"Sound Doctrine" - (Titus 2:1)

Forgiveness Is Conditional

Jerry Dockens

Teaching that sinners should repent of most sins, such as murder, theft and such, but also teaching that they may continue in a wrongful marriage defies logical reasoning and attempts to undermine what Jesus taught on forgiveness.

We are frequently reminded of some of Jesus' teachings on forgiveness, as in: "But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions" (Matthew 6:15) and "And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions" (Mark 11: 25-26). But we are not often reminded that repentance is required for forgiveness, whether by God or by man, as Jesus proclaimed, "Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' forgive him" (Luke 17: 3-4).

It is essential to our salvation, and the salvation of those whom we influence, that we have a full understanding of forgiveness. For example, we rightfully point out the scriptures that indicate clearly that it is a sin for a divorced person, other than the one who has put their spouse away for adultery, to take another spouse, as in: "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery" (Matthew 19:9 ). But, if we do not exercise discipline against those who engage in this sin, then we assist with the continuance of the sin by failing to object and failing to exercising discipline, as required: "I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person" (1 Corinthians 5:11), and "Remove the wicked man from among yourselves" (1 Corinthians 5:13). We thereby permit that person a false sense of hope when we continue to extend our fellowship, instead of showing our love by exercising discipline.

The same is true with forgiveness; if we lead someone to believe that their sins are forgiven, when those sins continue or even if they do not continue, but no contrition is exhibited, then we permit that person a false hope of an eternal life with our Father and with our Savior.

We therefore need to truly understand and proclaim that repentance is required as a condition of forgiveness. This is what Jesus proclaimed: "Now He said to them, 'These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.' Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem'" (Luke 24:44-47).

Without true repentance, there is no hope of forgiveness.


Bryan Matthew Dockens

Irony, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, is "The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning". Consider the following examples.

"Please drink responsibly." Out of context, this statement might be suggesting that consumers should exercise reasonable precautions with ordinarily harmless beverages. For instance, a cup of steaming hot coffee should be handled in such a way as to avoid spilling it on one's lap. However, every television viewer recognizes these words from advertisements promoting alcoholic beverages. That's ironic because there is no responsible way to consume an alcoholic beverage. The consumption of alcohol leads directly to drunkenness, which is explicitly and repeatedly forbidden in scripture (Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 6:10; Galatians 5:21). Intoxication is doubly sinful in that it prevents self-control, a necessary quality in every Christian (Galatians 5:23; 2 Peter 1:6). There's nothing responsible about drinking alcohol.

"Please play responsibly." This phrase might be used to warn a pitcher not to bean the batter. Instead, these words come from advertisements promoting lotteries in those states where such is legal. The lottery is a form of gambling which involves the drawing of lots for a prize. There is no such thing as responsible gambling because gambling is covetous (Ephesians 5:3; Hebrews 13:5), and violates the principle of legitimate gain (Ephesians 4:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).

"Practice safe sex." To a Christian, this means that sexual intercourse is reserved for marriage and marriage alone. Sadly though, the Coalition for Positive Sexuality claims, "Safe sex means making sure you don't get anyone else's blood, semen, vaginal fluids, or breast milk in your body... Condoms, latex surgical gloves, and plastic wrap are the only ways to protect yourself and your partner from STDs and HIV..." It is beyond tragic that abstinence does not top that list! The only safe sex that has ever existed is intercourse with one's own husband or wife (Proverbs 5:18-19; 1 Corinthians 7:1-5; Hebrews 13:4). All sexual relationships outside marriage are immoral (1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8), and are unsafe because they incur the wrath of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Ephesians 5:5; Revelation 21:8).

Are You Faithful?

Is a car that starts seven times out of ten faithful? Is a refrigerator that only quits once a month faithful? Is your paperboy faithful if he only misses delivering your paper two or three times a week? If your hot water heater greets you with hot water five mornings out of seven would you call it faithful - or would you call a plumber? If you don't come to work one or two mornings a week, would your boss consider you faithful - or unemployed?

If you attend the assemblies of the church in a similar manner, only missing occasionally, coming most of the time - are you faithful?

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