proceeded to smugly inform you that “God forgives her” because “God forgives everything”, and that the Bible says that you have to forgive her, too? I have, more than once.
And all I can say to that is, “Nice try.” Because it’s just not true. Biblical forgiveness doesn’t work that way. Not even close. God forgives everybody who REPENTS, not everybody who doesn’t repent, and continues sinning. Repentance means turning from one’s sinful ways and changing one’s LIFE. It does not mean continuing on as before, and it also does not mean stopping just one or two obnoxious behaviors while continuing all the rest, or even finding some new ones. It might surprise such self-righteous offenders to learn that God does NOT forgive “everybody”, and that he does NOT tell us to, either. In fact, there is NOT ONE INSTANCE in Scripture of the Lord forgiving anyone who remains “stiff-necked” (stubborn) and unrepentant.
Before one starts quoting the Bible, it might be a good idea to actually READ IT first. When ungodly people state that God’s Word says something that justifies or facilitates their wickedness, I just love to hand them a Bible and ask them to show me exactly where it says that. Usually, they get all flustered, angry, or embarrassed, and quickly change the subject or storm off in a huff. If, by some remote chance, they can actually find the Scripture they’re referring to (and conveniently misinterpreting), then we can read it in context and explore it together- but that hasn’t happened to me yet!
Those who know the Lord and study his Word know that he has such a heart of love for the downtrodden and the broken-hearted, and that he desires us to be free of every kind of bondage. God’s Word is infallible, and God does not play mean little tricks on abuse victims. He NEVER says anything that would make it easier for a sinner to keep on sinning or an abuser to keep on abusing. To even suggest otherwise is to reveal a profound ignorance of God’s divine nature.
Biblically speaking, NO ONE gets forgiven without changing his ways and turning to God and godliness. The New Testament includes an additional requirement for meriting forgiveness- accepting Jesus as one’s Lord and Savior (and no one who has genuinely done that can continue abusing others). Abusers would just love an excuse to obligate us to forgive them without the slightest effort to make amends, commitment to change, or anything expected of them at all. It’s the Abuser’s Dream Gig- to be able to commit one evil deed after another with impunity, and then pervert the Word of God by claiming that others have to repeatedly and unconditionally forgive her. This is utter nonsense.
BE NOT DECEIVED; GOD IS NOT MOCKED: FOR WHATSOEVER A MAN SOWETH, THAT SHALL HE ALSO REAP….Galatians 6:7. The Bible is not an excuse for abusive people to have a field day without ever suffering any consequences. Distorting the Word of God to get away with evil is an indication of the demonic nature of such people, not of their innocence and good intentions. Ask any deliverance minister and you will learn that twisting God’s Word to facilitate evil is one of the most common tactics used by demons.
Abusers by definition wouldn’t have the slightest idea what the Bible REALLY says about forgiveness, or anything else. It’s not like they spend a lot of time studying God’s Word and applying it to their lives. They’re just repeating something they heard somewhere along the line, and twisting it to suit their own purposes. They’re using what they imagine Scripture says to pressure us and guilt us into forgiving them when they have done nothing whatsoever to deserve our forgiveness.
Some abusers like to call themselves Christians, because it enables them to get away with abusive behavior more frequently without being challenged or confronted. These people might actually be familiar with Scripture, and then use it, twist it, and take it out of context to justify their behavior and attempt to deceive us into forgiving them when no forgiveness is warranted. But talk is cheap. We need to study the Bible concerning this, and pray for the discernment and wisdom to distinguish between REAL Christians and PRETEND Christians- those who are conveniently “Christian” only when it suits them. One big clue is that REAL Christians ACT LIKE real Christians. This means they do NOT mistreat other people.
The Bible does in fact tell us that we should forgive as the Lord forgave us (Colossians ; Ephesians ). But there are requirements for forgiveness. If we read in more depth and in context about God forgiving us, including the hows, whys and under what circumstances, we will see that he only forgives us when we come to him in the spirit of remorse, change our lives through his Son, ask for forgiveness, and repent (CHANGE). So if we are to forgive others as God forgives us, then we are to forgive them AFTER they have shown genuine remorse by the grace of Jesus’ cleansing blood, and AFTER they have repented (CHANGED), NOT BEFORE. That is the formula for forgiveness which God models for us, and that is the formula which he instructs us to follow.
Other Scriptural examples of the Lord forgiving us IF AND WHEN WE REPENT are written in Ezekiel 33:10-20, Isaiah 55:6-7, Jeremiah 6:16-30 & 26:3, Luke 13:3 & 5, Acts 3:19. These are just a few of the examples we can study that will educate us about God’s prerequisites and requirements for forgiveness.
We are not to cheapen the gift of forgiveness by giving it prematurely or undeservedly, to those who demand it and act as if they are entitled to it, and yet have done nothing to merit it. The Lord’s higher purpose is to change men’s hearts and make them turn from evil, give up their wicked ways, and choose to follow HIM instead of Satan. He does that by requiring repentance before forgiveness, not by giving evildoers a free ride.
In Luke 17:3, Jesus tells us very clearly that we are to forgive someone who sins against us IF he repents. He does NOT tell us to forgive everyone, including those who have absolutely no remorse and fully intend to continue abusing others and behaving badly. That would be preposterous and contradictory. God does not do nonsensical things that do not serve his ultimate purpose of bringing all men into his grace and his presence.
When an abuser refuses to change his ways, stop abusing, and start doing good, we are unable to grant him forgiveness. When we cannot forgive him because of his intention to continue repeating his wickedness, then God does not forgive him, either. AGAIN JESUS SAID, “PEACE BE WITH YOU! AS THE FATHER HAS SENT ME, I AM SENDING YOU.” AND WITH THAT HE BREATHED ON THEM AND SAID, “RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT. IF YOU FORGIVE ANYONE HIS SINS, THEY ARE FORGIVEN; IF YOU DO NOT FORGIVE THEM, THEY ARE NOT FORGIVEN”….John 20: 21-22 NIV.
God does not want us to continue to be abused. And he does not want us to allow abusers to continue their abuse with no consequences. In fact, we are told numerous times to shun evildoers ( some of these Scriptures are: Proverbs 22:10, Proverbs 22: 24, Proverbs 23:9, Proverbs 24: 25, Proverbs 25: 4-5, Proverbs 24:24, Proverbs 26:24-26, Psalm 37:9, Psalm 119:115, Proverbs 19:19, Matthew 18: 15-17, Titus 3:10-11, and 1 Corinthians 5:11). Look up “rebuke” in a large Concordance, and you will also find dozens of references (see the section on Rebuking on our site).
The Bible teaches that all evil behavior has consequences. The only way to come into a state of grace is to give up sinfulness and walk in the ways of the Lord, in love for others. Abusers by nature could not care less about coming closer to God, and usually need some extra incentive to straighten up and fly right. That incentive is often some kind of social censure, which may, for a particular individual, include our refusal to forgive him until and if he has earned it.
There are times that God will use us in this way to bring a person into repentance and to him. By forgiving unremorseful evildoers, we are not helping them and we are not serving God’s purposes. We are depriving them of the opportunity to repent and transform their lives, to truly accept Jesus as their Savior so their sins can be washed away, and to walk forever with our Father. By interfering with God’s Law of Sowing and Reaping, we are preventing God’s purpose from being fulfilled in that individual’s life.
The Lord requires that we do our part in bringing others to repentance. SON OF MAN, I HAVE MADE YOU A WATCHMAN FOR THE HOUSE OF
So despite attempts by ungodly people to mislead, deceive or pressure us, we need to stand firm in the knowledge that the Lord does not forgive those who are 'stiff-necked' , refuse to repent, and intend to continue in their sinful ways, and he does not expect us to, either. There is no such thing as unconditional forgiveness. There are CONDITIONS on receiving forgiveness, there is a REASON for those conditions, and the conditions are repentance and turning from one’s evil ways. Forgiveness is not to be given just because someone simply demands it, or insists he is entitled to it. It is only to be offered to those who are truly worthy of it.
***For the answer to the abuser's most common attempt to mislead you about this teaching, see the article "If You Say There Is No Forgiveness Without Repentance In The Bible, Then What About 'Father Forgive Them For They Know Not What They Do'"? (Luke 23:34).
***For more on this subject, see the articles in the sections of our website entitled
***If you are interested in reading more about the Biblical model for forgiveness and offering unconditional forgiveness or forgiveness without repentance, we recommend the RBC website. Click HERE for one article and HERE for another one.
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The Lord specifically called Sister Renee to minister to Adult Children, not their parents, estranged siblings or friends, abusive or abused spouses, or victims of other types of abuse, although what we write here can often be meaningful for those folks as well. Because of this, our ministry and website have a narrow focus which we will not be changing. We simply can't cover everything. In addition, it is not our purpose to help you re-establish contact with someone who felt it was necessary to cut you off for the sake of their own well-being. We do not keep a list of resources for estranged parents or any other type of abuse and suggest if you are sincerely interested in making amends with an estranged relative, you do an internet search for a website or group that will be more relevant to you. If you cannot find a group or site that you can relate to, we suggest you start your own, and bless other people in your position as well as find support for your personal issues.
For Adult Children and others as well, please understand that we cannot give you personal advice concerning your particular family relationships. We are not therapists or lawyers, we usually do not have enough information to form an opinion, and time does not permit us to give enough thought to each person's individual situation to do it justice. If you need personal advice, we urge you to contact the appropriate professional, depending on the problem you have- your minister, therapist, attorney, police department, local domestic violence hotline, etc. In reading this site, you acknowledge that nothing you might read here qualifies as or substitutes for professional advice. Please note we cannot recommend or refer you to a counselor and we do not have a list of therapists or recovery groups in your area. The only Counselor we recommend is the Holy Ghost, and we encourage you to read the Bible and learn for yourself what the Lord says about the issues we write about.
Our articles are strictly our personal opinions and testimonies and are not intended to give or offer any advice. All who access this site do so with the understanding that we are NOT professional counselors and we strongly recommend that you discuss your individual situation with your pastor or therapist and pray for the Lord's guidance before acting on anything we write on this site. Unfortunately, the abuse we discuss is all too common, inflicted on countless victims by countless perpetrators. All names and identifying details in our articles have been changed to protect the innocent as well as the guilty. Any resemblance to a real person or persons whom you might know is strictly coincidental.