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Summary: Eighteenth in a series on the attributes of God focusing on reciprocating God's Forgiveness to others.

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Knowing God Series #17

“Forgiven and Forgiving”

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I. The nature of God

II. The Attributes of God

A. God is infinitely GREAT in His ability / capacity

B. God is infinitely and perfectly PURE in His morality and judgments

C. God is infinitely GOOD in His relationships

1. God’s infinite LOVE

2. God’s infinite GRACE

3. God’s infinite MERCY

4. God’s Longsuffering, forbearing God

5. God’s Gentleness

6. God’s Forgiveness

In the spring of 1959 an Air Force major entered a Texas mental institution for the second time. He had tried to commit suicide twice and he had been arrested for forgery and robbery. For years he had been drinking heavily and his marriage had disintegrated. Yet only 15 years before, he had been a model officer headed for a promising career. One momentous event precipitated the major's plunge. He was the lead plane over Hiroshima when the first atom bomb was dropped. Shortly afterward he began seeing throngs of Japanese men, women, and children chasing him in his dreams, and his own life began to collapse.

There are two basic internal struggles that defeat millions of people at one level or another and to one degree or another.

Both are directly related to this subject of forgiveness & forgiving.

The first, is what raised havoc in the life of the Air Force major -- GUILT.

The inability to perceive or realize forgiveness produces GUILT.

The second problem just as savage to our life as the first -- BITTERNESS.

The inability to practice or reciprocate forgiveness produces BITTERNESS.

Guilt and bitterness work together like Bonnie and Clyde.

Where there is one, there will almost always be the other.

If we do not realize our forgiveness by God, we will not have sufficient resources to offer forgiveness to others.

Relational debt operates similar to the dynamics involved in financial debt.

When we come under the pressure of financial debt the pressure to repay that debt is guilt.

No matter how hard I attempt to ignore it or escape, it is always there.

The obligation to pay continually "haunts" me.

It affects my thinking.

It affects my attitudes.

It affects my behaviors.

It becomes a major cause of depression.

I don't feel the freedom to give to others or forgive anything owed to me by others, because I feel like I can't afford it.

We become imprisoned in the prison house of guilt and bitterness, whose guards are ruthless, merciless tormentors bent on my misery and ultimate destruction.

As long as I struggle with this guilt, I will be self-protective and unable to truly love and forgive others resulting in bitterness which eventually projects to God.

Are you living under an oppressive standard of performance you have been unable to live up to? You are in a prison of guilt.

Has someone hurt or offended you or someone you love and you have never forgiven them?

You are living in a prison of bitterness.

The tormentors of guilt and bitterness are thorough.

Eventually, all your attempts to ease your torment will fail.

Jesus Christ alone provides the only real release from this deadly prison.

Today I want to briefly touch on three points.

• Realizing forgiveness

• Receiving Forgiveness

• Reciprocating Forgiveness

I. REALIZING FORGIVENESS

A. The Problem -- Sin

Guilt is real.

Guilt stems from violation of a standard.

Guilt puts distance between us and the one who imposes or enforces the standard.

Your iniquities have made a separation between you and Your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, so that He does not hear." Isa 59:2

Guilt puts distance between everyone.

How do you feel when you forget to do something you promised to do?

Guilt is a terrible taskmaster.

People try to evade its grip at all costs.

Because it is such a powerful manipulator, people try to use it to manipulate others.

Everyone develops their own standard by which they live or expect others to live.

This includes our parents, us, the church, the boss, the government, teachers, GOD.

One thing is for sure!

We cannot and will not, in this lifetime, perfectly or even partially live up to all of the standards imposed.

The result is heavy guilt.

The human system was not designed to live with guilt so we must somehow deny or dismiss it.

Guilt is the foundation of a myriad of physical symptoms and problems.

It must be dealt with!

The problem arises from the ways we choose to deal with guilt which are inadequate and ultimately ineffective.

1. "I Give Up" -- Depression

2. "I'll show you" -- Rebellion

3. "I'm really not that bad" -- Self-deception, denial

4. "I'm sorry; please don't punish me" -- Superficial confession

None of these things work. They only complicate the problem.

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