Recognizing Jesus - [Luke 3:15-22]


Pastor Mike preaches Recognizing Jesus - [Luke 3:15-22]


How often will your brother sin against you, and you forgive him?
How often will your sister sin against you, and you forgive her? How often will your husband sin against you, and you forgive him?
How often shall your wife sin against you, and you forgive her?
How often will your fellow church member sin against you, and you forgive him or her?
And the list could go on. Parents, children, friends. The question that Peter, the apostle, asked
Jesus, Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?
Today we'll look at that question and answer it biblically, but I have a few more questions first.
Are you, dear Christian, forgiven of all your sins against God? Are you, dear
Christian, understanding the cost of the Lord Jesus as He died for all your sins?
How many sins, dear Christians, have been forgiven you in Christ Jesus? And in light of that, out of obedience and gratitude,
I have a question this morning. Are you a forgiving person? Do you forgive people?
Or do you withhold forgiveness to manipulate, to have leverage, or for some other reason?
And does your forgiveness include complete restoration to fellowship? Very, very important topic because we sin against each other, we sin against God.
And it's a big deal. Lack of forgiveness is not appropriate.
Matter of fact, it's like spiritual cancer. It metastasizes, it kills, it takes over. When you hear the words, you have cancer, you probably never forget those words.
And if you hear the words, I won't forgive you, you'll probably never hear those words like that again.
One of our missionaries, Evan Burns, was at the house, and he had recently lost his wife. I believe Daniel and Kelly were over at the house, and they were not yet married.
And I said to Evan, any advice for this young couple that's about to be married?
And Evan started to cry a little bit. And he said, just be kind to one another, just be kind to one another.
And I'm sure he would agree, just be a forgiving person. If you'll take your Bibles and please turn to Matthew chapter 18, we're going to look at this topic this morning of forgiveness.
After all, we here at Bethlehem Bible Church are a spiritual hospital for spiritually sick people, for sinners needing grace and love and restoration and forgiveness.
And if God forgives and accepts, then we ought to forgive and accept. We sin against God, we sin against others, other people sin against us, and therefore forgiveness is foundational to the
Christian faith and body life. Let me give you some quotes as you're turning to Matthew chapter 18, about forgiveness that are very piercing.
Refusing to forgive is a horrible sin. Forgiveness reflects the character of God. Unforgiveness is therefore ungodly.
The unforgiving spirit is the number one killer of spiritual life. I say to the glory of God in an utter humility, one writer said, that whenever I see myself before God and realize even something of what my blessed
Lord has done for me, I am ready to forgive anybody, anything.
We can always think of some good reason why in any particular case we need not forgive, but that is always an error.
Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has someone to forgive. Nothing causes us to be so nearly resembling
God as forgiveness of sins. If you take a look at this great book,
Matthew chapter 18, you see right there in verse 21, do you not, the question I started off the sermon with.
Peter came up and said to Jesus, Lord, how many times or how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him, as many as seven times?
And of course if you look at the first word in English in Matthew 18 .21, you see the then there, kind of functioning as a time designation, and so what was said earlier.
So let me read Matthew 18 verses 1 and following to catch us up, and then we're going to dive in the topic of forgiveness.
Matthew chapter 18, verse 1. At that time the disciples came to Jesus saying, who's the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me.
Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
Woe to the world for temptations to sin, for it is necessary that temptations come. But woe to the one by whom the temptation comes.
And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.
And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It's better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.
Verse 10, see that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my
Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety -nine on the mountains and go in the search of that one that went astray?
And if he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety -nine that never went astray.
So it's not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.
If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a
Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.
Whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my
Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among you.
So in light of that and church discipline and the concept of forgiveness, then, verse 21,
Peter came up and said to him, Lord, how often will my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times.
I think Peter has learned over the years, he's with Jesus, and he knew that the rabbi said you were supposed to forgive up to three times.
The first time someone sins against you, you forgive. Second time, you forgive. Third time, you forgive.
And Peter's understanding a little bit about mercy and grace, and so instead of saying three times, he's going to double that, plus one, and say, instead of what the rabbis teach, based on Amos chapter 1, about God forgiving three times, they took that out of context, and now they're saying three, and that's it.
Strike one, strike two, strike three, then you're out. And Peter, above and beyond, magnanimously says seven times.
I mean, there's got to be a limit to forgiveness, and so let's just go above and beyond, double that. One writer said, there was something wrong with Peter's approach.
It smacked of rabbi -ism. It sounded as if forgiving spirit were a commodity that could be weighed, measured, and counted, as if it could be parceled out little by little, up to a certain well -defined limit, with further distribution having to stop.
I've doubled the quota for forgiveness. Does forgiveness have a limit?
That's the real question. You mean I have to, at least seven times
Peter says, someone sins against me, I forgive you, they ask for forgiveness, I grant it, and then
I act like it never happened. That's really what forgiveness is. To treat someone as if the offense has never happened.
I'll do that seven times, right? Here's a quote from a rabbi. He who begs forgiveness from his neighbor must not do so more than three times.
Another rabbi. If any man commits an offense once, forgive him. Commits an offense twice, forgive him.
Third time, forgive him. The fourth time, do not forgive him. What did
Jesus say? How did he respond? Verse 22. Jesus said to him,
I do not say to you seven times, but seventy -seven times.
See the dash there? Up to seventy times seventy. That's really what he's saying. But seventy times seven.
Now, I know some of you are math wizards, and I would call you math geeks.
The real geek of all just laughed pretty loud. Is there forgiveness when it comes to the heart?
Well, maybe it's math of forgiveness. Maybe it's factorials, and maybe it's square roots.
You know, let's get down to the math of forgiveness with dividends and differences and algorithms and algebra.
That's what we'll do. We'll figure it all out with coefficients and cosines. I had to look all these up, by the way. Means and modes, percentages and prime numbers, calculus and bar graphs and exponents and equations.
Is that what's going on here? Quantitatively? Let's figure out, is there a limit?
Or is Jesus after, when it comes to forgiveness, we're talking about a heart issue, we're talking about a grace issue, we're talking about something quality, not quantity.
And if you're thinking that way, you're thinking the way Jesus wants you to think. It's not a matter of numbers.
He's not calculating with calculators. It's no limit.
I'm trying to think of things in my life where there's been no limits. One place there was no limits, when you're on the
Autobahn highway in Germany and there's no speed limit. Isn't that fun? The only problem is
I don't have enough money to buy the Lamborghini for the day and rent it. So, I remember one time we were with the kids.
We had some old 2003 Windstar windbag. I don't know what it was.
And I set the miles per hour to miles per hour instead of kilometers per hour. We're going down this big hill, four
Abenroth kids in the back, Kim's in the front, and we're going to try to hit 100 miles an hour. And I can just hear them counting, you know, 85, 90, 95, 94.
Finally, we hit 100 and the whole car burst out. No limits to our speed.
And you got some Porsche driving by you at 200 miles an hour. Are there quantitative issues when it comes to forgiveness and mercy and grace?
See, Peter's thinking numbers, and I think he was learning. It wasn't three times. It's up to seven times. But what is
Jesus really saying? Is grace measurable? Is mercy measurable? Is kindness measurable?
Or did it come from the heart? Love is patient.
Love is kind. It is not jealous. Love does not brag. It is not arrogant. It does not act disgracefully.
It does not seek its own benefit. It is not provoked. And it does not keep an account of wrong suffered.
Turn your Bibles to Genesis 4, please. I want you to know that the Lord Jesus is taking this 70 times 7 from a passage in Genesis 4.
Maybe some of you don't know that. And so I want to bring you there so we can understand what's going on. And so we can see how
Jesus uses this to teach a lesson. And of course, the men would be understanding, oh, we know what
Genesis teaches. And you know Genesis 4 with Cain and Abel.
So let's pick it up in Genesis 4, verse 8 to get some background of Matthew 18 about forgiveness.
Genesis 4, 8. Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against brother
Abel and killed him. And the Lord said to Cain, Where is Abel your brother? I do not know him.
I am my brother's keeper. What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground.
And now you're cursed from the ground which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand.
When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.
Cain said to the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground and from your face
I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and wander on the earth and whoever finds me will kill me.
Then the Lord said to him, Not so. If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.
And the Lord put a mark on Cain lest anyone found him should attack him. Then Cain went away from the presence of the
Lord and settled in the land of Nod east of Eden. Skip down to verse 17 of the same chapter.
Cain knew his wife and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son
Enoch. Enoch was born Irad and Irad fathered Mehuiel and Mehuiel fathered
Menuchiel and Methusiel fathered Lamech and Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was
Ada and the name of the other Zillah. In my mind, I still remember my pastor saying he had wives from A to Z.
Verse 23. Here it is. Lamech said to his wives,
Ada and Zillah hear my voice. The wives of Lamech listen to what I say. I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me.
If Cain's revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech's with unlimited vengeance, with unlimited revenge, with unlimited transgressions,
Lamech's is seventy -sevenfold. It's one thing to have the parameters up to seven, but I want you to know when it comes to being avenged,
Cain might be avenged up to seven times. For me, it's seventy times seven.
You want vengeance? I'll give you the law of the jungle and the law of the jungle is unrestrained violence and vengeance.
You do something to me and you're going to get seventy times seven back. So let's go back to Matthew chapter 18.
Should Christians that have been forgiven respond with the law of the jungle? Unrestrained violence?
Unrestrained vengeance? Or should we, what Peter wrote later in 1 Peter 4 .8, keep fervent in your love one for another because love covers a multitude of sins.
Peter's saying stretch out. Do everything you can to forgive people. By this
Jesus said, all will know you're my disciples if you have love for another. Proverbs 10 .12,
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions. And so Jesus says, when it comes to forgiveness, we're not to start counting.
We're not supposed to add it up. We're supposed to have a heart of forgiveness. As wicked as Lamech's heart was for vengeance, and you do that to me,
I'll do that back to you. The Christian should be different, diametrically opposed. And this is very important because James 3 says, we all stumble in many ways.
And so we sin against people, people sin against us. And now to seal the idea in the minds of the audience, and now you dear congregation with me, the parable is given.
It is well known, and it's convicting right here in Matthew chapter 18. If you are ever preaching, or you ever want to do a
Bible study, and maybe you haven't had the best week, it's been a hard week, what you do is you pick a passage that preaches itself.
That's exactly what this does. It convicts, it brings home the point of 70 times 7, being an attitude of forgiveness, a graciousness about yourself, and Jesus gives this parable, and it is really stunning.
Let's pick it up in verse 23, and there's going to be a king settling a count.
Someone is supposed to get taxes, and come back, and give it to the king, and so there's a time that this is going to happen, and it's happening right now, verse 23.
Therefore, tied in with the forgiveness part, the king of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.
That's reckoning day, it's pay day. You have been out there as my commissioner to get taxes, and to do business for me, and now it's time for us to settle accounts.
Verse 24, when he began to settle, one was brought to him, kind of against his own will, it seems like. He's got to go, he's going to show up, you're going to show up one day, and it's brought to him, who owed him 10 ,000 talents.
Now you can study what a talent is, it's made out of silver or gold, it's probably 75 pounds to 100 pounds, and it's about 6 ,000 days work for one talent.
6 ,000 days of work.
Takes you 1 ,000 weeks to earn one talent, so let's say 20 years. What's the point? Huge debt, can't pay the debt, it's too big.
It's a debt that someone can't pay. It's huge, think of the biggest number you can, 10 million dollars, 20 million dollars, largest denomination back in those days was 10 ,000 or a myriad, and that's what he uses here, it's uncountable.
Solomon in one year, got gold from the people for 666 talents of gold.
Well, he can't pay, verse 25 even tells us that, and since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold with his wife and children and all that he had.
Something's better than nothing and payment to be made. Just a drop in the bucket, but the payment is so large, he can't pay it back.
Now if you're thinking properly, dear Christian, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, I think
Jesus is talking about something here, that my sin debt is so great, so innumerable, so huge, so grand in a negative way, it's unpayable.
I have a debt that I can't pay as a person. I've sinned so many times, what am
I going to do? If you see that, you're seeing the connection that Jesus is making.
The debt for sin that every man owes that they cannot pay, that every woman owes. Verse 26, so the servant fell on his knees, imploring
Him, have patience with me and I will pay you everything. You don't usually do that before a king unless you're really in big trouble and down he goes.
And what does he appeal to? Not justice. Not math.
For mercy. For grace. For kindness. I owe too much.
Can't even make an excuse. Casting himself on the mercy of the king. Casting ourselves on the mercy of God in Christ Jesus.
Reminds me of the tax collector. Unwilling to lift his eyes to heaven, was beating his breast saying, God be merciful to me the sinner.
Martin Luther said before the king drew him to account, he had no conscience. Did not feel the debt. Would have gone right along.
Made more debt. Cared nothing about it. But now that the king reckons with him, he begins to feel the debt.
So it is with us. The greater part does not concern itself about sin. Goes on securely.
Fears not the wrath of God. Such people cannot come to the forgiveness of sin for they do not come to realize that they have sins.
So we too, Luther said, feel in earnest when our sins are revealed in the heart. When the record of our debts is held before us.
Then we exclaim, I'm the most miserable man. Please have mercy. Verse 27.
And out of pity for him, generously, compassionately, out of pity for him, the master of that servant, that one in debt, who could never pay it, released him and forgave him the debt.
No conditions. Pure grace. Didn't have to do anything in order to have it done. Didn't have to be better.
Didn't have to strive to be more holy. Demerited favor. That's what grace is. People like to say, well, grace is unmerited favor, but it's demerited favor.
We earn something negatively and we get something positively. Grace is demerited favor. A debt that he could never repay.
I mean, doesn't that describe us when the Bible teaches that when we were helpless, the right time Jesus died for us, we could never get ourselves right in God's eyes?
He didn't even say, give me time. I've got another strategy. I need help.
He just appeals to His mercy. His compassionate love. Okay, so far so good.
We think that's just wonderful. This is how God forgives. And that's how He does forgive in Christ Jesus, freely.
At a cost to the Son, yes, but to us, free. Saved by grace alone through faith alone.
But there's a scorpion's sting in this tale in the second stage. Now you'd expect someone who'd been forgiven like that to be a forgiving person.
You'd expect someone like that to just say, do you know what? I've received mercy. I'm going to be merciful. I've been forgiven.
I'm a forgiver. That's what you'd think. Verse 28, but when that saved servant went out, he found.
He went looking for. He went to go exact something from someone. He went out.
He found one of his fellow servants who owed him 100 denarii, three months' wages, seizing him, began to choke him, saying, pay what you owe.
I mean, how harsh can this be? How crazy can this be? How satanic can this be? How unlike God can this be?
How unlike people that are forgiven can this be? He took him by the throat.
By the way, back in those days, especially in the Roman culture, if someone owed you money and they couldn't pay, you'd literally grab them by the throat, and oftentimes you'd push your face, your hand in their face so much, right at the nose, you'd make sure their nose would bleed, and you'd drag them into court, choking them, strangling them, throttling them.
The Greek word that's up front that shows him phatic position is pay. You pay me.
And instead, he grabs his neck and wrenches his neck until his nose is bleeding. I mean,
I just think this is bizarre. It's bizarro world. It's ludicrous. It's unthinkable. It's preposterous.
It's nightmarish. Verse 29. Remind you of anything?
So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, have patience with me and I will pay you.
Don't you think something should have gone off in that person's mind who was trying to exact the money? That's how
I acted, and then I got mercy. I got grace. Have patience with me and I'll pay you.
He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servant saw what had taken place, that they were greatly distressed, and went and reported to their master all that had taken.
Then his master summoned him and said to him, you wicked servant, I forgave you all the debt because you pleaded with me, all those talents, and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant as I had mercy on you?
By the way, verse 33 is the answer to Peter's question. How many times should we forgive? He gives the answer right there.
Shouldn't you have mercy? If you've received mercy, shouldn't you give mercy? And verse 34 says,
And in his anger, his master delivered him to the jailers until he should pay all his debt. Jailers is a bad translation.
It's tormentors. It's torturers. Probably used here only in the New Testament. You would torture criminals.
Debtors you wouldn't normally torture, but this kind of debtor, you torture. Pinching the flesh and pulling out eyes and taking their skin off while they're alive.
So also, verse 35, and here's the conviction. My Heavenly Father will do to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother from the heart.
Our sins are great. God freely in Christ Jesus forgives all of them.
What people do to us is relatively small compared to what we've done to God.
We've been freely forgiven, so we should freely forgive. And if we don't, as Christians, we'll never be condemned, but we will be chastened.
And if you're not a Christian, you will be condemned for your lack of forgiveness. We've been forgiven so much and that we withhold forgiveness.
We withhold the restoration that must come with forgiveness. You can't say, well, I forgive the person, but we don't have that restoration anymore.
Forgiveness is given and granted and restoration is included. So I ask you the question, is there anyone that you need to forgive?
Is there anyone you need to forgive? You've received grace upon grace upon grace.
Your sins are immeasurable like my sins are immeasurable, and they're permanently forgiven by God.
You say, I can't forgive them. Then might I just kindly say to you, that's wrong, you won't forgive them.
You can, but you won't. Is there someone in your family that you need to forgive? Is there someone here at church you need to forgive?
I love Jerry Bridges for lots of reasons and he talks a lot about preaching the Gospel to yourself.
I think that helps with forgiveness. Bridges. To preach the Gospel to yourself then means that you continually face up to your own sinfulness and then flee to Jesus through faith and His shed blood and His righteous life.
It means that you appropriate again by faith the fact that Jesus fully satisfied the law of God. That He is your propitiation.
That God's holy wrath is no longer directed at you. And you can be sure of one thing. When you set yourself to seriously pursue holiness, you'll begin to realize what an awful sinner you are.
And if you're not firmly rooted in the Gospel and have not learned to preach to yourself every day, you'll soon be discouraged and slack off in your pursuit of holiness.
We are a forgiven people and therefore we ought to forgive other people. Ephesians 1
In Him, Jesus, we have the redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.
We're forgiven. And you think about back in the day of atonement, back in Israel's day, in Leviticus chapter 16.
Remember, He had two goats. One goat was for the payment of sins and it was killed. And another goat was the scapegoat and it ran off into the wilderness far, far away, meaning sins are long gone.
They're far away. And that's what happens when the Lord Jesus pays for our sins. There's the penalty that's been paid and it's like they're gone.
They're just forever gone. Partially? No. Fully. They're sent away.
And of course, our sins against God are a lot worse than someone's sins against us because we're finite, we're sinful, and God is thrice holy.
Forgiveness of all our trespasses. And therefore, we won't forgive someone else.
I love Micah 7. He will tread our iniquities underfoot. He'll cast all their sins in the depths of the sea.
Jeremiah 31, I'll forgive their iniquity and end their sin. I will remember no more. I quoted earlier in the prayer, as far as the east is from the west, so far has
He removed our transgressions from us. Isaiah 38, you've cast all my sins behind your back.
No wonder David exclaims, how blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
But since that's true of us, we ought to be forgiving people. Colossians 2, when you were dead in your transgressions and uncircumcision of your flesh,
He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions. You say, but they keep coming to me all the time for the exact same sins.
Do I have to forgive them? Answer, Jesus said in Luke 17,
Be on your guard. If your brother sins, rebuke him. And if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day and returns you seven times saying,
I repent, forgive him. That must be hard because the apostles then say what? Increase our faith.
The same person keeps sinning against you the exact same way for 10 years in a marriage, 20 years in a marriage, 50 years in a marriage.
Do you still say, well, you know what? Your repentance isn't good enough. I'll tell you when I'll forgive you or not.
Or do you do what Jesus says and say, I forgive you. Doesn't mean you don't deal with the sin, but you forgive.
God goes on record and says, I will remember your sins no more. Remember later in the
Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches the disciples to pray this way. He never prayed this way himself.
That's why it's not really the Lord's prayer. It's the disciples prayer. Forgive us our debts. Jesus didn't sin, but he tells the other men, forgive us our debts as we've also forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive men of their transgressions, your heavenly
Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
In other words, Christians forgive. They're a forgiving person. Turn if you would to Ephesians chapter 4.
We've been in Ephesians 4 quite a bit throughout the years, but I want to remind you one more time as I think about how important forgiveness is.
The older we get, the younger we are, and everything in between, forgiveness is vital.
And I assume, by the way, as we walk around here at Bethlehem Bible Church, that everyone here is right with me and good with me until you say something.
And if you say, well, Mike, you've sinned in this way or that way, and we need to restore, and we need to reconcile, and we need to do that, fine.
But we're not going to be walking around thinking everybody's mad at us, and it's counseling, rebuking all the time.
When you see other Christians at the church, you should be thinking, everything's good between me and them until one of us goes to the other and works it out.
And so Paul has been talking about being in Christ Jesus for all these chapters, and he talks about how the
Spirit of God helps us live out the Christian life. Not just Christ for us, justification, but Christ in us by the
Spirit of God for holy living. Ephesians 4, verse 31.
By the way, this is a struggle for me because I know when I'm not a forgiving person, it's the bitterness that strikes my heart, and Ephesians 4, verse 31 talks about, basically, it's a list of what people are like when they're not forgivers.
Ephesians 4, verse 31, let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with all malice.
Just get rid of all that. It's just gross. When they said of Jesus with the same words, away with him, crucify him.
Just get rid of all this. Shove it aside. Discard it. Bitterness?
It's got that bitter, pungent taste in your mouth having some kind of lemon or something, but that's now our countenance, this brooding, grudge -filled attitude.
Bitter. By the way, never used of God. Never used of Jesus. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.
What's that mean? Because if we're not careful, that's what happens.
Nursed grievances. Then he says wrath, kind of this explosive anger.
Anger, this swelling, festering passion. Clamor, crying out, shouting, raising your voice.
Am I raising my voice right now? I was to make it point to raise my voice.
I wasn't clamoring. Slander.
Because if there's no forgiveness, you're not good, then you talk about people behind their backs, what they did to you, how often they did it to you.
Malice. Instead of love, it's just evil. Satanic is really what it is. So what do you do instead?
Well, we see it in chapter 4, verse 32. And literally become, not just be, but become kind to one another, tender -hearted, forgiving each other just as God in Christ has forgiven you.
Be kind to one another. The Bible teaches in 1 Corinthians 13, love is kind.
Considerate. Also tender -hearted. Compassionate.
That's what that means. Moved in your inner being to do something for someone to help. And here we focus on become forgivers.
Just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Now sometimes the word forgive, as I said before, just means to go away.
To let go. Here it's interesting, it's a wonderful word. It means to grace someone.
See it? Forgiving each other. Literally can be translated, gracing one another. Yes, but they keep doing it over and over.
Grace. Yes, but they didn't earn it. Grace. But they weren't contrite enough. Grace. But they did it again tomorrow.
Grace. To grace.
Acting in grace towards one another. Why? Because you've been graced, you do that for other people.
I remember one man said, if Christianity is known by forgiveness, I sure like to know where those
Christians are to be with them. Your forgiveness and mine should be modeled, you see it in the text, just as modeled after God's forgiveness.
Whatever the person has done, how many times they've done it. I just heard someone say a while ago, an evangelical celebrity superstar, if you keep sinning the same sins that you used to sin when you first got saved 30 years ago, how can you call yourself a
Christian? I thought that's so wrong. Don't we struggle with the same sins? Maybe we repent faster, maybe we deal with it more often, maybe we don't struggle as long, but the same sins of pride and selfishness and self -righteousness and lust of the eyes and pride of life,
I mean, we still struggle. And here he says, I want you to freely and fully forgive.
Instead of like, I'm going to keep this sin back here that you've committed against me because I use it as some kind of,
I can manipulate you by not forgiving you. That's not how you were forgiven, dear Christian.
That's not how I was forgiven. So I don't want to do that. I don't want to be that wicked servant. The servant that said,
I have everything forgiven and now I'm going to go out and find people and tell them, you know what, you did this to me and I'll teach you not to mess with me.
Luther one day was dreaming that Satan was attacking him. And Satan had a long scroll of all the sins that Luther ever did in this dream.
Satan listed all his sins, got to the end of the scroll and Satan was asked by Luther, is that all?
No, came the reply and a second scroll was thrust in front of him. And then came a third.
Luther said, you've forgotten something. Quickly write on each one of those scrolls, the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanses us from all sins.
Every week here at the church, we're learning about Jesus and His grace and His goodness because the paradigm is we were guilty in Adam, we were graced in Christ Jesus, the last
Adam, and we respond out of gratitude. And if we have been so graced, we want to make sure we extend that grace to other people.
People walking around the church. May it never be that walking around the church afraid, ashamed, ostracized because they sin.
We're going to ostracize people? May it never be because they sin? I thought this was a congregation full of sinners.
I thought Paul says, it's a trustworthy saying deserving of full acceptance that I am the chief of sinners.
Right? That I am the foremost of sinners. Present tense. We forgive.
Yeah, but if I forgive too much, they are going to somehow take advantage of me.
Doesn't that sound like the argument that goes on and says, you know what?
We are so justified in Christ Jesus. We are so reckoned righteous in Christ Jesus. Jesus has so taken our sin that somehow we might want to sin so grace might abound.
It's the exact same argument. It's the exact same argument. If there's too much grace, people are going to run wild.
And Paul says, no, that's not the case at all. It's grace that motivates. It's grace that restrains. It's Jesus and the
Spirit of God who helps us understanding grace and then we move forward. There's no danger of taking grace too far, forgiving too much.
When we say I can't forgive, it's really I won't forgive. I won't forgive like I've been forgiven.
I don't want to be that way. Do you? I know you don't either. Satan tries to trick us.
2 Corinthians 2 By whom you forgive anything, I forgive also, for indeed what I have forgiven. If I have forgiven anything,
I did it for your sakes in Christ. In order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan, for we're not ignorant of his schemes.
What's the scheme? Don't give people forgiveness. Don't grant forgiveness. Control them by manipulating them, by working around them.
Say, well, the people that I need to forgive the most, they're not even on this earth anymore. So just talk to the
Lord. We don't talk to dead people. What if I can forgive people, but I can't forget them doing those things to me?
There's a man named Manasseh, Joseph's son, and his name means who causes to forget.
What causes to forget? One man said, forgetting is passive and is something we non -omniscient humans can do.
Not remembering is active. It's a promise whereby God determines not to remember the sins of others against Him.
And you say, well, it's easy for you to say, Mike, you don't know what this person did to me. True.
But the Lord does. The Lord does, and He can help you. Say, well, my biggest problem is
I just can't forgive myself. That's not even biblical.
Forget all that about forgiving yourself. You go to the Lord. Are you convicted?
I'm convicted. And if you're not convicted, then someone will surely offend you this week. I always think to myself,
Lord, I want to preach it, but I'm going to have to live it. This also cures other things.
People say, well, I've been burned by the local church. You know what? Welcome to the club. I probably wouldn't brag and say
I've been burned more than you. Well, where else am I going to go? Right? You've been burned by the local church?
Okay. Forgive. Restore. Grant forgiveness. Talk to them.
Work through it. I'm not saying there's never time. You can't work through these things. But at the end of the day, please forgive me. I forgive you.
And then it's back to go with other Christians to worship the risen Savior. I want to be a forgiver.
I know you do too. I read about a couple in England who were married for 30 years.
The first 18 years? Good. The last 12 years, the
Daily Express says they lived their lives so that they wouldn't have to meet each other.
When one would come into the house, the other would leave. And when they did communicate with each other, it was with notes.
The last 12 years, they didn't even speak to each other. And the lawyer said it was ironic because neither of them could remember why they started the fight in the first place.
But even if you can remember, we are to be forgiving people. And that includes full restoration in the marriage, friendship, and in the body.
Aren't you glad you're forgiven? Then be a forgiver. Let's pray. Thank you,
Father, for your word. I stand convicted and humbled and thankful that I'm forgiven.
And on behalf of these dear people here at Bethlehem Bible Church, I know they think the same way. Would you help our church to be a forgiving church, a loving church, a church that's about grace?
It's our motto here at the church, Colossians 128, Him we proclaim.
The Lord Jesus we proclaim. And we would recognize, Father, that He is grace incarnate. And He sought us and bought us with His redeeming blood for no reason except grace.
So would you help us not to be bitter people, not to be angry people, clamoring and holding back forgiveness, but granting it freely just as we have been granted it freely in the