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An Unforgivable Sin

Eric Summers

An unforgivable sin is presented to us in the Book of Matthew by our Savior, Jesus Christ.  This sin is to not forgive the sins of people that may have sinned against us.  Here is The Lord's Prayer immediately followed by the verses that describe an unforgivable sin:

Matthew 6:9-13: Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.  And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.  For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen.

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

This statement is very clear: God the Father will not forgive you of your sins if you do not forgive the sins committed against you by other people.  Conversely, He will forgive you of your sins if you forgive others their sins against you.  The person that prays the Lord's prayer is a Christian, not the unsaved because an unsaved person will not call our God  "Father."

What is Forgiveness?

To forgive someone of their sins committed against you, you need to say within yourself: "I forgive the specific sin of an individual against me."  You then say to God in a prayer that you forgive this individual of his sin against you. 

You don't have to feel wonderful mentally and physically; you don't have to be in a state of euphoria after you do the forgiveness.  You don't have to forget that the sin was committed against you: Forgive and forget is not in any verse I could find in scripture.

A second measure you could possibly take is to go to the person that sinned against you and tell him that he did something to hurt you, but you have forgiven him.  After you speak to him, he may ignore you or later even sin again against you: be aware that this could occur.  However, you will have done all that is possible to accomplish the forgiveness that Jesus wants you to do.  By telling the person that sinned against you that you forgive him is opening the door for future reconciliation.

The attitude of forgiveness is not complete once you have told God that you have forgiven someone. Others will sin against you most likely the rest of your life.  If you remember the Lord's Prayer, you will do the required forgiveness soon after the sin is committed against you.   The forgiveness commanded by Jesus does not state the size or degree of the sin.  We should forgive regardless of the effect of the sin committed against us.

Why do we need to forgive?

The forgiveness you give for those who may not even deserve the forgiveness you give them are for your recovery from the pain caused by the sin!  When you forgive someone their sins you are in effect allowing God to apply the Holy Spirit's power to your life that will help your spiritual wounds to heal.  I can tell you from my own experiences that by forgiving others, this healing will begin right away and you will be a better person because of the whole situation:

James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

The sin committed against you by someone is not anything that God wants to happen.  But, these sinful acts do happen and God allows them to happen so that your character will be made more perfect.  He will produce patience in you so that you will look a little more like His Son, Jesus Christ.

God can use difficult situations to make us more faithful, even using sins committed against us by others to accomplish some kind of good in our lives:

Romans 6:18 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

When we are experiencing the effect of the sin, we just can't see how this verse is taking place in our live: but it is.  Let's be patient and let God do His work in our lives. 

I Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, Who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

You will be tested many times during your life and if you are faithful to God, you will be able to bear up under any of your testing.  This could be holding up under say, cancer, or bearing up after someone has sinned against you.

What is achieved by having forgiveness?

If you are a person that forgives the sins of others then you will receive rewards from Jesus Himself at your judgment. These will be among the gold, silver and precious stones that Jesus will recognize at your judgment.  Of course, the good works of other types such as worship, fellowship, Bible study, witnessing to others, giving money for mission work, and encouraging others will also be among these gold, silver and precious stones:

I Corinthians 2:10-15 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it.  But let each one take heed how he builds on it.  For no other foundation can anyone lay that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood hay, straw, each one's work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is.  If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

We know that at our judgment all sin that has been confessed (I John 1:9 If we confess our sin, He is just and righteous to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.) will not be brought up.  Jesus will then burn up all of our sins that have not been confessed at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  Those Christians that have many unconfessed sins will be very uncomfortable at their judgment.  After this judgment the person will be saved, yet so by fire as mentioned in the verses above.  In effect, these sins will be then forgiven by Jesus Christ. 

The question I have is what happens to the Christian who does not forgive others their sins?  The Matthew 6:14-15 verse says that God will not forgive their sins.  I wonder what happens to the unforgiving Christian?  The following dialog between Jesus and Peter perhaps provides the answer:

Matthew 18:21-35 Then came Peter and said to him, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times?  Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven.  Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, who would make a reckoning with his servants.  And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, that owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not [wherewith] to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.  The servant therefore fell down and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And the lord of that servant, being moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.  But that servant went out, and found one of his fellow-servants, who owed him a hundred shillings: and he laid hold on him, and took [him] by the throat, saying, Pay what thou owest.  So his fellow-servant fell down and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee.   And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay that which was due.  So when his fellow-servants saw what was done, they were exceeding sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.  Then his lord called him unto him, and saith to him, Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou besoughtest me: shouldest not thou also have had mercy on thy fellow-servant, even as I had mercy on thee?  And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due. So shall also my heavenly Father do unto you, if ye forgive not every one his brother from your hearts.

Jesus tells Peter that we must forgive the sin of another person as many times as they sin against us, even 490 times if the person continues to sin against us.  This dialog also shows that we have sinned much more against Almighty God than others have sinned against us.  It shows us that we should be merciful to others, forgiving them of their sins against us, just as God is merciful to us and forgives us of our sins.

The punishment by God of the unforgiving, unmerciful Christian will be extremely painful and this believer will endure some kind of torture until his punishment is complete.  We are not told in the Matthew dialog what the punishment will be, but it will be given to him until he has paid all that God requires of him.  This torment will be given for each sin that the Christian does not forgive.

God handles the punishment of those that sin against you

If someone hurts you, let God do the punishment-- this is His work to accomplish:

Romans 12:19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath: for it is written "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay" says The Lord.

God knows exactly what He needs to do to effect the appropriate punishment or discipline.  So don't take it in your own hands to punish someone that may have hurt you.  If you do decide to retaliate against a person that has hurt you, you are becoming like them: this you don't want to do.  Their sin against you will continue to live and perhaps even destroy you.  Please let God take care of the situation: what God requires you to do is to forgive the person of their sin against you and He will handle the situation.

Here is my personal story and my forgiveness of my father and grandfather

I have only told my wife about my childhood and the pain that was caused by my father.  He was an intelligent man and had his own business and made very good money at the time of my childhood and adolescence.  However he had two large weaknesses: he was an alcoholic and a nicotine addict.  After work on Fridays he would go to the bars and drink alcohol until the wee hours until he was drunk.  After work during the week, he would drink beers until he could hardly walk.  He was smoking cigarettes during most of his waking hours; perhaps three or four packs a day.  He did not physically abuse me, but he never encouraged me or gave me any guidance of any kind.  Anything I learned was from the "street." 

Because of my father spending all of his income on alcohol and tobacco, we lived like paupers.  The only reason we could survive was that my mother had a full time minimum wage job and paid for our food, clothing and apartment.  I was a latch-key kid, being by myself until my mother came home after work.  I don't know why, but we often moved from tenement house to tenement house,
living in small one or two room apartments.  We may have been told to leave by the landlord, but this I am not sure.  We rarely stayed more than two years in any one place.  I attended three high schools and lost the friends I had made. 

I believe that God was somehow watching out for me during those years.  I did not take up smoking or drink alcohol.  It's a miracle that I did not get lung cancer because of secondary smoke in our little apartments.  God was again there for me.

I found out later in life that my grandfather on my father's side of the family gave his children alcohol to drink, even before they attended elementary school.  All three of his sons were alcoholics and his daughter was a drug addict.  My father had heart disease and later in life my father contracted Alzheimer's disease.  He died of a heart attack at 64 years of age.

I have had this pain all my life caused by the sin of my father and grandfather.  About 12 years ago I started reading the Holy Bible daily and read the Matthew verses about forgiving those that have sinned against me.  It took me some time, but I have forgiven both my father and my grandfather.  I have prayed many times to God telling Him that I have great pain from my father and grandfather, but have forgiven both.  I believe that I am closer to God because of the effects of people's sin I have experienced during my life because God comes even closer to you when you have great pain of some kind.  I don't believe that I would be this close to Him if I had not experienced the pain caused by the sin of my father and grandfather.

If you read the Psalms, many chapters are David complaining to God about the persecution of King Saul.  I wonder if David would be as close to God if he had not been persecuted by Saul?  David was a man after God's own heart: he was like this because he lifted up his pain in prayer to God and He was there for him when he experienced pain of some kind and this made him a better person.

Pray for those who hurt you

Jesus commands:

Matthew 5:43-47 You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others?  Do not even the tax collectors do so?  Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.

The verses above might just be the most difficult verses in the Holy Bible to obey but they are not optional for Christians.  We need to be better than the tax collectors, who were about the lowest of the low in the time of Jesus.  They would love and do good to their friends and relatives.  To be more like Jesus, we need to do more than the tax collectors: we need to love those people that may sin against us; we need to bless and to pray for them.  We need to forgive them of any sins they commit against us.  We shall be made perfect if we do this: this will happen and we will have a favorable pronouncement at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

What should you do?

Right now, go back and remember situations where someone was mean to you or used you in some way or another. You were cut you off while driving to work.  You may have been sexually assaulted.  You may have been innocent, but were convicted of some crime in a court room.  You may have been beaten up or bullied in middle or high school.  You were passed over for a promotion and the higher position was given to someone that was less capable than you.  In a church setting you are ignored or you were even told you are wrong about a verse in the Bible but you know that you were correct about its meaning.  I could go on and on about the seemingly unlimited types of sins that can be committed by one person against you. 

What you should do is clear: you should bring up to mind each specific sin against you.  You should then pray to God the Father that you are forgiving each sin for the individual involved.  Some of these sins against you you may have forgotten about.  You should pray to God and tell Him that you are forgiving individuals of any sins against you that you may have forgotten.

When you do these suggestions I have given to you, you will be greatly surprised at the way you will feel about these individuals and about yourself as a believer in Jesus Christ.  When you do this forgiveness, you will be more Christ-like; you will be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  You should then ask God to heal you so you can serve Him--and He will heal you!