Summary: When we forgive it proves that we have been forgiven.
A Study of the Lord’s Prayer
Lesson # 6
“Forgive Us Our Debts”
Matthew 6:12, 14-15
“In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. (10) Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. (11) Give us this day our daily bread. (12) And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.” (NKJV)
Tonight we examine the Lord’s second great instruction how we ought to pray concerning ourselves. This petition is an explicit prayer for forgiveness, “forgive us our debts,” and for a forgiving spirit, “as we forgive our debtors.” The first three of the petitions relate to the role of God as our Father. The last four focus on our needs as God’s children. Of these seven, the matter of forgiveness is of such importance that it is the only one of which our Lord later took the time to reemphasize and develop in depth.
Later in Matthew 6:14 –15 Jesus says, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (15) But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (NKJV)
At least superficially men and women don’t seem to worry much about their sins. But deep down it is the deepest human need. A cartoon in the newspaper once pictured a psychologist listening to a patient; “Mr. Smith,” he says, “I think I can explain your feelings of guilt. You’re guilty!” Modern psychology may seek to help man with his dismiss his feeling of guilt but only Christianity helps man to be delivered from his guilt.
In our model prayer after we have asked the Father for provision, we ask for pardon. “Forgive” follows “give.” Notice the word “and,” links the request for daily bread, with the request for daily forgiveness. In that way when we think of our need for food we will think of our need for forgiveness. Many of us are conscious of our need for daily bread, but are utterly unconscious of our need for daily forgiveness.
I. A PRAYER FOR FORGIVENESS
If we are sincere when we pray “forgive us our debts,” or “forgive us our trespasses,” then we are openly admitting ourselves as guilty of wrongdoing, of sin. Many falsely presume that because when we are saved we have no further need to ask for forgiveness or confession of sin. This of course, is not the case. 1 John 1:8-9 tell us, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (9) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (NKJV) Christian’s can and do still sin and thus stand in need of daily confession and forgiveness.
When we acknowledge our sinfulness we echo the words of David, recorded in Psalm 51( verses 2, 10, 17) “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin…. (10) Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me…. (17) The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.” (NKJV)
It needs to be remembered that this is a “family prayer,” it does not deal with the sins of unbelievers. It does not deal with our standing before God, which was established at salvation, and which can never be affected; it concerns the sins of the children of God, which hamper our fellowship with the Father. No non-Christian ever receives forgiveness from God on the basic of claiming to forgive someone else. Although we receive forgiveness when we were saved we will never be able to fully enjoy cleansing in our Christian walk unless we are ready to extend it freely to those who offend us.
II. PRAYER FOR A FORGIVING SPIRIT
There are three basic attitudes associated with the extending of forgiveness
1. I can’t
He did not tell the disciples that they could pray, “Lord, forgive me my trespasses and I will try to forgive those who have wronged me.” He told them that when they had forgiven others they could then claim their own forgiveness.
Sometimes we excuse our lack of forgiveness on the grounds that the one who has wronged us does not deserve our forgiveness. But the truth is; No one ever wrong you as you have wronged God.
In Matthew 18:23-35, Jesus told the parable of Unforgiving Servant to illustrate this point.
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. (24) And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. (25) But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. (26) The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ (27) Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. (28) “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ (29) So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ (30) And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. (31) So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. (32) Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. (33) Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ (34) And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. (35) “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”(NKJV)