A MESSAGE OF FORGIVENESS
Whether it was eternal forgiveness, forgiveness from one another, forgiveness granted to someone, or forgiveness given to their enemies they came to a service to learn about and begin to practice forgiveness.
Colossians 3:13 Forgiving each other just as the Lord forgave you.
What does genuine forgiveness look like?
We read through a parable in Matthew 18 how our Holy God views forgiveness. Parables are designed to teach us His truth and answer a question.
PLAYERS: A King and the slave
SITUATION: Slave owed an amount he could never repay.
VERDICT: King demands the slave to be sold along with his wife, children, and all that he owns and repayment to be made.
ACTION: Slave humbles (a deep sense of one’s own unworthiness in the sight of God, self-abasement) himself before the King begging for mercy.
RESPONSE: King has compassion, shows mercy, wipes away the slaves entire debt.
PLAYERS: Slave One, Fellow Slave, and King
SITUATION: A Fellow Slave owes a debt to Slave One
VERDICT: Slave One refuses to grant mercy and demands payment for the debt immediately.
ACTION: Enters the King who hears of the situation and prideful heart of Slave One. The King hands Slave One over to torturers until Slave One should pay all he owed. Not only does Slave One now have to pay the original debt but also the debt of unforgiveness toward his Fellow Slave.
CENTRAL POINT: This is punishment. This is the rod of discipline until slave one confesses and repents of his sin. When we harbor any unforgiveness, which most often stems from pride, and refuse to repent we can expect discipline from our Holy Father.
For most of us forgiveness truly is about forgiving small offenses. It is, however, just as important to forgive those daily nagging offenses as it is the big ones. Most of us are easily offended and in our pride demand payment just like Slave One in the parable of Matthew 18.
To many inside the gates forgiveness is a lot deeper than small offenses. What does it look like to someone whose daughter was raped repeatedly over several days, was beaten, and dies in the hands of her abuser? What does this look like for someone who has drowned their own child and allowed them to die? What does it look like to someone who has left massive scars on a child from years and years of horrific abuse? What does it look like to someone who has killed someone’s husband and needs to be forgiven for their own depravity?
This was where His Holy Word met up and confronted the hardened and broken heart. Man cannot speak any quick fix solutions or 12 steps to cure this kind of pain and bring forgiveness. Only by His Word (GOD), the blood of His Flesh (JESUS), along with the healing of our Comforter (Holy Spirit) was there any power to heal. In human terms of harsh words wanting to force forgiveness, psychology giving us labels, or self-righteous works to make us feel better it would be impossible to find forgiveness in the situations listed above.
These, sadly, are ugly realities to many people living in our prisons today. Forgiveness isn’t as simple as just forgiving somebody who made them feel rejected. In fact any forgiveness isn’t about our feelings at all. Forgiveness is about our heart’s condition and the choice to obey. As impossible as it may seem our God did not leave any of us defenseless. Colossians tells us we have all we need, Christ Jesus, to move forward from a life of pain.
So we ask, “Have we been forgiven by Christ Jesus?” “Have we honestly forgiven others from our heart?”
1. FORGIVING OTHERS – Checking out our own hearts.
A. How many sins did Christ forgive? ONE SACRIFICE FOR ALL (Hebrews 10:12, Colossians 2:13)
How many times do we need to forgive others sins agains us? Answer; All sins done against us and every single time.
B. When did Christ forgive? While we were still sinners, before we were ready to ask or receive. (Romans 5:8, Luke 23:24)
When do we forgive others? Answer; Even when they are still our enemies and before they ask. (Luke 6:27, Romans 12:18-21)
C. How many times does He forgive us? (1 John 1:9) EVERY TIME WE ASK.
Judicial Forgiveness (Legal Standing); All sins past, present, and future.
Parental Forgiveness; These are our daily sins we hold onto and do not confess that breaks communion with the Father. They bring Loss: Loss of Joy, Loss of Assurance of Salvation & Loss of Ability to serve Him. John 13 tells us how Jesus washed the disciples feet. They needed to be cleansed from the sins that broke communion with Him. In 1 John 1:9 we are told we must confess our sin, receive forgiveness and cleansing.
How many times do we forgive? Answer; Every time our offender asks and even when they don’t. (Luke 17:3)
Do not take into account a wrong suffered. (1 Cor. 13:5) “Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.”
D. What was the cost of forgiveness for God? His Son. God became man and humbled Himself to the point of dying a disgraceful and horrific death on a cross for us. He humbly took on all our shame and sin.
Cost of forgiveness for us? Answer; Death to self, humility – we are not greater than our Master.
His Word tells us we are not to be conforming to the pattern of this world. The pattern of this world says, “Get even… You have the right to demand repayment… Hold a grudge…Make them pay.”
His Word says, “Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.” “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment.” “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
We must imitate Christ’s humility. (Phil 2:5-8) When we are truly loving someone and imitating Christ we will not need to make excuses, say but, or what if.
E. What did Christ choose to do? REMOVE ALL OUR SINS. Psalm 103:10 He does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
What do we choose to do? Answer; Forgiving is a command and it is not based on our feelings. Our feelings often lie and our heart is quite deceptive. We must choose to obey His command from our heart first. We choose to forgive, not to remember or bring up an offense again and again. We must choose to pursue peace not vengeance for our pride. We must choose to bless them rather than treating them according to their sin. (Phil 3:13-4:8, Hebrews 12:14-15, Romans 12:18-21)
2. WHO NEEDS FORGIVENESS?
A. EVERYONE; We all need to receive Christ’s forgiveness or we are doomed to a life of eternal separation from our God.
Everyone is guilty and in need of God’s Grace. It is only through Christ that any of us are saved. We must, however, first repent to receive His free gift of forgiveness.
B. US; We need forgiveness from others when WE SIN AGAINST them.
Read Luke 17. Have you offended someone? Beware. Repent.
When we ask forgiveness we need to never make excuses or add in buts for our behavior as this is not true repentance.
C. OTHERS; We need to grant forgiveness to those who sin against us. Joseph was a perfect example of those who granted forgiveness to others.
Sometimes we will in gentleness, humility, and grace filled words need to confront others who have sinned against us. This is where we must use extreme caution.
When confronting someone in their sin this must only be done for the purpose of reconciliation. It is not to prove we are right and they are wrong. We are never to confront just to quarrel, vent, or simply show our own displeasure.
We need to check our own heart and eyes first. Do we have any logs in operation? Is our heart and spirit in a good place? Are we full of pride, self-righteous anger, in denial, or just wanting to control a situation? Are we in contempt; having aan ave we really forgiven from our heart?
D. ENEMIES: We need to choose to forgive an opponent who engages in conflictual activities with us.
Why forgive our enemies?
Answer; JESUS COMMANDS IT and HE MODELED IT.
3. WHEN SHOULD WE FORGIVE? As soon as we realize we are holding offense.
Why forgive immediately? In order for those ugly roots of bitterness to not grow we must deal with unforgiveness immediately. Make it a habit to forgive immediately and continually. If we hold onto unforgiveness this will become a habit of destruction. Unforgiven sin becomes like a garbage man who refuses to take all of his garbage to the dump. He keeps a few bags back and stores them in his house. The stink will begin to build up and it will destroy the rest of our relationships as the bitterness and anger grows. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Do we really want garbage coming out of our mouth?
We will know we have forgiven when we do not demand payment, want vengeance, want to prove we are right, or hold things against them and bring the past offense up over and over. When we honestly can say we hope the best for them from our heart than forgiveness is at work.
We have no excuses not to obey and forgive. Remember, according to His Word, He tells us we are given all we need to live, act, serve, and forgive one another. We have been made complete in Christ Jesus. Depend upon Him and His strength.
They heard a living testimony and healing story of forgiveness from a mom who was able to forgive the man who had killed her only daughter. In the end many women came forward asking forgiveness from one another, praying for their enemies, their victims, each other, and receiving forgiveness from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We know it was only possible by His Spirit and the power that comes from the truth of His Word that any real healing and forgiveness could take place.
This truth of forgiveness is for each one of us. May we each humble ourselves, ask forgiveness, receive forgiveness, and give forgiveness according to His good, pleasing, and perfect will..
He is faithful, forgiving and just. To God be the Glory forever and ever, Amen!