About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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Repentance Before Forgiveness

In  Mat. 18:21 and 22 Peter asked Jesus how many times he needed to forgive his brother.  He asked if seven times was enough.  Jesus responded by saying, "no, not seven times, but seventy seven times".  It is highly recognized that Jesus' answer here tells us that we must forgive an infinite number of times.  

Now let us look at what Luke says concerning this same subject.  In Luke 17:3 and 4 says,  "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents forgive him.  If he sins against you seven times a day, and if seven times he come back and says, I repent, forgive him".

Jesus says a few other things in the Luke account.  First he says that if a brother sins, rebuke him.  This means to point out to him the sin. Then He says, if your brother repents, then forgive him.  Repentance is part of the forgiveness process.  Forgiveness is not really fully accomplished unless their is repentance. Also, a rebuke precedes repentance.   

You may notice that Jesus says, "if your brother repents seven times in a day, then forgive him all seven times".  You may ask, "if a man repents seven times, did he really repent the first six times".  I suppose an answer to this would be that people do repent from their heart, yet still slip up and needs to repent again.  Even so, forgiveness follows repentance.  You may show love to someone that sins against you without repenting, but is that forgiveness?  Forgiveness can only follow repentance.  If someone does not repent, you cannot forgive.    


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