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God's Not Mad at You
“Do I have to forgive if they’re not sorry?”

“Do I have to forgive if they’re not sorry?”

SEPTEMBER 17, 2021

/ Programs / Key Life / “Do I have to forgive if they’re not sorry?”

Steve Brown:
Do I have to forgive if they’re not sorry? The answer to that and other questions on Key Life.

Matthew Porter:
This is Key Life, dedicated to the message that the only people who get any better are those who know that if they don’t get any better, God will still love them, anyway. That teaching raises a lot of questions, so here’s author and seminary professor Steve Brown, along with Pete Alwinson from ForgeBibleStudy.com with answers to the Bible, that’ll make you free.

Steve Brown:
Thank you Matthew. Hi Pete.

Pete Alwinson:
Hey man. How you doing?

Steve Brown:
I’m doing really good.

Pete Alwinson:
Good, good. Looking forward to interacting on that one. You might have some stuff to forgive me for.

Steve Brown:
Not unless you’re sorry. I mean, and if you don’t even know what it is, how am I going to forgive you? You have to, you have to get in sackcloth and ashes,

Pete Alwinson:
When I’m aware?

Steve Brown:
before I forgive you.

Pete Alwinson:
Okay. Okay.

Steve Brown:
I just want you to know.

Pete Alwinson:
I’ll go get some right now.

Steve Brown:
And please don’t accept that as the answer to the question that I teased at the beginning of the broadcast. Hey, don’t forget to go by ForgeTruth.com. You’ll be glad you did. And I heard you discussing with Jeremy about your audio book, are you close to finished?

Pete Alwinson:
I think it’s finished and now we’ve got to figure out how we’re going to get it out there. So, thanks.

Steve Brown:
Well, we’ll be letting people know, Like Father, Like Son. Pete, as you know, comes in each Friday and we have been doing this for 25 years. We sit down in the studio and we love answering your questions. You can ask her a question by calling 1-800-KEY-LIFE, and you can do that 24 7 and we record your question. Sometimes, use it on the air. Or you can write to

Key Life Network
P.O. Box 5000
Maitland, Florida 32794

If you’re in Canada, it’s

Key Life Canada
P.O. Box 28060
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 6J8

Or you can e-mail us at Steve@keylife.org. And if you can help us financially, you get three free sins for every $5. I just want you to know that. And don’t write me letters, it’s a joke, but we, if you can help us, please do. If you can’t, we’ll understand, we promise that when you help us financially, we’ll squeeze every dime for the glory of God. Pete, why don’t you lead us in prayer and we’ll get to some of these questions.

Pete Alwinson:
Perfect. Perfect. Father, what a joy to be able to come into your presence right now, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, not in our merit, but we come before the holy God of the universe in the name of and because of the work of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We thank you that Lord Jesus, there’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, that we’ve been justified by faith, not by works. And so, we come as your sons and daughters, glad that we belong to you. And we need you in so many ways, Father, you know our needs, when people ask us how we’re doing, we often say I’m doing it fine, but we’re not always. And you know our needs, for forgiveness, for growth, for maturity, for healing relationships, for the physical ailments that we have, for Father, the goals that we would love to achieve. So we, we seek you and we ask this week-end that as our pastors and teachers and worship directors and priests gather to bring us your Word and lead us in worship, that you would give them your grace. Use them, empower them, make them bold and wise and kind. And we now commit this time of Q&A to you, for we pray in Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen.

Steve Brown:
Amen. Pete, let’s go to our phone lines.

Caller 1:
Can you forgive someone even if they’re not sorry, that’s the forgiveness part?

Steve Brown:
You had a terrible phone line, but, but we got the gist of what she was saying. You gotta forgive someone, if they’re not sorry.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah.

Steve Brown:
And the quick answer is, of course.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah. Yes. Now there’s some theologians and pastors that would take another side, but I think, you know, I think that that’s the right answer. Now, why is that the right answer?

Steve Brown:
Because forgiven people, forgive. It’s the natural inclination, at least to be in the process of forgiveness, you know, forgiveness isn’t as easy as some people make out, but we don’t have the right. We’re not God, we don’t have the right to make the judgment about whether somebody is sorry or not. Or even to require the details of that particular thing. And I understand what people say, you know, you gotta repent for God to, and there’s a sense in which that’s true, but for us that’s different. And there’s a lot of Scripture that would justify that, I think.

Pete Alwinson:
I think so too.

Steve Brown:
If you don’t forgive, then you’re not going to be forgiven.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right.

Steve Brown:
And that’s not a works thing, that’s simply the normal way of somebody who’s been forgiven. And it’s hard if they don’t hit makes it even harder. If they don’t know they’ve done anything wrong and are not repentant and they’re not reeling say that.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right. That’s right. So when somebody comes to a friend and says, you know, you hurt me in this way and they go, my goodness, I didn’t know I hurt you that way. I’m sorry. That leads to healing very quickly.

Steve Brown:
It really does.

Pete Alwinson:
But, but if, if they know it and they say, I didn’t do anything wrong, or they won’t listen.

Steve Brown:
Then you tell them, I forgive you anyway, but you, you know where you’re going, or something like that.

Pete Alwinson:

Oh man.

Steve Brown:
That’s hard.

Pete Alwinson:
And I love what you said about forgiveness being a process. It really is, the larger the hurt, the greater the hurt, the more time it takes, I think to really disburden your heart overall. And, understand that on little things, like if you showed up 20 minutes late to a meeting and you say, Hey, I’m sorry. No big deal.

Steve Brown:
No, I can forgive that in a second.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right, but like when you say something about me online, or here on radio, that would be deeply hurtful, so don’t ever do that, Steve.

Steve Brown:
Actually, I can’t think of anything that you would ever do, that would be hard for me to forgive, whether you were repentant or not. And, but I, but I’ve got some, I’ve got a friend who told me not too long ago, Steve, I haven’t forgiven you yet. But I’m getting there.

Pete Alwinson:
Isn’t that amazing?

Steve Brown:
That was a wonderful statement and it was really one that was comforting, when he said that.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s great.

Steve Brown:
So, yeah, you do. Don’t you hate it. You’d just rather pray for their death. And, you know, you’d rather just say they don’t give a rip. They don’t even know they did anything. And that hurt me deeply. And, but that’s hard. That’s when the Christian faith hits the rubber, the rubber hits the road.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right. But I love what you said. This is what we do, we’re about forgiveness. And so, if we’re not forgiving, anger and unforgiveness are two of the greatest and most common sins that we have toward other people.

Steve Brown:
Really true. And not only that, it kills us.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah.

Steve Brown:
It becomes a root of bitterness and you and I, and everybody listening right now know people, for whom there’s a, I had a lady say to me just last week, I have never forgiven him. It’s been 21 years and I never will. And I wanted to say, oh you’ve given power to that person that you should never have given them. And it’s going to eat you alive.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right.

Steve Brown:
Well, okay. Is God mad at unbelievers? I don’t think so. He keeps us here, so we can tell them Jesus said, for everything you ever have, ever will do wrong, you can just turn to him. Does that sound like he is mad at them? Well, that’s a theological, you know, when we say mad, we’re talking about something that’s quite emotional and has pathos to it. God’s different, I mean, his anger isn’t, that he’s so angry, he can’t talk. He hasn’t been surprised by a believer’s sin or an unbeliever’s sin. But the Scripture is pretty clear, that his wrath is poured out on unbelief and sin, when someone is not related to Christ, but it does present a problem. And this question, you know, I used to say, somebody just said to me what I just said to you. And when I thought, I’ve got to quit telling people that God isn’t mad at them, because some of them are not believers, and he is. And then I started saying that, if you’re not a believer, he is ticked at you and you ought to do something. And then I thought, I don’t want to say it that way either. And so, I think I’ve tried to do it in exactly the way the person who wrote this e-mail did. If you go to him, he won’t be angry at you, no matter what you’ve done or where you’ve gone. If you go to him, you’re going to be surprised that he won’t be angry, and he won’t.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right.

Steve Brown:
No, I, yeah, God’s wrath is a scary, it’s a fearful thing to fall in the hands of a Holy God.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right. And our God is a consuming fire and the fire represents judgment. So, his holiness does lead to justice, just to judgment. But if we come to him in repentance, he is a forgiving God based on the work of Christ.

Steve Brown:
Yeah.

Pete Alwinson:
So, so yes, the potential wrath of God is there for all who are rebellious and happy with their sin, happy in a rebellion.

Steve Brown:
And we’ve got to say that, but I don’t want to say it in a way, like he’s really ticked at you. You go to him, you’re going to get it bad. Because they won’t.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right.

Steve Brown:
And so, it’s a very thin line to walk.

Pete Alwinson:
It is.

Steve Brown:
But you can’t compromise the truth.

Pete Alwinson:
You’re right.

Steve Brown:
And you just spoke the truth. And it is true. What flavor of Presbyterian denomination in the reformed group are you associated with?

Pete Alwinson:
What flavor? Vanilla. How about you?

Steve Brown:
I don’t know if that’s what he’s talking about. No, we’re PCA, Presbyterian Church in America. And, it’s solid doctrinally, but we can be a mean bunch, and we know that. So, that’s not something we’re going to stand up and wave a flag and say, if you really love Jesus, you would join a PCA church. Cause I’m not so sure, that that’s where God wants you to be, frankly.

Pete Alwinson:
There’s so many different flavors, even within the PCA.

Steve Brown:
There really is.

Pete Alwinson:
We have the high church worship. We have a more contemporary worship. We’ve got, but we’re all committed to the doctrinal purity of the Westminster Confession. But how that works out in, in actual church life, is different.

Steve Brown:
It’s different. It really is. And because we’re right, that’s very dangerous. Well, I really do think that, I, you know, I’m proud of our denomination. We really are faithful, not only to Westminster, but to Scriptures, we believe all of it, which can lead to real sin, if you aren’t careful. The most dangerous thing that can happen to you, spiritually, is to be right. And I didn’t say that, Paul Tournier said that, and he’s right. So, we’re right. Deal with it, but we’re wrong, for my even having said that. We’re out of here, right?

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah man. I’ll see you next time.

Steve Brown:
Hey. And Key Life is a listener supported production of Key Life Network.

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