Summary: We may say that we forgive, but when the next irritation arises we are quick to dredge up the past problems. We like to "bury the hatchet" with the handle sticking out. That way we can easily pick it up again and use it to our advantage.

Matthew 6:12, 14-15

Purpose: To highlight the importance of forgiveness.

Aim: I want the listener to value their forgiveness and practice it.

INTRODUCTION: There is a lot of confusion about forgiveness. Here is an example. Old Joe was dying. For years he had been at odds with Bill, who used to be one of his best friends. Wanting to clear his conscience, he sent word for Bill to come and see him. When Bill arrived, Joe told him that he was afraid to go into eternity with bad feelings between them. Then, very reluctantly and with great effort, Joe apologized for the things he had said and done. He also assured Bill that he forgave him for his offenses. Everything seemed fine until Bill turned to go. As he walked out of the room, Joe called out after him, "By the way, if I get better, this conversation didn't happen!"

What a picture of the way we often treat one another! The forgiveness we offer is often superficial, and can be given with a selfish motive. Maybe it's to appear spiritual, or just to quiet our conscience. We may say that we forgive, but when the next irritation arises we are quick to dredge up the past problems. We like to "bury the hatchet" with the handle sticking out. That way we can easily pick it up again and use it to our advantage.

In order to understand what Jesus means about forgiveness in the Lord's Prayer we must first ask,

► I. Why is Sin a Problem?

We all know that sin is "bad" but why is it "bad"?

To begin with, the Bible is clear that sin is a problem that affects every single human being.

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (NAU)

Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; (NAU)

Romans 5:19 For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners.... (NAU)

► A. Sin causes misery

Job 5:7 For man is born for trouble, As sparks fly upward. (NAU)

Isaiah 57:21 "There is no peace," says my God, "for the wicked." (NAU)

Sin ruins relationships, causes bitterness, steals joy, affects our health, and generally makes life hard.

Even nature itself is affected by sin. Romans 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. (NAU)

The frustrations of earning a living are rooted in sin. Genesis 3:17--19 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it'; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. "Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, ..." (NAU)

This is why Paul said, Romans 8:23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. (NAU)

► B. Sin rules our emotions

John 3:19 "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. (NAU)

► C. Sin glorifies Satan

Ephesians 2:1--2 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. (NAU)

► D. Sin deserves God's wrath

Ephesians 2:3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. (NAU)

Why did Jesus have to die on the Cross? He had to endure the wrath of God in order to pay for sin. When Jesus was praying to His Father in Gethsemane (just before His crucifixion) He said, Matthew 26:39 ... "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." (NAU) The CUP refers to the wrath of God. Revelation 16:19 ... the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath. (NAU)

► II. What Kinds of Forgiveness are there?

► A. Eternal forgiveness

We need legal forgiveness before we can pray "Our Father." Romans 3:24--26 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (NAU)

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