“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.  Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

Luke 17:3-4


Forgiveness has been a common subject lately, and for good reason. Forgiveness helps us live in peace and harmony with others. Knowing we’re forgiven for the wrongs we have done helps us live with less guilt.

There are two opposing views on forgiveness: Conditional and unconditional.

The biblical principle of forgiveness is that we are to forgive others as God forgave us (Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32) But it’s a small step from saying that everyone forgives everyone unconditionally, to saying that God forgives everyone unconditionally, regardless of whether they believe in Christ’s sacrifice for us. This would be contrary to the Bible and teachings of the Christian faith.

I cannot in any way go along with the feel-good belief of unconditional forgiveness. The belief that there’s no need to repent – to regret or feel remorse for the wrongs you do.

Conditional forgiveness tells us that we need to confess our sins and repent to be forgiven. We’re held accountable for what we do.

The Bible tells us that we’re to forgive others as God forgives us. If God tells us we need to repent, as he does in the scripture above, as well as many other scriptures, we must express regret and remorse—not only to God, but also to those we hurt. We have to repent and indicate we intend to change our ways.

Have those who adopt the belief of unconditional forgiveness considered how it would play out in everyday life? These are some possible scenarios I’ve come up with:

  • A sinner could do wrong and not worry about the consequences.
  • A person is more liable to repeat the wrong- doing.
  • It would not encourage an offender to remember he is a sinner.
  • It’s cheap justice.
  • They would not need to feel guilt.
  • The offender could very likely not worry about the pain his actions caused.
  • He would likely feel no need to compensate for hurt caused.
  • He would feel no responsibility to bring peace to a situation through reconciliation.
  • Part of repentance is to learn about the pain caused and acknowledge it. Will that, too, be deemed unnecessary?


This leads me to thinking: If unconditional forgiveness is what Jesus intended, why is it so painful when a hurt person’s well-meaning offer to forgive is refused by an offender? Why is it so hard to be ignored by the offender who made you suffer without being shown remorse – remorse that would help bring peace and healing?

It seems to me that unconditional forgiveness is only for the good of wrong-doers. It does nothing for those who are wronged.