Summary: Forgiveness is first and foremost a matter between us and God rather than us and others. We are released once again into rich fellowship with our heavenly Father when we release others from their debt to us because God has asked us to.
THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS
This week we learned through the news media of the sentencing of three youths for the murder of Nachatter Singh Bola who was on holiday on Scotland and was killed by the intoxicated youths for a kebab takeaway he was on his way home with. It's one of many senseless deaths that occur in similar circumstances in various places throughout the world. How does it make you feel? Angry, sad, bewildered, screaming out for justice? We watched as his brokenhearted wife told of how she no longer has a breadwinner to care for her children in India, and how the shock and sorrow of what had happened had contributed to the death of the victim's father -- the grandfather to his children.
I came across another story this week -- the murder of a 20 year old pizza delivery lad in San Diego in 1995
Tariq Khamisa was delivering a pizza when a 15 year old boy tried to rob him of it. When Tariq refused to give it to him Tony Hicks pulled out a gun and shot Tariq, killing him. Tony Hicks was caught and brought to trial (Imprisoned). Tariq Kamisa's father was brokenhearted. It left him feeling depressed and suicidal. Then came the day when Tony Hicks grandfather asked to meet with the father of murdered Tariq to offer his condolences (Tony Hicks had been raised by his grandfather). Tony Hicks also asked for forgiveness. What was the father of the murdered boy, Azim, Khamisa, going to do? (Will tell you later)
POINT In our series on the road to maturity I am going to speak this morning on the powerful effect of removing a major roadblock on the road to maturity -- the roadblock of unforgiveness.
This is a sermon on the power of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a major theme in the Bible.
It was something Peter struggled with:
Matthew 18:21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"
How many times have we asked the same question?
Jesus answer 'seventy times seven' is uncompromising. This illustrates the importance of forgiveness.
Resentment is a powerful force. Its grip on us can feel unbreakable. But forgiveness has a greater power, and if we have been caught in the grip of resentment we can experience the far greater power for us and for others when finally we choose to forgive.
READING Matthew 18:21-35
THE STORY -- What's what?
It's about the attitude and actions of a person who was forgiven an enormous debt (ten million pounds), to a person who owed him very little by contrast (a hundred pounds).
It illustrates the foolishness of the man. But we should remember that in condemning him we also condemn ourselves if we are doing the same.
The Bible tells us that there are two things that are ESSENTIAL for a Christian and ESSENTIAL before we die:
* One is that we die forgiven by God
* The other is that we die having forgiven others their sin against us
God placed such a high importance on our being forgiven that he went to extreme lengths to make it possible for us to be forgiven.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1. THE NEED FOR FORGIVENESS
Because we are all sinners and sin breaks down relationships. And this is never truer when it comes to our relationships with God.
WORDS TRANSLATED SIN
Hamartia - A shooting word: To miss the target
Look at what God says in the Bible that we should do.
Set out to be perfect for one day
Take a note of the times you fall short of this
(Even those who set rules for themselves rather than follow God's rules still break them)
Paraptoma - Slip across a boundary [THOSE ARRESTED IN IRANIAN WATERS]
Christian not displaying tax disc
Parabis - Step across a boundary (From right to wrong)
Anomia - Deliberately breaking God's laws
Deliberately doing wrong
Opheilema - Debt
(Failure to pay what is due)
ILLUSTR -- Tax returns
Sin, like an unpaid debt, has a penalty.
When God forgives he drops the charge and no longer requires that a penalty be paid.
Remove barriers to reconciliation and fellowship