Does Forgiveness Mean I Have To Go Back?

"So watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him."    (Luke 17:3-4, NIV)  

Luke 17:4 tells us to forgive a transgressor if he repents and asks for forgiveness. I'm sorry does not qualify as repentance...let me repeat that-I am sorry does not qualify as repentance! Repentance can become confusing in domestic violence, because repeated pleas for forgiveness followed by broken promises are often a part of the pattern of manipulation, control, and denial. Does forgiveness mean we must endure repeated abuse by our so-called covenant partner? NO! Does it mean a victim must return to an abusive relationship? NO! 

Forgiveness means "to cease to feel resentment against; to grant relief from payment." 

Some people have described forgiveness as:Inwardly letting go of the issue or not desiring to punish or extract payment from the transgressor leaving God to deal with this person, as He certainly will, however forgiveness does not mean that consequences will be forgotten. In fact, the Word of God promises us that we will reap the consequences of sin on this earth...i.e. abuse means most likely you will be losing your marriage. Your abuser is to reap the consequences what he or she has sown...more than they have sown and later than they have sown. It would be a very, very long time before you could trust an abuser who shows no real remorse. I am sorry I hurt you does not qualify as remorse, especially if the abuse is repeated.

If we look at forgiveness this way, we see that forgiveness is not the same thing as trusting someone and resuming a relationship with them, which is reconciliation (Matthew 5:23-24).

Turning to Webster's dictionary, we see that reconciliation means "restore to friendship, harmony, or communion; adjust or settle; to accept." We don't accept sin from others, we are to rebuke it (Luke 17:3) and to try to correct it (Galatians 6:1).

Correction of a sin sets the stage for restoring a relationship. If correction does not take place, it is appropriate to limit or stop completely your association with a person who willfully persists in sinning against you:

"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; an if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector."   (Matthew 18:15-17, NIV)

Some of you cannot even go to your pastor or church with your abuse problem because your pastor or church has falsely believed that no matter what your spouse does you must stay within the confines of a broken covenant marriage relationship even at your own peril.


Jesus, David, and Paul all left dangerous situations rather than allowing themselves to be abused by people who were out to harm them (see Luke 4:28-30 9:23-25; Acts 9:23-25 14:5-6; 1 Samuel 20:30-34,42). In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus taught that we should stay away from those who persist in abusing us, after we have made an effort to resolve the situation.

Repentance is not the same as being sorry or making promises. John the Baptist, in preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sins, emphasized that repentance must be accompanied by righteous actions (Luke 3:3,8-14). He specifically said that manipulation, coercion, blaming, and false accusations (so common in domestic violence) must cease. Repentance that is true and godly is recognized by the actions ("fruit") that result from it (Luke 3:8). Jesus also used the concept of fruit when He taught that actions reveal what is in the heart (Matthew 7:16-20). True, heartfelt repentance is proven by actions over a long period of time. No fruits of repentance shown means that no repentance truly exists.

Read this by Pastor Jeff Crippen on real repentance:

We have heard of pastors who tell abuse victims that they must regard their abuser as being a Christian, even though the abuser shows no repentance and his life is characterized by habitual evil.  Being baptized or having said a prayer to accept Christ or being a church member does not make anyone a Christian.  If it did, then the Bible would have pronounced Esau to be a most eminent saint.  Instead, this is what we read about Esau -
Hebrews 12:15-17  See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.
And is this not the very thing that so many of our readers have seen and had their fill of in the case of their abuser who claims to be a Christian?  Sexual immorality, despising of the grace of God, yet seeking, even with zeal and tears, to be pronounced by God and everyone else to be a true Christian?  Such actions alone only qualify a man to be an Esau and nothing more.   So let’s not be deceived by a counterfeit repentance that bears only rotten fruit.

See you next blog,


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