Summary: This sermon answers 5 questions: (1) What is forgiveness? (2) Why is forgiveness needed? (3 ) Who needs forgiveness? (4) How do I receive and give forgiveness? (5) What are the results of forgiveness having been received or extended?
Matthew 18:21 – 35
By: JB Hall
Introduction: Central to salvation and the entire Christian life and experience is the issue of forgiveness. One who needs forgiveness is indebted and in bondage. The one who needs to forgive is also in bondage.
This morning we want to explore this subject of forgiveness and see if we can’t learn some important truths that will set us free, and also set others free. We will do so by asking and answering 5 questions:
(1) What is forgiveness?
(2) Why is forgiveness needed?
(3) Who needs forgiveness?
(4) How do I receive and give forgiveness?
(5) What are the results of forgiveness having been received or extended?
1. What is forgiveness?
A. First, one who has offended has incurred by that offense an indebtedness to the one he has offended.
B. This indebtedness means that he stands responsible to pay the price that justice demands in order to satisfy the debt of the offense.
C. Thus, he is in bondage to the indebtedness he has brought upon himself.
D. Only one of two things can happen.
E. Either he must pay the full price that justice demands; or, he must have the debt of the offense forgiven by the one he has offended.
F. Unless and until one of these two things happens, he remains indebted, and therefore, in bondage.
G. Second, the one who has been offended is marred by that offense, which marring cannot be healed unless full restitution has been made, full justice has been met, or full pardon has been extended.
H. So, what is forgiveness?
I. Forgiveness is the release of the offender by the one he has offended from the debt of the offense he has committed.
2. Why is forgiveness needed?
A. First, we need God’s forgiveness.
B. Romans 3:23 says, For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
C. We all, by the fact of sin and by the act of sin, by our nature and by our choice, have offended the holiness of Almighty God.
D. What then, could we pay that would satisfy God’s justice that we might retire the debt we have incurred as a result of our sin against Him?
E. Romans 6:23a says, “For the wages of sin is death…”
F. We know that this death is not only speaking of physical death, for the scriptures are clear that physical death does not retire the debt of our offense.
G. If it did, we would all, having died physically, live eternally in the presence of God.
H. But, we’re told in Revelation 20:15 that, “…whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
I. So by this we can see that everyone is not going to live forever; but some will be removed from God’s presence and cast into an eternal lake of fire.
J. Therefore, we conclude that physical death cannot fully satisfy the justice that God’s holiness demands of our sin debt.
K. So then, eternal death is the only way of God having His justice satisfied because of our offense of sin against His holiness.
L. Thus, we are left with only two options: either we burn forever in an eternal lake of God’s fiery justice; or we receive His pardon, His forgiveness, which releases us from the debt we owe Him as a result of our offense.
M. Second, we need each other’s forgiveness.
N. The first reason we need each other’s forgiveness is that we have not yet been changed into our incorruptible bodies and therefore, offend one another from time to time.
O. The indebtedness incurred as a result of an offense inhibits the operation of a clear relationship with one another as long as the offense remains in place.
P. Since neither you nor I have the means of adequately satisfying the justice that an offense to one’s personhood would require, the only option left for restoring a relationship to good standing is for forgiveness to be extended to the offender by the one who has been offended.
Q. Until the offender has been released from his debt by your forgiveness, you who have been offended hold him in bondage by your unwillingness to release him from the debt of his offense.
R. Well, you might say, “He deserves to be indebted for his offense!”
S. This brings us to the second reason we need each other’s forgiveness.
T. Your unwillingness to forgive your offender also holds you in bondage as you hold him in bondage.
U. Like as he is held in the bondage of debt for his offense, you are held in bondage to bitterness because of your unwillingness to release him; therefore, your unwillingness to forgive, to release him from his debt, holds both you and him in a state of bondage.