Summary: Part one introducing a study through Philemon
The Ability of Forgiveness
Proverbs 19:11; “A person’s insight gives him patience, and his virtue is to overlook an offense.”
It has been said that people pay attention to sermons on forgiveness more than any other subject preached upon. Why is that? Probably because we recognize our need of forgiveness, as well as our need to forgive.
Solomon in his God given wisdom speaks to the realm of forgiveness as he declares the beauty and honor of being able to forgive.
Proverbs 19:11 “A person’s insight gives him patience, and his virtue is to overlook an offense.”
First we need to define forgive.
1. To excuse for a fault or an offense; pardon.
2. To renounce anger or resentment against.
3. To absolve from payment of (a debt, for example).
For the believer:
· Overlooking a transgression is to look beyond the transgression.
· As we forgive we bring glory to God ... for we never more like God than when we forgive.
For the next several weeks we are going to look at this subject of forgiveness by way of the Old Testament book of Philemon. From this study we will look into the character, action and motivation of forgiveness. But before we jump into the study of this small book I want us to look at the "Parts of Forgiveness" ... the Principle, the Parable and the Personal parts of forgiveness.
I. The Principle Part of Forgiveness
Throughout the Scriptures we are taught three basic principles of forgiveness.
Principle 1: Forgive those who sin against us.
Matthew 6:12; “and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 18:21-22; “Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ ‘ I tell you, not as many as seven’, Jesus said to him, ‘ but 70 times seven.’” * It is very important for those of us that are believers in Christ to understand this 1st principle; we must forgive.
Principle 2: Forgive and be forgiven.
Matthew 6:14; “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well.” Luke 6:37; “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
· This is a very simple principle to understand and doesn’t need much explanation. But I must add this:
· This is one of the most misquoted passages of Scripture in the Bible. People often say preacher I don’t go to church and I may not always do what is right but doesn’t the good book say you shouldn’t judge me? Or how about this one; “Don’t judge me because I have one drink every now and then.”
· Well, I just say I’m not judging or condemning you, but I can inspect your fruit.
· This passage of Scripture does not condemn discernment.
Principle 3: Don’t forgive and you won’t be forgiven.
Matthew 6:15; "But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Mark 11:25; “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too."
· Let me add comment to these verses. This is not to say that God will withdraw forgiveness or justification from those who have already received the free pardon He gives freely to all believers. John MacArthur says; “Forgiveness in that sense-a permanent and complete acquittal from all guilt and ultimate penalty of sin-belongs to all who are in Christ. Yet, Scripture also teaches that God chastens His children who disobey. Believers are to confess their sins in order to obtain a day-to-day cleansing. This sort of forgiveness is a simple washing from the worldly defilements of sin; not a repeat of the wholesale cleansing from sin’s corruption that comes with justification. It is like a washing of the feet rather that a bath. Forgiveness in this latter sense is what God threatens to withhold from Christians who refuse to forgive others.
· As principle centered people … we are called upon again and again to forgive. The principles of forgiveness are given priority throughout the scriptures to be placed into practice.
II. The Parable Part of Forgiveness
· Jesus reminds us of the practice of forgiveness through parables. In two parables Jesus points us to forgive like God and not like man. Someone has said, "We are never more like God than when we can forgive others."
· Jesus, using the method He often used by teaching in parables, gives us two great examples of those faced with the decision to forgive
· The Prodigal Son - Forgiving like God
Luke 15:18-20; “I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, "and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants. And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.”