MATTHEW 6:5-15 - FORGIVENESS, aPHIe-me, 146x, Strong #863, 2009-02-06
“A FORGIVING SPIRIT: KEY TO SPIRITUAL HEALTH”
1. Matthew 6:12, 14-15 (6:5-15) FORGIVENESS: THE ONLY DOUBLE COMMAND! And forgive us our :debts, As we also have forgiven our :debtors. 14 For if you forgive :men their :trespasses your :heavenly :Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you forgive not :men their :trespasses, neither will your :Father forgive your :trespasses.
2. Matthew 9:2 (9:1-8) FORGIVENESS: FOR THIS, JESUS CHARGED WITH BLASPHEMY.
“And lo, they brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed: and :Jesus seeing their :faith said to the paralytic, Be of good cheer, child; your :sins are forgiven.”
3. Matthew 18:21-22 (18:21-25) FORGIVENESS: NOT SEVEN, BUT SEVENTY TIMES AND SEVEN! “Then came :Peter and said to him, Lord, how often shall my :brother sin against me, and I forgive him? until seven times? 22 :Jesus says to him I say not unto you, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times and seven.”
4. Luke 23:34 (23:33-49) FORGIVENESS: ONE OF JESUS ' LAST 7 SAYINGS FROM CROSS. “And Jesus said, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And parting his :garments among them, they cast a lot.”
5. John 20:22-23 (20:19-23) FORGIVENESS: FLOWS FROM THE HOLY SPIRIT. “And on saying this, he breathed on them, and says to them, Receive the Holy Spirit; 23 whoever :sins you forgive, they are forgiven them; whoever you retain, they are retained.”
6. Acts 8:22 (8:14-24) FORGIVENESS: A POSSIBLE FRUIT OF REPENTANCE. “Repent therefore of this your :wickedness, and pray the Lord, if perhaps the thought of your :heart shall be forgiven you.
7. James 5:14-16 (5:13-20) FORGIVENESS: ASSOCIATED WITH HEALING. “ Is any among you sick? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, having anointed him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 and the prayer of :faith shall save the weary one, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, it shall be forgiven him. 16 Confess therefore your :sins one to another, and pray one for another, that you be healed. The supplication of a righteous man avails much in its working.”
8. 1 John 1:9 (1:5-10) FORGIVENESS: CONDITIONAL UPON CONFESSION. “If we confess our :sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our :sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
NOTE: Sometime around 1948-49 (or somewhat before),
Peter Marshall preached this sermon in Washington DC in the “Church of Lincoln!”
It hits perhaps the key point of the Lord's Prayer.
Though it is but an excerpt from Catherine Marshall's book A Man Called Peter,
I trust you will find it
a memorable illustration of the importance of “Forgiveness.”
My wife Marie and followed quite closely the era of
Peter Marshall during his time in our national capital,
especially his unusual sermon on December 07, 1941.
Our daughter Anna noted at our last viewing,
that this was the birthplace of their son, Peter John!
I hadn't spotted that before.
There is no doubt that the Spirit of Jesus
shone through the life of this chosen man.
Many a time his life was spared from death
prior to his final home-going.
May we all - upon reading his insights on forgiveness,
see it operating in our own lives in the spirit of the Lord's Prayer
in an ever-increasing way. - Jim Watt
LETTERS IN THE SAND - Peter Marshall
. . . I came not to judge the world, but to save the world . . . John 12:47
The woman has been caught in the very act of adultery.
Christ looks beyond the woman sobbing at His feet,
perhaps in search of the man who shares her guilt.
But the woman alone is accused.
There is no man sharing her shame.
It seems to His disciples that Christ does not look at her at all.
He is watching those men who try to hide the stones they carry in their hands.
They are ready - her self-appointed judges -
to throw them at the poor defenseless creature on the ground,
for it is the law - the sacred law of Moses - that such shall be stoned to death.
If He chooses to repudiate the law, the priest can accuse Him of being no prophet.
He had said that he came to fulfill the law, not to destroyit.
If He permits the woman's stoning, He will clash with the Roman authorities.
In this little occupied country, Rome alone retains the power of life and death.
If the Nazarene condemns the women,
He will lose His popularity with the multitudes who love and follow Him.
“Be you therefore merciful,” He has often said to them,
“as your Father also is merciful.” (Luke 6:36.)
How can He condemn the woman and still be merciful?
Every form of sin is repulsive to Him,
and although at times it seems that He thinks the sins of disposition
and attitude more to be detested than the sins of the flesh,
yet He nowhere - at any time - condones evil and the doing of wrong.
The circle of bearded men wait impatiently for his answer.
Will His verdict be justice - or mercy?
It is a clever trap.
Surely the Nazarene can find no way out of this one!
But Jesus stands there calmly, quite unruffled by the dilemma so neatly framed.
He well knows that, in the eyes of the Pharisees, Heis the real enemy - not the woman.
Therefore, He will appeal the case to a Higher Tribunal.
He will lift the issue from the level of human law to that of Divine law.
He will appeal to the bar of conscience.
He does not speak.
Stooping down, He slowly, deliberately begins to write in the dust at His feet.
This is the only time we know of His writing anything . . .
and no one knows what He wrote.
Some ancient scholars believe that he traced there in the dust a catalog of human sin.
Perhaps He looks up at a tall man, with graying hair and piercing blue eyes,
and traces the word “Extortioner” -
and the man turns and flees into the crowd.
Christ looks up into the faces of the men standing in the circle,
and steadily - with eyes that never blink - he speaks to them:
“He that is without sin among you,
let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7.)
His keen glance rests upon the woman's accusers one by one.
Then He writes in the sand at their feet - letter after letter.
They watch His finger - fascinated, as it travels up and down -
up and down.
They cannot watch without trembling.
The group is thinning now.
They think of the recording angel.
They think of judgment.
They have howled for it.
Now it has descended on them.
Looking into their faces,
Christ sees into the yesterdays that lie deep in the pools of memory and conscience.
He sees into their very hearts, and that moving finger writes on . . .
Idolater . . .
Liar . . .
Drunkard . . .
Murderer . . .
Adulterer . . .
There is the thud of stone after stone falling on the pavement.
Not many of the Pharisees are left.
One by one, they creep away - like animals - slinking into the shadows . . .
shuffling off into the crowded streets to lose themselves in the multitudes.
“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
But the adulteress could not have been unfaithful had not a man tempted her.
There would be no harlots if men had no evil passions.
Another should have stood with her in condemnation, but she was alone.
The first lesson Jesus taught that day
was that only the guiltless have the right to judge.
“Judge not, and you shall not be judged.”
“Forgive, and you shall be forgiven.” (Luke 6:27.)
But no stones have been thrown.
They lie around the woman on the pavement.
They have dropped them where they stood,
and now she is left alone at the feet of Christ.
The stillness is broken only by her sobbing.
She still has not lifted her head . . .
And now Christ looks at her.
He does not speak for a long moment.
Then, with eyes full of understanding, He says softly:
“Woman, where are those your accusers?
Has no man condemned you?” (John 8:10.)
And she answers,
“No man, Lord.”
That is all the woman says from beginning to end.
She has no excuse for her conduct.
She makes no attempt to justify what she has done.
And Christ looking at her,
seeing the tear-stained cheeks and her eyes red with weeping,
seeing further into her heart,
seeing the contrition there,
says to her:
“Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11.)
What a strange verdict for the Nazarene to pass . . .
There has been no doubt of her guilt,
and likewise there is no doubt about His attitude toward it.
What He here says is not that He acquits the woman,
but that He forgivesher.
Not that He absolves her from blame, but that He absolves her from guilt.
Not that He condones the act,
but that He does not condemn her for it - He forgivesher instead.
His soft voice is like a candle at twilight,
like a soft angelus at the close of the day . . .
like the fragrance of a rose in a sickroom . . .
like the singing of a bird after the storm . . .
It is healing music for a sin-sick heart.
All is quiet for a while.
If she breathes her gratitude, it is so soft that only He hears it.
Or perhaps it is a silent prayer which He and the angels in heaven alone can interpret.
Perhaps He smiles upon her, as she slowly raises her eyes,
a slow, sad smile of one Who knew that He Himself
has to pay the price of that absolution.
And it may be that His finger writes again in the dust,
tracing this time the outline of a cross or the shape of a hill -
a hill shaped like a skull.
No, we do not know her name
nor where she lived
now who she was.
But of this we can be sure - she was never the same again.
She was a changed woman from that moment. Of that we can be sure.
She has looked into the eyes of Christ.
She has seen God.
She has been accused
judged but not condemned.
She has been forgiven!
And now her head is up.
Her eyes are shining like stars, for has she not seen the greatest miracle of all?
It is more wonderful than the miracles of creation . . .
more beautiful than the flowers . . .
more mysterious than the stars . . .
that God is willing, for Christ's sake, to forgive sinners like you and me.
For we are all sinners . . . guilty of different kinds of sin, no doubt.
For there are sins of the heart
and sins of the mind
and sins of the disposition
as well as sins of the body.
We, too, may be forgiven, no matter what type
or kind of transgressions we have committed.
That we may be forgiven is the greatest miracle of them all.
God is willing to forgive us,
to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,
because the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.
That is the basis and the only basis for our forgiveness.
Therefore, “be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32.)
We have no greater need today than this - the need of forgiving one another.
The whole world cries out for forgiveness . . .
Nations need it.
Society needs it.
Business, capital, and labor need it.
Homes need it.
Individual human hearts need it.
Friends need it.
Aye - and enemies too.
We need forgiveness - to be forgiven and to forgive -
for without forgiveness, our troubled hearts can know no peace.
But there is a stern condition to be met, if you and I are to be forgiven . . .
There must be no malice in your heart against anyone in the whole world.
There must be no refusal on your part to forgive anyone else . . .
whatever he or she may have done . . .
no matter how wrong they were . . .
or how innocent you were.
If you hug to yourself any resentment against anybody else,
you destroy the bridge by which God would come to you.
If you do not forgive other people, you yourself can never feel forgiven,
because you will never be forgiven.
How can I be so sure about that?
Simply because Jesus said so . . .
“But if you forgive not men their trespasses,
neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:15.)
Jesus was not sentimental about the alternatives.
He was blunt and honest.
In other words, if you will forgive others when they offend you,
then your Heavenly Father will forgive you too.
But if you refuse to forgive others, then your Heavenly Father will not,
indeed cannot, forgive you your offenses.
So - if you would have peace in your heart -
if you would know the forgiveness of God -
it is a case of forgive - or else.
WE CONFESS BEFORE YOU
Forgiveus, Lord Jesus, for the things we have done
that make us feel uncomfortable in Your presence.
All the front that we polish so carefully for men to see,
does not deceive You.
For You know every thought that has left its shadow on our memory.
You have marked every motive that curdled something sweet within us.
We acknowledge - with bitterness and true repentance -
that cross and selfish thoughts have entered our minds;
we acknowledge that we have permitted our minds
to wander through unclean and forbidden ways;
we have toyed with that which we knew was not for us;
we have desired that which we should not have.
We acknowledge that often we have deceived ourselves
where our plain duty lay.
We confess before You that our ears are often deaf
to the whisper of Your call,
our eyes often blind to the signs of Your guidance.
Make us willing to be changed, even though it requires
surgery of the soul and the therapy of discipline.
Make our hearts warm and soft that we may receive now
the blessing of Your forgiveness,
the benediction of Your “Depart in peace . . .
and sin no more.” AMEN.