Forgiving Others, Repentance, and Spit
“Come and let us reason together…”
See Isaiah 1:18
What does God really say about “forgiving others,” “repentance,” and being “spit out of His mouth”? Here is a conversation I had on social media that I believe will help you understand all three subjects much better:
“Matt, are you saying after you give your life to Christ and your sins are forgiven and forgotten that when we stumble (and we will as long as we live in this human body), we don’t need to ask God for forgiveness?…Jesus’ example of prayer, specifically the one called, the Lord’s prayer, teaches us to ask God to ‘forgive us our debts (trespasses) as we forgive our debtors their debts (those who trespass against us), and to pray this daily. Jesus says He is our intercessor who sits at the right hand of God. My relationship with Christ is based on wanting to please Him in the living of my life. What’s your opinion of those who harden their hearts and no longer care about pleasing Him? Where do they stand? Some theologians say ‘Well, they never knew Christ to begin with or they would feel convicted.’ Others say ‘They are in danger of being spewed out of His mouth on the day of judgement if they don’t recognize their their sins and repent.’ What is your take on this?”
“Good morning. First off, sure, we should ask God for forgiveness, just like if you do another person wrong, you ask them for forgiveness—it’s just the right thing to do. But asking for forgiveness doesn’t make you any more forgiven, or not asking, makes you any less forgiven. We are forgiven once and for all. That’s what Hebrews 10:10 says. Our asking doesn’t save us anyway, but faith in Jesus’ blood as our saving (see Hebrews 9:22).
As for your next question, I went ahead and read all of Matthew 6, where your first verse is taken from. It’s a very legitimate question. You mixed two verses together, from two different books, you said, ‘the Lord’s prayer teaches us to ask God to forgive us our debts (trespasses) as we forgive our debtors their debts (those who trespass against us), and to pray this daily.’—That’s Matthew 6:12; and Jesus doesn’t say to pray this daily. But He does say ‘give us our daily bread’ in the previous verses.
However, if you read this in context, and you start from the beginning of the chapter, Jesus isn’t speaking to those who believe in Him, but instead, to the hypocritical Pharisees—those who had religious pride in their hearts, and the only reason why they did anything was to get attention.
This is ‘pre-Cross,’ so Jesus is still teaching Law, to show how impossible it is to live up to—that we need someone to do it for us, a Savior. Remember, God doesn’t grade on a curve. Christianity is not a self-improvement program, but a spiritual death and resurrection. It’s “obey ALL LAW,” or you are a complete failure (see James 2:10, Romans 3).
And not only does He say, ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors,’ but in verses 14 and 15, He goes on to say, ‘For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.’
This is obviously not true for Christians because after the Cross, Paul teaches us the opposite; he says we should forgive, because we are already forgiven:
‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.’ (Ephesians 4:32)
‘Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.’ (Colossians 3:13)
Both times he says, ‘forgave,’ that is past tense.
When Jesus said that in Matthew 6, He was speaking to the wolves in sheep’s clothing who looked at themselves as their own righteousness; all you gotta do is read all of Matthew 6 from the beginning, and you’ll be able to discern that. He wasn’t talking to those who had faith in Him.
God doesn’t forgive us because we are great forgivers, but because He is. So much so, that He gave us His best in His Son to pay off our forgiveness sin problem once and for all. Just imagine if God had a stipulation of not letting us in heaven because of some hidden resentment? There would be millions of Christians not make it—if not billions. So that verse you referenced is a law which was being taught by Christ to set up the Pharisees, this is not meant for Christians, but for those who think they can forgive their way into heaven—we must have a Savior.
The second half of your comment, ‘Jesus says He is our intercessor who sits at the right hand of God,’ is from Romans 8:34, and here is that verse in full:
‘Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.’
This is once again proving that we are not condemned because of Jesus—so this is in favor of the fact that we don’t live by a law of ‘forgiving others so God forgives us.’ Should we forgive? ABSOLUTELY! But we don’t always pull this off. Thanks be to Jesus who no longer condemns us, but represents us at God’s side.
Next, you asked my opinion on people hardening their hearts. God can decide to do anything to achieve a much greater, eternal purpose—He’s God, He can do whatever He wants—but I don’t believe God purposefully hardens anyone’s heart, and this is just my opinion. Because if He did, then free will would be gone. Instead, He gives us opportunities to not harden our hearts; this is why the Bible says ‘CHOOSE this day whom you will serve’ (see Joshua 24:15), and, ‘I set before you life and death, CHOOSE LIFE’ (see Deuteronomy 30:19). It’s up to us to choose.
However, God sees the beginning from the end because He is not bound by time—we are—so He knows what will happen before it happens, just like we know what will happen if we record the Super Bowl and watch it the next day, already knowing the end result. Does us watching that recording cause the players to make different choices? No. It already happened and they freely made their own choices. But we are not bound by the time of that actual event on that recording. Same with us and God. Time can’t contain His greatness, even though we are still contained by time, ourselves.
You then combined several Scriptures together toward the end of your comment: ‘they are in danger of being spewed out of His mouth on the day of judgement if they don’t recognize their sins and repent’. So part of that is found in Revelation 3:16:
‘So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.’
First off, this is not referring to God spitting Christians out of His mouth on the day of our judgment–and honestly, even if God did spit us out of His mouth, because of Christ, He would slurp us right back up. If you read this in context, you can understand what it means. And the movie War Room has a great demonstration of it as well, when Miss Clara hands Elizabeth a lukewarm cup of coffee. Nobody likes to drink anything lukewarm. You either want a hot drink, when it’s cold—or a cold drink, when it’s hot—both are satisfying and make changes to how you feel. A lukewarm drink does nothing.
However this is not saying that Christians will be rejected by God because Jesus says that He will never leave us—and that, even if we are faithless, He remains faithful (see Matthew 28:20, 2 Timothy 2:13). The New Covenant is between the Father and the Son, NOT US. It’s a promise between them, and we are simply the beneficiaries who receive it by grace through faith. We don’t create it, or sustain it, we simply accept it as the truth for our sins (see Hebrews 8:13, Ephesians 2:8,9, Romans 10:9).
And ‘as long as Jesus lives He is able to save us completely’ (Hebrews 7:25), and He is not dying again. So we can rest assured that we will be forever saved, through HIM, not ourselves.
The next part of you comment is another verse, you say, ‘on the day of judgement if they don’t recognize their sins and repent…’ This is quite a few verses all mashed together. But first of all, once you die, and you’re in God’s presence, it’s too late to repent. Second, NO CHRISTIAN will be judged guilty for any sin, but instead, Jesus has already judged us NOT GUILTY, because of our faith in Him. Jesus tells us this in John 3:17,18—that only unbelievers will be judged guilty, not us:
‘For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.’
There is not a single verse in the Bible that says a Christian will be judged guilty. Those are lies from Satan to try to make us afraid of God, or to think that we can possibly do something to remove our guilt. We can’t. Only Jesus can—and did (see John 5:24).
As for repentance? Again, the modern legalistic churches have turned this word into a law—as if we can possibly keep track of every sin, and then repent, and if we don’t we are still condemned. This goes against the gospel and is a lie. Are we forgiven or not? Is Jesus a liar, or not? We gotta make up our minds.
The truth is He finished everything for us (see John 19:30). In our spirits, we died with Him, and was raised with Him as well, in spirit (see Romans 6, Galatians 2:20). We are new Creations in Him (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). We don’t STOP sinning to be saved, we believed that Jesus has saved us (see John 3:16, Romans 10:9). So we don’t STAY stopped sinning, to STAY saved. This is madness and creates fear. God’s love for us is perfect and casts out all fear because fear has to do with punishment (see 1 John 4), and because of Jesus, we are not going to be eternally punished.
The Cross, and our faith in it as the truth, is the only sin that is required to be repented of in order to be saved. The only unforgivable sin is not accepting Christ’s Spirit into yours through believing (see Matthew 12:31). So repentance is a two-step process—and one follows the other, they are not combined:
1. We repent of unbelief in Jesus as our Savior in order to be saved.
2. Because we are already saved, by grace through faith, we repent of incorrect attitudes and actions so that Christ can live through us (see Galatians 5:22, 23)—not to be saved again and again, or to stay saved.
I hope this helps you understand my teaching a little better.”
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, thank you for opening up my eyes to the truth of your loving, graceful, merciful gospel. Thank you for what Jesus has done for me! Thank you for teaching me the truth of my true identity, which is Christ IN me, forever! What a good God that you would become one with me! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. For those who have been incorrectly taught about WHO you really are, help them. Help them to stop focusing on what THEY do or DON’T do, and to START focusing on what Jesus HAS done—and continues to do—FOR THEM, which is save them COMPLETELY. Open up their minds to understand this truth, that you love us SO much, you paid off ALL our debts once and for all IN Jesus. And now, all we must do each day is wake up and say, “Thank you. Live through me. I’m ready.” In Christ’s name I pray, amen.
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