Did you hear about the guy who received his paycheck and the amount was $100 too much. The next week they corrected it and took out $100. So he went to the Payroll office and complained about them making errors. They said, "You didn’t complain last week." The man quickly replied, "Well yeah, I can tolerate one mistake, but it’s getting to be a habit!"
Today I want you to consider the importance of this next Attribute of Our Awesome God. This is an attribute that we all need to experience and understand.
The result of living a life without this attribute is a life of bondage. The bondage that results from not understanding and experiencing this attribute can and will stifle a person’s ability to love and to receive love.
A lack of this attribute will stunt the growth of our marriages and friendships and our relationship with God.
It will keep us from being able to enjoy the salvation that God wants us to experience. It will keep us from enjoying the abundant life that Jesus promised to those who believe Him (John 10:10).
Today I want us to look at forgiveness. God is a God of forgiveness.
How many times have you heard people tell you that God could not possible forgive them for their past? They are in bondage to guilt. They let their guilt tear them apart.
If we have done something to another person and we wanted forgiveness and have not received it, it can make us fell terrible.
How many times have you met people who are unwilling to forgive people for what they have done? I have found that unforgiving people are generally bitter people who are in bondage to their own anger.
A couple married for 15 years began having more than usual disagreements. They wanted to make their marriage work and agreed on an idea the wife had. For one month they planned to drop a slip in a “Fault” box. The boxes would provide a place to let the other know about daily irritations. The wife was diligent in her efforts and approach: “leaving the jelly top off the jar,” “wet towels on the shower floor,” “dirty socks not in hamper,” on and on until the end of the month. After dinner, at the end of the month, they exchanged boxes. The husband reflected on what he had done wrong. Then the wife opened her box and began reading. They were all the same, the message on each slip was, “I love you!”
It is God’s desire that you be free from the bondage of guilt and sin. God does not offer limited forgiveness, but total and complete forgiveness. God is a God of forgiveness.
I. WHAT IS FORGIVENESS?
There are a lot of misconceptions about forgiveness so it would helpful for us to look at:
A. What forgiveness does not mean!
1. It did not matter. If someone has hurt you or if you committed a sin, it does matter. We cannot justify our sin or say that it does not matter to God.
Forgiveness does not mean
2. I will get over it in time. Over time you may forget about your sin or the wrong that you committed against another, but the effects last forever. If you have sinned against God (which we all have), the effects will last forever.
We can think that just because we do not feel an immediate consequence to our sin that God has overlooked it, but the consequences still remain.
When another person wrongs us we may think that time will heal. Forgiveness is more than time healing. At a convention with their wives, two businessmen who had been roommates in college crossed paths. They sat in the lobby all night talking. They knew they would be in trouble with their wives. The next day they happened to see each other. "What did your wife think?" "I walked in the door and my wife got historical." "Don’t you mean hysterical?" "No, historical. She told me everything I ever did wrong."
Forgiveness does not mean
3. There will be no consequences. Many times we feel that if we are forgiven that there will be no consequence to pay. For instance if a person robs a bank and then the bank forgives them, they will still have to suffer the penalty for robbing the bank.
B. Charles Stanley says that forgiveness involves three elements.
1. An injury. A wrong is committed. Pain, hurt, suffering or guilt is experienced.
2. A debt resulting from the injury. There is a consequence that is always detrimental and puts someone into a deficit state of some kind. Physical pain, mental anguish, guilt.
3. A cancellation of the debt.
C. The word forgiveness in the bible literally means to dismiss, pardon or release.
Stephen Brown tells of a new owner of a Rolls Royce whose car broke down in a remote area of France. He called the dealership. They flew a repairman in to fix his car. The next day it was running again and he was on his way. Months later, since he had never received a repair bill, he wrote the company thanking them for being so responsive to his problems when his car broke down in France. In his letter, he asked if they were going to send a bill. Rolls Royce wrote back, "We have no record of any Rolls Royce ever having mechanical problems."
You cannot force someone to give up their right to retribution, they have to give it up. You cannot make someone forgive you; they have to do it on their own accord.
God possesses the attribute of forgiveness. PSALM 130:4 But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared. DAN 9:9 "To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him; PSALM 86:5 For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.
II. MAN NEEDS FORGIVENESS
ROMANS 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
1 JOHN 1:8-10 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
We have all sinned against God, I do not care how perfect some of us think we are, we have all sinned and fallen short of the mark.
There is a penalty that we all must pay for our sin. ROMANS 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is spiritual death (verse 22 context)
If God were not ready to forgive us, then we would have to pay this penalty of eternal punishment. If God wanted justice, if He decided that there is no forgiveness, we would all perish.
Many people are weighed down by their past sins. People need God’s forgiveness in their life. People who are not forgiven are sad people. We are told that we are to forgive each other also. In the model prayer, Jesus asks the Father to forgive us as we forgive those who sin against us.
God will give us the power to forgive. On February 9, 1960, Adolph Coors III was kidnapped and held for ransom. Seven months later his body was found on a remote hillside. He had been shot to death. Adolph Coors IV, then fifteen years old, lost not only his father but his best friend. For years young Coors hated Joseph Corbett, the man who was sentenced to life for the slaying. Then in 1975 Ad Coors became a Christian. While he divested himself of his interest in the family beer business, he could not divest himself of the hatred that consumed him. Resentment seethed within him and blighted his growth in faith. He prayed to God for help because he realized how his hatred for Corbett was alienating him from God and other persons. The day came, however, when claiming the Spirit’s presence, Ad Coors visited the maximum-security unit of Colorado’s Canon City penitentiary and tried to talk with Corbett. Corbett refused to see him. Coors left a Bible inscribed with this message: I’m here to see you today and I’m sorry that we could not meet. As a Christian I am summoned by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to forgive. I do forgive you, and I ask you to forgive me for the hatred I’ve held in my heart for you." Later Coors confessed, "I have a love for that man that only Jesus Christ could have put in my heart."
III. ONLY GOD CAN FORGIVE
If you are going to go to heaven, you need God to be forgiving. You can forgive yourself; you cannot set the terms by which God will forgive you. Other people forgiving us will not suffice either. God has to forgive us.
The Jews understood that only God could forgive sins. (Mark 2:3-12). They got mad when Jesus said He could forgive sins, they wanted to kill Him over making that statement.
The way that we receive forgiveness is through Jesus. This is the way that God chose to exercise forgiveness. You cannot give enough, be good enough, smart enough or pretty enough to receive forgiveness outside of Jesus.
MAT 26:28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.
1JO 1:7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
ACT 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 15 tells us that if Jesus had not been raised from the dead, then we would still be under the punishment for our sins and that our faith is in vain.
1PE 2:24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
READ ROMANS 5:6-8
We can come up with any formula we want, but outside of Jesus there is not forgiveness of sins. Our sins will keep us from God, Jesus says in John 14:6 that He is the way because He paid the price for your sins.
Once a person turns their life over to God and their sins have been forgiven. 1 John 1:9 tells us that if we will confess our sins to God, He will cleanse us of them.
IV. GOD WANTS YOU TO EXPERIENCE FORGIVENESS
1TI 1:15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
Why did God send His son into the world? Why does God want to forgive you? JOHN 3:16-17 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
God wants you to experience His forgiveness in your life. COL 2:13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,
READ EPHESIANS 2:3-10
Have you ever had to ask a person to forgive you? Silly question? How did it feel to know that the person you hurt forgave you?
It feels good to be forgiven. Have you ever asked God to forgive you? God wants to, God wants you to be a part of His family.
Many people go through life in misery. They feel too bad to be forgiven. They feel like they have done too many things to be forgiven. These people have run across people in their lives who would not forgive them so they feel that they are not worthy of God’s forgiveness.
God LOVES you. I cannot stress that enough. Our God is a God of forgiveness. God wants you to be forgiven. He wants it so bad that He provided a way for you to be cleansed. Will you come to Jesus!
If you have been walking with the Lord and there is something in your life that you have not confessed to God and asked to be forgiven, set your guilt aside and ask God, He will forgive you.