The misguided religious folks of our day err when they say God demands that we unconditionally forgive everyone. The Scriptures show otherwise:
There are guilty, unrepentant men in the world. Have nothing to do with them. Proverbs says, “A man who is laden with the guilt of human blood will be a fugitive until death; let no one support him“, Pro. 28:17. It would be a sin to give him support. It would be a sin to forgive him. This verse is speaking in general terms and does not deal with the fugitive that is remorseful and seeks God’s salvation.
In heaven there is a book of deeds and many men will have sins in it retained by God. Because they did not believe in His Son so as to be saved by His grace, their sins are retained. God forgives those who repent of their sins, Lk. 13:3. Likewise, it is on that basis that we forgive men. “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained“, Jn. 20:23. The Apostles, the Leaders of the Church, retained the sins of some and the sins were retained in heaven. So if someone is saying that Christians must absolutely forgive everyone, they are simply mistaken because of this verse alone.
Some people get the order of things backwards. The way they explain forgiveness being unconditional requires that they forgive the erring Brother immediately, with or without, a contrite spirit in the Brother. “11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one“, 1 Cor. 5:11. Here is the erroneous order or things:
- –> Christian sins and is caught
–> Caring Brother confronts the erring Brother who does not repent
–> Caring Christian forgives him
–> Caring Christian puts unrepentant Brother out of the church to “deliver him over to Satan”.
To be like God, to forgive like God, the Church cannot forgive the unrepentant Brother.
Some people are not discerning as they should be and so they conclude that we must forgive everyone just as God does. Not true. God does not forgive everyone. God offers forgiveness to everyone but on the condition of repentance and obedience to the Gospel. Repentance is essential or you may not forgive, Luke 17:3,4.
Because God does not forgive the unrepentant, for it would violate His holy nature, it is therefore wrong for God’s people to be praying for Him to do so. John wrote, “16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this“, 1 Jn. 5:16. God answers prayer and He forgives and helps those sinful Brothers who have a broken and contrite spirit. But if a Brother is sinning and has a stiff neck and rebellious spirit, don’t bother praying for him to be forgiven because God isn’t going to forgive him.
Christians are the most forgiving people in the world. We are like our God who forgives the most. But it is a gross error, born of denominational ideas, that imposes something as unreasonable and inconsistent as forgiving an unrepentant person. If you wish to forgive an unrepentant person, go ahead and see what it gets you. You might as well forgive a viper or a lion. I wouldn’t recommend you get to close.