Summary: A discussion about "Forgive us our debts" from the Lord's Prayer.

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In 2004, a man by the name of Frank Warren created “”, in which people can

write on a postcard about secrets they are carrying and feeling guilty for. The idea originated as a

project for an art exhibit but within 7 months he had already acquired 2,000 postcards. Every week

he receives secrets in the form of postcards from around the world. The website is still up and

receiving new postings every week from around the world. (

If you could write a confession about something in your life…perhaps hidden… what might it be?

And who would you send it to?

Jesus offers us a different solution. We are continuing in our series entitled: Soul Matters: Shaping

life around the Lord’s Prayer. Let’s read aloud together:

Matthew 6:9-13

"This, then, is how you should pray:

"'Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come, your will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from the evil one.'

As we’ve noted… Jesus is teaching us how such prayer is not about how we get God to serve our

will….but how we bring ourselves into the proper orbit around the will of God.

Last week shifts to our more specific needs…begins with material needs…”our daily bread”

Today… “Forgive us our debts”

The original language includes the word “AND” after daily bread…because that is how it actually

reads. In the same way we realize our lives depend upon daily food…provisions…so we depend

on being continually forgiven. Many of us are conscious of our need for daily bread, but are

utterly unconscious of our need for daily forgiveness.

If “Your will be done” is the most central and challenging….

“Forgive us Our Debts” is the most fundamental to any such relationship.

The Greek word being used refers to debts…but in the common way in which it was used to speak

of moral debts. And as such… our “debts” refers to violating a moral obligation… and now

facing the consequences of justice.

Those who have recited this prayer over the years may recall that this is one of the phrases that is

often translated differently between translations. Often it is “trespasses.” A trespasser has

violated a boundary and now faces the consequences.

Both debts and trespasses are accurate synonyms for the word sins, which is what Jesus is

addressing here. [1]

There are many Scriptures which describe sin…and many ways we could try to define it. Let me

offer this broad description:

Sin refers to our rejection of God’s loving authority and nature... a self imposed autonomy from

God which leaves us in bondage to our own will… and destined for the outer darkness outside the

orbit of God’s good and eternal will.

So the first thing we need to grasp for our souls to live in this that…

1. We are sinners…

Will Willimon says a friend visit his attorney wife at work in a bankruptcy court. As the court

begins, before the particular case is to be heard, the bailiff cries out, "All debtors rise."

That's us.

But that may be hard to hear…and even harder to really grasp.

We are so confused with what it means to be sinners.

We as moderns need to embrace these words more than most that have gone before us.

Not because we are more guilty… but because we don’t know what to do with it.

We as moderns have repressed the self-serving nature within us. Our culture is working hard to

remove moral judgment from our lives. (It’s a bit ironic that when the NFL had to use replacement

referees… our country nearly came apart because not all the rules were being followed….calls

were being missed.)

We consider the word “sin” out of fashion. We know there’s a problem….but we feel we can

find a more sophisticated way to understand it.

We may say, “I don’t feel that way … I don’t feel like I am really much of a sinner. I know the

Bible teaches this…but I just don’t really feel it. It feels like an outdated way of thinking about


But John says …

1 John 1:8-9 (NIV)

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess

our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all


John says, in essence, beware you will not want to admit it. It is natural to deceive yourself on

this. You will hide from yourself how self-centered you are, you will hide from yourself how

much evil there really is in there.

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