2006-12-03_The Forgiving Forgiven_Matthew 6.12_SL
The Forgiving Forgiven
Matthew 6:12 | Shaun LePage | December 3, 2006
A. Simon Wiesenthal, a former prison in a Nazi concentration camp tells a heart-wrenching story in his book The Sunflower. He finished with this question: “What would you have done?” (Prayer: The Great Adventure, David Jeremiah, pgs. 135-137.)
B. Foundations of Prayer—broken & contrite heart, grace, gratitude—today: forgiveness
C. Context: Model prayer teaches us to Praise God, rededicate then ask for what we need: provision and protection. One of the things we most need is forgiveness—vital to prayer.
II. Body—Matthew 6:12
A. Request forgiveness.
1. God refuses to answer the prayers of the sinful. Sins are “debts”. Ps 18:41; Pr 1:28
2. God delights to answer the prayers of the righteous. Ps 145:18,19; 15:8, 29. Agree with God, be cleansed from all “unrighteousness”—enjoy fellowship.
B. Grant forgiveness: “As we also have forgiven…” assumes we have forgiven our “debtors”. Christians are The Forgiving Forgiven (title).
1. Basis for granting forgiveness: God’s forgiveness. Eph 4:32; The biggest obstacle keeping us from forgiving others is a wrong view of our own sinfulness before God.
2. Questions about granting forgiveness:
a) What if I can’t forgive someone?
(1) Mt 6:14-15 God won’t forgive you—prayer life is hindered. Jms 2:13; Does this mean God’s forgiveness is conditional? Sometimes, yes.
(a) Bath forgiveness. Jn 13:8-10; free apart from works; Tit 3:5; Need a bath?
(b) Foot-washing forgiveness. Jn 13:8-10; 1 Jn 1:9. This is what Jesus is talking about in Mt 6:14-15. Not judicial (Rm 4:7-8), but parental (Heb 12:4-11)
(c) Unforgiveness is a sin which disrupts our fellowship with “Our Father”; it is not an option, but a command.
(2) You will hurt yourself (Might hurt others, but certainly hurt yourself)
(a) “In 1999, CNN filed a report called “Forgiveness Heals the Heart, Research Hints.” At Hope College in Michigan, researchers measured heart rates, sweat rates and other responses of subjects when asked to remember past hurts. ‘Their blood pressure increases, their heart rate increases and the muscle tensions are also higher,’ said a Hope College professor. This suggests their stress responses are greater during their unforgiving than forgiving conditions.” (Nelson Illustrations, p.316)
(b) The Bible has taught this for thousands of years: Ps 38:1-8
b) Don’t I have to wait until someone repents?
(1) Some teach this—that all forgiveness should be “conditional”; I disagree
(2) Majority of offenses should be forgiven unconditionally—regardless
(a) Passages: 1 Pt 4:8; 1 Cor 13:5-7; Mark 11:25-26
(b) Examples: Jesus, Joseph, Stephen:
(3) General Guidelines (MacArthur, The Freedom and Power of Forgiveness, ch.6; address in more depth later in Matthew):
(a) If the offense is petty or unintentional, it’s best to forgive unconditionally without confronting.
(b) If you are the only person hurt—you may choose to forgive unconditionally; this is probably best.
(c) If someone else is hurt and we are witnesses—confrontation is necessary; Scripture does not allow us to overlook the mistreatment of others.
(d) If ignoring sin will hurt the sinner—confrontation is necessary for his own good. He may spiral deeper and deeper unless “spiritual” help. Gal 6:1-2
(e) If the sin will potentially damage the body if not confronted—confrontation is necessary. Issue of church discipline—entire church suffers if ignored.
(f) If a relationship has been broken by the offense—confrontation is necessary. Matt 5:23-24—for reconciliation, not selfish motives.
(4) MacArthur: The Freedom and Power of Forgiveness, pgs.122-123. (Start with, “In effect, the person who chooses to forgive…” End with, “(1 Peter 4:8).”
c) How do I forgive? C.S. Lewis: “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.” (Mere Christianity, p.89); St. Clair: “My response to the offense is more important to God than the offense or the motive of the offender.”
(1) Thank God for the pain. Thank Him for that person or situation. Remember 1 Th 5:18?; Bitterness is a failure to thank God for every person/situation. How could God allow this?
(a) God may have been chastening you for sin.
(b) God may have been conforming you into the image of His Son.
(c) God may have been preparing you to help others heal.
(2) Release people from their guilt.
(a) Tim St. Clair: “To forgive is to release someone from their broken promises, all your expectations and all the consequences of hurts or losses that you have incurred because of what they did to you.” (Life Action audio tape, Bitterness, April 1, 1990).
(b) Remove all guilt associated with that person; [visualize chalkboard/prison]
(3) Commit yourself to returning good for evil. 1 Th 5:15; 1 Pt 3:8-9 [Ask God how you can invest in that person’s life so they can be healed—pray? Write notes? Send flowers? See them? Meet a material need?]
(4) Praise God for His forgiveness.
(a) Rev 5:8-14: His forgiveness came through blood of the Lamb—Praise Him!
(b) Pastor Richard Wurmbrand was also a victim of the Nazis. (Love Conquers Everything, VOM Nwsltr, March 1999, p.10). [Picture Jesus: “You forgave them. I forgive you.”]
III. Closing: Close eyes—don’t look around
A. Raise hand if you need to forgive someone today; if you need to deal with bitterness and unforgiveness.
B. If physically able, I invite you to get on your knees
C. Walk through II.3.(1)-(4) above.