Summary: The need for forgiveness
Intro: We talked last week about Colossians 3:1 - setting our minds on heavenly things. Yet, so often we focus on things on the earth. We are slow to do that which we know is right. One of the areas we struggle is in the area of offering forgiveness.
Is there anyone you hold a grudge against?
Is there anyone who has wronged you that you choose not to forgive?
#Two little brothers , Harry and James, had finished supper and were playing until bedtime. Somehow, Harry hit James with a stick, and tears and bitter words followed. Charges and accusations were still being made as mother prepared them for bed.
The mother instructed, “Now James, before you go to bed, you’re going to have to forgive your brother. James was thoughtful for a few moments, and then he replied, “Well, OK, I’ll forgive him. He then knelt to say his prayers:
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep;
If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.
Then he looked over at his brother and said,
“but if I don’t die before I wake up, you’d better look out in the morning.”
We humans struggle with the concept of forgiveness. Dr. James Dobson reports seeing a sign on a convent in Southern California reading:
“Absolutely No Trespassing--violators will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.” Signed, “The Sisters of Mercy”
What is this concept of forgiveness really all about? The truth is that we struggle with forgiveness because of our humanness, because we all have a sin nature. Yet, as we look this morning at God, we find that He loves to forgive. He desires to offer his forgiveness to us.
We are going to be looking at various passages this morning as we consider this. Let’s learn a few basic truths this morning about forgiveness.
I. Forgiveness brings Grace
This is a very simple point, but a very great truth to understand. Our forgiveness is not founded in our actions. It comes from the one who does the forgiving. There are far too many people who think they can “earn” forgiveness. If only they would do enough good, God would be motivated to forgive them.
Titus 3:4-5 says - But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
There is not any basis we have for receiving forgiveness apart from the grace of God. And while that might lead us to despair, knowing we can do nothing to merit God’s forgiveness, the encouraging, exciting part of this is that God LOVES to forgive us. It’s part of who he is.
A. Forgiveness is part of the nature of God.
In Exodus 34, God appears to Moses and reveals himself. We find these words written:
Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation."
Over in Psalm 99 we find this: Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel was among those who called on his name; they called on the LORD and he answered them. He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud; they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them. O LORD our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds. Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy.
The basis of our forgiveness comes from the very nature of God. He loves to forgive his people.
Forgiveness brings grace because
B. Forgiveness is promised to those who seek it
I was talking with someone this week about 2 Chronicles 7:14, a wonderful verse. They said they were going to memorize it this week. Many of you will know it when you hear it:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
1 John 1:8-9 tells us “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”