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Asking forgiveness--a clarification

May 28, 2014

Yesterday’s weblog needs clarification in view of my statement that God does not forgive apart from the sinner asking for forgiveness (i.e., repenting). I should have clarified two points: (1) that God discerns the heart’s cry before the verbal petition for forgiveness; and (2) the distinction between forgiveness from the heart and the legal act of forgiveness.

Here is how I am changing the text in that section of the weblog….

Here is where our original question becomes most relevant: Shall we forgive someone who does not ask for forgiveness? Moreover, shall GOD forgive someone who does not ask for forgiveness?

The simple answer to this is: NO. Of course, we must keep in mind that God looks at the heart, not necessarily waiting for words. He forgave people before they asked verbally. In fact, it seems that He forgave before they even thought of it (Luke 5:20). Jesus discerned not only the problem but also the hearts of men, and He dealt with each problem accordingly.

We also see the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:20, whose father forgave him before he asked. The very fact that the Prodigal Son was returning home showed that he was humbled, broken, and knew of his need for forgiveness. The father recognized this, not by the words of his son, but by knowing his heart.

The father always forgave his son as a personal heart-attitude. But officially, he forgave when his son returned. So also it is with us. The heart of the Father is always full of forgiveness, but as a matter of law, it is not extended officially (that is, legally) until there is some change in the heart of the sinner.

So also is it with a father who disciplines out of a heart of love and forgiveness. The forgiveness is in his heart even while he disciplines, but in order to train his child, he must also hold him accountable at times for his sin. The judgment of the law makes the sinner experience the same level of victimization that he perpetrates upon others. If a parent does not discipline in this biblical manner, his son will not appreciate or even understand that there are consequences for every sin. He will tend to victimize people for the rest of his life without fully understanding the effects of his actions upon others.

This is part 8 of a series titled "The Lord's Prayer." To view all parts, click the link below.

The Lord's Prayer

This is part 56 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Luke." To view all parts, click the link below.

Studies in the Book of Luke

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Category: Teachings
Blog Author: Dr. Stephen Jones