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Last week’s sermon laid a foundation of forgiveness using Paul’s writing to the church at Ephesus and Colossi.
He told both churches; “to forgive one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
As we grow in our understanding of positional forgiveness we will grow in our practice of forgiveness.
We have been “totally forgiven” by our Lord and therefore we must forgive others “totally”.
Remember our key teaching Christ forgives us; by absolving the sinner, meaning he sets them free from their debt, and by absorbing the sinner’s astronomical debt.
The aim of today’s sermon is to enable Christians in the practice of relational forgiveness.
Our context begins in verse one when Jesus calls a child unto himself and begins to teach on the specific theme of the childlikeness of the believer.
He emphasizes this teaching by bringing a child into their midst as to magnify and make tangible this vital lesson.
We know by the Greek word used that this child was either a toddler or infant.
Jesus speaks directly to the reality that we are spiritual children with all the weaknesses that childhood implies.
It is also essential to see that the chapter teaches the church, as a group of spiritually unperfected children how to get along with each other.
There's a great sense of tolerance with children, because we understand their weakness.
We understand their ignorance.
We understand their inabilities.
Being childlike is indicating that we're going to fail.
We're still in the process of maturing.
There are going to be times when we do the wrong things.
But when we do sin, and after discipline has been enacted we also are to be forgiven just as children are to be forgiven.
People can rather easily hold grudges against adults, but it's somewhat abnormal to hold them against children.
We tend to forgive children rather readily.
As adults we often find it difficult to forgive other adults.
Today’s teaching remind us that believers are to be treated like children as it pertains to forgiveness.
Forgiveness is the key to the unity of the church.
It's the key to meaningful relationships.
It's what constantly tears down the barriers that sin attempts to build.
Forgiveness tears down the wall of bitterness, anger, and vengence.
You show me a person who cannot release some vengeful, bitter, antagonistic, hateful attitude towards somebody and I'll show you a man who knows either the glory of a man nor understands the forgiveness of God to him.
It is the best of a man to forgive.
Listen to this, because it is the heart of God to forgive, and when man forgives he radiates that which is true of the image of God.
Forgiveness is so basic to God's heart that it certainly should be basic to the heart of God's children.
Coming at it another way, you might as well learn to forgive because people are going to need it and so will you.
Children need forgiveness and we are children.
We're weak, we're ignorant, we're selfish, we're prone to disobey and we need forgiveness frequently.
We are such children.
Now our Lord has just concluded a section on disciplining sinners.
And he follows it up masterfully with a section on forgiving them.
In 2 Corinthians Chapter 2 there was a man in the Corinthian assembly who had sinned.
And this particular man had been disciplined by the assembly of believers and Paul says to them in
, "sufficient to such a man is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority."
In other words, you've sufficiently punished the man.
You've sufficiently made the point.
You've done what needed to be done in terms of bringing to bear or rebuke on his sin.
So now rather in verse 7, you need to forgive him and comfort him lest such a one should be swallowed up with over much sorrow.
In other words, you've sufficiently punished the man.
You've sufficiently made the point.
You've done what needed to be done.
Now listen to Paul as he instructs them concerning their next step.
you need to forgive him and comfort him lest such a one should be swallowed up with over much sorrow.
2 Corinthians 2:"Reaffirm," it says in verse 8, "your love toward him."
And then he goes on to say, "if you don't do this," in verse 11, "Satan's going to get an advantage of you for we're not ignorant of his devices."
And one of his devices is to generate a bitter Spirit and unforgiving heart.
And we all need to learn to forgive because we all need to be forgiven and because God has forgiven us.
It is the best of a man to forgive and it is the best, if I may say so, of God to forgive.
For it is the expression of His loving nature.
Verse 7-8 says to "Reaffirm your love toward him."
And then he goes on to say, "do this so you will not be outwitted by Satan designs."
And one of his devices is to generate a bitter Spirit and unforgiving heart.
And we all need to learn to forgive because we all need to be forgiven and because God has forgiven us.
Now after all of this discussion of discipline and how we are to confront the sinner and rebuke the sinner, restore the sinner, and all that, Peter asked a very insightful question.
"Then came Peter to him and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him?"
It's a good question.
See Peter knows the tendency of men.
You know why he knows it?
Because he knows himself and he knew how many times he needed to be forgiven.
He also is talking out of the context of his Jewish background where there were certain hard lines drawn in relation to forgiveness.
And he is saying in this whole matter of a person sinning and being restore, you know, the problem Lord is going to be, they're going to do that and we're going to restore them and they're going to go right out and do it again.
Peter’s desire is to understand the formula for forgiveness.
He is asking what we today are still asking; “how many times must I forgive?”
Peter thought his formula was gracious but it was revealed as prideful.
His formula was three times two plus one.
Jewish tradition taught forgiveness was limited to three times.
This teaching was derived from an interpretation of , , , , .
The Jews concluded then that the three times you could be forgiven.
When you did it the fourth time, you got the blast of God's divine judgment.
They said that this justified the limit of three times for forgiveness and of course they misinterpreted the passage.
They said this, if three transgressions fills up the measure of God's forgiveness, men can't go beyond God.
When Peter said he thought seven times, he was really going beyond his own tradition.
He probably thought he would be commended for his graciousness.
Let me state a positive about Peter before I point out all his negatives.
Three years with Jesus had greatly impacted his life as he had picked up on the merciful, gracious, kind, forgiving spirit of Jesus.
He knew that Jesus would go above and beyond Jewish tradition.
It is in this moment that Jesus teaches Peter and the disciples His formula of forgiveness.
Jesus taught the true formula of grace by stating that forgiveness is perpetual.
His formula was seventy times seven.
Peter was still thinking like the scribes and Pharisees.
Our fallen human nature is always inclined to think in this way.
He was thinking in the measurable and limited terms of law, not the immeasurable and unlimited terms of grace.
Law keeps count; grace does not.
The Lord was not extending the legal limit of forgiveness.
He was not speaking of law or limits at all.
By seventy times seven He did not mean 490.
He simply picked up on Peter’s number and multiplied it by itself and then by ten, indicating a number that, for all practical purposes, was beyond counting.
Record keeping is not to be considered, and a Christian with a forgiving heart thinks nothing about it.
He forgives the hundredth offense or the thousandth just as readily and graciously as the first-because that is the way he is forgiven by God.
Jesus further teaches this in
Jesus was not setting a daily limit, but rather the opposite.
He was speaking of repeated, regular sinning that is committed many times a day, day after day, and of corresponding repeated forgiveness.
He was saying that even if a fellow Christian sins against you every day for seven times each day, you should be ready and willing to forgive him that often.
The faithful, godly Christian will never allow his own forgiveness to be surpassed by a brother‟s sin.
Reflecting his heavenly Father’s nature, where sin against him increases, so does his gracious forgiveness (cf.
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