Q. Re ‘Forgiveness for the Unrepentant’, what about how to deal with offenders, unrepentance, and redressing the aggrieved party?
A. You’re quite right; we dealt then mainly with our responsibility to live forgiven and forgiving. Living in unforgiveness, we spread bitterness and “defile many”. We also block God’s forgiveness in our own lives. See Matt 6:14-15; Heb 12:14-15
Our last sentence said, “Accountability and correction are related issues …”, and here is some teaching on how God’s people should deal with conflict or sin against each other:
- The interaction between offender and offended should never be on the basis of administering punishment, taking revenge, or getting even. Godly action, on both sides, must always seek reconciliation and restoration of fellowship.
- The offended person should go to the offender and “tell him his fault between thee and him alone.” You may well win your brother.
- If he refuses to receive your approach, you should take witnesses, one of whom, in my view, should be an elder.
- If he still rejects your appeal, the matter should be brought before the Church that the Body may appeal to him in the Name of Jesus. The motive remains the same; seeking reconciliation and fellowship.
- If he fails to hear the appeal of the Body of Christ, covering and fellowship should be withdrawn from him so that, falling into the ravages of Satan, he will call out to God for mercy.
- In your heart, be sure to maintain an attitude of love and forgiveness. Have forgiveness at the ready so that it may be conferred at the moment of repentance.
- Note that Christians, whether the offender or the offended, should not wait for the other to take the first step. Fellowship in Christ was purchased for us at the greatest Price; guard it and heal it speedily.
- Relevant Scriptures are: Matt 5:23-24; 18:15-22; 1 Cor 5:1-5 etc.
The very serious problem is that so many of God’s children are afraid to take the steps Jesus directs, believing their silence will save the peace. It doesn’t do that at all and plays right into Satan’s hands. How easily they override God’s wisdom!
The offended party may suffer loss, pain, humiliation and even the temptation to withhold forgiveness. However, this is a matter of suffering for righteousness’ sake and partaking in the sufferings of Christ. And if he suffers in a Christlike way, shame will come upon the offender, provoking repentance. See 1 Pet 3:14.
Finally the offended party should realise that suffering betrayal and the like can never damage his spirit – unless he allows it. Suffering is always against the flesh in such instances and, as his Lord did, he should commit himself to the grace and protection of the Father Who will certainly care for him and see him through, perfecting him all the while. See also 1 Pet 4:1-2; 2 Tim 2:123:12; Heb 12:1-3; Isa 53;7