Monday, 8 October 2012

Forgiveness is not unconditional.

Thoughts often run through my head at a rate of speed, that i cannot keep up with them, now is no different. I'm a few weeks away from getting married, and there is a lot of stuff to do, mostly niggly little things. But in the last few weeks i have been looking at whether forgiveness is unconditional, whether it requires something from us, or whether it is just thrown around like a cheap coat. The Bible does not teach that forgiveness is unconditional, it requires something from us. Many times Jesus said " go and sin no more", the requirement of that is the sinning no more part. It sets a boundary up that we have to do something. Many people get confused with this because i believe Gods love is unconditional according to Romans 5 v 8, and a vast wealth  of other verses in the good book.  Forgiveness and love are not the same thing, They are different and as much as they can be entwined they do have different ideas behind them.

David and Bathsheba is a great case in point, God forgave David for his killing of Uriah and his adultery with Bathsheba. But the up shot was that the people he led would know of Davids indiscretion, it was not a get out of jail free card, and was never intended to be one. Many years ago a good friend of mine let me down majorly, i was devastated but told him i was going to forgive what he did and that i bore him no malice, but i no longer wanted to see him on a regular basis. The hurt he caused me was very deep, but over the years i have moved on and lived my life. The point is sometimes Christian believe that f we forgive we have to roll over and get trampled on again and again, this is not the case.

Forgiveness has conditions God calls us to turn from our wayward lives. Make Jesus Lord of our lives and walk the narrow path. Forgiveness takes a lot of work, especially for us as we hold onto things for dear life, especially if we have been wronged. It tends to be the hurt we hold onto not the good. There are things we have to do, we have to forgive, we have to accept forgiveness and we have to turn away, from those things that drag us down into sin and stupidity. Forgiveness helps us move forward, helps us grow. We put it into action and let it flow from us. But it's not unconditional, Gods love is unconditional, but forgiveness is not.

The day we stop telling people there is a cost to following Christ, the day we make the Gopsel so watered down it's no better than dirty dish water, is the day we pack up shop, close the doors of our churches and let the people do what they want. There is no problem with calling sin what it is sin. Jesus did it, we can do it. Forgiveness is a wonderful thing, lets not degrade it by making it appear to the masses that we can just carry on as we were, with no remit to change our ways.


  1. There are consequences to sin. We ask for forgiveness, we are given forgiveness and we accept that forgiveness. Our slate is wiped clean (not for long cos we love sinning!)
    that does not mean that we do not have to suffer consequences in this life. David lost his first child with Bathsheba due to the sin, note to self - one look is not even noted but if you go for the second look- shame on you.
    God forgives murderers and paedophiles and all kinds of people but they still must come before courts, have human justice meted out.

    So my question after rambling for ages is:
    Will you invite the friend (ex) to the wedding?

    1. Suzie he won't be attending the wedding. Not because of any residue of the problem, but because he is in a far better place. Yes we made good our friendship before he died, and were on speaking terms again. But i think the question you pose is a great one, when do we or if we, let those who have wronged us back into our lives.

  2. Forgivind someone who has wronged us deeply takes a supreme effort of will. In a lot of cases it takes time to forgive completely and we may never be able to forgive someone completely if they don't show they are sorry for the hurt they have caused. Is God's forgiveness dependent on our repentance and on saying sorry?

  3. I think repentance and forgiveness go hand in hand. To ask for and seek forgiveness is going to require humility and saying sorry. If you have no need to say sorry do you have a need for forgiveness? We have to accept that wrong doing requires repentance before restitution can take place

  4. I think I would take a different position from you (now there's a surprise!) but likely end up with what is a similar result by a different name. I would suggest that what we're actually looking at is the process of reconciliation, and that requires differing processes on each side (sometimes, in certain situations, it needs both sides of the processes on both sides of the broken relationship). So, there is forgiveness. I think forgiveness *is* unconditional, and for that reason it can be taken advantage of, which is terrible. I think the forgiveness of God must be unconditional, or be open to being unconditional, otherwise we suggest God requires something from us in order to do something, and I think that leads to very tricky places for our theology. There is also repentance. This too is unconditional - we can repent of our wrongdoing, turn ourselves around, and still find ourselves unforgiven (at least by other humans, but never by God). It is the two together, in what I would call reconciliation, that are conditional - you cannot have reconciliation without both forgiveness and repentance. And I don't think requiring reconciliation to be conditional places the same kinds of limits on God that saying forgiveness is conditional does. Why? Because to me forgiveness is an act - and God's acts can never be limited by us, only by God, otherwise God isn't God. However, reconciliation is a process of relationship, and relationships require acts on both (multiple?) sides. To have reconciliation requires action from both players, and because we are made with free will we are required to repent in order that reconciliation is complete. So, in terms of relationship with God - the cross is the ultimate act of forgiveness, the first move in the process of reconciliation between God and creation, we can know that we *are* forgiven, but that forgiveness does *not* mean we are reconciled. No, for that to happen God's act of forgiveness must speak to us so deeply that we repent, that we recognise what we have done wrong and commit both to amend damage we have done and refrain from doing it again. It is at that point, and only at that point, that full reconciliation can happen. So, forgiveness, to me, is unconditional (and I too speak from experience here), as is repentance, but reconciliation, which is the final goal, requires both.

  5. Lol Tom, i see where you are coming from. But i will have to disagree with you on it. Forgiveness does require something from us and of us. That something is repentance and the act of being sorry, and saying sorry. I know we will not agree, hope your settling in ok