Forgiveness-The Bond Of Fellowship 2-1-06
FORGIVENESS—THE BOND OF FELLOWSHIP
14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"
22 Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23 "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 "The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' 27 The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28 "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.
29 "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
30 "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."
( New International Version)
Someone said that the word forgive is the most beautiful word in any language. I think we could agree, for included in the word are the concepts of faith, hope, and love. By forgiveness, the tragedy of sin is cancelled, guilt is removed and broken fellowship is restored. Forgiveness is faith in action, hope in restoration and love in reconciliation.
No one has escaped the snare of sin. Only by the act of Divine forgiveness can we be cleansed and restored to a state of innocence. While we were still sinners, Christ died on the cross for our sins and opened the door of forgiveness and reconciliation to God. His love still draws sinners to an altar of repentance so that He may pardon them.
Without forgiveness we would all be trapped in our own sins:
(Rom 7:24 NIV) What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
The theme of redemption is woven with the thread of forgiveness, and it is through God’s act of forgiving that our fellowship with Him is restored and our torn relationship with fellow believers is mended.
We were not born with a forgiving nature, but we do have an innate divine capacity to forgive and receive forgiveness. The poet wrote: “to err is human; to forgive is divine…”
Our carnality seeks revenge for wrongs—either real or imagined. From our fallen nature comes the desire to return evil for evil, bitterness for bitterness, hatred for hatred. We were prisoner to these emotions—chained by the hardness of our own hearts. Jesus Christ has changed all of this by renewing our hearts in mercy so that forgiveness may flow from us to others.
Forgiveness defined: “To give up the wish to punish or get even with; not having hard feelings at or toward others…it means to pardon another, to release him from the punishment he should receive for his wrongdoing…it means to cancel the debt that a person owes.”
By forgiveness, a person gets another opportunity—a chance to begin again. The past is erased and forgotten.
God has shown His willingness to forgive:
(1 John 1:9 NIV) if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
God has placed forgiveness within the reach of every person. It is now our responsibility to accept His offer of forgiveness.
GOD IS THE SOURCE OF FORGIVENESS
- Calvary—the price of forgiveness.
- Look at this place called Calvary—Golgotha! A place of suffering and humiliation—where they spit on Him, slapped Him, beat Him.
- This reveals to us the awfulness of sin and its tragic consequences—what it cost to obtain forgiveness.
- “Why the Cross?”
i. You need only to see the cost of sin to the human family—smell its stench—observe its darkness and feel its curse.
ii. You need not go very far—visit some of the local café’s and in their cocktail lounge at 6 or 7 in the morning you will see people lined up in the bar for a drink. Smell the stench and see the anguish on their faces.
iii. Only the Cross of Jesus Christ can redeem us!
- The solution to the problems that mankind faces is not a better environment but a better nature.
- More social programs will not change the heart.
- Our hope is not in the repeated failure of our human efforts to obtain goodness, but in the forgiveness obtained through Calvary.
- 1 Pet 1:18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19. but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
i. It cost him everything!
ii. Crucified between criminals, He took the curse of sin upon Himself and bled and died in our place.
- We tell the story again and again—but into that darkness Jesus went alone. Beyond the veil, beyond the view of mankind, unto the mercy seat—He offered Himself, once and for all—Jesus paid it all!
- Receiving forgiveness from God.
- Jesus died for the sins of the whole world—but it doesn’t mean the whole world will be saved. In order to benefit form the forgiveness provided through the Cross and person must first believe the message of the Cross and obey the Gospel. i. Our faith in the atonement of the Cross acknowledges our sinfulness and recognizes God’s provisions for forgiveness.
ii. Faith takes the vital step: it accepts the Cross as the means by which sins can be forgiven. It sees the Crimson stream from Calvary that washes away sin.
iii. Repentance involves our confession and sorrow for our sins and our desire to live free from sin. “If we confess our sin. He is faithful”
WE ARE TO FORGIVE OTHERS
(This parable—Matthew 18:21-35—teaches that if we want to be forgiven we must be willing to forgive others.) Compare the amounts owed in the two debts: 10,000 talents, equals a few million dollars whereas 100 pence—maybe $20.00.
1. Compassion—The motive of forgiveness.
a. Jesus placed emphasis on the condition of the heart in the act of forgiveness.
b. A public declaration of forgiveness is not enough if it is not supported by the feelings of the heart.
c. The desire to punish the person for his wrong against us must be replaced with love.
a. All hard feelings must be eliminated and true fellowship of trust must be restored. Matthew 6:12—“as we forgive our debtors.”
i. Who suffers the most? The unforgiving or the unforgiven?
b. The Command to forgive others (Matthew 6:15) “If you do not”
i. Peter said, “How many times Lord?” (Matt. 18:21
ii. Peter might have been referring to the rabbinical teaching that a person was only obligated to forgive a person three times—Peter enlarged it to seven times.
iii. Jesus quickly refuted the idea that forgiveness could be reduced to such terms and used a formula (70x 7—in one day), to show that forgiveness must be without limits.
1. The parable—The debtor’s punishment: The custom of Jesus day concerning debts seems very harsh by our standards today. If a servant could not repay a debt as agreed, the master could order the servant thrown into prison: his wife, children and possessions were then sold and the proceeds applied to the debt. There was not recourse to the law.
2. The debtor’s prison was still in practice in Western cultures during the last century. Today we have laws that protect a person who has financial difficulties, but not to repay a debt is still a serious offense against society.
iv. Sentence sermon: --He who refuse to forgive others destroys the bridge over which he himself must pass.
v. In the parable, we find our motive for forgiving others in the attitude of God Himself.
1. Like the servant, our debt of sin toward God is greater that we can possibly pay, but He in mercy freely forgave us. By the same compassion that God has forgiven, we must forgive those who offend us.
vi. We must forgive for our own good whether it does the other person any good or not.
1. No need to require an apology or impose conditions of repentance.
2. Forgiveness assumes the other person’s responsibility or guilt. It literally means you take the blame and guilt though you are innocent. Isn’t that what Jesus did for us?
d. FORGIVENESS RESTORES FELLOWSHIP
a. Fellowship with God
i. Eden—man separated from God because of his sin—fellowship broken—man driven out.
ii. Calvary—possibility that fellowship could be restored and we could be one with Him again through the atonement—at-one-ment.
b. Fellowship with others
i. Joseph—hatred sold him—
ii. Forgiveness restored him.
1. Whose forgiveness?