Faithlife Sermons

Jesus UNdoes Unforgiveness

What Would Jesus Undo?  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Jesus brings to us a message of unconditional love by way of unending forgiveness. People who follow Jesus' teaching will hopefully find this conversation challenging, difficult and glorious. Those who have yet to follow Christ will hopefully see the goodness of God's never ending mercy toward those who believe, no matter their sins.

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The Unforgiveness of God

God remains unforgiving to those described as unrepentant, who blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and who are themselves unforgiving. Being unforgiving and demonstrating true love are mutually exclusive.
story of unforgiveness that went wrong
Nowhere in the laws of the universe is it written that God must forgive.
The Lord will not be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the Lord and his jealousy will smoke against that man, and the curses written in this book will settle upon him, and the Lord will blot out his name from under heaven.
(NLT)
20 “See, I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you. 21 Pay close attention to him, and obey his instructions. Do not rebel against him, for he is my representative, and he will not forgive your rebellion.
TOWARD THOSE WHOSE HEARTS ARE HARD:
(NLT)
19 No one in this region made peace with the Israelites except the Hivites of Gibeon. All the others were defeated. 20 For the Lord hardened their hearts and caused them to fight the Israelites. So they were completely destroyed without mercy, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 21 During this period Joshua destroyed all the descendants of Anak, who lived in the hill country of Hebron, Debir, Anab, and the entire hill country of Judah and Israel. He killed them all and completely destroyed their towns.
20 “See, I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you. 21 Pay close attention to him, and obey his instructions. Do not rebel against him, for he is my representative, and he will not forgive your rebellion.

The Forgiveness of God

FORGIVENESS: The freeing of a person from guilt and its consequences, including punishment; usually as an act of favour, compassion or love, with the aim of restoring a broken personal relationship. Forgiveness can involve both the remission of punishment and the cancellation of debts.[1]
[1] Martin H. Manser, Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies (London: Martin Manser, 2009).
(ESV)
5 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
(ESV)
7 O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. 8 And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
(ESV)
38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. 40 Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about: 41 “ ‘Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.’ ”
(NLT)
38 “Brothers, listen! We are here to proclaim that through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. 39 Everyone who believes in him is made right in God’s sight—something the law of Moses could never do. 40 Be careful! Don’t let the prophets’ words apply to you. For they said, 41 ‘Look, you mockers, be amazed and die! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.’”
A PARABLE OF JESUS TO HELP UNDERSTAND :
Matthew 18:21–35 ESV
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Matthew 18:21–35 ESV
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Matthew 18:21-
WHATS REQUIRES FORGIVENESS?
SIN
(1) The most common word is hamartia. This was originally a shooting word and means a missing of the target. To fail to hit the target was hamartia. Therefore sin is the failure to be what we might have been and could have been.[1]
(2) The second word for sin is parabasis, which literally means a stepping across. Sin is the stepping across the line which is drawn between right and wrong.[2]
(3) The third word for sin is paraptōma, which means a slipping across. It is the kind of slip which someone might make on a slippery or an icy road. It is not so deliberate as parabasis. Again and again, we speak of words ‘slipping out’; again and again, we are swept away by some impulse or passion which has momentarily gained control of us and which has made us lose our self-control. The best of us can slip into sin when for the moment we are off our guard.[3]
(4) The fourth word for sin is anomia, which means lawlessness. Anomia is the sin of the person who knows the right, and who yet does the wrong; the sin of the one who knows the law, and who yet breaks the law.[4]
(5) The fifth word for sin is the word opheilēma, which is the word used in the body of the Lord’s Prayer; and opheilēma means a debt. It means a failure to pay that which is due, a failure in duty. None of us could ever dare to claim that we have perfectly fulfilled our duty to other people and to God: such perfection does not exist in this world.[5]
[1] William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, Third Ed., The New Daily Study Bible (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 2001), 253.
[2] William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, Third Ed., The New Daily Study Bible (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 2001), 254.
[3] William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, Third Ed., The New Daily Study Bible (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 2001), 254–255.
[4] William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, Third Ed., The New Daily Study Bible (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 2001), 255.
[5] William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, Third Ed., The New Daily Study Bible (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 2001), 255.
WHAT MUST WE DO TO FORGIVE?
If we are to have this Christian forgiveness in our lives, three things are necessary.
(1) We must learn to understand. There is always a reason why people do things. If they are boorish and impolite and bad-tempered, maybe they are worried or in pain. If they treat us with suspicion and dislike, maybe they have misunderstood, or have been misinformed about something we have said or done. Maybe they are victims of their own environment or their own heredity. Maybe they find life difficult, and human relations are a problem for them. Forgiveness would be very much easier for us if we tried to understand before we allowed ourselves to condemn.
(2) We must learn to forget. As long as we brood upon a snub or an insult, there is no hope that we will forgive. We so often say: ‘I can’t forget what so-and-so did to me,’ or: ‘I will never forget how I was treated by such-and-such a person or in such-and-such a place.’ These are dangerous sayings, because we can in the end make it humanly impossible for us to forget. We can print the memory indelibly upon our minds.
The famous Scottish man of letters, Andrew Lang, once wrote and published a very kind review of a book by a young man. The young man repaid him with a bitter and insulting attack. About three years later, Andrew Lang was staying with Robert Bridges, the Poet Laureate. Bridges saw Lang reading a certain book. ‘Why,’ he said, ‘that’s another book by that ungrateful young cub who behaved so shamefully to you.’ To his astonishment, he found that Andrew Lang’s mind was a blank on the whole affair. He had completely forgotten the bitter and insulting attack. To forgive, said Bridges, was the sign of greatness, but to forget was sublime. Nothing but the cleansing spirit of Christ can take from these memories of ours the old bitterness that we must forget.
(3) We must learn to love. We have already seen that Christian love, agapē, is that unconquerable benevolence, that undefeatable goodwill, which will never seek anything but the highest good of others, no matter what they do to us, and no matter how they treat us. That love can come to us only when Christ, who is that love, comes to dwell within our hearts—and he cannot come unless we invite him.
To be forgiven we must forgive, and that is a condition of forgiveness which only the power of Christ can enable us to fulfil.[1]
Small Group Questions:
Leader note: Begin by introducing each other and sharing one thing about yourself that the group may not know.
1 - When did you first learn about forgiveness? Who taught it to you?
2 - What movie or tv show best illustrates biblical forgiveness?
3 - Today we heard about 3 steps to learn how to forgive, can anyone remember what they were? (learn to 1-understand, 2-forget, 3-love)
Which of these is most difficult for you to do, what makes it so hard?
4 - What relationship needs this kind of attention this week? Family, Friends, enemies, God?
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