Forget to Forgive

A sermon today included the following points:

  1. Woe to him that is offended for God shall not heal his life nor grant him a miracle.
  2. If you are offended you must forgive. In fact, you cannot be blessed by God unless you forgive everyone everything.
  3. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting, failing to hold a person accountable or free from punishment.
  4. [The pastor] believes in doing to them what they do to you. But that means forgive everyone cause Jesus forgives everyone.
  5. Forgiveness doesn’t mean [the pastor and his church] won’t track you down and beat you if you are doing something violent, never-the-less you can’t hold grudges.

This lead me to revisit the passages cited which were MAT 18:7 (kjv) and COL 3:13-14 (kjv). The pastor read the passage in Matthew as saying If you are offended then you have woe in your life and “you can’t have the miracles of God,” or the “healing” and “new life” God wants for you. It was the Stoic heressey that you must simply shake it off and go on. To quote Monty Python, “it’s only a flesh wound . . . come closer so I can bite your knee.” In more current parlance, “Just shake it off.” Scripture deals clearly with the proper way to deal with offenses but this was not only heretical, it used the Satanic technique of misquoting scripture, out of context, to teach a opposition to scripture in it’s context and canonical interpretation.

The proximate error was in that interpretation of Matt. Jesus tells us in Matthew that the one who has humbled himself, in a childlike acceptance of the word is to be cherished and accepted, while the one who offends that childlike devotee is cursed by God. Children themselves are to be welcomed into the service and the whiner who complains that children are disruptive and ought to be removed is in danger of hellfire. This passage doesn’t deal with forgiveness, with holding offense, with records of wrongs or with the means of achieving an overcoming life.

I would leave this alone except the doctrine that we are to forgive everyone whether they repent or not, That we cannot have blessings if we hold anyone accountable, and the victim is in fact a sinner for taking offense, have polluted the church to the point of apostasy. This counterfeit spirituality is presented as the new maturity and Christians are bound to a life of sin and condemnation while being taught to imagine themselves free while being bound by the chains of sinful behavior and rebellion in the name of grace.

Forgiveness is a sticky subject for most people and the problem is compounded by the prevalence of professional and amateur psychobabble. For the Christian, whether Jew or Goy, this is further muddied by the weight empty traditionalism. So let me deal with those issues by summarizing what other parts of scripture do say.

Some simple rules for how genuine forgiveness works:
  • When you forgive you forget, not necessarily the events but the emotional impact and the sense of caution associated with the offense.
  • Forgiveness is only available to those who are reformed, though that reformation begins with the decision to change course. It is not unforgiveness to shun the unrepentant, it is an act of love intended to encourage remorse and repentance.
  • Forgiveness for the believer is not optional, you were forgiven, therefore you have no room to hold vengeance. Unforegiveness toward your fellow believers is an unpardonable sin.
  • The unbeliever is completely outside the economy of grace and therefore cannot be held accountable to the Law of Grace or the moral Levrite Law.
  • False accusation is damnable and can separate the believer from grace as surely as a willful act of rebellion.

Jesus taught us that we can identify authentic believers by the fact that they love each other. And Paul shows us in 1CO 13:4 (nrsv), that love doesn’t think evil–by implication the evil that gossip attributes to others. This leaves no room for holding grudges, but also none for rumors, or false accusations. Such baseless slander will prevent you from reaching God’s reward in the new kingdom as we see from EPH 4:29-32, COL 3:8, ROM 1:29-32, and 2CO 12:20-21 (kjv) where slander is variously called backbiting, blasphemy and evil speaking.

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