Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“Let favor be shown to the wicked, yet he will not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly and will not behold the majesty of the Lord.”
You will never satisfy an evil spirit or make it good by giving in to it. You can try to appease an evil heart from now until the day you die, and you will never change it into something good. An ungodly spirit is not transformed into a godly spirit by being shown kindness. If that were true, God’s goodness would have changed human nature into something good a long, long time ago. An evil spirit has to be destroyed; other wise, it will continue in its evil deeds perpetually. That is all it can do. This is why man must die. He cannot be saved. He is hopelessly evil, and he must be destroyed.
Our merciful Creator, in surpassing wisdom, created a way to fulfill this necessity of death for us fallen creatures and yet, leave us with hope. He sent His Son Jesus to die for us, and because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we fallen creatures can die and yet live anew. In Christ Jesus, through entering into his death by faith (Rom. 6:3), we live as a new breed of creatures in God’s universe, with Jesus, the Son of God, being our new Adam (1Cor. 15:45). In Christ, our old nature dies, as God demands, but at the same time, He gives us His nature to live in us and to keep us from sin (2Pet. 1:4). Please do not face God on the dread Day of Judgment with that old nature still living in you. It must die.
Jesus’ sacrificial death did not change God’s demand that all men must die because their spirits had been corrupted. What it did accomplish was to make a way for us to die (to sin and to self) while being given new life by having God’s life come within us and take the place of our old, evil nature. But this hope of life is given on one condition; namely, that we believe in Jesus, repent of the sins we have committed, and make a commitment to God that we will sin no more.
God does not forgive men who will not repent because He knows it would be a waste of His mercy. He will not allow a single ungodly soul to live with His children on the New Earth He has made for them because He knows that, even in a land where everyone is good, a wicked man will still do wickedly. As Isaiah said, “In the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly.” Even if on the New Earth, there lived ten million righteous people, and only one unrighteous man, that unrighteous man would do evil, for evil is all that an ungodly spirit can do. It is hopeless. It must be destroyed. God will not allow the unclean nature of man to walk on the New Earth and cause more trouble for His children. This one wicked world is all that he will endure. And because of that, it is all that His chosen people will ever have to endure.
If you forgive someone who has not repented, you are setting yourself up to be abused. The carnal mind of an ungodly person will not see such mercy as goodness but as weakness; it does not respond to goodness with equal goodness; it is not thankful; it is opportunistic. It sees such mercy as stupidity, and being shown mercy when there has been no repentance, the ungodly spirit begins immediately to maneuver to take advantage of it.
Jesus said that he did only as he saw the Father do (Jn. 5:19). That is why Jesus himself never forgave anyone who did not first repent. That is also why he warned his disciples to do the same, to withhold forgiveness until after the transgressor repents (Lk. 17:3). In this desperately wicked world, that is the only wise course to follow.
Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” (17:9). The answer to that question is “Nobody on earth can know it.” The heart is so hopelessly wicked that it is beyond the ability of man to believe how wicked he is. It requires faith in God to begin to understand the actual spiritual condition of fallen man. Once we have that faith, and once we understand, however, we know to wait until God forgives before we trust any man’s repentance. It is dangerous to do otherwise; fallen man will eventually strike at the heart of anyone foolish enough to forgive him before he repents.
God’s children are tender-hearted creatures, willing to show mercy and to be at peace with their enemies. This leads them sometimes to lower their guard and stop following the Father’s example. They sometimes forgive and open their hearts toward those who “do better”. But “doing better” is not repentance. God has never washed away anyone’s sins because they “did better”. Someone “doing better” means only that, as far as men can see, that person isn’t sinning quite as badly as he used to. How many times have I seen some poor, foolish child of God open himself up to even more harm by forgiving and trusting someone who is “doing better”!
“The lying tongue hates those who are afflicted by it”, said Solomon. And if God would allow you to see within the heart of any unrepentant person that you have forgiven, you would see a mocking, frightening contempt for you and your foolishness. It is the nature of man to respond to mercy like that; he cannot help it. The safest thing that you can do is to do as you see your Father do, and wait for complete surrender on the part of a sinner before you extend your hand and your heart.