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Matthew 6:12, 14-15 - Forgive Us Our Debts

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Does it mean that we have to forgive or forfeit our forgiveness?

Difficult passage

Some say it’s an unbeliever’s prayer but it can’t be since we say our Father

Others teach that asking for God’s forgiveness is not necessary since Christ died on the cross

I.                   The Grammar

A.       Five Words For Sin

1.      Sin: Harmartia—To miss the mark, and archer’s term, which means to fall short: here we fail to meet the demands of righteousness which God sets.  It is the weakness and inability in us, which causes this aspect.  New Name—Harmartia Chapel, Sinners Chapel-that’s us!

2.      Trespass paraptoma—a false step, a blunder: to slip or fall, deviations from the path of truth and righteousness.  Here is a weakness in man when we are tempted and we slip due to our weakness.  Not necessarily a lawlessness or a premeditated idea.  (Used in Galatians 6:1).  Used in Matthew 6:14-15.

3.      Transgression parabosis—to step across a line, the breach of a known law.  Example. – wet paint or keep off the grass.  God tells us what is right and what is wrong and we violate this live willfully.  This is more than a weakness but a known violation of a command.

4.      Lawlessness anomia—without law, from nomos-law.  Flagrant and rebellion against God’s law.  This is open and direct violation against God.  This person does not want anyone telling them what to do in the area of right wrong.

5.      Debt ophelemayna—the idea of a debt or to owe a debt (used in Matthew 6:12).  Sin is a debt which needs to be paid to God, you owe God a consequence to Him.  Example: our kids when we tell them if you do that you will get a whack, you do it again you will get two, etc.  The sinner receives an eternal debt.  If you ever come to God you will on this basis—and this is a prayer for everyone, thus He is saying that we are all sinners.

—    The word used in vv.14-15 is trespass – don’t count it as a debt or you will never be free!

—    Point: it is not a debt that is owed to you—it is a false step or blunder, which needs to be forgiven.  We owe God. 


“Sin is worse that the Devil, for sin is what made the devil the devil.  He would have been a angel if it had not been for sin.”

Illustration: we are sinner by nature: a rat caught in a trap and still eats the cheese.

B.       Additional Points

1.      2nd phrase-an aorist “as we have already forgiven others”

2.      the first word is debt and the one related to us is trespass

Example: when your kids say you owe them: something is wrong with that picture.

II.                Forgiveness In the Bible

A.       Salvation & Forgiveness

1.      Colossians 2:13 - And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14 NKJV).

2.      To nail to the cross: the tradition of having a sign over a criminal’s cross which announces to the world their crime.  God wiped that out when the crime of Jesus was hung over Him.

B.       Fellowship & Forgiveness

1.      1 John 1:9—Confess-to say the same thing cf. Matthew 6:14-15

2.      Ps. 66:18—sin damages my relationship with God

3.      1 John 1:7—“If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.”

4.      John 13:10—“He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean”

As we go through the day we pick up dirt that needs to be cleansed 

III.             The Motive to Forgive

A.       Spiritual Principle #1 (explanation of 14-15)

1.      God deals with us in the way that we deal with others

a.       Luke 6:38

b.      2 Corinthians 9:6-7

c.       Matthew 5:7

d.      Matthew 7:2

e.       James 2:13—you place yourself in a spot of being chastening by God

B.       Spiritual Principle #2

1.      If you do not forgive, it ruins your spiritual condition and damages your relationship with the Lord.

a.       Matthew 5:23—leave your gift go away and then come back and worship

b.      Psalm 66:18—if I regard iniquity in my heart, He will not hear my prayer!

c.       You wont come into the fullness of what God has for you-joy, peace, power and fruitfulness in ministry

d.      You are placing yourself higher that God since He forgives

e.       Just as Jesus did not feel the sword go into his side because He was already dead, I must be dead to issues that keep coming up in my heart and life.  If they come up and I get angry about them, then I really have not died [forgiven] to those issues, they are still alive in my heart and this is wrong.

2.      Scriptures:

a.       Proverbs 19:11

Spurgeon: “to be forgiven is such sweetness that honey is tasteless in comparison with it.  But yet there is one thing sweeter still, and that is to forgive.  As it is more blessed to give than to receive, so to forgive rises a stage higher in experience that to be forgiven.  To be forgiven is the root; to forgive is the flower.”

b.      2 Corinthians 2:11 Closes off Satan’s advantage

—    lest Satan should take advantage of us for we are not ignorant of his devices”

advantage—the crack in the mountain that a rock climber puts their foot in to “hang on to,” this is the same thing that Satan does.  He looks for any crack in your life and that is all it takes for him to put his foot in to get a hold of and he hangs on. 

—    Ephesians 4:27-28 “do not let the sun go down on your wrath nor give place to the devil.”

Ex. Poloynesia: the Huts in the villiage where they hung articles to remind them of the need for 100% retaliation.

·         One of the way Satan takes advantage of you is by saying they must repent first

·         Luke 17:3-4 does mention repentance while Matt 6 does not

·         Better to forgive in both cases

·         Ex.  The sword and Jesus: it takes dying to ourselves to allow this to happen!

c.       Hebrews 12:14-15

·         A root of bitterness-free the conscience and the grudge in heart

·         We must pursue not just hope for it to take place

Application: the illustration of David & the Sheep-David was the man.

I must confess, forgive, then sow something good into my life, bless them.

“keep yourselves in the love of God”

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