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Summary: I want you to know tonight that you can enjoy the benefits of forgiveness. You are free to forgive. You are free to accept forgiveness.

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REVIVAL 2003: FREEDOM

FREE TO FORGIVE

COLOSSIANS 3:12-17

INTRODUCTION [summarize]

BALTIMORE, MD - If one is angry about being diagnosed with the HIV virus, can that hamper his or her immune system? If bitter about how one was infected, is that person at higher risk of infecting others in retaliation? And, if people forgive themselves and/or others for contracting the disease, does that make them stronger, help them live longer and help halt the progressive spread of AIDS? The Institute of Human Virology, a first-of-its-kind center with epidemiologists, basic researchers and physicians working side-by-side under one roof to hasten the progress of scientific discovery, has kicked off a two-year study looking at the effects psychological and spiritual attitudes may have on the immune systems of patients with HIV - and the preventive role they may play in the transmission of the virus that causes AIDS. Two hundred HIV-positive patients will be enrolled in the HIV study, which is designed to better assess the relationship between psychological and spiritual attitudes -- specifically forgiveness -- and HIV health outcomes. The Institute of Human Virology’s clinical team will oversee the medical components of the study. The HIV study also will examine the possible impact of forgiveness on patients’ emotional well-being, the care of their own health and the health of others, engagement in treatment and adherence to medical regimens. It is hypothesized that being able to forgive and forget, to let go of angry thoughts and feelings, may promote the body’s natural ability to return hyper-aroused physiological systems back to more normal levels of homeostasis, Dr. Temoshok explains. This state of homeostasis is critical in maintaining an even keel, slowing the progression of AIDS and in maintaining a higher quality of life.

Emotional coping and adaptation appear consistently in the literature as key among non-medical factors predictive of health outcomes, says Dr. Temoshok. We must evaluate the contribution that factors such as forgiveness may have on health -- both across the board and for those already afflicted with serious and chronic life-threatening conditions. (http://www.ihv.org/news/psychological.html)

The medical community is just beginning to look at this religious idea of forgiveness as more than it appears to be. The medical community is starting to see that forgiveness has affects on a person, physically, emotionally, mentally, and of course spiritually. I want you to know tonight that you can enjoy the benefits of forgiveness. You are free to forgive. You are free to accept forgiveness.

READ COLOSSIANS 3:12-17 = “12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

I. THE SITUATION: “Our Identity”

Colossians 3 and other passages in Scripture such as 1 Peter 2:8-10 describe Christians as the people of God chosen by grace to be His ambassadors and examples in the world. As Christians, we are precious to God and He loves us. As Christians, we are an army of royal priests who declare the message of Christ. As Christians, we are a holy nation committed to Him. As Christians, we are a people belonging to God.

Colossians 3 goes a step further than some other passages and describes for us the attitudes and actions of a person chosen by God. God’s Chosen People, those who are holy and loved by God, are people who act a certain way and hold certain attitudes. A person who is God’s Chosen has these attitudes and actions

[Definitions from Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology]:

§ Compassion and Kindness and Gentleness = the disposition that fuels acts of kindness and mercy. Compassion, a form of love, is aroused within us when we are confronted with those who suffer or are vulnerable. Compassion often produces action to alleviate the suffering, but sometimes geographical distances or lack of means prevent people from acting upon their compassionate feelings.

§ Humility = Biblical humility is grounded in the character of God. The Father stoops down to help the poor and needy; the incarnate Son exhibits humility from the manger to the cross. The dual use of "meek" and "humble in heart" in Matthew 11:29 emphasizes Christ’s humility before humankind, whom he came to serve and his submission before God. The Christian ought to emulate Christ’s example of meekness and humility.

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