Matthew 6:12 (Matthew 6:9-15) Forgiveness As precious and valuable as salvation is to us, I doubt that anyone has ever truly appreciated it. Itís effect we may begin to comprehend; but the number of elements that go into bringing that effect to pass, will probably forever be a mystery. There is substitution - Christ died for us. There is adoption - We are made to be sons and daughters of God. There is empowerment - To them gave He power to become sons of God. There is joint-heirship - Everything that is Christís became ours. There is reunion with God - Ye are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. One of the treasured elements of our salvation is FORGIVENESS. Forgiveness is a tough element to comprehend. We all know that to have salvation, we must be forgiven by God. Yet, Jesus is telling His disciples that in order to be forgiven, we must forgive. That becomes a great stumbling block for some, because some people are not grudge forgivers but grudge bearers. Letís study the concept of forgiveness tonight. I. What is FORGIVENESS? For several years, I have sought a definition but can not conceive of a good one. What ever you come up with, it would have to include several elements: A. The forgetfulness of the sins. Psalms 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, [so] far hath he removed our transgressions from us. 1. Most of us understand what forgetfulness is when it comes to the forgiveness that we want. a. I want God and everybody else to forget that I did some things. b. The little tract that we give out, "This was your life.," has a man being judged and his whole life is replayed on a big screen for all to see as he is being judged. c. I donít want to face these things at the Great White Throne or at the Bema Seat or anywhere else. d. There are things that I have done to God and to others which I am deeply ashamed of and pray no one ever finds out. 2. However, we sometimes donít understand what forgetfulness is when it comes to the forgiveness that we give. a. We are sometimes willing to forgetóbut only until the next problem arises in our relationshipóthen somehow our memory comes back to us. b. Some of you may remember the name Clara Barton. c. She founded the American Red Cross. d. One day, a reported was asking her about an incident in which a cruel thing had been done to her in her past. She acted as if she did not remember it. Whereupon the reporter asked, "Donít you remember?" Her answer was, "No," she answered. "I distinctly remember forgetting that incident." http://www.preaching.com/sermons/11623207/page-3/ 3. Someone asks, "How can I forget? I am not a machine that can just erase its hard drive." The answer is twofold: a. Donít dwell on it. (1) Too many people entertain bad memories and bad thoughts. (2) The mind was given to us to help us accomplish what our God wants us to do. (3) It was not given to us to force us to relive some sorrow or situation until we are bitter, joyless, defeated beings. (4) Learn to control what your mind thinks on. (5) Donít let it rehearse things that you are supposed to forget. b. When you think of it, donít mention it. (1) Have I remembered something I purposed to forget? (2) Sure, but if it is forgotten, it can not be used. (3) Our mind must be dealt with something like a courtroom. (4) Sometimes the judge says to the lawyers, "That is inadmissible." That means, even though it may have happened, it cannot be used in this trial. (5) Sometimes, even when we remember, we must refuse to speak of it or dwell upon it. B. The removal of sinís penalty. Romans 8:1 [There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 1. Condemnation means judgment. 2. Everyone has done wrong, but not everyone is punished for the wrong they have done. 3. Some would say it was because they never got caught. I would say it was because God was merciful to you. 4. We all understand receiving the mercy of God for the wrong we have done, but we sometimes stumble at giving mercy for the wrongs done against us. a. When we are given by God, God erases the slate. It is as if we had never done the wrong at all. He holds nothing over our head. b. So must we, when we have forgiven someone for a wrong done to us, remove all record of the act and never consider punishing the one who wronged us. C. The willingness to be hurt again. 1. But not only does God not punish us, neither does God limit us. 2. When God forgives us, God opens Himself to being hurt all over again. 3. I understand that in dealing with people who have done wrong, we must be wise. a. One does not put a former thief in charge of the treasury. b. One does not put a former child molester over the day care. c. One does not put a former drug addict in charge of the pharmacy. 4. Even so, when we have been hurt by a friend or relative, we can not close our hearts to them and refuse to let them hurt us again. 5. If that is all of the forgiveness we can give, we will soon learn that that will be all the forgiveness we shall receive. II. Who can speak about being forgiven without speaking of the means whereby such a gift is secured? Acts 13:38 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: A. All forgiveness, both that which we need and that which we are to give, comes through Christ and His death for our sins. B. We understand that when we are seeking forgiveness. 1. We know that works, sacrifices, traditions, laws, and penances are of no avail. 2. Forgiveness comes only through the cross of Jesus. 3. Many have been told that they can somehow work off their sins. a. They cannot. b. Sin against God is not that kind of debt. c. It must be paid foróeither by you or Another who is sinless. 4. Hence, the cross. a. Jesus, the guiltless dying for the guilty. b. There is no other way. C. However, gaining the power to so forgive also comes through the cross. 1. We are human not able to do certain things. a. I cannot fly. b. I cannot walk on water. c. I cannot die and come alive again. 2. However, things that I cannot do in my own power, I can do though Christís. a. If you are having a hard time forgiving someone, turn to Jesus. b. As you seek His presence, you will gain His power. Ephesians 4:7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. III. What can giving forgiveness do for you? A. Giving forgiveness is the counterweight to anger. 1. Some people are very short tempered. a. There are many causes for short-tempered. b. Pride is one. Thinking you are so special that no has a right to disagree with you, let alone wrong you. c. Lack of self control is one. You just never learned how to make yourself behave. d. There are others. 2. However, another common reason is that you never learned to forgive. a. A perfect standard is a hard standard to keep. b. Since no one is perfect, a person has only two alternatives for dealing with people. (1) Either isolate yourself from everyone. (2) Or learn how to forgive those who wrong you. c. For some people, the first is not practical and the second is not desirable, so they just live angry lives. 3. If you are tired of being an out-of-control, short-tempered, lonely person, why not try forgiveness? B. Giving forgiveness is the antidote to bitterness. 1. I heard a speaker on Christian radio talking a few weeks ago. 2. He was a Christian counselor and was relating, without using names, a situation that he was close to. 3. A lady had a real problem with bitterness. She had a unforgiving spirit and had held onto some wrongs for years. It had ruined her life in so many ways. Now, it was taking her health. Her doctor told her that if she did not deal with it, he was certain it would eventually take her life. So she turned to a Christian counselor. He meet with her for some time and encouraged her regularly to make an effort to forgive, but she either would not or could not. The counselor had little else he could do for her. Finally, as a last act, he asked her, "Why wonít you give up this wrong?" She moved to the window and with tears running down her face answered, "If I let it go, I wonít have anything else." 4. Sadly, some people are like that. a. The only thing they have to keep them going is bitterness and anger. b. Their angry, bitter life is choking out all of the people and things that could give you any joy. c. Some people are so bitter, even their dog bites them! 5. However, forgiveness is cure for the weed of bitterness. a. If you will start spreading it around liberally, you will find it kills bitterness. b. Now, if you have been practicing bitterness for a long time, it may take awhile before new friends and loves start to grow again in your garden; but give it some time, and you will find it will happen. C. Giving forgiveness will gain you forgiveness. 1. \\#Matt 6:14-15\\ Jesus set the ground rules. a. We cannot be forgiven if we do not give forgiveness. b. You ask, "Why is that?" 2. The answer is because when Jesus died, He paid for all sins. a. He paid for every wrong you would ever do. b. But He also paid for every wrong that would be done to you. c. That means that if anyone has a right to hold a grudge its God. d. The good news is that God will never hold a grudge. e. If God wonít hold a grudge, you and I canít hold one. 3. I confess, I donít know exactly how all of this lays out in the grand scheme of salvation by grace and eternal salvation, etc. 4. But I do understand that if you cannot find it in yourself to forgive someone who has wronged you, then it is because God is not in you. a. If God moved in, He brought that ability with Him. b. The question is, "Are you willing to let God help you give the same kind of forgiveness that you have received?" Have you put yourself into a box of unforgiveness? Are you hurt, angry, or bitter at someone else? Then understand, not only is forgiveness not getting out of your box, its not getting in it either. If you want to enjoy a relationship with God you must grant that kind of relationship with those who have hurt you. Will you do that tonight?
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