Summary: we must free ourselves of our past and others that have sinned against us so that we can truly enjoy the joy of being forgiven ourselves. I am not the original author of this entire sermon, some of it has been shared from other sermons and some original
Many of us live in fear in our daily lives because of our past sins. Many of us have been frozen by our past sins against someone or even more so, a past sin someone has committed against us. Think about it! How many of us do not move on in our Christian walk because we can’t forgive ourselves for something we’ve done. How many of us get mad at God because we are mad about a certain circumstance? Or how many of us can’t let go of some wrong that someone has done to us? You see, to forgive someone in a way that honors our Savior is to not only forgive but to forget. Stop and consider salvation. When we accept Jesus and what the Lord has done for us, He gives us a clean slate. That’s what we are supposed to do when it comes to forgiving others. We are to forgive as Christ has forgiven us and be done with it. Definition of forgive… there are a couple I’d like to share today. The first one is to stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake. The second one is to “cancel a debt.”
As we enter into what we like to call the holiday season, I believe we need to set each other free… Jesus came so that we can be free. We spoke about that last week. He died once for all and His forgiveness set us free from the bondage of sin. I’d like to share from Matthew chapter 6 verses 14-15 today.” For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” These are red letter words. These words came from the mouth of Jesus. These words are just after the instructions on how we should pray. The Lord’s Prayer is in the verses above, let’s go to verse 12: “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Jesus says we are to ask God to forgive us just as we forgive others. There is a reason Jesus mentions forgiveness directly after finishing this prayer. He stresses forgiveness because it is paramount to freedom. It is something that I believe we all have struggled with, are struggling with, or will struggle with during our lifetimes. I’ve thought about that a lot. Did you know that if God forgives me like I forgive others I am in trouble? I say that because, like most other humans, I do forgive, but I don’t forget. Hebrews 8:12 says “FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE.” This is part of the new covenant, the covenant that began with Jesus coming into this world in a lowly manger, humble and meek. To receive this promise in the new covenant, we have to accept it.
You see, there are 2 parts to forgiveness. It has to be offered and it has to be accepted.
A person sitting on death row, in a prison, sweating it out, hoping, praying, and waiting for a word of pardon would be foolish to turn it down if it came through! Hebrews 8:12 again in The New Living Translation (NLT), says this: "And I will forgive their wrongdoings, and I will never again remember their sins." The Message Bible (MSG) states it this way: "By coming up with a new Plan, a new Covenant between God and His people, God put the old Plan on the shelf. And there it stays, gathering dust."
The story is told of a young man sitting on "Death Row" in a Pennsylvania state penitentiary, who turned down his pardon. The public was shocked when the warden of the prison walked down "Death Row" to the cell where the young man was awaiting the coming hour of death. Excitement and tenseness filled the entire cell block as the warden broke the news that the governor had sent a pardon. "I don’t want it! Let me alone. I want to die!" came the startling reply from the young man in his cell - he refused all pleas and insisted on his right to die."
The law books were examined and a special legislature session was called to determine what action should be taken in the matter. The law makers concluded that a pardon must be accepted in order for it to be valid. The young man, refusing to receive the pardon, took the long walk to the sound of "Dead Man Walking" and paid the supreme penalty - going out to meet Almighty God! Many people said that the young man was crazy - that he was a fool! Perhaps they were right; yet, multitudes of people continually refuse Almighty God’s offer of pardon from the penalty of sin - the "second death" - Eternal separation from Almighty God in Eternal torment!