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More Q & A about being reconciled

During our last series, “Reconciled” some of you submitted questions via email. Then on the last Sunday of the series, May 27, I answered those questions. (To listen to this or to see the transcript click here)

In addition, during the sermon on May 27, I invited anyone who still had questions to text them in during the message and I would try to answer them. Since we ran out of time that morning, here are the questions that came in that day and my answers to them. Feel free to make a comment or ask additional questions at the end of this blog.

1. How do you respond to someone if you thought you have made reconciliation with them, but the other person still does not want to talk to you or be friends?

Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you live at peace with everyone.” The key phrase in this passage is “as far as it depends on you.” You cannot control how other people act, but you can do everything possible to live at peace with them.

Specifically this means to examine your own life for any possible way you have offended them .Then to go to them and seek reconciliation (Matthew 5:23-24). Also, you must make sure you don’t have a critical spirit stemming from a self-righteous/morally superior attitude (Matthew 7:1-5). If you do and this has come through in your attitude and actions, then go and seek forgiveness and reconciliation for your sin(s) against them.

However, if after doing these things they still do not want to be reconciled, if they are a Christ-follower, then you need to follow the prescription for reconciliation laid out in Matthew 18:15-17. If they are not a Christ-follower, then you need to continue to pray for them and love them as Romans 12:19-21 spells out, always keeping your heart open and ready for reconciliation.

2. I know and fully believe that I am forgiven. However, I do not feel that I have forgiven myself. What steps could I take to forgive myself other than believing because I really do.

As Christ-followers we do not live based on how we feel but by faith in God’s word as revealed to us in the Bible. Listen to what God’s word says, “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you (Acts 13:38).” Do you believe this?

Since we don’t forgive ourselves, the only “steps” you can take are to continue to meditate on passages of scripture (like the one above) to renew your mind (Romans 12:1-2) with the truth that you have already been fully and completely forgiven in Jesus Christ.

Remember, our enemy, Satan, is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10) and wants you to doubt and question that you have been completely forgiven through the blood of Jesus. So when you are tempted to doubt that you have been forgiven, take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) and meditate on the truth of who you are in Jesus Christ.

3. Do we forgive people who have sinned against us and have not asked for forgiveness? And if so, how do we go about forgiving them?

Ideally forgiveness and reconciliation work together (as seen in Luke 17:1-4). When someone offends you, they are to come to you and ask for your forgiveness and you are to grant it freely. When this happens you are reconciled.

However, there are times when the offender does not/will not take responsibility for his/her sin(s). In such a case we, as Christ-followers, are still commanded to forgive them in the same way God has forgiven us in Christ (see Matthew 6:12, 14-15, Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13). In this case though, the forgiveness is between you and God. You choose to forgive them for their offense. Until they take responsibility for their sin(s) against you and come to you and ask for your forgiveness, you are not reconciled. Nonetheless, you are able to live free of bitterness, anger, rage, brawling, slander and malice (Ephesians 4:31) because you have already forgiven them.

If I don’t desire God, does that mean I have unresolved conflict? The short answer is yes.

If you do not desire God then that means you desire someone or something else more than God. In other words, you have committed idolatry (Exodus 20:3). The only way to restore a right relationship with God is to confess and repent of the idolatry in your heart – of worshipping others gods instead of the one true God - and to put your complete confidence in Jesus Christ. Then get into God’s word: reading it, studying it, meditating on it, memorizing it and obeying it. Also, pray and asking God to increase your desire for him and his word.

5. Based on God’s forgiveness of all past, present, and future sin… How can so many bible teachers struggle with teaching on salvation? Based on this teaching on forgiveness of our sins, is the “once saved always saved” biblically correct? I do not have enough information to attempt to answer the first question. If the person who wrote this would like to clarify what they mean by this, I would be glad to try and answer it.

Regarding the second question, there is nowhere in the bible where you it says “once saved always saved.” Jesus said, in Mark 1:15, “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news (a.k.a the gospel)!” Then, Ephesians 1:13-14 says that when you believe you receive the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit as a seal of their future inheritance in Jesus Christ.

In other words, those who are in Christ will show their new life by the way they live. When they sin, they will confess and repent of their sin trusting only in Jesus to live a life of obedience by faith. A true follower of Jesus persists in faith until the end proving this by their obedience. If a person who calls him or herself a Christ-follower refuses to repent of their sins – they show they do not truly know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Do you love him? Then obey his commands (1 John 5:1-2).

6. Hebrews 9:22 says that without the shedding of the blood there is no forgiveness of sin. So many people spend years in counseling and guilt driven thinking in trying to “forgive them”. Isn’t it more biblically accurate to say we can’t actually forgive our self but instead accept His full payment in our place? We instead need to see God as Who He IS- powerful enough to forgive us of our sin. Diminishing His power is dangerous. We have no power on our own to forgive. We forgive because He first forgave us. Therefore, fruitless efforts to “forgive myself” is really just dealing with wrong thinking (God’s blood isn’t enough) or dealing with the shame/consequences of sin. Isn’t it dangerous to think that I must forgive myself? Is that even a biblical process? Yes. I agree completely with this (See question #3 above).

When I responded to the question on May 26 “how do I forgive myself,” a better response would have been to clearly state – this is the wrong question to ask. Then proceed to explain, as this person did in their question/teaching here, that trusting in Jesus blood which was shed for our sins on the cross is the only basis for forgiveness.

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