Summary: If we no longer want to feel guilty, or ashamed. If we want to live as if a sinful event in our lives never happened. If we want this, we need to understand the forgiveness of God to us.
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Today we’re starting a new sermon series looking at forgiveness in action under three general titles of forgiving ourselves, forgiving others and then also forgiving God; which seems like a strange thing to say but we'll talk about what that means a when we get there. The focus today is on forgiving ourselves or understanding the forgiveness of the Lord.
On the 19th of April 2005, which was quite a while ago now, the Catholic Church elected a new Pope. That Pope's real name was Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger but everyone knows him as Pope Benedict the 16th.
He’s that Pope that resigned and now Pope Francis is in his place.
Now you probably know these names Pope Benedict, Pope Francis
A name that you probably don't know is Rogers Cadenhead.
He was a very smart guy, he was computer guy, and six months before Pope Benedict was installed and voted on he registered this website www.benedict16th.com.
He guessed what the next Pope was going to be called and so, because he registered this website the Vatican wanted to buy the website from him and they were offering him $20,000 to do that.
So he wrote to the Pope and he said, “I will give you this website in exchange for the Domain but please, can I have these things”.
I want a hat like the pope wears.
I want a free stay at the Vatican hotel.
And I want complete absolution no questions asked for the 3rd week of March 1987.
Signed Rogers Caterham.
It makes you wonder what he did on the 3rd week of March 1987.
Now this situation raises a significant question.
As a Catholic person, a person who grows up in the Catholic faith, if you receive absolution from the Pope, it is as if that event has not occurred.
You are no longer guilty, you don't have to feel ashamed, you can remove that aspect from your memory, you can go on as if it never happened. Now I'm not going to talk now about the theology of the Catholic church but that's just what they believed. But my point for raising this example is this:
Is it true that most of us have our own third week of March 1987 experience?
The thing that we've done, or the things that we do, which we are ashamed about. Which we wished it was as if it never happened.
Maybe it was something in a short space of time:
… a one night stand.
… a few scathing words that broke a relationship.
… an act that you've hidden from everyone.
… a secret you don't want to have revealed.
… unethical decisions.
… a moment you took something that wasn't yours
… the list could go on.
Or maybe it's a lifestyle thing: drugs, alcohol, infidelity, deception, hate, lies, abusiveness and again it's list could go on.
If there was a set of Diaries documenting every second of your life what would you do with those Diaries? Are there pages from some of the diaries that you would rip out?
Would you perhaps take away whole weeks?
Would you want to get rid of the whole diary.
We don't want to feel guilty, we don't want to be in a place where we feel ashamed. We want to remove the event from our memory. We want to go as go on as if it never happened. and it's weighing us down.
That's where Psalm 38 comes to the forefront. Psalm 38 is an incredible Psalm because it's telling us or talking to us about a person who feels weighed down. It's important to read these Psalms because it helps us to recognize the feelings that we go through are feelings that the scriptures understand.
Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
Your arrows have pierced me,
and your hand has come down on me.
Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.
My guilt has overwhelmed me
like a burden too heavy to bear.
My wounds fester and are loathsome
because of my sinful folly.
I am bowed down and brought very low;
all day long I go about mourning.
My back is filled with searing pain;
there is no health in my body.
I am feeble and utterly crushed;
I groan in anguish of heart.
All my longings lie open before you, Lord;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
My heart pounds, my strength fails me;
even the light has gone from my eyes.
My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds;
my neighbors stay far away.