Let all bitterness,
and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil
speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted,
forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's
sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4: 31.
must forgive just like God forgives. We want to
take the Word of God and see what it says about
forgiveness. I think most of us know that
forgiveness plays a very important part in
Christian living. Everyone who possesses the
Spirit of Christ, has a forgiving attitude and
is willing and ready to forgive.
lack of understanding along this line can make a
bigger mess. Some people are mistaught and have
been admonished that, "If you know somebody is
wrong, you need to forgive him and run over and
tell him that you forgive him." That may sound
good, but let us see what the Bible says. Time
and time again, when people are moved to tell
somebody, "I forgive you," the individual will
raise right up and say, "What for? I did not do
anything;" then there is a bigger battle.
Bible has a way to deal with forgiveness. It
definitely tells us when to forgive. In Luke
23:34, the first words Jesus spoke on the cross
were, "Father, forgive them; for they know not
what they do," The Bible tells us that the world
knew Him not. The world knew not that the Son of
man had yielded Himself into their hands. The
judge before whom they brought Him found no
fault in Him, and the more they tried Him, the
more the judge found no fault in Him, but the
more they cried out, "Crucify him!" and so they
Before they hung Him on
the cross, and for quite a while afterward,
Jesus answered them not. Then after He had been
on the cross for quite a while, His lips opened
in prayer, asking the Father to forgive those
who had crucified Him because they knew not what
they were doing.
Isaiah 53:12 tells us that
He made intercession for the transgressors, and
the cross is where he began making intercession.
Do not confuse that Scripture with Hebrews 7:25,
which says that He is able to save to the
uttermost, because he ever liveth to make
intercession for us. In that verse, in Hebrews,
He is as a high priest making intercession for
Christians so we can be saved to the uttermost,
or stay saved every day for the rest of our
the cross, however, He was making intercession
for sinners who did not actually know what they
had done. This may sound strange; it did to me,
until I studied into it. Those words, "Father,
forgive them," had never been used by Christ in
His ministry. Jesus forgave the palsied man when
He said, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee." He
told the woman who washed His feet in tears and
dried them with her hair, "Thy sins are
forgiven." Throughout His life, Jesus forgave
men's sins; but on the cross, He prayed for the
Father to forgive them.
Somebody may ask, "Why
should He ask the Father to forgive them just as
He had throughout His ministry?" First of all,
the forgiveness of sin is a divine prerogative,
an exclusive privilege given only to God. In
Mark 2:7, the scribes were right when they
reasoned, "Who can forgive sins but God only?"
Jesus was God manifested in the flesh, but He
was also a man, and He came into the world for
the express purpose of offering HImself as a
sacrifice for sin. When He went to the cross, He
changed positions and became a substitute: He
became sin. He lost His authority, and He did
not regain it until He rose from the dead and
said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and
in earth" (Matthew 28:18).
who was God, born the Son of man, came to offer
Himself on Calvary's Cross. He took our place,
and when He moved into that position, He could
not exercise that divine prerogative. He had to
give it up to go to the cross for us. Jesus told
the palsied sinner in Matthew 9:6. "But that ye
may know that the Son of man hath power on earth
to forgive sins." John 12:32, let's us know that
He was lifted up from the earth, but when He
went to the cross, hanging there in our stead,
He did not have authority. He laid it all down
-- His life and the prerogative of being a part
of the Godhead.
need to understand Jesus' position. The very one
who had been telling the people, "You are
forgiven," now is praying, "Father, forgive
them; for they know not what they do." He was no
longer in the position that He had been in.
Isaiah said that He made intercession for
sinners, and He did it on the cross. He is our
example in all things. He prayed for sinners
just as you and I must pray for them. He taught
us to do just as He did.
Do We Forgive?
Jesus said in Matthew
5:43-44, "Ye have heard that it hath been said,
Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine
enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies,
bless them that curse you, do good to them that
hate you, and pray for them which despitefully
use you, and persecute you." Nowhere in the
Sermon on the Mount or anywhere else in the
Gospel, did He say to forgive your enemies.
Theologies are set forth, but we need to check
and see if they are what the Bible teaches.
told us to bless them, do them good, and pray
for them, but He did not say to forgive them.
You may say, "Oh we have to forgive our
enemies." Yes, at a certain time. Jesus exhorts
us all to pray for our enemies, but He plainly
tells us not to forgive those who have wronged
us. People have the idea, "I need to forgive
everybody." But the question is, when do we
forgive? People run around wanting to forgive
before the other party even asks for
forgiveness. I will prove to you that God never
forgave one sinner until he confessed and asked
to be forgiven.
Jesus said not to forgive
until they ask for forgiveness. The Scriptures
do not teach that under all circumstances we
must forgive; I am talking about outward
forgiveness. Luke 17:3 tells us, "Take heed to
yourselves: If thy brother trespass against
thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive
him." There is no forgiveness from God or man
until the one who is wrong, repents. The
Scripture said to rebuke him. If anybody does
this, some people want to say, "He does not have
love." Jesus said, "and if he repent, forgive
There is too much
confusion along this line. Some say, "Just
forgive everyone." There cannot be forgiveness
until a repentive attitude gets into the heart
of the one who has done wrong. Verse 4, reads,
"And if he trespass against thee seven times in
a day, and seven times in a day turn again to
thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him."
Jesus set up an equation
that tells us that we must be willing and ready
to forgive those who have wronged us when they
repent. Too many lay under condemnation because
they know that someone is wrong, and they want
it straightened out so bad, that they run over
and say, "I forgive you anyway." You will never
get it straightened out that way.
you have a Christ-like attitude, you forgive
them in your heart. There will be no ill feeling
or strife, and you will not want to get even.
Those things are never in the heart of a
Christian, yet you cannot actually outwardly
forgive them until they repent and ask your
forgiveness. The Scripture said, "IF he repent."
A condition must be met by the offender before
you can pronounce forgiveness upon him. The
offender must judge himself wrong and give
evidence that he is sorry.
if the offender never repents? You can have
forgiveness in your heart, but you cannot give
it to him. I repeat, within your heart you are
to forgive. If you are a Christian, you will not
harbor ill will, and malice will never be
cherished in your heart: those things cannot
dwell where a forgiving spirit swells; the
Spirit of Christ is a forgiving spirit.
are supposed to forgive, just like God forgave
us through Jesus Christ: God never forgives
until someone repents. When do we forgive a
person? Not when you feel it, or when you have
it in your heart, or when you would like to give
it. It will never do an ounce of good until an
individual is made to see that he has done
wrong, is sorry for it, and begs forgiveness;
then you forgive him and it will heal. The Bible
lets us know that if we confess our sins, He is
faithful and just to forgive our sins.
Should We Treat the Offender?
must not treat the offender as if he has not
done anything wrong. When you do that, you
condone the offense and fail to uphold the
requirements of righteousness. He needs to be
rebuked. More people would get straightened out
and get saved if we would stop 'patting them on
the back' after they have done wrong -- and
rebuke them a little.
There are three words that
are translated from the Greek word love, and
people get them all mixed up. They think that
when people have done wrong, if you love them,
you will treat them just as though they have
never done anything wrong. But if you do that,
they will 'die and go to hell,' while you
'pamper and pet them.'
Truth will upset your
theologies, but it will stand. The reason some
things are not working, is because they are not
being done God's way. It will work God's way.
These other theologies that are being taught,
will not stand up with the Bible. That is one
reason we are not 'moving sinners' like we need
to move them. Some say, "Oh, we are just going
to love them in." Well, where is the rebuke?
When studying love, you will find that there is
rebuke in love -- deep rebuke.
devil will 'work you to death' trying to get you
to act in a way the Bible does not require. He
will work you to death trying to get you to act
in a way the God even says not to act. Please do
not let the devil take advantage of your tender
must treat the offender as though he has done
wrong; yet you must have the attitude, "I love
you, and I am willing to leave you in God's
hands, but you have done wrong." and leave it
right there. I say again, if you do not do that,
you condone the offense and fail to uphold the
requirements of righteousness.
God ever forgive where there is no repentance?
There is not one place in the Bible where God
ever forgave without repentance. Our Scripture
text in Ephesians 4:32 lets us know that we are
to forgive just like God does. God would like to
forgive the entire lost world, but not one of
them can receive it until they repent. This is
the Bible standard.
Jesus prayed, "Father,
forgive them; for they know not what they do."
Did they receive forgiveness? No. When were they
forgiven? On the day of Pentecost, God through
the Holy Ghost had Peter put a rebuke on them.
He rebuked them in the message openly when he
said, "You with wicked hands, crucified the Lord
of glory." They cried out, "Men and brethren,
what must we do?" then they repented and God
forgave them. Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive
them," but they were never forgiven until they
repented, and neither is anyone else.
need to hear what God has to say about
forgiveness. God will give us grace to live the
Bible standard, but if we try to reach beyond
that and overdo it on our own, then we will just
end up in confusion.
say again, if anybody has wronged you, and you
have the Spirit of Christ, there will be a
forgiving spirit down in your heart. However,
God does not intend for you to treat the
offender as though he has never done anything
wrong. The Bible says to rebuke him, Sometimes
nothing but rebuke will bring repentance.
with the idea that love will take care of it
all. There are times when the only way to show
true love is by rebuking the one who is wrong.
You are not showing love if you pat them on the
back and try to make them feel they are all
devil tries to take advantage of people when
others have wronged them. People have been told
to go and put their arms around them and say, "I
forgive you whether you want to or not," and
they received a repulsive response. Then the
devil twisted that on them and caused them to
think, "Maybe I am not right." There is a 'Bible
way' and a 'Bible time' to do it. If you have
the Spirit of Christ, there will be a rebuke in
your heart against that wrong. This is the only
way we can hold the standard.
Church, if we pamper
wrong, we will have more wrongs than we can
handle. We have to rebuke that which is wrong,
and when they are touched and made sorry, then
we forgive them. The lesson is this: If one has
injured me and has not repented, I cannot
forgive him and treat him as though he has never
done anything wrong. If I do, I am not being
honest with his heart.
to do what Jesus said to do: pray for him. What
do I pray? -- "Forgive him, Father," Why do I
pray for God to forgive him? If he gets in the
place where God will forgive him, he and I can
get straightened out too. Anybody that God
forgives is not hard to handle. One of the signs
that God has forgiven an individual, is that he
will start trying to get right with man, right
Blindness of Heart
Jesus said, "They know not what they do," He did
not mean that they were ignorant of the fact of
the crucifixion. They definitely knew that they
were taking a man and putting him on a cross.
They cried with their voices, "Crucify him!
Crucify him!" and they nailed Him to a tree.
They were eyewitnesses of this crime, yet they
knew not what they had done. What does the Bible
mean? They were ignorant of the enormity of
their crime: they did not know they were
crucifying the Lord of glory.
said in 1 Corinthians 2:8 that had they known
they were crucifying the Lord of glory, they
would never have done it. The emphasis in that
Scripture verse, which says, "They know not what
they do," is not on "know not;" rather, the
emphasis in on "what they do." They should have
known what they were doing.
There was no excuse for
their ignorance. They even said, "Never a man
spake like this." They watched the life He
lived; He went around doing good. There was not
a judge on earth that could find one fault with
Him. Many of them heard it, when God spoke out
of Heaven and said, "This is my beloved Son, in
whom I am well pleased; hear ye him."
demonstrates the blindness of the heart of an
unregenerate individual. It definitely teaches
us that the carnal mind is enmity against God. I
know false religion thinks they are going to
change the minds of people, but, until someone
is solidly converted, born of a new Spirit, gets
a new mind and gets rid of the carnal mind (that
is at enmity against God), he will never change.
sad part is, that 'this tragedy' is repeated
over and over, even in our day. Jesus is still
praying the same prayer -- "Father, forgive
them; they know not what they do." He is praying
that same prayer for you, if you are 'outside
the ark of safety.' Oh, people say, "I know I am
living in sin." How many people, who are away
from God, really know what they are doing when
they reject God's great salvation? If people
were awakened to what they are really doing when
they reject the Son of man and turn Him
down...if there is any honesty in their hearts,
they would run to 'an altar of prayer.'
Their carnal minds are
darkened by sin and Satan. Many times in an
invitation, they think that when they turn
salvation down, they are turning the preacher
down, and they rejoice over the fact that they
can turn him down. You do not know what you are
doing, friend. No, no, you do not really know
what you are doing when you reject the Son of
God and trample Him under your feet and refuse
to give Him HIs rightful place in your life. Oh,
I know you understand to a degree, but you do
not fully know.
There are few people who
know and understand the deep guilt that is
attached to the 'art of refusing' the only One
who can save you. If you turn Christ down, when
He knocks at your heart's door...I want to
remind you again, you are turning down your only
hope, the only way you can be saved and the only
One who can save you. The enemy of your soul,
through procrastination, will say, "Some other
time, some other day, there will be a better
situation." No, no, no, my friend. You are not
awake to what you are actually doing.
you only understood how people are praying for
you, sinner friend, and how much effort God,
through the Holy Spirit, puts forth to set the
stage to get the right things said and the right
atmosphere around you, so you can get saved.
When you shake your head no, and refuse Christ,
I repeat again, you do not know what you are
Another reason I know that
you do not know what you are doing when you say
no to God is, you run a great risk of God,
shutting the door of mercy in your face, never
to be opened again -- It has happened.
blinds the mind; you possess a carnal mind that
is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed
can be. Your own intellectual forces will raise
up in your defense. People are so deceived that
they can smile and walk out the door with their
shoulders thrown back. No doubt some have even
entertained the thought, "Ha! They did not get
me again!" The prayer is, "Forgive him, Father;
for he knows not what he is doing." The Word of
God says that if we will confess and forsake our
sins, God will have mercy on us.
Jesus is still praying for
people who know not what they do, and He has
taught you and I to pray for them just the same
as He did. Somebody may ask, "Will that bring
forgiveness?" No, not until they repent. That is
why it takes much, much holding on in prayer.
All the time we are praying, we realize that
they must somehow be moved to the place of
repentance, before the Father will ever grant
forgiveness to them.
[ The End