Summary: Today we are going to consider what we should do when an offender won’t own his sin and ask forgiveness.

Note: In my 30-35 minutes allottted to preach, I only covered points I and II; I will take point III and make a separate sermon out of it (should be next in order). Audio available on

This sermon is better understood in light of part one in this series, "Forgiveness Basics."


When No Apology is Forthcoming: What Do You Do?

(Romans 12:18-21 and other verses; topical)

1. Last week, I tried to prove to you that the Bible teaches forgiveness is conditional, requiring repentance on the offender’s part. We forgive as God forgives.

2. We also saw that forgiveness is a continuum. In some cases, forgiveness in the fullest sense – relating as though the offense never occurred – is impossible

Main idea: Today we are going to consider what we should do when an offender won’t own his sin and ask forgiveness.

I. What NOT to Do.

A. Do not seek your OWN revenge (Romans 12:19-21).

Heaven-dwelling believers who have no sin nature still desire revenge; the desire for justice is part of being in the image of God. Not wrong to WANT justice, but must wait on God or used God-ordained means (government, if functioning properly, which, in cases of persecution, it usually does not).

Revelation 6:9-11, “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.”

B. Do not assume it is wrong to have ENEMIES.

Jesus was very comfortable with having enemies.

We prefer to be at peace with people (Romans 12:18)

C. Neither MINIMIZE a major offense nor MAXIMIZE a minor one.

D. Ignore the MAJOR differences between moving on, forgiving, and overlooking.

1. OVERLOOKING (forbearance) is how we address common minor infractions.

James 3:2, “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.”

I Peter 4:8, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”

When you try to overlook offenses that really bother you, that is called stuffing it, a very bad thing to do. This creates bitterness and distance.

Leviticus 19:17-18, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself…

To reason frankly is not to drop a hint, hoping he/she will get it. Direct, intentional, carefully measured conversation.

2. FORGIVING focuses upon the offense and its damage; it seeks restoration.

Galatians 6:1, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”

Forgiving means returning to the relationship as if (or nearly as if) the infraction had never occurred.

Jesus fully forgave Peter, for example, and his relationship was restored completely.

When seeking forgiveness, you are moving in. When moving on, moving away.

3. LETTING GO (moving on) seeks release from bitterness toward the non-repentant.

Goal is to be at peace and not bitter/stewing, not complete reconciliation -- because one or both parties refuses to repent and ask for forgiveness.

To seek forgiveness means moving in toward the sin and confronting or asking forgiveness. Letting go means moving away from the sin so that it seems to be in the far distance; letting go usually means the relationship is not restored as it was; you may be friendly, etc., but some distance remains. You don't want to "let go" if you don't have to -- to confront and apologize is much better when possible.

This does not restore the relationship, but the best you can do when the offender won’t repent. Easier said than done, a long battle.

When Laban kept changing Jacob’s wages, Jacob had to do a lot of this.


A. Determine whether you were actually WRONGED or simply did not get your way.

B. Determine whether the offender INTENTIONALLY hurt/wronged you.

Sometimes you simply have a sharp disagreement – not a sin issue – like Paul & Barnabas

C. Determine how much (if any) CONTRIBUTION you made toward the wrong done.

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