Summary: We need to make sure that we are not putting up roadblocks that keep our prayers from being answered.
A Messiah Who Prays Part 2: Roadblocks to Prayer
Text: Matt. 6:14-18
1. Illustration: When I was about 18 years old, I have taken my Mom to work, and on the way home I hit a patch of ice and lost control of the car. The car came to a screeching halt after I hit the concrete divider at 55 mph. There was no way that car was going to go through that wall, or anywhere else for that matter.
2. Do you ever feel like your prayers have hit a concrete divider? Sometimes that happens because we are impatient and God is answering our prayers in his timing. However, sometimes are prayers hit the proverbial brick wall and its our fault.
3. Jesus talks to us this morning about two major roadblocks to prayer:
4. Read Matt. 6:14-18
Proposition: We need to make sure that we are not putting up roadblocks that keep our prayers from being answered.
Transition: The first roadblock that Jesus talks about is...
I. Unforgiveness (14-15)
A. If You Refuse to Forgive
a. There is a very clear Scriptural principle that shows that sometimes it is our own sinfulness that hampers our prayers.
b. Psalms 66:18 (NLT)
If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
c. God hates sin so much that he cannot stand to be around it.
d. Unconfessed sin will keep our prayers from being answered because it puts up a wall between us and God.
2. In vv. 14-15, Jesus deals with one particular sin that is a roadblock to our prayers. He said, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you."
a. Forgive: The wrong is cut out, sent off, and sent away from the wrongdoer. The sin is separated from the sinner (Practical Word Studies in The New Testament).
b. Jesus’ desire is for the disciples community to reflect lives that have been transformed by the Gospel.
c. We have been forgiven of much by God, and consequently, we are in turn to forgive others in the same way that we have been forgiven by God.
d. Once disciples have received forgiveness and salvation, they are to forgive with the same forgiveness with which they have been forgiven. This is the evidence that they are indeed forgiven (Wilkins, NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: Matthew, 280).
e. If we are going to function as a community of disciples, a community of forgiven people, we cannot be a community that holds grudges (France, NICNT: Matthew, 252).
f. If we forgive others, then we also will be forgiven.
3. However, let’s pay close attention to what Jesus says in v. 15. "But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins."
a. This is a very sobering thought. We can actually put ourselves in a position of being unforgiveable if we refuse to forgive others.
b. When we refuse to forgive others, we are, in fact, passing judgment on them, and thus bringing judgment on ourselves (Keener, IVP NT Commentary: Matthew, 146).
c. Our relationships with others can affect our relationship with God. We cannot have a right relationship with God and harbor bitterness with others.
4. These verses raise some difficult theological questions with which we must come to grips.
a. "Oh come on Pastor, we don’t want to talk about theology! We just want to talk about Jesus, God’s love, and grace." Well all of those things are theological topics. We talk about theology all the time whether we realize it or not.
b. The first theological question we need to wrestle with is "How does this conditional forgiveness relate to a gospel of grace?"
c. Wait a minute, I thought that God forgives me of anything as long as I ask him to?
d. He does, but if he harbor bitterness and unforgiveness in your heart towards someone he doesn’t hear you. Remember Ps. 66:18?
e. If the forgiveness that comes from the saving work of Christ is not evidenced by a forgiving attitude on our part, it cannot be presumed upon (France, 253).
5. The next theological question we need to wrestle with is "Does this mean that we can earn God’s forgiveness?"
a. Isaiah 64:6 (NLT)
We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.
b. There is nothing that we can do to earn God’s forgiveness - ever!
c. However, we can put ourselves in a position were God won’t forgive us if we don’t forgive others.
d. Illustration: Tina and I are in the process of buying a house, and have put ourselves in a position to buy a house by paying our bills on time.