Talking About Forgiveness


This morning I had the privilege of teaching at Calvary Chapel Living Hope in Robinsville, New Jersey. This is a new fellowship that my Dad planted last year. I shared about forgiveness. Here was my application.

First, We need to forgive people unconditionally, unilaterally in our hearts as fast as possible. This means that we are at least, sparing the offender our wrath, bearing with the offender and not giving up on them, covering over the sin so that it is not our focus when we think about them or talk about them, identify it as something left or something we are divorced from, seeking their favor and blessing,and lastly agree to cancel their moral debt to you.

This response is described in Romans 12:17-21

“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Russ Moore “One of the reasons this is hard for us is because we too often assume forgiving a trespasser means allowing an injustice to stand. This attitude betrays a defective eschatology. At our Lord’s arrest (Matt. 26:47-54), Jesus told Peter to put his sword back into his sheath not because Jesus didn’t believe in punishing evildoers (think Armageddon). Jesus told Peter he could have an armada of angelic warriors at his side (and one day he will). But judgment was not yet, and Peter wasn’t judge.

That’s the point.

When we forgive, we are confessing that vengeance is God’s (Rom. 12:19). We don’t need to exact justice from a fellow believer because justice has already fallen at the cross. We don’t need to exact vengeance from an unbeliever because we know the sin against us will be judged in hell or, more hopefully, when the offender unites himself to the One who is “the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 Jn. 2:2).”

Second, we still address other believer’s sin because of our love for them and a desire for them to be sanctified. We also address issues of sin because we want to protect others from being injured. Confrontation/Conflict cannot be selfish. (Note: our confrontation of other’s sin is not based on vindication, a desire to inflict pain, or to get even.)

  • Galatians 6:1 “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
  • Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.

Third, sometimes we allow natural consequences to transpire or impose social limits so that  a sinning person is motivated to repent. (Note: again, this is not done out of vindication, a desire to inflict pain or to get even. And they need to know that you are ready to restore favor once they have repented.)

  • 1 Corinthians 5:3-5 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
  • Matthew 18:17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.