Day 33: “Forgiveness!” Part One: 09.24.2018
Matthew 6:12-15 (NIV) “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Matthew 6:12-15 (NLT2) “Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. ”
Jesus said some very horrifying things. He spoke of everlasting torment separated from God (Mark 9:43). He spoke of people who were so evil that, even though they thought they belonged to him, will be cast out! (Matthew 7:23). He spoke of people who called him “Lord” but disobeyed him (Luke 6:46). And the troubling thing is that Jesus said these kinds of things, sometimes, to people who would have argued that they were Christians! True disciples …. followers of his.
We are sitting on the mountainside and getting somewhat uneasy. The implications of what Jesus just said are staggering. Consider:
I can serve God in church
I can tithe on my income and then some
I can go on mission trips to distant uncomfortable places
I can give up all sorts of things for the Kingdom of God
But if I am unforgiving towards others I will not enter the Kingdom of God; I will not be saved!
“But wait Jesus. Wait please. We have been taught that salvation is by grace and not works. If I must forgive in order to be forgiven, then would not forgiveness itself be a work that would earn my salvation? I thought there was nothing I can do … we can do …to please God and merit that invitation to eternal life. What is going on here?”
The person thinking this way needs to consider what modern man calls “metrics.” A “metric” is a quantifiable measurement to assess the performance of something. A baseball team wins a game with a score of 5 to 3. The metrics make that clear. A business is losing more money that it makes. A good accountant would ask “What are the metrics? Sales numbers and costs of production, etc.” Then he or she can see how the company is doing. So, when we read our Lord speaking of forgiveness, he is speaking of a spiritual metric.
The critical measurement of the Christian’s performance as a believer. A spiritual metric that will show how we are doing. THIS METRIC WILL NOT EARN SALVATION BUT WILL GIVE EVIDENCE OF IT! It is a brutal statement in the ears of the unforgiving person. But simply put, if I claim to be forgiven by God because of the work of Christ, then forgiveness must flow into and through me and go out to others. Again, Jesus said:
“But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Consider this parable:
Matthew 18:23-34 (NIV) “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.”
The debt, of course, represents our sins. The day of account settling will be the Judgment Day to come for all people. The man in the story cannot pay the ten thousand talents. That amount might be the equivalent of about six billion dollars in today’s wages. In other words, the man could never, ever pay the debt. It is so great that a thousand lifetimes would still leave him in jail.
This is the heart of the teaching. Our weight of sin is so much greater than we have ever thought or imagined that we would faint at seeing the total if it was shown to us. Even the most morally pristine person, generous and gentle in every sense is a sinner. Jesus one day spoke to his listeners and said, “You who are evil…” (Matthew 7:11). In the end, even the best among us are not as bad as we may think. We are much, much worse!
This is the problem. We think “Well, sure I’m a sinner but not really a bad one. Most people are way, way, way worse than I am. I’m actually pretty good and could almost deserve to go to Heaven.” Really? Here is what the Bible says about ALL OF US:
Genesis 6:5-6 (NIV) “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.”
Have you ever spoken with someone who was sorry they had children? I have. It’s sad and unsettling. Well, in this text, God just said he was sorry that He had kids! And it went from bad to worse. So bad that God wiped out the entire human population excepting Noah and a few more people. Centuries later, God spoke through the Prophet Jeremiah and said:
Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV) “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
But most unforgiving people do not realize how close they are to the edge. I recall a person who was considered a tower of Christ-centeredness, known as a woman of prayer and deep in Christ. But I watched her harden her heart over an offense and even refuse to meet with others to discuss the incident. She was visibly hateful. At one point, I tried to warn her and I even said I feared for her. Then she was even more offended and refractory. Unforgiveness.
“But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
More on this in our next study. But for your sake and mine, we should ask this question: “Am I living in a state of unforgiveness? If I am, can I admit that I might not even be saved?”
Hmmmm. Pastor Alberta