Summary: Becoming a Person of Prayer, part 7 Experiencing forgiveness “Forgive us”
Becoming a Person of Prayer, part 7
December 19, 2010
We have spent several weeks looking at a tool and a strategy to be more effective in our prayer lives. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray Jesus gave them the Lord’s Prayer in which he covered six areas he believed that were important for his followers to include as regular part of their prayer lives.
Let’s review quickly. We began with Getting Started, focusing on God as our Father; then we talked about Getting Focused, looking at ‘hallowed be your name. Then we spent two weeks on Divine Intervention. We talked about the present and future nature of the kingdom and how prayer is a means of bringing the presence of the future powers of the age to come to bear on daily life. And last week we talked about Praying for Provision, getting our needs met. This week I want to share with you about Experiencing Forgiveness. All of us here today are in need of God’s forgiveness in one of two kinds – Judicial Forgiveness or Parental Forgiveness. Judicial forgiveness is taken from the courtroom and parental forgiveness from the home. To put it simply, judicial forgiveness is the forgiveness of a judge and parental forgiveness is the forgiveness of a father. In judicial forgiveness, God is the Judge and sinful humanity is the person on trial. We are guilty of sinning, and the penalty is separation from God and eternal torment in hell. But the Lord Jesus appears and announces, "I will pay the penalty which your sins deserved; I will die as a Substitute for you!" This is why Jesus died on cross, he literally saved us from our sin. Now the Judge announces, if you will acknowledge your sin and accent my pardon, I will forgive you." As soon as we put our faith in Christ, we receive judicial forgiveness of all our sins. We will never have to pay the punishment for them in hell, because Christ paid it all. We, as forgiven sinners, now enter into a new relationship with God. He is no longer our Judge; God is now our Father.
At that point we move from the courtroom to the home for an illustration of parental forgiveness. God is the Father (6:9) and the Christ follower is the child. In a rash moment, the child commits a sin. When that happens, does God sentence the child to die for the sin? No, because God is no longer the Judge, but the Father! But He is still displeased, the relationship is disrupted and the happy family atmosphere is gone. The child has not lost his standing before his Father (Rom 8:1), but he will experience the discipline of his Father which is designed to restore their relationship and shape his heart toward obedience. As soon as the child confesses his sin, he receives parental forgiveness. An excellent example of the difference can be found in John 13:8-10.
Judicial forgiveness takes place once-for-all when we trust Christ for our salvation; parental forgiveness takes place every time a Christ follower confesses and turns from his sin. We are born again as his children once through forgiveness and delivers us from the penalty of sin, but we need daily cleansing throughout our lives through parental forgiveness.
Seeking forgiveness is about coming clean with our sin (Ps 51:1-5). In Psalm 51, King David models this with a level of honesty. I have lots of sin from my past and even presently that I struggle with that many of you do not know about. Only my wife knows the deepest and darkest sins of my past and present. I told her because we have a level of intimacy and relationship that we have and want. I also realize that left ignored it would produce damage to our relationship. This is the beauty of covenant relationships including both salvation and marriage. When I come clean, I do not lose my standing with her as her husband. I may experience her displeasure but our relationship is not threatened. Let’s look at what it looks like to get honest and come clean with God (1 John 1:9).
Start with confession. The Greek word means to agree with or show allegiance. So confession is not just admitting our wrong but agreeing with God about my behavior saying the same thing he does about what I have done. When I side with God I side with him as a witness against myself seeing my actions as he does, saying about them what he says, and responding to them as he does – that they are wrong and evil in his sight (Ps 51:3-4). We can do that because being in his presence is a place of grace and forgiveness. So I confess my known sins and then ask the Spirit to reveal to me my unknown sins, sins I am blind to (Ps 139:23-24). Then I ask God to empower me to change by changing my desires and appetites and mold and shape me into the character of Christ. I ask him to empower me to overcome my sinful propensities. The grace of forgiveness by nature flows out toward others so I forgive others who have hurt me and again ask the Spirit to reveal to me anything I may be holding against someone.