Monday, April 26, 2021

What To Do When A Christian Won't Repent

"Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s." - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Forgiveness is conditional. Don’t confuse not forgiving with harboring ill-will toward someone. I ended my last post with that statement. 

Very often I think that we think of relationships mostly on the natural level. We, figuratively, dump all of our relationships into one bucket. I think we should re-think that thinking. If we have a relationship with a Christian then that relationship always - always has a spiritual context - or at least has the potential for spiritual context.  I say that because all Christians,  meaning those people who are born again by faith in Jesus, are sealed with and inhabited by the Spirit of God. Not so with the people who are not Christians. They are incapable of anything spiritual, that is until they yield themselves by faith to the lordship of Christ. (Ephesians 2:8-9) So if the Bible speaks of spiritual reconciliation and restoration it can only be between Christians. 

But what if a Christian will not repent? A Christian, maybe a friend or relative, who has sinned against you. There are a couple things. First there can be no forgiveness resulting in restoration of a relationship without repentance. Second, in spite of the hurt or harm they have done and you have experienced, we should not harbor ill-will toward them in our hearts, even though there may be relational separation. Let's look at a couple of verses for context.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven" - Matthew 5:43-45

Jesus didn't say anything about them saying they were even sorry first. In fact the Bible says this about that!

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8

So once again, God beat us to the punch, setting the example for us. And guess what - for us to do what God expects takes faith to do. We cannot - must not, become bitter toward other people. We need to understand the root of the problem - sin - and solution which is a hardened heart turned toward God. We are supposed to pray for them - not resent them or wish them harm or hardship. 

Now there are other verses that address an unrepentant Christian. In fact, there is a progression of confrontation until they are taken before the church and essentially shunned - treated as an unbeliever. (that is the affected relationship part)

"Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’  And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector." - Matthew 18:15-17

Pretty clear - but I don't see that happening much in the church today. It normally gets stuck at the first step. But the point is that you can't save anyone and you can't make another Christian repent. Both salvation and repentance are between them and the Father. But what you can do is pray and be an example of obedience to the Word.

Believe it – walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

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