I was going through an article this morning and came across the following, would love to know what's your take on, and do you see an error in this teaching, thank you.
Quoted from Alliance For Life Ministries:
The Greek term for forgiveness means to "lay-aside," which is a different, and less forgiving meaning than the word absolution. When applied to Luke 17:3-4, "If another believer sins, rebuke him; then if he repents, forgive him. Even if he wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and repents, forgive him," this verse takes on a specific meaning. It is addressed to believers, (not everyone in general) and specifies repentance as the all important criteria for forgiving. Without repentance the believer is to be rebuked - period! Remember, only one criminal that was crucified beside Christ was promised salvation, the one that repented! For a Christian to forgive a deliberate sinful act without repentance is to condone evil and is sin itself. When people bowed down and humbled themselves before idols, God told Isaiah, "Do not forgive them" (Isaiah 2:9). No where in Scripture does God indicate that forgiveness is justified without need for repentance, and if that’s good enough for God it should be good enough for us! Forgiveness can only be experienced by those who honestly admit they need it. As is recorded in Psalm 51, David, who was responsible for the deaths of some 2000 fellow soldiers in his adulterous lust for Saul’s daughter, asked God for forgiveness:
"Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me."
SO WHAT IS REPENTANCE?
The Greek meaning for repentance is "regret," to "think differently," and most notably - change! Many statements of repentance are nothing more than thinly veiled sidesteps to avoid pain resulting from harm someone has done and consequences resulting there from. Repentance means more than remorse for getting caught. While offenders cannot un-spill the milk, they can help clean up the mess they have made. Although it may be impossible at times to know whether repentance is real, we can look for evidence. A truly repentant person will confess wrong, offer no excuses, ask for forgiveness, and accept results. If there is little or no evidence of these criteria being met, an avenue for legitimate forgiveness does not exist - and is not warranted!
FORGIVENESS ALSO DEPENDS ON CIRCUMSTANCES
Sometimes forgiveness is justified when the offender did not know what they were doing at the time. "Father forgive them for they know not what they do" (Luke: 23-24). This is often true of little children or the spiritually immature. God does not, however, forgive at the expense of His justice. He does not command us to assist and help people who are deliberately and unrepentantly committing wicked acts - Sin. To the contrary, II Chronicles 19:2 states, "Should you help the wicked, and love those that hate the Lord. Therefore, the wrath of the Lord is upon you."
Sometimes forgiveness requires us to forgive over and over again, as illustrated above in Luke 17:3-4 and Mt. 18:21-22.
And sometimes we are required to withhold forgiveness for sake of the one who has harmed us and society in general. In this case it is the responsibility of a wounded Christian to act. If the wound comes from a believer, we are instructed (as stated earlier) to rebuke him, which is to be in best interest of the brother or sister who harmed us. From a Christian perspective, to hold people accountable for their actions is a way of honoring them, and shows they are important enough for us to take their actions seriously. To not forgive should not be confused with bitterness, which is destructive.
But nothing is worse for the offender than to be allowed to go on in his or her sin unchallenged and uncared for until led into the judgment hall of God!
When someone is forgiven, God does not suspend the natural law of sowing and reaping, nor does He forgive so all consequences of our sin can be removed. He removes guilt and shame, but not scars and consequences with which we must live! Leaving vengeance in the hands of God is not to deny justice against those who have harmed us. King David received forgiveness from God but paid an awful price in the death of his son, family discord, and national turmoil (2 Sam. 12:13-23).
Contrary to modern theology God does not forget our sins. In Jeremiah 31:34, "I will forgive their iniquity and their sin I will remember no more," the word "remember," in Hebrew, means "mention," a much different meaning. God does not teach us to forget, but rather not to hold sins against one another. God did not forget the sins of Adam, Eve, Abraham, Moses, David, Rahab, Paul, Peter, and other forgiven people.
While it is necessary to love in order to show Christ-like forgiveness, it is not necessary to forgive in order to show Christ-like love. The "I forgive you for my own sake" attitude that advocates forgiveness for purely personal therapeutic selfish reasons is based on wrong theology. The danger is this rhetorical "sleight-of-hand" undermines the loving forgiveness taught in the Bible to a self-centered act of self-protection. In many ways it is seen as an unconditional offering of pardon that says, "No matter what you have done to me, I forgive you." One in which cowardice and apathy receive absolution, while the perpetrator feels justification, thereby allowing evil to be condoned at the expense of the innocent.
I saw this quote the other day from a person who was shot in the head and left for dead, "I forgive him for shooting me. I do it for me, to go on with my life." Although this popular form of emotional therapy, (a forgiveness grounded in me-ism), has run rampant through our churches and society in general, it’s as ungodly as the "Golden Calf." Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Protestant theologian killed by Nazis called it "cheap grace."
In my many years of ministry I have never experienced forgiveness from any Christian pastor, priest, or profamily leader. I am also certain the vast majority of clergy do not actually believe what they preach concerning this virtue, and people who populate their churches feel likewise. In fact, most Christians with whom I have had a disagreement have not prayed for me to "see the light" if they felt I have wronged then, but made every vindictive effort at their disposal to destroy our ministry. Here is a typical example: "As a practicing catholic all my life I am infuriated at your unjustified hatred for people who live a life-style you do not agree with. My religion is about reconciliation and forgiveness for all Gods people. I will do everything possible to tell my friends about your intolerant ministry and convince them to not financially support you."
"None of my clients ever turned the other cheek," said an attorney representing families of murder victims at the hands of a serial killer, "none of them ever forgave him." A Christian NASCAR owner wrote to a clothing store catalog publisher who promoted sexually implicit material in their advertising, "I intend to work diligently to make as many Americans as possible aware of your sexually provocative advertising campaign and to encourage them to boycott . . . My hope is your business will indeed suffer as a result." Did we forgive Timothy McVeigh for his Oklahoma City bombing of a Federal building? What do you think will happen to terrorists that work to destroy our country? "Those who forgive unrepentant evildoers," says Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby, "make the world not a better place, but a worse one."
As a foreign missionary stated at a church I attended, "How is it that I see an apparent spiritual awakening, a revival of sorts, super-churches, tremendous television and radio ministries, great crusades and conferences, and thousands of people coming to them, and still the whole moral fiber of our country is continuing to slip?" We must be careful that our mercy is in the best interest of the other party and not merely a self-deceiving effort to avoid confrontation. Poor theology has taught us to forgive when we think it is in our best interest. God wants us to forgive when it is in the best interest of others!"