Monday, July 19, 2010

Forgiveness Part 5: Judicial, Parental, Personal

Matthew 6:14-15 – If we sin, do we have to wait until we confess before God forgives us? If so, that would mean we fall out of forgiveness, we lose our salvation until we ask for forgiveness. Some teach this, but when we think it through clearly, that teaching is obviously in error. There is a difference between judicial forgiveness and parental (fellowship) forgiveness. Judicial forgiveness is about God being our Father (cf. Ephesians 1:3-7), while parental forgiveness is calling on God as Father. We are judicially forgiven the minute we commit that sin because we have Jesus as an advocate in heaven (1 John 2:1). What we need to do is to confess our sin before God in order to continue in and restore close fellowship (1 John 1:9).

Jesus was not giving some requirement for salvation. He was saying that those who are forgiven become forgiving people themselves (cf. Colossians 3:13). If we do not forgive we become resentful, of other people, of life, and of God. Resentment leads to cynicism, which leads to bitterness, which yields rotten fruit.

Do you forgive yourself? – You don’t forgive yourself it is God who forgives you, and if you are looking for that, the power to forgive yourself, well then you are looking to be God and you realize you don’t have the power and you feel bad and no wonder. Lack of ability to forgive self is not the problem. What is happening is that we are just recognizing that something more needs to be done. Although we recognize that we have been forgiven, we have not changed. We are crying out for the change that will assure us that we will never do anything like it again. Instead of using this “I need to forgive myself” language, which is unbiblical, we need to learn to deal with the problems in our lives that led to the wrong, in such a way that we adopt a more biblical lifestyle. We accept God’s judicial forgiveness and seek His parental forgiveness by confessing sin and seeking sanctification. We grow in the knowledge of our eternal forgiveness which leads to further growth in grace (Colossians 1:9-14).

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Monday, July 12, 2010

Forgiveness Part 4: Two Different Facets

Luke 17:3 and Mark 11:25 are different.

Luke 17:3
• Horizontal focus – offended speaks to the offender (rebuking him)
• Conditional forgiveness (If he repents)
• Access to offender is required
• Offender is the one who benefits (you grant forgiveness)

Mark 11:25
• Vertical focus – offended speaks to God
• Unconditional forgiveness
• Access to offender not required (not a person who repents but anyone, access or not, no bitterness, we give it to God, Romans 12:17-21, you can only do this by praying first)
• Offended is the one who benefits (you are released from bitterness)

Unforgiveness breaks fellowship with God, and hinders our prayer life. We must be WILLING to forgive. This doesn’t mean that we only have to forgive them before God but that we can hold onto our unforgiveness until we see them come to us to repent, and if they never do we never forgive. No, if we are able we must go to them, rebuke them, and give them a chance to repent. If we go to the person and they will not repent, and they leave, you release it to God (Mark 11:25) so that you will not become bitter. This is vertical.

What about those who cannot repent? You say, “I was wronged, but don’t even really know who did it, I can’t find them, and they haven’t repented, this thing is haunting me, so what am I supposed to do?” This would include a dead relative. Other examples: you were robbed, spam ruined your computer, you were taken advantage of in some anonymous way, etc. Don’t go looking for them, just forgive, don’t demand you rights, you give them to Christ. If you don’t have access to a person, well, you forgive them in the Mark 11:25 sense anyway, and the Luke 17:3 sense doesn’t apply right now because there is no access, no active fellowship anyway, so it doesn’t really matter, in that sense, unless and until they enter the picture.

If your spouse, child, or family walks away with no repentance you can and must still forgive, in the Mark 11:25 sense, but now the Luke 17:3 comes into play in the horizontal scenario. We rebuked them and they refused to repent. We forgive them to God and release it, but we do not have to place our trust in them. If they at some later point decide to repent, we must then forgive them in the horizontal fashion, and offer fellowship once again. Think about the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) – the father had already forgiven the younger son, but until that son came back to seek forgiveness, he did not live in fellowship.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Monday, July 05, 2010

Forgiveness Part 3: Process & Practice

Matthew 18:15-35 shows us this process. Vs.15-20 details how it may play out in the church, and then Jesus tells us what our attitude should be in vs.21-35.

• How often are we supposed to forgive? Always (vs.22)
• How much does God forgive us when we ask? Everything (vs.23-27) (in both instances they asked for forgiveness)
• Do we have any excuses not to forgive repentant people? No (vs.28-35)

Forgiven people become forgiving people. We have received mercy and we are called to be merciful. Ephesians 4:32 – we are to be forgiving to others because God has forgiven us.

We must forgive those who are repentant, but we must give an opportunity to repent, and not hold onto bitterness. We must confront them with the offense. Of course we need to realize the difference between a true offense and our personal problem with thin skin. We need to develop grace and mercy in our lives, and not be bothered over every little thing. Still there are times we should go to a person, and it takes courage to practice biblical forgiveness. Forgiving one another is part of our church’s Mission Statement, but we need to be biblical in dealing with it.

Is it always required that I rebuke a brother who sins? No, if you are truly not concerned with it, if it will not become a root of bitterness (1 Peter 4:8 / 1 Corinthians 13:5). If love covers it, then it must be covered, but if you are still thinking about it, then your heart is uncovered.

What about someone who is over me in authority, like a pastor, a boss, a parent, an older person? 1 Timothy 5:1-2 – do not speak harshly, or sharply rebuke, but honor them as we correct them, like we would a father we loved.

We should consider our own spiritual condition before we rebuke someone. This is not in a “who is the better brother” way, but examining our own heart before the Lord (Matthew 7:3-5), as we will discuss with Mark 11:25. Your attitude may be causing you to see this out of proportion.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©