Summary: A sermon designed to show that we must experience forgiveness in order to forgive others.
"Forgiven to Forgive"
Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
I. The Example of Forgiveness
a. His message
One of the main themes of the Lord's teaching and preaching ministry was forgiveness.
Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Matthew 18:21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
b. His ministry
When you examine the ministry of the Lord Jesus you will find that His friends and foes sinned against Him and He forgave them all. Our text declares that God is able to extend forgiveness to us because of what Christ has done on the cross!
c. His model
Some of the Lord's last words from the cross were words of forgiveness.
Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
II. The Experience of Forgiveness
a. The need
We are great sinners therefore we need to experience true biblical forgiveness. We must experience forgiveness ourselves in order to truly appreciate the fact that we need to forgive those "...who have trespassed against us..."
Many Christians are living defeated lives, because they are hanging onto their pasts. They see their sins more than they see the solution to their sins, and that is the blood of Jesus! They spend more of their time dwelling on their sins, then dwelling on what Jesus has done for them!
Repentance - the key to being forgiven
Proverbs 28:13, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."
If you can confess it, you can be forgiven of it! It doesn't matter what you've done, if you turn to God and confess your sins, He will forgive you of ALL unrighteousness... that includes anything you've done, that you are willing to bring before Him! 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness."
There is no sin too great for God to forgive: Titus 2:14, "Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from EVERY lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds." (NASB)
Isaiah 1:18, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
The only sin God can't forgive, is the one you won't take to Him!!
Did you know that it's the goodness of God (when we realize His great love for us) that is supposed to draw or lead you to repent and turn to Him? Romans 2:4, "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" Also look at Jeremiah 31:3, "...Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee."
b. The neglect
An unwillingness to forgive others prevents us from being forgiven. It closes the door of God's grace to us. This is a truth that we must come to grips with. I've heard folks say, "I could never forgive that person for what they have done to me," but we must understand the implications of this position of unforgiveness.
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
ILL - The book "Will Daylight Come?" by Richard Hoefler, illustrates the truth, that forgiveness frees and unforgiveness enslaves.
A little boy visiting his grandparents was given his first slingshot. He practiced in the woods, but he could never hit his target. As he came back to grandma's back yard, he spied her pet duck. On an impulse he took aim and let it fly. The stone hit its target. The boy panicked. Desperately he hid the dead duck in the woodpile, only to look and see his sister watching. Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing. After lunch that day, Grandma said, "Sally, let's wash the dishes." But Sally said, "Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today. Didn't you, Johnny?" And she whispered to him, "Remember the duck!" So Johnny did the dishes. Later Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing. Grandma said, "I'm sorry, but I need Sally to help make supper." Sally smiled and said, "That's all taken care of, Johnny wants to do it." Again she whispered, "Remember the duck." Johnny stayed while Sally went fishing. After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally's, he couldn't stand it. He confessed to Grandma that he'd killed her duck. "I know, Johnny," she said, giving him a hug. "I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing. Because I love you, I forgave you! I wondered how long you would let Sally make you a slave."