Do I have to forgive someone who sinned against me if he didn’t repent?

God’s conditions for forgiveness

In order to forgive those who sin against us, we must first understand God’s forgiveness. The Bible tells us, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). Thus, forgiveness involves not just confession but repentance on the sinner’s part.

God places a condition for obtaining mercy which is reasonable and fair. God does not ask us to do something hard like painful penance to atone for our sins. He only asks that he who sinned may humbly confess his sin and repents then he shall obtain mercy (1 John 1:9).

Forgiving others

The apostle says, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed” (James 5:16). Confess your sins to God, who only can forgive them, and also your faults to each other. If you have offended your brother or a friend, you can confess your wrong, and it is your brother’s duty to freely forgive you. Then, you are to seek the forgiveness of God, because the brother you have wronged is the property of God, and in hurting him you sinned against his Heavenly Father.

If a guilty person fails to confess his wrongs to the innocent one, the latter should harbor no negative feelings towards the guilty one. For “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The love of God towards sinful men was not a response to any love they had for Him, for they were His enemies.

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us” (1 John 4:10). Therefore, the innocent should be patient with the guilty (1 Thessalonians 5:14; Matthew 5:39) and pray that he may humble his heart and seek reconciliation (Luke 6:27–28).

And if the guilty one is humbled and asks for forgiveness with repentance, the innocent one should forgive him not just seven times, but “seventy times seven” times (Matthew 18:22) so that the innocent may also obtain forgiveness for his own sins from God (Matthew 6:14; Mark 11:25; Colossians 3:12,13; Ephesians 4:31-32).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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