Summary: We forgive because we have been forgiven.
Living the Lord’s Prayer, Part-5, Mathew 6:6-13
“Forgive us our Debts”
“When you have been sitting in a well-lighted room and are suddenly called into the outer darkness, how black it seems. And thus when a man has dwelt in communion with God, sin becomes exceedingly sinful, and the darkness in which the world lies appears like tenfold night.” (Spurgeon)
The longer I walk with Christ the uglier my sin seems to me. The closer into communion with God I am the more desperately thankful to God I am for having forgiven this broken, brazen, bold, sinner’s heart. It is only when we have been in the light that darkness is well defined. Interestingly darkness is not a true state.
Darkness is not positively definable on its own terms. In other words, darkness doesn’t exist. It is merely the absence of light. There is a cave that I love to visit in Northern California. Moaning Caverns is just a short drive from where I was raised in Modesto, California. It is an easy day trip that we made many times as a family growing up and even visited on school field trips routinely.
You can either descend through a hole in the top of the cavern on a repel rope or take the safe (sane) route down a very large spiral staircase. I have always chosen the staircase. Upon reaching the bottom of the deep and twisting cavern, the tour guide will turn off the artificial lighting and ask everyone to keep silent. In the deepest of darkness the sound of an underground river can be heard faintly in the distance moving through the rock underfoot.
It is the darkest of darkness, there deep in the heart of the earth. The depth of our sin and brokenness is only revealed by the glorious light of the holiness of God! As one ascends from the darkness of the cavern the wondrous light of a Northern California Sierra Nevada mountainous sky floods the eye. Often the intensity of the light is so dazzling that your eyes need time to adjust and the smell of the pine is so beautiful that the sensory feast is overwhelming.
As we consider the darkness of our sin and fallen state in the light of the glory of the love of God as demonstrated in Jesus Christ, I am likewise overwhelmed by the loveliness, exquisiteness, and the magnificence of forgiveness!
In the Lord’s Prayer we are admonished to pray this way, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:12, 14-15 NIV)
Next week we will deal with more with the directly related but intermediary clause in verse 13 “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” This morning we will look at God’s forgiveness of us and His invitation for us to participate in His plan of redemption for the world.
The beauty of His holy light has shown in Jesus Christ through the forgiveness of sin, reconciliation that was poured out at the Cross. That beauty of that light is measured best measured by the darkness of sin. The full magnitude of that light is best enjoyed when it is shared with others.
Forgiveness from God to man brings reconciliation in the eternal state. Forgiveness from man to man brings the eternal state into the temporal state.
In other words, when we forgive others of their indebtedness to us we are most like God in having forgiven us. However, when we do not forgive others we assume the role of God, which is the worst form of idolatry.
Un-forgiveness as Idolatry:
There is one judge in the universe. “Those who oppose the LORD will be shattered. He will thunder against them from heaven; the LORD will judge the ends of the earth.” (1 Samuel 2:10 NIV) In the New Testament the same truth is echoed: “To the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men…” (Hebrews 12:23 NIV)
God alone is the judge of heaven and earth. The Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 defines idolatry this way: “Idol. 1. An image, form or representation, usually of a man or other animal, consecrated as an object of worship; a pagan deity. Idols are usually statues or images, carved out of wood or stone, or formed of metals, particularly silver or gold. The gods of the nations are idols. Psa 96. 2. An image. Nor ever idol seemed so much alive.
3. A person loved and honored to adoration. The prince was the idol of the people. 4. Anything on which we set our affections; that to which we indulge an excessive and sinful attachment. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. 1 John 5. An idol is anything which usurps the place of God in the hearts of his rational creatures.”