Paul's Passing Thoughts

OK Then, Should We Forgive Ourselves Whether We Repent or Not?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 3, 2015

ppt-jpeg4My articles on forgiveness usually spur some debate, not so much here at PPT, but via email and Facebook. I have come to understand most folks are afraid to show themselves here at PPT which is totally understandable as we are heterodox and giddy about being so. Furthermore, we know for certain that some churches have ordered their congregants not to come here upon pain of church discipline. Susan has suggested that this might be the case more and more as PPT and TANC Ministries improve our articulation of the issues.

The ruckus centers around the idea that we only forgive people if they repent. And we are to be angry without sin, meaning that we leave the revenge to God—He will repay. This also means we do the loving thing when we are presented with an opportunity to get revenge. If we stumble across our enemy’s lost oxen in the wilderness, we take it back to him. In doing so, perhaps the enemy realizes that he didn’t treat you the same way he would have wanted to be treated initially.

It also means that we do not fellowship with the unrepentant until they repent, and in addition, professing Christians who refuse to repent, and others who refuse to forgive when repentance is offered, are to be treated like unbelievers. The popular contrast to this position is blank check forgiveness. We are obligated to forgive all whether they repent or not…“the same way we were forgiven” which requires repentance. Don’t even try to go there – Protestants are completely comfortable with these kinds of contradictions.

Let’s be clear.  I have no particular beef with the video below, but merely present it as food for thought. In the video, the person presents the issue of forgiving ourselves. You may agree or disagree that forgiving one’s self is a biblical concept to begin with, but for now, the point made in the video is that if God forgives us, we should forgive ourselves, or he won’t forgive us (an interesting twist), and the key to forgiving ourselves is confession. The author of the video cites 1John 1:9 as a proof text.

Let’s consider what we are talking about when we say that we should forgive ourselves; we are saying we need to clear our conscience. Ultimately, self condemnation comes from the conscience. James stated in his letter to the twelve tribes of Israel that if we confess our sins to each other we will be healed. Often, when fugitives are finally caught, they express relief because a heavy burden is taken off of their souls. Funny, we often hear that we should offer blank check forgiveness to others for our own good, not theirs, but the Bible makes it clear that the unrepentant are the ones who are destroyed. If someone comes to us and asks for forgiveness, we too often find ourselves saying, “Oh, that’s OK, I already forgave you.” To the contrary, it is hardly OK if that person needed to confess for their own good and relationship with God.

Let’s not move too quickly from “It’s OK, I already forgave you.” I argued in my last post that blank check forgiveness circumvents the need for repentance and this makes the point. Where is the strong emphasis (as in the Bible) on people needing to repent for their own good? Instead, by far, the emphasis is on forgiving others whether they repent or not lest we be destroyed…supposedly. If you offended someone and were not convicted about it, would you want them to forgive you any way? Would that be best for you?

In the final analysis you can reject the premise of my argument if you reject the premise of people needing to forgive themselves, but if you don’t, how can you extend forgiveness to yourself without repentance? And obviously, if you can’t forgive yourself without repentance, nor can you forgive others without their repentance. But, self forgiveness has merit because it is your own conscience that is condemning you, and in that case, you need to forgive the other person for your own good, and that would be you because you repented.


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