Summary: We allwant total forgiveness from God... but we need to learn how He wants us to Totally Forgive one another.
“Total Forgiveness- Part 1”
Text: Ephesians 4:30-5:2
In the name of our Loving God, who Totally Forgives us ALL of our sins, Dear friends in Christ. Today we’re going to focus on a very, very important and essential doctrine of the Christian Church... Forgiveness. In fact, if you take away the doctrine of Forgiveness... is there really any reason for us to keep gathering as Christians?? I mean, that IS what we mainly come to this place to hear... God’s Word’s of Forgiveness, right? Take that a step further. If you take away the doctrine of Forgiveness is there any reason whatsoever to keep believing in Jesus Christ?? If you don’t want or need Forgiveness... then you don’t want or need a Savior who died to Forgive your sins. And if you don’t need a Savior, then you don’t need Jesus Christ.
But God HAS shown us our desperate need for a Savior. The Holy Spirit has opened our eyes to see our hopeless, sinful condition and it’s damning consequences. And He has led us to believe in Jesus who died so that all our sins and offenses could be Forgiven. That is beautiful and freeing news to people who have recognized that they were slaves to sin. The words from God that “You are Forgiven” lift a crushing burden from our minds and our souls. It reconciles us with our Heavenly Father and unites us with Him. Now we can live in peace with Him, knowing that we are not enemies of His anymore. And we have the peace of knowing that His wrath and punishment have been taken away from us.
That’s why I say that the doctrine of Forgiveness is so important and essential to us Christians. But Forgiveness is not just vertical between us and God. He makes it very clear in the Bible that His Forgiveness must also extend horizontally... between us human beings. I submit to you that THIS aspect of the doctrine of Forgiveness is probably THE MOST neglected and misunderstood doctrines in the Christian Church. This became clear to me when I recently read a book called “Total Forgiveness” by R.T. Kendall. You may not think that this is a subject that a Pastor struggles with, but I can tell you I was!! And R.T. Kendall is a also a Pastor who struggled with the same thing. Thankfully he pointed out the treasures of what God says about Forgiveness in the Bible... and I can honestly tell you it has helped me and changed me. And I want the same thing for you. Because if you will listen to what God says about Forgiveness, it will lift a burden from you and give you a peace that you’ve been missing out on.
Look at what St. Paul says in our Epistle Lesson. He starts off by saying, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God...” How do we “grieve” the Holy Spirit? Paul explains by giving us a list of things we are to get rid of in our lives: “bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Think about it for just a minute. ALL of those behaviors are the result of not Forgiving someone. And it grieves God to see us living this way. It grieves Him just like it grieves an earthly father when his children refuse to forgive and live in peace with each other. So Paul encourages us to get rid of that sinful behavior by being “kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Forgiveness will wipe out the mean and hateful attitudes in our lives.
I’ve got news for you. Forgiveness of each other IS NOT OPTIONAL for Christians!! It is a COMMAND from God. Turn to Matthew 6 and see what Jesus says there. He just gave His Disciples the Lord’s Prayer. In verse 12, Jesus says we are to pray to God: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Then in verses 14 & 15, notice which of the petitions He chose to elaborate on. Jesus says, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Whoa!!! Did you think about that the last time you said the Lord’s Prayer?? Or how about when you asked God to Forgive you at the beginning of this service?? If you are refusing to Forgive somebody, then you are basically asking God to treat you the same way!! Is that what you want?? Limited or partial forgiveness from God?? I sure don’t!! And I don’t think you do either. We want Total Forgiveness from Him... so we need to Forgive others in the same way.