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Forgive One Another

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E-Fighting

There is a new craze in conflict resolution…watch this video and see if this is something that is just up your alley…
Show video from Right Now Media “E-Fighting”.
There are going to be times in our life together as children of God where we disappoint one another, fail each other and sin against one another in so many ways…so perhaps there is something to this E-fighting…let’s create an individual profile that matches us up with someone we can beat up and just pummel them with words and physical abuses until we feel better… (Pause for effect!)
How effective would we be as a church if that was the attitude we took with all our conflicts?
Think with me for just a moment of what Paul says in Romans 15:5-7
Romans 15:5–7 NASB95
Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.
Houston, we have a problem…how can we promote unity when the church house is filled with a bunch of selfish sinners...If only everyone thought the way I think we wouldn’t have any issues…how can be unified with these people when they do what they do...
the answer is – learning how to Forgive One Another…that’s what we’d like to talk about today…
with that in mind, please open your Bible to Ephesians 4.
It has been a while since we last visited this series of Learning to One Another…so let me quickly bring you up to speed...
Ephesians 2:19–22 NASB95
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
We understand this to mean that Jesus is in the business of progressively transforming us into His church and that as the church, we are to be a community of people who share the same purpose…To Proclaim Christ to Every Generation
To do that we’ve got to work together, to live our lives together focused on that purpose…and for us to grow in that capacity we’ve got to learn how to “be together”...

Our spiritual growth as the house Jesus is seeking to build is predicated on the idea that we understand He builds us by using our “togetherness” as a covenant community.

sometimes in our togetherness, we can get a little or a lot edgy with each other and can very easily begin to formulate barriers to our relationships with one another…and what we need in those moments is a little or a lot of grace...
2 Corinthians 9:8 NASB95
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;
Learning to one another is in essence learning to be conduits of grace...so thus far we’ve studied loving one another, and encouraging one another, and ministering to one-another, and praying for one-another, serving one another, and today we want to examine forgiving one another...
For the church to be built up like God desires and intends her to be, there must be grace that is displayed through forgiveness...
Today’s church needs believers who know what it means to grow in grace by learning to forgive one another.

God’s People Display Grace By Forgiving One Another

we’re going to be looking at several passages of Scripture on this subject this am – but let’s start right here in this important passage on Christian growth – Read Ephesians 4:17-32
So with the time we have remaining let’s focus on 3 principles to help us grow in the way we forgive.

Forgiveness Involves Action.

Recommend Jay Adams Book “From Forgiven to Forgiving”
defining forgiveness can be challenging for Christians because there are a lot of ideas out there…

There is a direct relationship between grace and forgiveness.

the word forgive in our English Bibles can actually come from several different words in the original language…
in Ephesians 4:32 – the word translated forgive is a verb form of the word charis, or grace
What we see from this word is there is a direct relationship between you being a forgiving person and a gracious person…in other words, if you are not the kind of person who tends to be gracious towards others, you will struggle to truly forgive them…if you have a hard time forgiving someone, then take a good look at your tendencies to withhold grace...
it’s also instructive that this is a participle…meaning in this case that we are called to live this way over and over and over…so it’s not a one time deal...

God’s people need to show a commitment to relating to others with grace and forgiveness as often as necessary, and as long as necessary.

We need to face the reality that many of us are regular EGR’s or at least have moments we are EGR’s…what is an EGR…Extra Grace Required

Forgiving others is absolutely essential to our walk with Christ.

I don’t think God’s people always get the importance of being forgiving people...
For example, think about what Jesus taught in his instructions for how we pray...
Look with me at Matthew 6:9-15
Matthew 6:9–15 NASB95
“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. ‘Give us this day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’ “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
The forgiveness Jesus talks about here is not the permanent and complete acquittal from our guilt and penalty of sin…that was accomplished on the cross…our permanent forgiveness was purchased on the cross of Calvary and it belongs to all who are in Christ…(good place to pause for you to make sure you have received that level of forgiveness)…he is not saying that we earn God’s forgiveness by being forgiving.
The forgiveness Jesus talks about here is the daily forgiveness we need to wash off the worldly defilements of sin…the daily cleansing...
Here is what Jesus is saying...

Our choice to not forgive others tells God we’re okay with not having fellowship with Him today, because He tells us He won’t.

We cannot have fellowship with God while displaying a lack of forgiveness to others...
Would our lives demonstrate an understanding of this text?
Are you praying and finding God not listening?…Is your relationship with God dry and parched?
perhaps you need to look into your heart and identify the ways in which you’ve withheld grace from people by being bitter and hard towards them instead of showing forgiveness…

God will withhold His fellowship with you if you are not seeking to practice forgiveness of others.

now let’s go a bit further…

We must commit ourselves to the process of being a forgiving person.

Turn to Luke 17:3-4
Luke 17:3–4 NASB95
“Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. “And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
Here’s what we learn from this...

We need to be prepared to practice the grace of forgiveness.

be on your guard…when you woke up this morning did you say – shields up, I need to be prepared to practice the grace of forgiveness…
We must take great care so as not to become an offense to our brothers or sisters, but when (not if) the offense occurs, if you have prepared yourself beforehand to be a person of grace then forgiveness will come more naturally for you.

The process begins when another person sins against you.

and there’s no question that this will happen – it’s just assumed…
so that guy or gal from the Avenger’s Universe that looks so good in their hero gear, with those bulging muscles or flowing hair, putting down all sorts of injustice around them…yeah, that person will would sin too
She’ll leave a bunch of her hair in the sink in the morning…and he’ll forget to pick up his socks…he’ll leave the toilet seat up, she’ll squeeze the toothpaste from the middle...
See there’s no such thing as a perfect spouse, or perfect kids, or a perfect job, or a perfect church, or perfect brother and sister in Christ…Jesus doesn’t even entertain that possibility in this passage…

You have a responsibility to speak to the person who sinned against you.

If your brother sins, rebuke him.
now, there’s some balance to all of this…the original word suggests that this be done tentatively…you may not have all the facts
and we’re not talking about every little petty grievance under the sun or that’s about all we’d be doing…
But that’s not fair! – the other person is the one who sinned…why do I have responsibility in the mattershouldn’t that individual be coming to me?
...absolutely…and in some cases that may happen…and there’s no doubt that it should…
but when it doesn’t, you can’t brood, and you can’t hold a grudge, and you can’t work the phone lines behind the person’s back in sinful, destructive gossip…
if your brother sins – rebuke him…with the goal of seeing the matter solved and the relationship restored…

The person who sinned has a responsibility to repent.

this passage could not be clearer on that point…which means formally, that biblical forgiveness is conditional
now, what do you do in the meantime?...we might use the term – “have a forgiving spirit”…like our Lord on the cross – who prayed Father, forgive them for they know not what they do…
well, that wasn’t blanket forgiveness as if every person under the sound of His voice was now on their way to heaven…it was prayer that they would repent and a promise to quickly and completely forgive…
if the person who sinned will not repent, others may have to be brought into the equation in order to help the person repent…

Then the person who was sinned against has the responsibility to forgive, as often as necessary.

So what we are doing in forgiveness involves four promises that Christians make when they forgive another:
“I will not dwell on this incident.”
“I will not bring up this incident again and use it against you.”
“I will not talk to others about this incident.”
“I will not let this incident stand between us or hinder our personal relationship.”
so that takes us back to our key questions…are you a forgiving person?...is that the impact you have in your home, at your job, in your neighborhood, with your extended family, at our church?...is there evidence that you understand the action of forgiveness?...
- now let’s go back to or key passage and push it further…

Forgiveness Must Be Embraced.

this command helps us understand…

The church is to be a community of people who are seeking and granting forgiveness.

Eph. 4:32 – “Forgiving one another…” this is an imperative…a command, we don’t have an option...
the more our church family functions like a forgiving community – the stronger and more effective our impact is in the community and world in which we’ve been placed.
that’s an essential aspect of Paul’s argument in Ephesians 4Ephesians 4:17–20 - So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way,
In other words there should be something on display from us that is entirely different than the world in which we live...
so, for example – the power of forgiveness in the Christian home
what ought to differentiate a Christian home from a non-Christian home is not that one is sinless and the other isn’t…what ought to differentiate us is that...

Those who are in Christ have a biblical process to follow to keep our sin accounts short with one another for the reason of pleasing God.

we clean our plates everyday so we’re prepared for whatever little mess gets made tomorrow…that’s motivated in part by highly valuing the people in our lives…the one another’s are a high priority…can you point to evidence that suggests you embrace forgiveness...
Are we allowing the Lord to carefully build us into a church family committed to displaying grace to one another by choosing to forgive one another?
now, what about the person who would say…

But what if I don’t feel like it?

Ephesians 4:22–24 - that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
living for Christ is learning to live by the principles and truth of Scripture regardless of how we might feel at the moment…

Follow the Model of Forgiveness.

each word in this short verse is power-packed…but that’s especially true of…

“Just as God in Christ has forgiven you.”

Psalm 103:12 NASB95
As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Psalm 86:5 NASB95
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.
Colossians 3:13 NASB95
bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.
We need to let God’s enormous forgiveness of us motivate the much smaller ways we are called upon to forgive others.
Some of you have been sinned against in incredibly hurtful ways…and you might be struggling with what we’re talking about this am…
I suppose all of us are to some degree or another or this characteristic would come more naturally…
but do you remember the parable Jesus told Peter after explaining the process of church discipline in Matthew 18
Peter’s concern wasn’t about the confronting part…it was the – how many times do I have to forgive if a person repents part?...and he even offered Jesus an answer that he thought was pretty big and righteous…up to seven times, he said…
what was Jesus’ response?...how about 70 x 7
and then He told a parable about a servant who owed his master 10,000 talents…and the servant begged for more time till he could repay the debt though that was impossible…
Matthew 18:27 NASB95
“And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.
that’s you, and that’s me…and the point is – you would think a person forgiven so much would happily forgive every other human being for the rest of his days…but that’s not how the story ended, is it?...
that man found a fellow servant who owed him a much smaller amount comparatively, who interestingly made the exact same request for more time to repay…you know how that story went..

“Well I can forgive, but I can’t forget”

the more you try to put the hurts out of your mind, the more you remember them…but that is not what it means to forget.
What it means to “forget” is “not hold it against them”

Forgiveness is an active choice of the will to not remember the offenses.

It is theologically impossible for an all knowing God to forget our sins…so he says He chooses to not remember them…
Isaiah 43:25 NASB95
“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.
Jeremiah 31:34 NASB95
“They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
Hebrews 8:12 NASB95
For I will be merciful to their iniquities, And I will remember their sins no more.”
Hebrews 10:17 NASB95
And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
So when God says “remember no more” what is he saying…
“When God recalls what we have done, He does not hold it against us. He deals with us on the basis of grace and mercy, not law and merit. Once sin has been forgiven, it is never brought before us again. The matter is settled eternally…Warren Wiersbe

Some hurts run so deep they are impossible to forget, but with God’s help and grace, we can choose not to remember them by refusing to allow those past events to negatively impact how we relate to others who have hurt us.

We may remember what others have done, but we treat them as though they never did it!
They may never come and ask your forgiveness…you have a heart that is always ready to grant it...
This is possible because of the cross…God treated Jesus as though He had done it…so our experience of forgiveness from God makes it possible for us to forgive others.

Forgiving people recognize the depth of their own indebtedness to God has been forgiven and choose to happily release others from the shallowness of theirs.

May God help us, in the power of the gospel, grow in our commitment and our willingness and our skill at forgiving one another...
Segue into communion...
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