6:12June 27, 2010

#20

Sermon on the Mount

Prayer and Forgiveness

We started the personal petitions, which is the fourth petition in the prayer that he taught his disciples to pray in Luke 11.

If the Lord knew prayer was needful for his disciples who were following him in his day, then how much more is it needful for us today who do not have his physical presence as they had.

We must not underestimate the importance of what our Lord taught, as he teaches the same lesson twice.

The fourth petition is the first personal petition is Give us this day our daily bread..., which is the only request for personal well-being.

The fifth petition and the second personal petition is v. 12, And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Forgiveness is a key aspect of the Kingdom of God and we could pursue it for many weeks.

Last time, I only did a "hit and run" on FORGIVENESS. I think we need to deal a little more with it this time.

12 And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.

Matthew 18:21-35

I realize the context there is my brother—that is, fellow believers.

But the overall thought here is that we have been forgiven such a huge debt for Christ's sake, that what we are called upon to forgive cannot even begin to compare to our forgiveness.

Luke 17 also deals with forgiveness, vv. 1-10 is all one thought, ending with doing what is commanded of us.

V. 4, if he says, I repent...

V. 5, increase our faith.

We will see in a moment that forgiveness does not require restoration of fellowship unless the one who sinned against us repents.

Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

 

There are a good number of general commands to forgive, which includes forgiving both fellow believers and the unsaved.

Mark 11:25 says, And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

Luke 6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Matthew 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Our Lord points out that the Holy Father in Heaven sends good things to the just and to the wicked alike. To be like him, we are called upon to forgive all regardless of their standing with the Lord. We are even called upon to do good, as defined by Scripture, to those whom we need to forgive.

Forgiveness and restoration— only I repent, Luke 17:4, followed by a change of action can restore fellowship with the one who is to be forgiven, but we must forgive in our heart even the most wicked of men, regardless of what they may have done to us.

We are not talking of forgiving someone for what they may have done to a friend. We are forbidden to take up an offense for another:

Acts 24:16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

Paul was a man, and had the same problems as are common to all men, yet he found his way of escape through Christ, as is promised to all of us.

Paul had to exercise himself; that is, he had to work at keeping the right attitude toward both God and man.

We can be offended at God for allowing something to take place in our lives. And we can be offended at others for what was done to us or to another.

Someone may do me a gross wrong, but you are not allowed to become offended at the one who did it. Husband-wife team is a different story, for they are one.

HOW DO WE KNOW if we have unforgiveness in our hearts?

If that person dominates our thinking, or if we can only think of that person in the context of what they did against us, then we have not forgiven them.

The result will be bitterness:

Ephesians 4:17-32

The call here is for the Christian to have a new mind through Christ, which is not the mind that was typical of us before we were saved.

V. 21, we must be retaught.
V. 23, our minds must be renewed by the Spirit of God. This is done through his word.
V. 28 anger without sin is angry enough to take godly action. The wrath here would be continual meditation upon what wrong was done to us.
V. 31 is to be replaced with v. 32.
V. 32 also gives us the reason: God for Christ's sake has forgiven us.

V. 27 is of special note:

Neither give place to the devil.

V. 27 goes with Hebrews 12:

14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.

We are warned to be very careful, or unforgiveness and bitterness will hinder the grace of God working in us, as well as giving place to the devil to work in us. The results will not be restricted to just us, but will affect those around us.

Finally, VENGEANCE:

Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
2 Thessalonians 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Hebrews 10:30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
Jude 1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

Vengeance for whatever wrong someone did to us or to another is not our responsibility. It is God's responsibility, and he alone can exercise proper vengeance against the sinner. Our responsibility is to put away from us unforgiveness and bitterness, and treat everyone with kindness.

HOW TO DEAL WITH UNFORGIVENESS AND EVEN BITTERNESS

First, confess the sin, admitting that we are unable to deal with it.

Second, ask the Lord to give us the victory, reminding ourselves that we are more than conquerors through him that loved us and gave himself for us.

Third, meditate on Scripture.

CONCLUSION

Retaining unforgiveness results in hindering our fellowship with the Father, bitterness and seeking vengeance.

Treating the one who needs forgiveness with kindness, regardless of whether they repent or not, will make us like our Father in heaven.

Kindness does not mean compromise. It means obeying the word of God toward others in every circumstance.

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
Hebrews 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;