Confronting Sin in Your Christian Brother

… or sister as it were.

As I have mentioned previously, much of the impetus for starting this blog was to process and write about what I learned during the process of leaving a corrupt church.

Today David, a current member of said church commented on my other blog about what he was seeing there, and I am recommending that he consider moving through a Matthew 18 process of confronting the pastor of the sin of false teaching.

After leaving Bel Air Pres, I wrote a womens bible study, one of the chapters of which included almost all I had learned about confronting sin in a Christian brother, and the AMAZING wisdom of God that is weaved in and our of His instruction on this process.

I am posting it for David, and for you. I should go ahead and post the rest of the study too. It is written in outline form, as it is a track for a discussion and not a book to be read.

The study was entitled Wonder Women Fear God Only.

Wonder Women Sharpen One Another

Proverbs 27:17

Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

We are commanded to hold each other accountable and make each other stronger. God has given us a brilliant plan for this that keeps all close by his side.

Because we are fallen and sinful, we will have conflicts. God has given us a model for working out those conflicts, whether they are big or small. We are to confront sin and but work toward overlooking personal offenses.

Proverbs 19:11

A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger.
And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.

First make sure your friend has actually “sinned” and not just done something that you didn’t like. What scripture have they violated?.

James 5:16

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Matthew 18 is the instruction manual on how to confront sin. It should be studied and parsed and restudied. (For more on this read The Peacemakers by Ken Sande)

Matthew 18:15-22

If your brother sins go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.

But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.

If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as Gentile and a tax collector.

Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.

For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

We tend to confront things in people that we do not like, but to shy away from confronting on sin using scripture. Ironically, both of these can be sin in themselves.

Confrontation is to be for restoration into the body.

2 Timothy 2:24-25

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged.

With gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,

And they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

It is important to note that God is the one who grants repentance. We don’t correct only if we think that the person being corrected will respond well. God tells us just to do it and leave the results up to Him.

2 Timothy 4:2

Preach the world; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

Galatians 6:1

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

Temptation comes in many forms, but the biggest temptation when being in the position of confronting someone on sin is to be come arrogant. Tim Keller believes that in order to confront someone on sin correctly, you have to be as grieved over the sin being confronted as the one in sin should be. That you should bear the burden of their sin with them.

*(There is an exception to this ‘gentleness’ principle for religious leaders who will not repent and be accountable for their sin. Christ, Paul, John the Baptist and countless prophets both taught and practiced rebuking such “hidden reefs, false teachers, scribes, hypocrites, and Pharisees” both harshly and publicly, sometimes calling them out by name and even calling them insulting names. See Jeremiah 5, 8 and 23, Ezekiel 23, Matthew 3, Matthew 12:34, Matthew 23, 2 Peter 2, and 1 Tim. 5:20. This harshness may not have been to turn the hypocrite from his sin [as he would likely have done so during private confrontation or upon his own reading and teaching of scripture if he was a true believer with a repentant heart], as much as it was for the protection and teaching of the rest of God’s people who were being lead by, and being victims of, unrepentant, unconfessed sinners who propagated false teaching. This harsh, public rebuke is only for those who have been entrusted with God’s authority, and use it for their own purposes at the expense of the flock).

James 5:19-20

My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Matthew 7:3-5

Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Note that the passage does not tell us not to take the log out of our brother’s eye, but to first deal with our own sin. This process restores both the confronter and the confronted to Christ, pulling all back into unity in Him.

This verse is also important to keep in mind as you examine your motives if you decide not to confront someone on their sin. Are you choosing not to confront them because you do not want to deal with your own sin? Do you love your log?

Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,

Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace

There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;

One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

One God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift….

…He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,

For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

As a result, we are not longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;

But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,

From whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

Unity as believers is a natural by product of unity with Christ. It does not require anyone to be forced or coerced. If we have the same love, the same obedience and the same purpose in life, we will be headed toward the same goal and offering one another grace when we can’t agree on one means of getting there as opposed to another.

I am not really a fan of McManus, but he gives a good illustration of the principle here:

The Cause Driven Church
by Erwin McManus

The early church existed with a dynamic tension; it was both expanding and consolidating – growing and unifying. The Bible tells us that first century believers “shared everything in common” and that “the church was being added to day by day.’ We want our church to live in this same tension.

This tension is illustrated by two biblical images – the body of Christ and the army of God. The body of Christ is centered on community; the army of God is centered on cause.

Healthy community flows out of a unified cause – not the other way around. Jesus called his disciples and said, “Follow me. I’ll make you fishers of men.” This was not an offer of community. “Follow me and I will give you something worthy of giving your life to” is a statement of cause. But the neat thing is, when they came to the cause, they found community like they never knew could exist. That’s the power of the church.

One danger of the American church is that we often try to offer people community with out cause. Without cause, you’re just another civic organization. You don’t have life transformation.

Jesus said, “I have come to the world to seek and to save that which is lost.” The cause of Christ is accomplished by expanding the kingdom of God…

If Wonder Women is just an excuse to get together and talk, unity will be transient, because we are worshiping Community and not Christ. But if it is truly a means for us to submit ourselves to Christ, to worship Him and to refine ourselves for His service, unity will be unbreakable.

Philippians 2:1-11

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,

make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,

who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,

But emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,

So that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

And that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus was God. Although He and He alone had the right to judge and condemn us, He chose to walk among us and even put Himself beneath us, so that we might have a chance at redemption. We, being sinful, certainly have the duty to place ourselves beneath our others so that they might have a chance at redemption. Confrontation of sin in their lives is to be done in such a position of service.

Colossians 3:12-17

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;

Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in y our hearts to God.

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

When we became repentant of our sins, God forgave us fully and threw our sins ‘as far as the east is from the west’. When others repent of their sins, and ‘bear fruit in keeping with repentance’, we are to do the same and wipe the slate clean for them.

(A common misconception that arises from this verse and that can result in spiritual abuse in the church, is the idea that we as Christians must forgive all sins against us. Not so. We are required to forgive the repentant as Christ forgives us when we are repentant, and may forgive the unrepentant if we so choose, but forgiveness of unrepentant sin is not required of us, as it is not required of Jesus [who does not forgive all sin]. If one chooses not to forgive, and hold someone’s sin against them as they walk through church discipline with them, one must take GREAT care not to become bitter, proud or to hypocritical themselves.)

As you can see, before we confront a sister on her sin, we have a LOT of work to do on ourselves.

Confrontation is not to be done as a reaction to being injured out of selfish anger, but as a proactive act of service to the one being confronted. We are not to elevate ourselves above others, bur follow Christ’s example and consider one another more important than ourselves.

Remember, you are just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.

If when confronted your sister repents:

2 Corinthians 2:7-8

So that on the contrary, you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.

Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.

Matthew 18:23-35 tells us the story of a man who begged for mercy and was offered it, but would not offer mercy to a repentant man who begged him for it. The end of the story was not pleasant for him. Search your heart. When your sister (or your husband for that matter) has shown repentance, do you still hold a grudge?

If when confronted your sister does not repent after going through the Matthew 18 process:

Titus 3:10-11

Reject a fractious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.

2 Thessalonians 3:14-15

If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Even this is for restoration, so that the person can not be in denial about their broken relationship with God and can be convicted into repentance.

James 5:16

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Even if fellowship with a believer is broken, we are to continue loving them and encouraging them to come back to Christ, as we would any unbeliever. Time can be spent with them if it is talking about their potential repentance and restoration to Christ, but that should be the extend of the relationship.

Be wise in recognizing who is your “brother” in Christ and who is not:

Matthew 7:15-23

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree product good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

So then, you will know them by their fruits.

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.

Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?”

And I will declare to them, “I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.”

If Jesus said that there would be those who even cast out demons and performed miracles in His name, and yet were not his followers, we need to be careful not to assume just because someone attends church, or even pastors a church, that they know Christ. We are called to look closely at a person’s works to find evidence of their union with Christ.

It is important to note that in a healthy Christian community where the Matthew 18 process is being practiced, such ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ are usually prevented from ever getting a foothold in the flock in the first place. When obedience and confession of sin is the norm, one who is unrepentant stands out like a sore thumb.

Scripture tells us that confronting such sheep in wolves clothing will result not in their repentance and restoration into the body but in retribution against the one who confronted them.

Proverbs 9:7-9

He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself;
And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself.

Do not reprove a scoffer lest he hate you;
Reprove a wise man, and he will love you.

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser,
Teach a righteous man, and he will increase his learning.

Matthew 7:6

Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

1 John 2:3-6

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.

The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him”;

But whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected by this we know that we are in Him:

The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

1 John 5:2-3

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

When trying to decide if someone is a true disciple of Christ, there are two areas to look at to see what their true character is:

1. What they do in a conflict when they have something to loose.

2. What they do when they think no one is watching

Have you ever corrected someone, only to be attacked for it? Were there any signs in their life in the first place that may have told you that they were not actually a teachable disciple of Jesus Christ?

Have you responded badly to someone’s correction of something that you did wrong? Are you a true and teachable disciple of Jesus Christ?

Are you ready to start LOVING correction????


Author: Ginger Taylor

I am a thirty something wife of a wonderful man and mother to two beautiful boys. I am a Johns Hopkins educated family therapist with a current case load of one, my autistic son Chandler. I want to God and what He really has to say to us and especially what He really wants from me. I approach Scripture from the Reformed perspective of Luther and Calvin and those that followed them, and encourage lively debate here at Daily Discernment.

58 thoughts on “Confronting Sin in Your Christian Brother”

  1. Ginger,

    You quoted Matthew 18:15 as saying:

    “If your brother sins go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.”

    Can you tell me which translation this is, because I have looked at it in several translations and it always says:

    “If your brother sins AGAINST YOU go and show him his fault in private…” (emphasis added)

    I had remembered it the way you quoted it, but now I see the addition of those two words as adding a profoundly different meaning. The first implies that we should be correcting all sins committed by other Christians, which is a very uncomfortable position to be in to be sure. The second translation is much more appropriate because it is meant to restore a relationship between two Christians.

    What are your thoughts?

  2. Tony,

    Great question. That came up after I originally wrote this, and I should probably have gone back and addressed it in the chapter.

    I use the New American Standard, and that is the one that does not have the “against you”. I later saw it with the phrase in.

    I need to go back and do further study on the differences in the versions, but I know that there are some people who argue that unrepentant sin being committed in the body is actually sinning against the whole body. (Off the top of my head I can’t think of a specific verse that would directly support that, but there may be. Wait… what about Ephesians 4? If someone is in sin it might be considered against the whole body because the whole body cannot work in the “fitted together/mature mutual service” way that is prescribed. Needs more study).

    The passage that comes to mind to test this approach is 1 Cor 5 where Paul instructed the Church at Corinth to throw a member out for sleeping with his step mother. That certainly was not a direct sin against any member of the body (as I am assuming dear mother was not a member of the church) yet the sin was confronted and church discipline was exercised.

    But I strongly agree that this process is meant to restore relationships between believers, but the reasoning given in the second half of the verse, “you have won your brother” I have always taken to mean that, ‘you have won your brother back to Christ’. Ergo while the restoration between brothers is important, of primary importance is the restoration between The Father and both brothers. (Which of course just kinda magically happens when all are submitted to love in Christ, are working toward obedience in the big things, letting go of small offenses and are humble and teachable. One accord and all that).

    The words do change the meaning, but often (and I am thinking of several circumstances in my life) both translations put the burden on me to do the confronting.

    But I think that if someone is in sin, it certainly puts the burden on the person who has been most directly effected by the sin to be the one who confronts it. So it rules out the whole, “Hey Sam. Bill really screwed me over. Will you go talk to him?”, thing that people want to do.

    Of course the abuse of this verse (which can really happen with either translation) is people turning in The Church Lady and going on sin patrol. But I think that it is pretty clear from the whole piece that this is not about kind of nonsense.

    Your thoughts?

    1. I agree I would say it is something that effects the whole body. Someone sleeping with a church members spouse. A person who is always causing discord, strife or division within the church. A pot stirrer of sorts. Cut off foot or ect because it could infect the whole body. Sin does this if left ignored it will eat away and destroy a congregation. Having a strong Godly leader & deacons help to keep this from going too far. As long as it is done God’s way according to his Word every thing works out. When we try our way that is when we fail.

  3. Our emotions are like a magnifying glass between us and our brothers act. Thats what makes his speck look like a great big log to us. It’s alot of work to allow ourselves to let God lead us to the crux of the matter when looking at our brothers problems.

  4. I noticed a typo in your quotation of Matthew 18:22
    Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

    You have put down seven instead of seventy.

    1. Well, since I saw that acknowledgment of a corrected error, I figured I’d mention a couple. 🙂 Third paragraph: “womens” should be “women’s” and “…in and our…” obviously should be “…in and out…”

  5. I thank you for your time in researching this subject. I have been looking for a verse in the Bible I read a few years ago but have not been able to find it, maybe you can help?

    I am paraphrasing. If you see your brother going to his death and you do not confront him, did not the Creator see what you have done? And when you sin will he not turn his back towards you as well?

    It talked about saving your brothers life and not allowing him to sin without warning him of the out come.

    1. Ezekiel 33:1-7 (New Living Translation)

      Ezekiel 33
      Ezekiel as Israel’s Watchman
      1 Once again a message came to me from the Lord: 2 “Son of man, give your people this message: ‘When I bring an army against a country, the people of that land choose one of their own to be a watchman. 3 When the watchman sees the enemy coming, he sounds the alarm to warn the people. 4 Then if those who hear the alarm refuse to take action, it is their own fault if they die. 5 They heard the alarm but ignored it, so the responsibility is theirs. If they had listened to the warning, they could have saved their lives. 6 But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths.’
      7 “Now, son of man, I am making you a watchman for the people of Israel. Therefore, listen to what I say and warn them for me.

    2. 1John 5:16 was the Scripture for which you were searching. Here’s the best tip for searching. Use Google and quote the best you can using only the words you are certain are in the verse followed by “bible” without the quote marks (sequentially is good if you can do it and it doesn’t take a lot of words–more important is if you can use those words that are unique. Remember that Google has all the popular versions in memory so you can get a verse though you do a poor job of supplying the right words! For instance:
      “see sin unto death pray bible” will get the right answer.

      I always tell people always search with Google rather than Bible software because your Bible software won’t allow mistakes. You can butcher the verse and Google will still find it.

    3. Buy a Bible concordance for same version as your Bible (KJ, NKJ, etc). If you know only one word in that scripture… You will find it.

    1. Alright, I didn’t finish my last message but anyways. I have confronted one of my friends from church about a situation and she listened but it didn’t work. So I’m going to bring someone with me and talk to her about it. But I worry if it’s just something I’m not ok with. But this really helped me see what I must do.

  6. I think David may mention about Matthew 18:15-17. I am concern that you exposed this person because I don’t know if this person is repented or not.

  7. My husband has been dabbling in meditation and is now receiving CD’s etc on integral spirituality and further meditation. I tried once to confront him but he became angry.
    Do you think these scriptures can be applied in the marriage situation?
    Do you have any recommendations?

    1. I do. Depending on the philosophy being taught of course.

      I think that it most important to approach from a place of love and concern here though.

      And he should be hearing from other men who love God on this matter. If he is not in a small group then I would also encourage that, as he should (as we all should) be working on “iron sharpening iron” to make sure we are on the right track.

    2. Proper Christian behavior (or at least the desire for it) is the natural result of spiritual rebirth. If your husband is seeking spiritual fulfillment apart from Jesus, he likely is unregenerate.

      We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. (1 John 2:3 NIV)

      Even if you manage to influence him away from the meditation, God will not be impressed with him.

      It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. (Romans 9:16 NIV)

      Has he been adhering to a legalistic “religion” in hopes that his behavior will please God? Family? You won’t be able to “Zing” him into shape with a few verses of scripture; Encourage him to read his bible every day:

      For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4 NIV)

      The Spirit of God guides the children of God. He guides their steps and will not let them fall.

      He will not let your foot slip–he who watches over you will not slumber; (Psalm 121:3NIV)

      Ginger Taylor’s “small group” answer is also good. Study the bible alone and with others. Again though, an unregenerate man will not want the things of God.

      If he rolls his eyes at the suggestion, you’ll know…

      Pray for him.

  8. Thank you so much for this post. I did a Google search to find a scripture and this poped up. I have been going back and forth with my mother for several years about her salvation (or lack thereof). She tells me that her relationship with God is none of my business and that I have no right to confront her sin because of my own past. I have quoted some scripture to her but to have so much compiled in one place that I can have at my fingertips has been a great help. Thanks again!

  9. Like the person posting above me, I, too, came across this blog while doing a Google search. I appreciated not only the blog itself, but the comments as well. I’m so grateful for some much needed guidance on this subject. Thank you!

    1. I disagree with the author’s understanding about forgiveness that “A common misconception…is that we as Christians must forgive all sins against us. …but forgiveness of unrepentant sin is not required of us, as it is not required of Jesus [who does not forgive all sin].”

      Doesn’t the Bible say God’s love is unconditional? He doesn’t love us on the condition that we are repentant. Jesus didn’t die on the cross on the condition that we were repentant. Jesus died on the cross unconditionally because he loved us. He forgave us because of Christ’s righteousness and not of our own. But for us to claim that righteousness, we have to confess ours sins and repent 1 John 1:9.

      The many verses that say as Christians we are to forgive, do not qualify the commandment only be met if the offending agent is repentant.

      see full response below

  10. Jesus OFFERS forgiveness for all sins, but does not forgive all sins. If we don’t repent of sin and ask for forgiveness, we are not forgiven for it.

    I an offer you an apple, but until you take it from me, you don’t have the apple.

    1. I guess that’s what I don’t understand. If Jesus offers forgiveness to everyone and allows them the free-will-decision of whether or not to accept, should we not attempt to emulate this as His followers? Shouldn’t we offer an apple to everyone?

    2. I’m so intrigued by this concept. I’ve never thought of this before. How then does Mat 6:14-15 come into play? “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But, if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

      1. At its core, forgiveness is a condition of the heart. No matter what our outward relationship with the offender, we must hold forgiveness in our hearts toward them. And one who has been forgiven much will be able to forgive.

        This does not mean that we enter back into relationship with professing Christians who are in unrepentant sin, and whom we are attempting to hold accountable and/or encouraging them to turn away from whatever sin they are in.

    3. I disagree with the author’s understanding about forgiveness that “A common misconception…is that we as Christians must forgive all sins against us. …but forgiveness of unrepentant sin is not required of us, as it is not required of Jesus [who does not forgive all sin].”

      Doesn’t the Bible say God’s love is unconditional? He doesn’t love us on the condition that we are repentant. Jesus didn’t die on the cross on the condition that we were repentant. Jesus died on the cross unconditionally because he loved us. He forgave us because of Christ’s righteousness and not of our own. But for us to claim that righteousness, we have to confess ours sins and repent 1 John 1:9.

      The many verses that say as Christians we are to forgive, do not qualify the commandment only be met if the offending agent is repentant.

      see full response below

      1. I totally agree. Right, when I got to that part, I was like, “wait a minute, that’s not true. Christ died for our sins and forgave our sins already for the past, present and future. The only thing that’s going to activate our access to heaven, is if we believe that he did what he did, repent of our sins. That’s it. WHen we do that, and accept Jesus into our hearts, we’re going to automatically desire to live a life that glorifies him. And if you don’t, then one can question if they were truly ever saved. Wanting to glorify Christ, is evidence that one is saved! But back on subject, Jesus did his part, he already forgave everyone’s sins, but, if you choose to accept it, than you go to heaven. But if not, then you go to hell. find me on facebook “Mari Bay Spring Texas” If you wish to have any questions. Or you can email me i guess. (

  11. I am on the computer network team at my church. During email maintenance I found many messages to and from our pastor about an affair he is having. The emails are filled with profane language and inappropriate images by our pastor. Our church is also on the verge of a split and the the congregation is deeply divided about many issues. I don’t think anyone in the church knows about any of this and I don’t know what to do. I am very concerned about our church and our pastor.

    1. I actually have been in your exact position before. I hosted a web site for a church and about 7 years ago, I had one of our systems guy call me and tell me that someone using the pastor’s log in was uploading porn to the server. I did not have a direct relationship with the pastor, but with the assistant pastor, who was my brother in law.

      I called him, and let him know what was going on, and gave him the information to confirm what we found. He was the one to confront the pastor. While initially seeming to respond well, he did not come clean, and was eventually removed.

      This is information that you must bring to light. Pray, love the pastor, but bring it to the attention of your supervisor on this issue, and ask that he be confronted in love, hoping for his repentance. But you are bionically obligated to see that this is addressed, even if you are not the one to confront him.

      This is hard, but doing nothing allows evil to flourish in the church. You may even be initially be attacked (as the guilty often lash out when they are discovered) but ride it out.

      If I can be of help, please email me.

  12. Thank you for this page, like many others i was doing a web search on this subject and found all the answers and scriptures in the one place!

  13. I disagree with the author’s understanding about forgiveness that “A common misconception…is that we as Christians must forgive all sins against us. …but forgiveness of unrepentant sin is not required of us, as it is not required of Jesus [who does not forgive all sin].”

    Doesn’t the Bible say God’s love is unconditional? He doesn’t love us on the condition that we are repentant. Jesus didn’t die on the cross on the condition that we were repentant. Jesus died on the cross unconditionally because he loved us. He forgave us because of Christ’s righteousness and not of our own. But for us to claim that righteousness, we have to confess ours sins and repent 1 John 1:9.

    The many verses about that say as Christians we are to forgive, do not qualify the commandment only be met if the offending agent is repentant.

    Eph 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

    Matt6:14-15 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

    Col 3:13 Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

    Mark 11:25 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 trespasses.

    Luke 6:27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,

    Matt 5:44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

    ***God calls us to love as He has loved us unconditionally, which means to love others and forgive others even if they are unrepentant, even if they are our enemies.

    1. You don’t have it quite right. God’s love IS unconditional, but God’s forgiveness is conditional. It is conditional on our repentance.

      Don’t confuse the two. Love yes… is to be unconditional. But it is not synonymous with forgiveness or a restored relationship. God can and sometimes does, hold our sin against us, when we are unrepentant. Even as he is loving us. A parent can love a rebellious, even murderous child, and yet still hold him accountable for his actions.

      You yourself have given perfect examples of the difference… forgiveness conditional, but love unconditional…

      Look at the verses you posted again.

      Eph 4 – forgiving one another, as he forgave you… that is a conditional statement. He forgives us on the condition of our repentance, as we should forgive those who are repentant. Conditional.

      Matt 6 – IF you forgive, you will be forgiven. You are not automatically forgiven. Conditional.

      Col 3 – …forgiving one another AS the Lord has forgiven you… Conditional

      Mark11 – so that your Father also who is in heaven MAY forgive you… not WILL… MAY… Conditional.

      Luke 6 – “Love your enemies” Straight up command. Love is the topic here (not forgiveness) and we are to love unconditionally.

      Matt 5 – “Love your enemies”… again… straight up command. Unconditional love.

      1. You err. 2Chron 19:2 shows your faulty assumptions to be eisegesis and not exegesis. There is no Scripture in the Bible that says “love is unconditional” even though women like to claim it. You have not presented “two or three witnesses” to support your contention. You have quoted two Scriptures about which you’ve made assumptions. That is not sound exegesis and in fact, gives evidence of why Paul forbade a woman to teach.

      2. That doesn’t mean the person to whom you replied was correct. Karisnveritas also erred. What’s missing in this topic is the wisdom of the Spirit. Scripture cannot and should not be arbitrarily or universally applied. Wisdom and understanding that comes from meditation and hearing the Lord impart wisdom is very necessary but not promoted like it should be. “Like apples of gold in setting of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.” (Prov 25:11)

        The Word of God is not a “how to manual” in the natural sense of the word, where a manual gives you assembly instructions and there is never any variance. Screws, nuts and bolts always go the same place with the same torque. It is not the same with the Word of God. It REQUIRES the breath and understanding of the Author of life to help us “use knowledge aright. (Prov 15:2)

        This is why there is wisdom, understanding, insight, prudence and why the elders are sought for their counsel.

        It is also why Joshua 1:8 and Psalm 1 both tell us to meditate in the Word DAY AND NIGHT. Notice, please, that we’re NEVER told to memorize the Word OR to study it but to meditate in it day and night.

        For those who had 2Tim 2:15 pop into their minds, “study” is an error of the KJV. The word is “spoudazo” which is translated “diligence, diligent, endeavor, and _wrongly_ “labor” in Heb 4:11, which would present us with a paradox: “labor to enter rest” (which is not what the passage says nor did the writer intend). It says, essentially, “be diligent and instant to enter into rest” because the Lord has seated us in the heavenlies and we are to abide in the Word (Jn 8:31-32) and in the Lord (Jn 15:4).

        G4704 – spoudazo, means “be quick, be instant, be diligent, exert one’s self.” Look at all the uses of the word, which is always the best way to learn what a word means. A definition is cheating yourself.

        If one uses e-Sword, an invaluable (free) add-on is “King James Concordance,” which is not to be confused with Strong’s Concordance. It has a different purpose and is far more valuable.

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  15. Is it really worth the risk of being wrong about forgiveness? It seems like you’re arguing semantics and justifying being bitter. Is it possible love without forgiveness?

    Let it go. We’re all hurt. People injure people. It’s life on our planet. It’s what we do with these hurts that shows the world that we’re set apart.

  16. A bit surprised that no one applied 1 Tim 5:1-2 here. There is a short, but very clear descripion of the attitude of heart required when we correct someone.

  17. God’s love is unconditional; however, God’s forgiveness is conditional. The parable of the unmerciful servant Matt 18:21-35 where the king forgave the servant but the servant would not forgive those who owed him but threw them into debtor’s prison. V 34-35 says “in anger his master handed him over to the ailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from the heart.” Also Matt 6:15 and parallel gospel passages state that God will not forgive us if we do not forgive those who sin against us.

  18. Great read. I struggle with the part about being gentle when I see fellow believers blatantly sinning and not turning from that sin. As a person who was a hypocrite for a long time, I know how seductive it can be to pick and choose which parts of the Bible to follow.

    Part of my struggle is with the example Jesus set as He was rightfully not always gentle and was the ultimate example of tough love. “Get behind me, Satan!” seems like a good example.

  19. I have read and appreciate the word and outline. I’m desperate for understanding and wisdom. My husband and I have been faithful to our church for over 10 years. We have been through great difficulty these past two years. Would it be possible to get some advice from you? I don’t want to post any negative comment here. Thank you.

  20. Luke 17:3

    Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and *if *he *repent, forgive him.

    Repentance is also necessary for salvation. This describes how our relationship with Christ is relational upon repentance and how we are to practice the same model. Repentance is forsaking. If they do not forsake them…?

    John 20:23

    Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them: whose soever ye retain, they are retained.

  21. 1 Timothy 5:20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that all may fear.
    We are to forgive others whether they repent or not…..Mathew 6:15 But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
    It is folly to believe you can sow unforgiveness toward others and expect you will reap forgiveness from God. Galations 6:7 Be not deceived: God is not mocked: for whatever a man soweth, that shall he also reap……..This Galations text is in context of restoring a sinning brother and helping him or her to repent. We are to help each other and encourage each other to live for God in this present world, not to try to destroy but to build up….Not tear down, but help the weak to be strong in the Lord and daily cricify our flesh natures. See Genesis 4:7

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