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I steal money from someone. I ask for Jesus for forgiveness. I receive forgiveness (yet keep the money).

What happens to the person I took the money from?

Do I make out with forgiveness from God, and money from the other person? Are they just out some money?

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"I steal money from someone. I ask for Jesus for forgiveness. I receive forgiveness (yet keep the money)" sounds like you might be a megachurch preacher. –  GregS Sep 1 '11 at 1:37
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Following the example of Zaccheaus in the Gospel, you might think about demonstrating true repentance by giving 1/2 your wealth to the poor and return to those from whom you have stolen four-fold the amount taken. –  Lawrence Dol Sep 1 '11 at 3:49

3 Answers 3

Just because Jesus forgives you, it doesn't necessarily mean that there are no consequences in the social sense. Forgiveness from God is a purely spiritual condition, that removes the blight of sin from your soul. However, if you have wronged another through your sin, it would be expected that you make some recompense (in your example, you'd return the money and apologize, at the least). This is the difference between forgiveness and penance. Forgiveness rights your relationship with God, but in order to promote a healthy family on Earth, penance (or atonement, similarly) will right your relationship with the Church on earth.

Of course, forgiveness expects that we are truly sorry for our sins. If I stole something from someone, and came to realize how wrong it was and asked forgiveness, if I was true in heart about it, then I would desire to return what was stolen, or right the wrong in some way. If you lack that kind of desire in your heart, it's very likely that you aren't sincere in your repentance, and so while God may grant forgiveness, you still would have sinned in your heart by your lack of concern for how you wronged your brother or sister.

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True repentance involves repairing damages done (where possible). In this case, it would mean returning the money.

Leviticus 6:2-7 (KJV)

2 If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie unto his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or hath deceived his neighbour;

3 Or have found that which was lost, and lieth concerning it, and sweareth falsely; in any of all these that a man doeth, sinning therein:

4 Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found,

5 Or all that about which he hath sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertaineth, in the day of his trespass offering.

6 And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD, a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest:

7 And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he hath done in trespassing therein.

If you don't return the money then you haven't truly repented.

Notice Numbers 5:7 even suggests you should return more than you take.

Then they shall confess their sin which they have done: and he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof, and add unto it the fifth part thereof, and give it unto him against whom he hath trespassed.

See also Ezekiel 33:15, Luke 19:8.

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Don't forget what Zacchaeus said in Luke 19:8. :) –  El'endia Starman Sep 1 '11 at 3:21
    
@El'endia Starman thanks, I added it to my answer. –  JustinY Sep 1 '11 at 3:45

Remember this is not some game where you try to follow the rules or trick the system. This is God we are dealing with. He will judge our actions and thoughts.

In this case, you have a chance to return the money and you are not. This is wrong. I wish you make the right choice.

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