“And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.” (Luke 17:4)
I will not stand or rebel against the Word of God, all of it is truth, but I will ask you today to contemplate some things with me, if that brother continuously keeps sinning with intent towards me, what would cause us to believe they are indeed one of the chosen by God and not a wicked person, an unrepentant sinner?
Forgiveness is one of the main attributes of those who have been born-again, it proves in those instances that we love the Lord Jesus Christ because we will forgive the most heinous crimes against us, we forgive because we have been forgiven.
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
But I bring this to your attention as well, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matt. 7:20)
We are to treat our brothers and sisters in Christ who do not repent of the evil they have committed as Gentiles, that means we no longer associate with them on a personal level, they are no longer welcome in the assembly, they are not accepted again as a member of the body of Christ until they repent, turn from their evil way and begin to serve Christ for the glory of God.
When are we to forgive them, before or after they repent?
Look at our opening verse again, if he repent. What if he does not, how are we to know if they truly are one of Christs?
The words spoken in context are, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” (Matt. 18:21) Not one of the wicked, but one known and accepted as hid in Christ for the glory of God, one that we will spend eternity with in the presence of the Lord. This is a brother who, for whatever reason, is sinning and that willingly, it is not an opinion of ours that they have sinned, that they have made us feel bad or gone against what we consider an infraction against the Lord, they have sinned and we are to forgive them, if they come to us and repent of that sin.
But what if they do not? What if they could not care less if they have sinned against you, what if they determined not to come and ask for forgiveness, what happens if that known brother continues in sin even after we treat them as a Gentile?
I cannot stress this enough, this is indeed one crucified with Christ, not one spoken of in 1st John 2:19. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”
“To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1st Cor. 5:5)
Can one who has been born-again reach a point because of circumstances the Lord has allowed to come into their lives, live in continuing, willful rebellion against his Lord and Maker, can his anger at the Almighty cause him to be a sheep that intentionally runs away and does all he can to not return, to deny the One who saved him from the wrath of God?
Will the Almighty allow one chosen by Him to dishonor His name and leave that man unpunished?
And if he does not accept the chastisement, if he will not repent and ask forgiveness of not only those he has sinned against, but from the Lord as well, will God kill him?
“If he repent” are the words many who know Christ as Lord today tend to forget, and it has led to the enabled society we live in, it has caused known sinners to feel emboldened, and those who have been crucified with Christ to forgive when no repentance has been offered.
I ask you a final question today, is Hebrews 10:31 a truth for those who have been saved also?
“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”