Theres Healing in Forgiveness
“There’s Healing in Forgiveness”
1 Corinthians 11:17-34
The Bible teaches:
The Seriousness of sin
“If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.” (Mt 18:8 NIVUS)
Sin excludes one from heaven.
And Jesus teaches that there are only two possible destinies after this life heaven or the eternal fires of hell.
The Bible teaches the seriousness of sin for the individual.
But more the Bible speaks of the consequences of the sin of an individual on others.
Joshua 7 – the Israelites are marching triumphantly into the Promised Land.
They have experienced the miraculous fall of Jericho as God delivered the city into their hands.
The next city in the path was the city of Ai.
Spies returned to tell Joshua this was to be an easy victory.
Instead it turned out to be a terrible defeat.
Joshua cries out to God.
God replies: “There’s sin in the camp.”
The seriousness of unconfessed sin in the camp – Achan had sinned. His sin infected the whole people of Israel.
His sin led not only to the death of many soldiers and a humiliating defeat, but also to the death of his entire family
The seriousness of unconfessed sin in the church – 1 Cor 11 > leads to death
Kay Arthur, co-founder of Precepts Ministries, author and international speaker, wrote a book called “Our Covenant God”.
In this book she includes a chapter about the New Covenant we celebrate around the Lord’s Table.
I was shocked the first time I read her teaching about the seriousness of unconfessed sin at the table.
“16 If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.” (1Jo 5:16-17 NIVUS)
Notice: John is speaking to the church, a community of believers.
Kay Arthur asks: “What is this ‘sin leading to death’?
Is it a specific sin?
I don’t know because God doesn’t say… It could simply mean that there comes a time when God says, ‘That’s it! You have dishonored My covenant enough, you’re going to die. I’m taking you out of here; you’re coming home in disgrace!”
And then she states: “I don’t want to go home in disgrace. Do you?”
Arthur continues: “When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we are remembering His death for our sins.
Consequently we need to make sure that we are hating sin and forsaking it, even as He would have us do.
“And if we don’t – if we violate this covenant (the New Covenant made by the Lord Jesus through his torn flesh and His blood poured out on the cross – if we violate this covenant) – is there a consequence?
Yes, beloved, there is… There is a Sovereign Administrator who olds us accountable!
“27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.” (1Co 11:27-30 NIVUS)
“When God speaks here of sleep, He doesn’t mean that some have fallen asleep in church; rather they have been killed by God.
Taken home early…
Being killed prematurely, so to speak, is sobering, isn’t it, beloved?”
Here’s the gospel.
Jesus comes and both offers forgiveness,
And enables us to offer this same forgiveness to others.
This gospel is seen clearly at the Lord’s Table.
At the Lord’s Table we are reminded that we should examine ourselves – judge ourselves – see if there is any unconfessed sin that we have withheld from the light of the searching grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32 When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.” (1Co 11:31-32 NIVUS)
Not only does unconfessed sin have serious consequences, so also does withheld forgiveness.
The Lord’s Prayer
- forgive us Lord – as we forgive others!
“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.” (Mt 6:14-15 NIVUS)
When you pray, do you expect God to answer?
24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."” (Mr 11:24-25 NIVUS)
An unforgiving intercessor is an unforgiven intercessor!
His prayers will remain unanswered.
The world’s worst prison?
Some would say Alcatraz – one of the most escape-proof prisons in the world.
It served as a Federal Prison from 1933 – 1963 during which time 26 prisoners tried to escape an only 5 succeeded.
Surrounded by the cold waters San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz boasted high walls, double-lock doors, machine guns in the hands of the guards, and a staff that could not be bribed.
Alcatraz is now a tourist attraction, but some of the tourists have admitted they did not find the Big House too attractive.
But the world’s worst prison, however, is not Alcatraz or the infamous Tower of London, for those places can only confine the body.
The prison Jesus talks about shackles the inner man and sad to say, we put ourselves into this prison.
This terrible prison? It is created by the person who will not forgive his brother.
Warren Wiersbe calls it “the dungeon of unforgiveness.”
Mt. 18: 21-35 Jesus tells a parable to drive home this point: The Parable of ‘the Unmerciful Servant’.
“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
“Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Mt 18:21,22 NIVUS)
There is an obscure verse in Gen 4:24.
There Lamech choose to have revenge for a wrong he suffered. He boasted to his wives that he will avenge himself 77 fold on the one who attacks him.
Here Jesus presents forgiveness – 77 times! – as the antonym or opposite of revenge.
Followers of Jesus must renounce the very human reaction of getting even with someone who not only hurts then but repeatedly injures them.
They are called to be Lamech’s polar opposites.
I was standing in the doorway of a classroom at BCC a couple of weeks ago when the girls giggled. “Mr. Humphries, you’re standing under some mistletoe!”
Rev. Dr. Peter Holmes, the pastor of Your Minster Park Baptist Church in Toronto relates a story of the mistletoe in their church Christmas newsletter.
He begins suggesting: Perhaps the very last person you would want to meet under the mistletoe may be the very person you need to meet there this year.
In the ancient York Minster Cathedral in England, there is a Christmas tradition that dates back almost 1,000 years.
Each year on Christmas Eve the Dean of the cathedral places a piece of mistletoe on the high altar where it remains for the 12 days of Christmas.
In medieval times the mistletoe on the altar at York was accompanied by a decree or peace and pardon at the city gates that stayed in effect as long as the mistletoe remained on the altar of York. Minster
Those estranged and exiled from the community were to be welcomed home, and citizens were not to take each other to court during the festive days marking Christ’s birth.
Notice: it wasn’t enough to come to the altar and drink the cup of salvation, because the forgiveness Christ offered was never simply to be received.
It was meant as a gift to be shared.
Jesus taught us to leave our gift at the altar when we become aware of an offense against a neighbor and to go and instead make peace with neighbor first.
The presence of the mistletoe on the altar at York was meant to remind the Christians to take the forgiveness and mercy of Christ out into the world.
Yes, it may be the last person you want to meet beneath the mistletoe is the very person to whom you need to be offering the great gift of forgiveness this Christmas.
It’s never too late to kiss and make up.
Too often we live as though there is no gospel.
The misery we live with is the only reality.
C.S. Lewis wrote a wonderful story: The Silver Chair.
The beautiful Queen of the Underworld nearly convinces the children from the Overworld that her own dismal kingdom is the only reality, and theirs but an imagined dream.
The young prince, the two children, and their companion, a Marsh-wiggle, are in danger of falling prey to the Queen’s blandishments when March-wiggle, to prevent the Queen’s words taking hold, thrusts his foot into the fire.
The shock helps him face reality, and as he speaks up, the children see the point he is making, run to his side, and escape.
For the past 6 months members of our congregation has had more than its share of serious health problems.
Praise God we are seeing the miracle of answered prayer for many.
But the deacons are inviting us to a service for healing.
Healing Service (in 2 weeks times)
· Not all sickness is due to sin on the part of the sufferer.
· God does not choose to answer ‘yes’ to all prayers for healing
· When God does not heal – it is not an evidence of lack of faith on the part of the sick person or the person praying. > Luke 4; Mt 13:54; Mk 6:5,6 > Jesus could only heal a few because they lacked faith.
· When you pray for healing, you do not throw away all medical offerings of intervention as an act of faith.
· God invites us to pray for healing and to wait for Him to work according to his good purpose.
Link between spiritual <> emotional <> physical
· Physical event > a loved one is hurt or even dies > leads to emotional trauma which often leads back to physical sickness
· This same emotional trauma test one’s faith and therefore affects their spiritual life > some run away from God; others are driven closer and deeper with God.
Sin can lead to sickness and even to death
· Obvious with abuse of drugs
Anger – Eph 4:26,27 > give Satan a foothold.
The place for healing to begin is with forgiveness.
So this morning, as we come to the Lord’s Table with the symbols ordained by our Lord to remind us of His cross work for us, let us examine ourselves.
1) I have sinned. God please forgive > opens a channel for physical healing. I need to receive forgiveness
2) I have been sinned against. I can allow a root of bitterness (Heb 12:15) to destroy ME by refusing to forgive another. I need to offer forgiveness.
Do you want to be healed?
Let’s start at the foot of the cross.