Thursday, April 15

Piper's Take on Forgiving an Unrepentant Person

I am glad to re-post this brief word on FORGIVENESS from DGM:

Author: Tyler Kenney

There's been some good discussion in the comments on Sunday's and yesterday's posts about forgiveness and reconciliation. One big question has been, "Do you forgive a person who is unrepentant of their sin?" Some have argued Yes and others No.

For what it's worth, I thought it would be good to highlight Piper's answer to this question as expressed in his 1994 sermon "As We Forgive Our Debtors: What Does Forgiveness Look Like?"

Forgiveness of an unrepentant person doesn't look the same as forgiveness of a repentant person.

In fact I am not sure that in the Bible the term forgiveness is ever applied to an unrepentant person. Jesus said in Luke 17:3—4, "Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' forgive him." So there's a sense in which full forgiveness is only possible in response to repentance.

But even when a person does not repent (cf. Matthew 18:17), we are commanded to love our enemy and pray for those who persecute us and do good to those who hate us (Luke 6:27).

The difference is that when a person who wronged us does not repent with contrition and confession and conversion (turning from sin to righteousness), he cuts off the full work of forgiveness. We can still lay down our ill will; we can hand over our anger to God; we can seek to do him good; but we cannot carry through reconciliation or intimacy.
Please pay attention to the thought regarding the person who does not repent, viz., that they "cut off the full work of forgiveness." that's vital! There's a soothing, a healing, and a mending that takes place in the soul, which CANNOT take place without repentance and forgiveness. Forgiveness really DOES heal, and remove from someone the blight of the sin. It goes to the doctrine of forgiveness. So, who says doctrine doesn't matter?

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