Summary: Through the story of the woman caught in adultery and the unforgiven servant, we can see that God offers new starts by canceling what we owe Him.
“A new start: canceling the debts”
Jan. 3, 1999
As much as I enjoy the holidays, I am kind of glad when they are over each year. I think that is because of all that comes along with the holidays.
One of the things that I like least about the holidays is having to pay for them once January gets here. Over the last few days, I have begun to receive my credit card statements. Here they are. Here’s one from Bellsouth VISA. And here’s one from People’s Bank. And here’s one from USA Bank. Though they are from different banks and have different amounts listed on them, they all have one thing in common: they tell me that I owe them money, and a lot of it. When you put my credit card debts together with the house payment and the car payment that I make each month, a great deal of the money that I bring in each month goes to pay off debts that I owe. Every now and then, I come to Tammy and tell her that we should have all of our credit card debt paid off within a year. We stop using our credit cards, and pay cash for everything that we purchase. And then one of the kids gets sick, or the car breaks down, or the insurance bill comes due, or Christmas comes too quickly and we go back to using the credit cards. Tammy has learned to have a wait-and-see attitude whenever I tell her that we should be out of debt by this time a year from now. I keep hoping that someone will come along and hand me a check that will cover all my bills. Maybe THIS year, I’ll be the one that Ed McMahon comes to with that check for 10 million dollars. If I could just start over; if I could just begin again.
One of the great things about the Bible is that it is full of stories of people who were able to get a new start. Adam and Eve had rebelled against God and were under the threat of death, but God forgave them and granted them a new start. David had committed adultery and murder, but God forgave him and granted him a new start in his son, Solomon. Peter had denied Jesus and forsaken Him, but Jesus forgave Him and allowed Peter to be the messenger of God to the Jewish nation. Our God is a merciful God. He delights in taking impossible situations and turning them around so that mankind can see His love, and so that they can see that there is no debt so great that God cannot forgive it and cause His people to begin again - to get a new start.
This morning, I would like us to look at two incidents that happened in the life of Jesus so that we can see His willingness to forgive and His ability to help us begin again. The first is the story of a woman caught having an affair, and the second is a story of two men who were forgiven a great debt that they owed to their master. Both stories will illustrate this fact: though our debts have gotten to the point that we are unable to pay, Jesus longs to forgive those sins so that we can begin again.
I. Caught in the act - John 8
#1 - God’s forgiveness of our debt is not based on our innocence - “caught in the act” (Jn 8:1-4)
- none of us are innocent (Romans 3:23)
- Adam tried to hide his sins by making fig leaf aprons and then going into the trees
- “O be careful little eyes what you see . . . father up above is looking down in love . . . “
- impossible to hide our sin, our debt, from God. He keeps very accurate books.
- Ben, my son, admitted this weekend for the first time that he was a sinner
#2 - God’s forgiveness of our debt is based on his desire to bring healing not to destroy - “neither do I condemn you” (Jn. 8:5-11)
- the Pharisees were attempting to destroy Jesus. The woman was just a pawn. They couldn’t care less what happened to her.
- In order to destroy Jesus, they had to destroy her.
- Again the issue is not whether or not the woman sinned; the issue was what they were going to do about it.
- Jesus did not excuse the woman’s sin; He just erased her debt and told her to tear up her charge cards
- John 3:17 - Jesus came not to condemn the world but to save the world.
- how many records are there of Jesus healing people while He was on earth?