Summary: Word pictures of how God forgives. These give us a better understanding of how we too can forgive more perfectly
Matthew 18:21-22 - Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
No doubt Peter thought his Master would be pleased with his willingness to forgive someone seven times when the local rabbis were saying it was only necessary to forgive three times. Peter was extending his mercy all the way to SEVEN! Just imagine how shocked he must have felt with Jesus insisted that seven wasn’t enough, that he should be prepared to forgive his brother up to seventy times seven. He must have wondered, how is that possible? This wasn’t just a test of his mercy or his counting ability; it was a test of his faith....
In Luke 17, Jesus told his disciples that if their brother sinned against them seven times a day and seven times asks for forgiveness, they were to do it. How did they respond to His command? They cried out, "Increase our faith. Nothing tests our spiritual depth as much as forgiving those who repeatedly hurt us.
Like Peter and those apostles, many of us struggle with the problem of forgiving others, especially the people who seem to repeatedly fail us, repeatedly disappoint us, or repeatedly bring harm to us. At the same time, we are often amazed that others have such a hard time forgiving us.
Those of us who have been forgiven a lifetime of sin often have trouble forgiving others even one time...much less seven...or seventy times seven.
Yet, God clearly intends that those of us who have received His grace and mercy must then display it in the way we treat one another.
Colossians 3:12-13 - Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
Let me ask you this morning... How many times have you failed the Lord, grieved His Spirit, or brought harm to His kingdom? How much forgiveness have you needed from Him and how much has He given you?
Apparently, Jesus wants to enlist us into the School of Mercy. Every complaint we have against one another can and should become a lesson in compassion and forgiveness. It can become a tool to make us more like Him. EVEN AS CHRIST FORGAVE YOU, SO YOU ALSO MUST DO FOR OTHERS.
We learn nothing of forgiveness until others have hurt us deeply and perhaps repeatedly. We may learn very little about forgiveness unless we are willing to learn from the only One who does it perfectly. Could you have hung on a cross with nails in your hands pleading for the forgiveness of those who were tormenting you? Jesus did.
Let’s turn to God’s Word for four vivid portraits of God’s forgiveness this morning. Maybe we can learn to follow in His steps.
I. God’s forgiveness has the power to separate us from our sin.
Psalm 103:12 - As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
A. When God forgives us
He doesn’t leave us to clean up our own mess.
We read in 1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [He cleanses our hearts & conscience according to Heb 10:22]
B. If I forgive you
I should work to remove all the damage the offense has done in both of our lives.
Someone has said "God loves us just the way we are, but He also loves us too much to leave us that way."
C. Sometimes, we offer conditional forgiveness
We say, "You straighten everything out first, then I’ll forgive you."
D. Thank God, He doesn’t operate that way!
A man in England was leaning against a large bush, his deep depression causing thoughts of suicide. At that moment, he overheard two girls discussing a sermon they had heard. One girl said, "The preacher said something that really lifted my spirits." The other asked, "What was that?" After a moment of quiet, the first one responded, "The world will always tell us ’You made your bed, so lie in it.’ But Jesus is the One Who says, ’Your sins are forgiven. Take up your bed and walk.’"
II. God’s forgiveness does not allow our sin to come between Him and us.
Because God is so holy, sin causes a barrier to having fellowship with Him. Habakkuk 1:13 states that the eyes of the Lord are too pure to even look upon iniquity. Isaiah 59:2 - But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear. What picture does God give to show us His solution for this barrier? How does He deal with the sin barrier between Him and us? Look at Isaiah 38:17 - Indeed it was for my own peace that I had great bitterness; but You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back.