"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."
At the outset of any discussion concerning this verse one must observe closely how it begins. It begins with the word "And", which connects it closely to the previous verse. There are at least three practical reasons for the connection between verses 11 and 12. First of all, we are taught that without God’s forgiveness, all the good things of this life are for nought. What good would the finest food and apparel do a man on death row if he were still under the sentence of death? In much the same way, even the best of God’s physical and material provision would be meaningless if we still lived in spiritual misery because of unforgiven sin. "Our daily bread doth but fatten us as lambs for the slaughter if our sins be not pardoned" (Matthew Henry).
Secondly, we would do well to be reminded that because of our sinfulness we do not deserve any of God’s blessings. It is only because of His mercy that He forgives and provides for us.
Third, Christ would remind us here that our sin is what hinders our receiving from the Lord. We cannot pray "give us" without praying "forgive us" and expect to receive that for which we ask.
In this portion of the "Model Prayer" we see:
I. A CONFESSION OF SINFULNESS
A. Sin as a Desire
1. The Bible teaches that each of us are sinful. We have a nature that is inherited from our original parents, Adam and Eve.
2. We all have a nature that is fundamentally alienated from God.
3. Psalm 51:5
4. Psalm 58:3
5. Ephesians 2:3
6. 1 John 1:8
a. Note the use of the word "sin" in the singular.
b. The word "sin" in the singular is referring to our nature. It refers to sin as a principle, a law, a force, an energy within all of us.
c. To say that we do not possess the desire to sin is to deceive ourselves.
B. Sin as a Deed
1. The sin nature that lies hidden within the hearts of all of us makes itself manifest in the sinful deeds that we do.
2. Ecclesiastes 7:20
3. Romans 3:10
4. Romans 3:23
5. 1 John 1:10
6. We must seek forgiveness daily for the deeds of sin which we commit.
C. Sin as a Debt
1. The word "debt" implies that we owe God something that we have not yet paid, and our failure to pay is sin.
2. We owe God our life.
a. Romans 8:12-13
b. We are obligated to live our lives according to the leading of the Lord through the Holy Spirit. Failure to live by the Spirit puts us in debt to the Lord.
3. We owe God our body.
a. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
b. We become indebted to the Lord when we fail to glorify Him in our body.
4. We owe God our testimony.
a. Romans 1:14
b. We owe it to God to be a witness to others and to share with them the truth of the gospel.
II. A CRY FOR FORGIVENESS
A. Forgiveness is Essential
1. Sin Hurts our Fellowship
a. Isaiah 59:1-2
b. 1 John 1:7
c. While our relationship with our heavenly Father can never be altered, our fellowship with Him can be severed.
2. Sin Halts God’s Blessings
a. Jeremiah 5:25
b. We cannot expect God to shower us with blessings when we live in continual disobedience to and disregard for His Word.
c. How can we rightfully expect to receive when we are actually the ones that owe?
3. Sin Hinders our Praying
a. Psalm 66:18
b. Forgiveness is essential in that without it, our prayers will unheard and unanswered.
c. Proverbs 15:29
B. Forgiveness is Conditional
1. Matthew 6:14-15
2. Our restoration to God’s favor after we’ve prayed for forgiveness is contingent upon our willingness to forgive others.
3. Matthew 18:21-22
4. The point Jesus was making to Peter was that there is to be no limit to our forgiveness, just as there was no limit to God’s willingness to forgive us.
5. People often wonder why their prayers go unanswered, why God seems to be so distant, why they can’t seem to get anything out of their relationship with God. It could very well be because they possess an unforgiving spirit.
6. We cannot rightfully expect to experience the fullness of the Christian life while harboring bitterness and anger and malice in our hearts toward others.