14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Jesus has just finished giving His disciples a prayer that will last through the ages. He tells them how to pray, and still today many churches recite this prayer in every single service they hold It has become a sacred prayer for all, and is learned by children from a very young age. We call it the Lord’s Prayer.
After such a powerful, heart-felt prayer, what is the one thing Jesus pulls out of that prayer to expound on? Not God’s holiness, not the kingdom, not God’s will, not provision, but forgiveness. The wording in the Lord’s prayer is very interesting to me, and I believe many of us miss this. A good friend of mine pointed this out in a comment on my last post, and it is worth taking a deeper look at.
When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we are asking God to forgive us in the same measure that we forgive others. “Forgive us our debts AS we forgive our debtors”. That word AS means in the same way, or to the same extent. We are asking God to look at our track record in dealing out forgiveness, and asking Him to give us the same amount. This begs the question “Are You Forgiven?”
While it is true that God promises forgiveness all through the Bible, these words of Jesus should be a wake up call to all of us. Isaiah 1:18 says that our sins, which are scarlet, shall be white as snow. ! John 1:9 says if we confers our sins God will forgive us and cleanse us. Ephesians 1:17 says through Him we have forgiveness of sin. Isiah 43:25 says he blots out our transgressions. Psalm 103:12 says He removes our sins as far as the east is from the west.
Think for a moment about what Christ has forgiven you of! Let’s start with the Ten Commandments.
- No other Gods before Him. I have put plenty of things before God in my lifetime. I have made many things more important than God. Guilty as charged!
- No graven images. I have worshipped other things, Drugs, alcohol, bowling, Toastmasters. They have been like images I worshipped. Guilty as charged,
- Do not take His name in vain. Thousands of times Guilty as charged!
- Keep the Sabbath Holy. I still struggle with this one today. Guilty as charged.
- Honor Father and Mother. I rebelled as a teenager and disregarded my Mom for many years. Hated my date for decades. Guilty as charged!
- No murder. How many people have I said I wished were dead, or treated with such disregard they were dead to me. Guilty as charged!
- No adultery. Before marriage, yes. After marriage, with my eyes I did for many years. Guilty as charged!
- Don’t steal. Over and over and over again. From money out of the till when I was a teenager to officer supplies as an adult. Guilty as charged!
- Bear false witness. Who reading this has never lied? Guilty as charged!
- Do not covet. Our lives are filled with covetousness, and I succumb to some of those enticements. Guilty as charged!
I would be in a world of trouble if not for the atoning blood of Jesus Christ! I have been guilty of all 10 commandments and many other laws of the Bible. Yet in His mercy, He gave His blood as an atonement for my sins, paying the price for me. Not only that, He separated that sin from me and it is forgotten, and removed as far as the east from the west. In God’s eyes, I am as white as snow. He sees no sin that I have repented from and have covered with His blood. He only sees Christ’s righteousness in me.
Isn’t that the kind of forgiveness we desire? A forgiveness that removes all past transgressions and forgets about them,. A forgiveness that will not remind us of our past, but only spurs us on to the future? A forgiveness that holds no ill-will against the sinner and only wishes the most for them? Of course it is!
Now let’s go back to the Lords prayer. “Forgive us as debts as we forgive our debtors”
Is this the way we have forgiven out debtors? Forgotten the transgression? Put it in the past? Never brought it up again? My intuition tells me we are a far distance from that model. I know I am at times. First there is the forgive and forget part of it. I think all of us would admit that we are truly glad God forgives us and forgets it. But do I do that for others? Most of the time I think I do, but there are just some things I have real difficulty forgetting. I hear it said all the time that a person forgave someone else, but they certainly won’t forget it. Yet we expect God to forget our previous sins. Jesus says God forgives to the extent we do. How many people are in your life that you have something you have not forgiven them for? Or maybe you have forgiven them, but you have not forgotten it? Is this the kind of forgiveness that you want from God? I am sure it is not. God does expect us to forget those past hurts – to put them behind us and move on. He certainly does that with us!
The second point is that we never bring that offense up again. If we have forgotten it, we will not bring it back up. But if we have not, we should never use that past hurt against them. We should never bring it up to them again if we have forgiven them. Imagine if God brought up all your past sins to you! That is the devil’s specialty, my friend. The devil is real good at reminding us of our past mistakes. When we do that to someone else, we are on his side, not God’s! Make sure you are never bringing up past hurts to someone, but instead spurring them on to good works. Speak only those things that will minister grace (Ephesians 4:29). Don’t help the devil out in his attempts to destroy someone else. Instead, help God out in forgetting those past hurts and being a minister of grace.
The third point is that we hold no ill-will against the person that has hurt us. If we have forgiven them (and hopefully we have) and forgotten that hurt (hopefully we have), than we have no reason whatsoever to hold ill-will against them. We are commanded to love one another, and we must do that. It is not a matter of choice. Unforgiveness gets in the way of loving our brother. I have heard people say “I love them but I just can’t forgive them for what they did.” I say those two things cannot go together. If you love them, you will forgive them and forget the incident.
The church just has to get in touch with these simple verses. There are so many arguments in the church because of unforgiveness. It ruins our marriages, our families, our churches and our witness. If we would forgive those non-Christians who offend us, imagine what a great witness that would be! Forgiveness is a key to truly loving people as Christ loved us.
If you have people in your life that you have not forgiven, do it today. Don’t wait any longer. If you do not, bitterness will set it. Bitterness will eat you alive. It will rob you of peace and joy eventually. It will destroy your witness, not only to that person but to everyone else. Bitterness can cause you to become argumentative and a complainer in all areas of life. And it all stems from unforgiveness. We are not talking about being sorry here. We are talking about asking them to forgive you, and forgiving them. Saying the words “I forgive you” is very powerful. It frees the other person up. Being sorry is the easy way out!
If you have people in your life that you have forgiven, but have held onto the hurt, I would first ask you to reconsider whether you have truly forgiven them. If, with all your heart, you believe you have, then bring that hurt to God and ask Him to help you forget it and put it behind you. There are times that only God can take away that hurt.
Examine your life and make sure you are walking in forgiveness toward others. Then you will be able to say “A am forgiven.”