If you haven’t yet, you may want to start with these posts first: Have We Sold Indulgences in Modern Times-Pt 1, Millstones Around Your Neck Pt 2, Millstones Around Your Neck Pt 3 and Horizontal and Vertical Pt 4.
I think the meaning and the depth of both “I am sorry” and “repentance” have been lost over time or entangled to mean the same thing. They have become overused words, at times, to just get through something, to make things appear right and look good on the outside without any change on the inside. What is most important is the internal change. There are also those that simply require a sorry, hold it over one’s head for the selfish purpose of control or manipulation. It is a demand that you must say sorry for what they think you have done even if it is not necessary just to somehow, “bring their universe back into balance.” When this occurs it shows that the individual demanding the “sorry”, will only choose to have relationships when they are in control. You should always know or understand what you are apologizing for and you should also be able to explain why you have done something, it’s called a mutual relationship. Then there are those that completely refuse to say they need to have a part in Luke 17:3-4. Believing they are above this scripture. They believe saying sorry would somehow demean them or bring themselves down to the same level as the person they are apologizing to. They fully hold onto a hierarchical system as a core value internally but many times say they don’t. Their statements do not line up with their actions. Somehow, somewhere their belief has been twisted to believe they are above others and should not lower themselves to apologizing to certain “levels of people”. These are a few examples of the misuse of the words, “I am sorry”.
Let’s say you do transgress against someone. For example: you lied about them to another individual and the Holy Spirit convinces (convicts) you of your transgression against another. Scripture is very clear you are to confess your sins one to another (James 5:16) and apologize for what you have done (Matthew 5:24). It never states in scripture the one accused of doing the hurt is to tell the person hurt: oh you are too sensitive or “oh you have a spirit of offense”.
For some reason people seem to believe that repent means to simply say one is sorry for doing something wrong. Yet, that is not the full meaning. This can be part of the process, depending on the circumstances, remember the horizontal and vertical relationship described in the last post: Horizontal and Vertical. Here again is the meaning of the Greek word metanoeo (repent) from www.biblehub.com:
- 3340 metanoéō (from 3326 /metá, “changed after being with” and 3539 /noiéō, “think”) – properly, “think differently after,” “after a change of mind”; to repent (literally, “think differently afterwards”).
As we see above there needs to be a change of mind that comes from our heart either by the Holy Spirit or by another person that we trust that tells us what we have or have not done. Once there is repentance- a change in the way you see things then you can move forward making amends to someone. The choice or responsibility to make amends is on the one that has transgressed. This reminds me of the story of the younger son who cries out twice in Luke 15:18 and Luke 15:21 and states he has sinned against heaven and his father (this is the same use of the word from Luke 17:3 BTW) The boy knew he was forgiven from heaven but had to make things right with his father= the horizontal relationship. This is the amends that Jesus talks about in Luke 17:4 and Matthew 15:24. Jesus was also talking about this important body relationship in Matthew 18 (yes again the Greek words for sin match up with this scripture in Luke 17:3 (to commit (literally, sin) a sin-Matthew 18:21; Luke 15:18, 21; Luke 17:3 Rec., 4-from bible hub.com)). Let’s look at Matthew 18 and see how very clear it is about what we are to do as believers within the Body of Christ:
Hopefully you have the other window open now to look at Matthew 18 in parallel with Luke 17:1-10. You will notice in Matthew 18:15 it states you will need to go to the person (the one that was transgressed upon) and tell them where they have transgressed. If the person who committed the transgression does not hear you then you bring others with you to help (Matthew 18:16). Still, if the transgressor does not listen you are then to bring it to the whole church (Matthew 18:17). Then if the transgressor still will not see things as missing the mark the entire church is to treat them as Gentile=ethnikós(from 1484/éthnos, “nation”) – Gentile; heathen, usually referring to non-Israelites; a pagan, a “non-covenant person,” standing outside God’s covenant (salvation) and tax collectors=elṓnēs (literally, “paying-at-the-end”) referred to the toll-house where the Romans collected taxes from the public. “Publican/tax-gatherer” (5057 /telṓnēs) is derived from telos (“a tax at the end”) and ōneomai (“to buy”).] (Matthew 18:17). Above in Matt 18:8-9 Jesus describes body parts that cause people to sin or transgress. These are like the people talked about in Luke 17:1-2, They are stumbling blocks. They aren’t part of the Body of Christ that is why the example in Matthew 18:8-9 talks of cutting off body parts so they will not cause the rest of the Body to stumble- Like Luke 17:1-2. This is pretty serious business here, but yet very important. The guidelines Jesus gave us not only protects His Body but also the one being accused of a transgression. Let me be very clear here, tax collectors and heathens are LOVED and CHASED AFTER by Jesus, but were not considered followers of Jesus (Body of Christ) and should not be seen as people you should emulate because they were going in the wrong direction. There was a clear and defining line Jesus took. Once they repented, changed their mind and lay hold of Who Jesus is and accepted His free gift is when they are considered disciples(Body of Christ). They were never shunned but still loved where they are at and became the one that the Good Shephard chases after until they accept His (Jesus) help or free gift.(Matthew 18:10-14). Also, I need to be very clear here, if someone says another has sinned there must be a sin directly named and Matthew 18:15-17 must be followed. Let’s look directly at what is said here:
“”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 a Gentile and a tax collector.” Matthew 18:15-17 NASB
Note the sin is named and known to all that have to deal with the situation. It is not kept undercover, but is called what it is. Also, the “transgressor” and the “one calling out the sin” must come before two or three witnesses if the transgressor is saying he/she did not transgress and then the entire church if necessary. These are important steps in this situation because 1) there can be no false accusations 2) the flock is taken care of and 3) Christ’s love is on display. This is why Matthew 18 is imperative to be followed in these circumstances. If it is not, then you may want to look at the person doing the accusing.
I believe the twelve disciples had the same question I just did.
In Luke 17:1-4, Jesus is describing something that seems impossible to His disciples. He is saying to forgive many times after a person has repented. Understand repentance is necessary before forgiveness in this scripture. Please note the order: changed mind then forgiveness asked. The disciples freak out and ask for more faith, because they know there is no way they are going to be able to see or do things correctly, help someone change the way they see things or forgive someone multiple times for the same wrong action (Luke 17:1-6). That is when Jesus explains to them about the servant not needing to be told what to do; but the servant automatically does what is required of him without thinking about it and without being told to do it or without accolades for doing it (Luke 17:7-10). It just comes naturally. Jesus is reassuring His disciples that they will do the same as they simply believe in Him. Wow easy!! As we “believe in Jesus” (1 John 3:23) we will be able to walk in “love for our brothers/sisters”(John 13:34). It is truly that simple. If you go back and read the stories Jesus told and the lessons the apostles wrote, you will see things much clearer through this understanding.
So, how in the world do we deal with people that are like heathens and tax collectors…those that do not see what they have done as a transgression and do not repent or there is no access to the person any longer….here is what I do-this is what God has been showing me right now….
As Jesus was up on the Cross He looked to the Father before all of the sins of the world were put upon Him and He took everything that should have been dealt to you and I, He said something specific…He said Father forgive them for they know not what they do. Jesus gave what was being done to Him by so many to His Father. This in no way means what the people did to Him were right nor does it mean we can not tell our story, …Jesus’ story is still being told today-just read the Bible. So, see heathens-those that are not in covenant with God truly can not act like Jesus did. They simply can not because they are not in covenant with Him in the New Covenant. It is just too difficult for any of us to do on this on our own. We also need to understand, if we pick up a little of the law, we must fulfill all of the law (Galatians 4:21-5:6 and Read Come Fully Out of the Cave for further understanding). These are known as modern day Pharisees and Sadducees. They also do not want to have covenant with Jesus either back then or now. These are part of the many antichrists that John talks about in 1 John 2:18. They deny they need a Savior because they can keep the law in and of themselves and live under the old covenant with the belief that if I do what is required of me then God will do what is required of Him. Yet, Christ already did it ALL…that is the new covenant.
Luke 17:1-10 and Matthew 18 are important for the Body of Christ to follow, in Christ. This allows healing of the relationship on both sides. It puts responsibility on the whole Body of Christ to do their part, in Christ. Both the person that sees the person going wrong and the person going wrong has responsibility-this just proves we are the Body functioning together. It never states in scripture the one accused of transgressing is to tell the other person: “oh you have a spirit of offense” and simply leave it at that. What it does point clearly to is to try to work things out relationally with each other and include others to complete this task if needed.
I leave you with this story. I had inadvertently hurt someone. It was completely unintentional and many would say that this person was “too sensitive” about what had happened. This person had come to me and told me something I had talked about had brought up old feelings which had hurt them. Nothing I had said would be considered ‘sinful’ or a ‘transgression’, it was just talking about my life with my husband and family. Now, I could have told this person they were too sensitive, that they had a “spirit of offense” or you need to go to God with this. Yet the Holy Spirit prompted me to see it through this person’s eyes and it brought compassion. I then said I had never intended to hurt this person and I was sorry that it had brought so much pain. This exposed a hurt that needed healing. A wound that Jesus wanted to touch. We prayed together and I believe this person walked away healed and comforted by the Lord. See I repented (I know there was no sin and yet this is what the Holy Spirit called it)-I turned and saw things God’s way, it brought compassion and love from the Father. See love was chosen and love trumps all. This person also had chosen love, humility and trust to even come and be honest with how they were feeling. This was also courageous and I believe could only be done through Jesus. Real relationships that build real trust can only happen in these types of circumstances. I know that if the tables were turned I could go to this same person and this person would deal with me compassionately as I had done. There was a trust that was built with this occurrence that could not be built in any other way. Jesus Love, True Love, Mature Love trumps All.