This message might conflict with your theology but it is on point biblically. Here’s the point: Forgiveness rides on the heels of rebuke and repentance.
There is an interplay that has to happen in the life of the offender if he/she is ever going to be forgiven of an offense. That interplay is between being rebuked and responding in repentance.
Rebuking someone is a “taboo” nowadays. Many people feel it is a form of judging and therefore shy away from it. Well, this only shows the extent of their illiteracy as it pertains to kingdom dynamics.
To rebuke is to criticize adversely or sharply. It brings the person face to face with the wrongness of their words, actions or motivations and opens the door to conviction.
Without conviction concerning the wrongness of one’s actions there can be no desire to change. No desire to repent. Without conviction an offender could believe that their wrongful actions are fine and acceptable behaviors.
Conviction of conscience, mind and heart are what brings about change or repentance in the life of an offender.
Going a little further, this rebuking process happens on three different levels.
- Within the person’s conscience
- From the presence of the Holy Spirit residing in the person
- From another person.
Regardless of where it originates from, it does go on, everyday, in every person. Most people just don’t want to admit to it.
So, if rebuking has been done in the proper manner, the offender should be at a point of conviction that they have offend God first, and not the person, for their wrongful actions. Why? Because any and all sins against our neighbors are violations of God’s commandment.
That being said, the offender repents to God initially. What does that mean? It means they have changed their understanding and comprehension of their wrong doing. That they have realized, accepted and replaced their sinful motivation for a godly motivation toward the one they have offended. He/she confesses their waywardness in this situation and asks to be forgiven of God.
According to 1John 1:9 we know that God will forgive the offender and purify him of all unrighteousness.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (NIV)
The next thing for the offender to do is to address the person he/she has offended. This is where the command in Luke 17:3 comes into play:
…if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. (KJV)
The last point that needs to be made is that man can only affirm what has already happened in heaven. Forgiveness happens there first by God and then through the authority He has given to man (John 20:23) it is carried out here on earth.
“If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (NIV)
So you see forgiveness happens only after repentance has occurred in the life of the offender; and that repentance is the change in moral reorientation of the soul where the offender acknowledges the error of his/her ways and turns toward the divinely prescribed way of truth and righteousness of God.
God’s commands are still alive and powerful. They still move the believer in the path of righteousness for His name sake.
Don’t be deceived by the world’s philosophies or pattern of thinking. Listen to what the Holy Spirit says to you in your heart; do what He tells you to do and honor your Father in heaven as a result of your obedience.
Repentance is still a requirement of the Lord; even today.