The Case Against Unconditional Forgiveness
by Patricia Backora
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God’s Confession-Free Forgiveness?
The word “unconditional” or “unconditionally” appears NOWHERE in scripture. Yet this word is one of the main deceptions of satan being preached from pulpits everywhere. Jesus taught that God makes it rain on both the just and unjust (Matt.5:45). In the sense of dispensing NATURAL blessings upon His creation, God cares for everyone, even the most evil of men. He even instructs believers to do good even to their enemies. But are God’s spiritual blessings dispensed to all, with no conditions attached to receiving them?
The apostles never taught that the spiritual blessings of forgiveness and brotherly love are to be freely given to all, even men hardened in defiance against God. Not until recent times have you heard of terms such as “God’s unconditional love” “God’s unconditional mercy” or God’s “unconditional forgiveness”.
You never heard about God’s unconditional love in sermons preached in the 1700’s, 1800’s, or even the first part of the 20th century, before the hippie movement came along promoting free love. I ran a word search through ten sermons of Jonathan Edwards, and not once does the word “unconditional” appear in any context. Instead, Edwards warns repeatedly that man is by nature God’s enemy, separated from His love and under threat of God’s wrath. Edwards taught that only reconciliation with God through Christ can save him from that wrath. Sermons on holiness and the wrath of God are almost never heard anymore. Instead of believing the Bible when it says God is a consuming Fire (Heb.12:29), God is portrayed as a cuddly teddy bear.
Christians are commanded not to lose their savor (flavor). True salt will make people thirsty. Spiritual salt creates more thirst for Christ, the Living Water, than sugar.
Sugar looks a lot like salt. It pours like salt. But a teaspoon of sugar goes down easier than a spoonful of salt. Modern preachers are teaching Christians to become sugar, not salt. The only “must” in a Christian life: Be sweet. Never speak out against sin, that’s being negative. Live and let live. Hear no evil, see no evil.
It’s a sin to get angry at sin. SMILE! You can catch more flies with sugar than vinegar. If a gang of teenage thugs beats up your baby on the bus, HURRY! Rush over to them to reassure them that you forgive them and God still loves them just as they are! Even if your seven-year-old is lying in intensive care and might be brain damaged the rest of his life. Even if those devils aren’t sorry, even if they laugh at your pain and brag about getting off scot-free, you’re expected to give up any wish to see God’s justice done in the situation.
If someone at work spreads ugly rumors about you, RUSH to that person and say you’re to blame for making them want to slander you. Even if you’re totally innocent, search your own heart for sin first, and confess SOME sin to that person who’s lying on you to the boss to try to steal your job.
Confessing fictional sin isn’t humility! It’s a religious deception of satan. The truth is always the truth, even if the truth is in your favor. If you confess to a sin you haven’t committed, that’s just as much a lie as if you try to wiggle out of something you have done.
Prov.17: 15 He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.
If you justify (absolve of guilt) anyone who is clearly in the wrong, and deliberately condemn yourself for something you know you haven’t done, you’re justifying the wicked and condemning the innocent victim as being guilty. Even if you just commit this sin against yourself, it’s still wrong. This verse clearly states that whoever does this is an abomination (hateful thing) to the Lord, not a humble, loving saint.
What if you don’t let evil people use you for a doormat? Someone read this verse at the meeting:
Luke 12:58:When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison.
59 I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite.
This was misapplied to mean that if we don’t humble ourselves before the person who hurt us and confess that WE’RE the ones at fault, God will take His forgiveness away from us and torment us till we comply. Someone I know professes to believe in eternal security after salvation but still thinks we can lose out with God unless we love everybody on the planet, regardless of how evil and unrepentant they are. God expects us to repent in order to be forgiven, but we must forgive those who hate us and wish they could do even more to hurt us. Are we better than God?
Jesus said not to cast our pearls (spiritual blessings) before swine, because they’ll only walk all over you and your pearls (Matt.7:6). I don’t think He was telling us to beware of Porkchops the Pig!
God’s grace toward the repentant is a FREE gift (Rom.5:15,16,18). You get into trouble with God if you refuse to forgive a brother who owes you something and can’t pay. The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant in Matt. 18 was used as a shaky support for unconditional forgiveness of the unrepentant.
1. This parable was prompted by a question Peter had about forgiving a BROTHER. Unrepentant men of violence are NOT my brother. They’re children of a different daddy, satan (John 8:44; I John 3:10).
2. The fellow servant was just that, a fellow servant. That evil thug on the street is not a fellow servant of mine because he serves a different master, the devil.
3. The fellow servant asked for forgiveness.
4. It wasn’t a crime of deliberate malice and violence, simply inability to pay back a money debt. Even if it had been a moral offense rather than a monetary debt, the offense should have been forgiven after being repented of.
The preceding verses in Matt. 18 are part of the same context where this parable is found. This passage proves conclusively that Jesus doesn’t want us to “just let it go” without true reconciliation with the offender:
15 Moreover if thy BROTHER shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
Jesus doesn’t tell us to just forget it if another believer sleeps with your wife. All of Matt.18:20-25 specifically addresses how you deal with an erring BROTHER. It does NOT condemn us for refusing to bestow unconditional forgiveness on an unrepentant criminal.
Many present-day beliefs hail from the love & peace hippie generation, not from orthodox Christianity. If some lowlife breaks into your house, kills all your children, tortures you, steals all you have, burns down your house, then laughs about it at the trial, you’re allegedly still supposed to forgive that person and not wish to see justice done. This is more like Ned Flanders than the Jesus Who said, “Unless you repent you’ll all perish (Luke 13: 3,5). Jesus said this twice in the same context, as if for emphasis.
Luke 11:21: When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace:* * * * *Jesus did not rebuke the strong man for protecting his home from violent intruders. He didn’t even rebuke the strong man for being armed. Jesus said the possessions of the strong man were in peace because of the strong man’s actions.
Matt.24:43: But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.* * * * Jesus does not rebuke the home owner for defending his own property from vandals. He says the strong man should have been vigilant. Not so the strong man could meekly sit and watch the crime happen, but so he could resist the attacker and defend his home. Jesus does not say the home owner should have allowed his home to be trashed in order to turn the other cheek.
Turn the other cheek. What did Jesus mean, examining this saying within the context of his own culture? Back then, one of the worst social insults was to give someone a back-handed slap on the cheek. In Matt.5:39 Jesus specifically says “the right cheek”. Most people are right-handed. If you use your right hand to hit someone on the right side of their face you have to either twist your arm upside down or use a back-handed slap. But if you turn your left cheek to your enemy also, you’re forcing him to treat you as an equal.
Jesus teaches that we’re to deal kindly to enemies, to try to win them through love. But God does not acquit them if they don’t repent (Exodus 34:7).
Some quote this verse to justify WEAK WORM Christianity:
Psalms 22:6: But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
Jesus allowed himself to suffer this extreme humiliation to make atonement for our sins. To say Jesus is still a worm, and therefore, we have to be worms too, is to deny countless other verses where Jesus is called a man. Jesus is, at present, glorified, and at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. As He is, so are we in this world (I John 4:17).
Some Christians believe in total pacifism, even if their families are under attack, because we have to be worms. Just because it’s wrong to use excessive force against adversaries doesn’t mean we shouldn’t protect society from violent criminals.
Rom.13:4: For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Paul describes law enforcement officials as bearing the sword in the service of God to execute wrath on evildoers. Not one word of condemnation for failure to love the wicked.
Consider the parable of the unjust judge, who refused to give an oppressed widow justice and avenge her of her adversary. This parable in Luke 18:1-8 is used by Christ to teach believers to be persistent in prayer, that God WILL send the answer. God is far more faithful to do right by you than the judge who got so tired of the widow’s pleas that he gave in and did what she wanted. But notice a couple of things most preachers overlook:
1. Not once in telling this story does Christ ever insinuate that the judge was unjust for finally avenging the widow.
2. Jesus did not condemn the widow for wanting justice.
3. He did not say the widow should have continued to patiently endure the abuse of the oppressor without complaint.
4. He did not take sides with the widow’s oppressor or say she was being un-Christian for complaining about his abuse.
5. Jesus promises to speedily avenge His own elect.
What if some thug had jumped on Jesus’ mother in the alleyway? Would Jesus have told the criminal that God forgives him for what he’s about to do? Jesus wasn’t a girlie-man. He was a strong carpenter. After Joseph died Jesus became head of His home, and it became His responsibility to protect and provide for Mary. I seriously doubt Jesus would have handed the thug a tract and said “God loves you anyway” while His mother was under attack.
The Book of Acts records the missionary activities of the apostles.
They won many souls. Yet the word “love” doesn’t appear even once in that book. Sinners should be taught about the love of God which provided a Savior to die for their sins. But they also need to be warned that God views them as His enemies (Rom.5:10;
Peter and Stephen accused their listeners of betraying and murdering Jesus. They didn’t gloss over the fact and “try to build bridges” by being tactful (Acts 2:23;7:52).
Peter didn’t start out the way most modern evangelists do: “Brother, Jesus loves you no matter what you’ve done and He has a wonderful plan for your life. Just come up and make your stand for the Kingdom of God.”
This dangerous doctrine of confession-free forgiveness absolves sinners of ALL responsibility to humble themselves before God. It makes mockery of Prov.28:13 which demands confessing and forsaking of sin as God’s condition for mercy. This doctrine frustrates the Holy Spirit’s job of convicting sinners of their lost condition and the dirty state of their heart. Peter wasn’t afraid to lay the blame where it belonged. His faithfulness to tell the truth resulted in 3,000 souls getting saved that day.
Acts 2:23: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
Acts 2:36: 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
How did Paul feel about those who didn’t love Jesus?
I Cor.16:22: If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema (accursed). Maranatha.
How did Paul feel about those who did nothing worse than disagree with his theology?
Gal.1:8: But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
How will Jesus deal with hardened, unrepentant sinners in the future?
Rev. 19:11: And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
The following verses of that passage go into gory detail about the punishments suffered by sinners who did NOT receive unconditional forgiveness from Gentle Jesus.
I don’t know about you, but if Jesus will return to carry out the FIERCENESS OF THE WRATH OF ALMIGHTY GOD, how could anyone still cling to the false notion of Him being as weak and gentle as a helpless baby? It’s not just mild annoyance we’re talking about here, but FIERCENESS. We want as many people as possible to be spared that terrible fierceness by repenting and putting their trust in Christ as Savior. Woe unto them if they don’t!
Some point to Jesus’ teaching: Resist not evil (Matt.5:39). This sometimes conjures up the image of becoming a weak doormat who suffers criminal violence without a peep of protest. But Christ could have primarily been talking about not repaying evil with more evil. Romans 12:19 exhorts us not to take our own vengeance, and a lot of Christians stop there. But part B of that verse says we refrain from avenging ourselves because we’re making room for God to do it. Perfect divine justice demands just retribution upon unrepentant sinners, and that’s God’s job. He sets us free from the need to avenge ourselves.
2 Thes.1:6: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;
7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
This passage tells me that God’s people will glorify Him for His perfect justice when He deals justly with unrepentant sinners. They won’t tell the Lion of Judah to count to ten or take an anger management course. The Christians who were cruelly martyred won’t go down to Nero’s cell in hell and say, “Brother, I’m human too. If I’ve done anything wrong to influence you to want to throw me to the lions, I’m sorry.”
Jesus did not fulfill the prophecy about becoming a worm (Psalms 22:6) until the time came for Him to suffer death for our sins. Throughout His public ministry, Jesus said good things about Himself and bad things about His unrepentant enemies. Jesus did not mince words just to make sinners feel better about themselves.
Did Jesus ever resist evil? Up until the time He was to be offered up for our sins, Jesus did not just stand still and let His enemies hurt him. He escaped an angry mob of enemies that wanted to hurl Him over a cliff (Luke 4:29-30). When the Jews got in a bad mood and wanted to stone him for alleged blasphemy, He didn’t just stand there and take it. In Matt. 23:13-39 Jesus DID take a bold stand against evil. He gave the religious hypocrites of His day a good verbal thrashing, threatening them with hell for leading the people astray from the Way of Life. He resisted evil in the Temple when he drove out the buyers and the sellers (John 2: 12-16). Jesus did not tell John or Peter to take a whip to these merchants because it was His job, not theirs.
One prevalent myth is that God is an old softie who doesn’t crack down on evil like He did in the Old Testament. In the Book of Acts, God Himself resisted evil infiltrating into His Church when he executed Ananias and Sapphira for just ONE incident of lying to the Holy Ghost (Acts 5:1-11). If He is that severe toward unrepentant church members, why should He let sinners and evildoers off the hook?
Will Jesus act like a passive worm when He deals with those who reject His rule over their lives?
Luke 19:27: But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.* * * * *This verse concurs with the verses in Revelation which predict Jesus’ lion-like response to the sin and rebellion He will find in the earth when He returns.
Some Christians are deeply offended at any suggestion that God is anything but gentle and “nice” toward all, even brutal, unrepentant sinners. But what was Paul’s attitude to the justice of God? Did he consider it unnecessary?
I was at some small prayer meeting recently where unconditional forgiveness was taught. Sorry, I couldn’t swallow it. At the conclusion of the meeting, the group leader prayed, “And Lord, help us to forgive everyone who hurts us, NO MATTER WHAT THEY DO.” A shiver ran up my spine. Afterward, I prayed for God’s protection from that scary prayer. I learned long ago to be careful what I pray. If you pray for patience, don’t be surprised if the first part of the answer is a nasty trial. In Matt.6:13, Jesus taught us to pray that we wouldn’t be led into temptation (severe testing. I prayed for this man at home, that he would not be severely tested to see if he could live by these words.
Speaking of perilous prayer, I remember one prayer meeting where the leader addressed satan: “Satan, I’m not scared of you! Do your worst to me!” I strongly advise against stirring up needless trouble, either with satan or his children.
I find it odd that so many Christians who are all gung ho about fighting foreign wars are the same folks who believe in God’s unconditional love and forgiveness for all men.
Are there conditions attached to receiving God’s spiritual blessings?
Mark 16:16: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
John 3: 18 He that believeth on him (Jesus) is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 3:36: He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
John 14:21: He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and NOT UNTO THE WORLD?** * * * This is significant. Jesus promises spiritual blessings to those who love Him, not to those in the world (those at enmity with Him).
23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Insomuch as we are to deal kindly, fairly, and justly toward all men and to do them no wrong, in that sense we’re to love them. But we cannot love unbelievers in the same sense as members of the family of God.
Eph.1:6: To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
The God Who feeds the birds and wild animals makes sure there’s food available for lost sinners. In that sense He loves them and hopes they’ll come to Christ. But as long as they persist in rebellion against Him and are outside of Christ, they are not included “in the Beloved”.
It’s satan’s devious strategy to blur the distinction between Christian believers and those who hate Christ. This doctrine of the Brotherhood of All Men is a New Age Lie promoted by satan to help usher in the Antichrist. We don’t owe hardened sinners the same love and forgiveness we extend to our own brethren.
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