Two weeks ago the Holy Spirit asked us to look at ourselves and ask some tough questions: “Why do I keep doing that?” “Is it in our nature to continue to walk in rebellion from God and walk in sin? “
We heard that in John Wesley’s sermon “On Sin in Believers” he writes that “sin remains, but it does not reign!” (by the way, that is my new favorite saying!)
I quoted my friend Steve Holland: “Good enough, isn’t.” and read 2 Corinthians 7:11
2 Corinthians 7:11 (NLT) 11 Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.
When we are convicted of our sin, it should make us sorrowful, virtually consume us in our desire to overcome and not allow it to reign, it should be our most heartfelt desire to correct that sin.
We learned how to recognize sin through Romans 7:7-25
And that we are all sinners.
Timothy 1:15 (NLT) 15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all.
And that we have God’s power to avoid falling into temptation:
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
We learned 7 steps we can take to avoid temptation and sin:
- Read scripture.
- Avoid places of temptation, especially those that you know are a distraction to you.
- Change your patterns. If you know you get mad when certain things happen, change the situation so you don’t get mad.
- Read scripture.
- Get in relationship with Christians.
- Pray and listen to the Holy Spirit every day.
- Read scripture.
And finally we learned in Matthew 6:15 that we must forgive men their trespasses. Please turn to:
Matthew 6:9-15 (NKJV)
9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.[a] 14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
The Holy Spirit directed me to focus on forgiving ourselves two weeks ago, but that isn’t the only part of this verse. This verse is so incredibly important, so vital to our eternal life. Vs 15 reads: “but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
What happens to us if God does not forgive our sins? What happens if God holds us responsible for our own actions, our own thoughts, our own failings? God tells us what happens when we die without Christ, and without forgiveness: Matthew 18:8 (NKJV) 8 “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. Jude 1:7, 12-13 (NKJV) 7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. 12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; 13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
So what are we supposed to do? How do we live so that we know that we are forgiven?
Ephesians 4:30-33 (NLT) 30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Forgiving one another as God through Christ has forgiven you. What an incredible reminder, what a perfect place to be in our relationship with Christ and with God: Knowing that we are such sinners, yet also knowing that through Christ we have the forgiveness of God. Just thinking about it makes me warm and fuzzy…. But there is a catch, God wants us to be kind and tenderhearted and forgiving to each other. So why is it that God wants us to forgive one another? What is so important about forgiveness that we can lose all communication with God over it?
Matthew 5:20-24 (NKJV) 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Christ also speaks to Peter about forgiveness and gives us a parable about what happens to servants who do not forgive others.
Matthew 18:21-36 (NKJV) 21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
Oh man…I have to forgive all those people who did me wrong, I have to lay down the bitterness, the resentfulness, the anger. It’s just not fair, why should people who have wronged me get away with it? Why can’t I be angry? Me personally, I really don’t want God to be fair with me. I want His mercy, His grace. I want the things that I don’t deserve and could never earn: Like everlasting life, right standing with God, His forgiveness. But God tells us in scripture so many times that He will judge us as we judge others.
Luke 6:36-38 (NKJV)36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
So is it worth it to be angry? Is it worth it to be judgmental? Is it worth it to take offense and hold on to our bitterness, only worried about what we want?
Jude 1:17-22 (NLT) 17 But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ said. 18 They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. 19 These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them. 20 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, 21 and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. 22 And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering.
Pray for even the people who hate you, even the people who would see you dead. Treat them as God has treated you, as He treats us: sinners, undeserving off even the smallest shred of mercy from a perfect God.
Proverbs 25:21-22 (NKJV)
21 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; 22 For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, And the LORD will reward you.
I know it’s a difficult thing. I know it’s almost impossible. God knows it’s hard too. Then again, He never promises that it would be easy to follow Him, just that it would be worth it.
Please turn to: Psalm 103:8-14 (NLT)
8 The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. 9 He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. 10 He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. 11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. 12 He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. 13 The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. 14 For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.