Luke 17:3 - 4
NKJV - 3 Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 "And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him."
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1 John 1:8: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." Matthew 6:14: "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Forgiveness is God's business! He sent His Only Son to die! If we love Him we do as He has taught us. If we do not forgive, He will not forgive us. I think of Daniel the prophet. He was told to, “Go thy way, Daniel.” (Daniel 12:9) We may not always understand everything, but we have enough teaching from Jesus to know the right thing to do.
'Are we to forgive whether we're asked of the offender or not?' That's not how forgiveness is done. Being asked to forgive doesn't make it happen. If you need to be asked in order to forgive, you probably won't be sincere in your announcement of forgiveness, if you make that claim. Forgiveness is a matter of the condition of our essence, our nature. We are naturally unforgiving. There's only one way to become a person capable of truly forgiving someone who hurts us; we must have a new nature. In his address to the Areopagus, Paul said, "Since we are the offspring of God, we should'nt think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising" (Acts 17:29). Paul wanted them to know that God doesn't live in a building, and couldn't be represented by things you can handle with your hands. Paul is saying that God lives in His offspring. That makes the one in whom God lives "partakers of the divine nature..." (2 Peter 1:4). A partaker is one who shares or participates with others. So believers are in Christ and Christ is in believers (Colossians 1:27). Without the Spirit of God forgiveness is not possible; with the Spirit forgiveness is very difficult. It's only possible through fervent prayer. You have to want to forgive a person or persons who hurt you; it isn't going to happen just because you attend worship services every week. It doesn't overtake us as if we've been hypnotized. It takes a joint effort between the believer and the Holy Spirit who indwells the believer for forgiveness (a derivative of repentance) to occur. When we forgive someone, whether the offense is ongoing or has ended, we have a change of heart toward the offender. They're seen as fellow victims of the same enemy. In other words, the truth of what is really going on is realized by the hurt person. "And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (John 8:32). To answer the question, I'll ask one: Do you want to be free from the grip the offense has over you? If so, live according to the truth; the truth is, the offender is only a proxy. We're not in a battle with people, but with the spiritual forces of wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6). The people who hurt us are in the same war. They're just as much a victim as the person being offended. When we come to the knowledge of this truth, and we commit to a decision to submit to the teachings of the Spirit who lives in us, He will lead us to repentance for forgiveness of those who trespass against us.
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