Paul had begun writing in order to defend himself from false accusations. We have seen that he has declared his love and care for the people and that he has a clear conscience in his testimony to them and before all people. We want to look today at the issue of forgiveness as it is imperative to the message Paul is sending. He has been accused of things that he has not done – he was writing to defend himself, explaining his feelings and actions. One thing that he wanted these people to know – he was ready to forgive them for their actions and he desired their repentance and restoration.
Text: Matthew 18:21,22
Forgiveness is an important part of the relationship between God and man – as a matter of fact, it is an imperative! To be related to God, one must be forgiven. We meet God as offenders – at odds with Him – enmity, the enemies of God. We must receive forgiveness from God in order to have the relationship that will save us from our sin. Read Eph. 4:32; Col. 2:13; 3:13.
Most people do not want to be involved in forgiving – either asking for it or giving it. We take it lightly, saying “Never mind”, No need”, “think nothing of it”. The problem is that the issue is never settled! We do not want to be bothered with the issues of forgiveness with those around us and this leads to the difficulty in asking forgiveness of God.
Matthew recorded the Lord Jesus teaching’s about humility and about forgiveness and restoration. These truths were not unknown, but were very limited in their scope as we will see.
We will see two aspects of forgiveness this morning: As related to man and as related to God.
The religions of the world do not deal with forgiveness
I. As related to man.
A. Forgiveness has synonyms such as pardon, let pass. FORGIVE implies that one gives up all claim to requital and to resentment or vengeful feelings; Merriam-Webster dictionary.
B. Forgiveness, is a verb. It requires action!
C. Forgiveness is intellectual and emotional. (Genuine forgiveness!)
1. Have you forgiven someone?
2. Have you been forgiven by someone?
3. You must determine to forgive and then follow through with your whole being. Too many times our forgiveness is like this –
a. “I will forgive them but I will not like it”. This is not forgiveness!
b. The offender is restored to position but not to fellowship.
4. What happened to the relationship when forgiveness was involved?
a. Was everything returned to normal or better?
b. Did the relationship improve?
c. Did the relationship worsen?
D. Forgiveness must include forgetfulness. Illustrate with old saying “Historical” or “Hysterical”.
1. You may say “I cannot forget”!
2. You must then choose not to remember!
E. Forgiveness results in an improved relationship.
1. The fellowship has been fully restored.
2. The relationship is stronger because of better communication and knowledge.
3. The things that have divided have been resolved and will not be faced again.
4. The realization of the consequences of sin and the desire to repair the damage for the honour and glory of God will help one grow stronger in the Lord.
F. Forgiveness and the three views noted in Matthew 18:21
1. The Jews had a custom that a person should be forgiven up to 3 times.
2. Peter was trying to be spiritual in suggesting forgiving up to 7 times.
3. Jesus said, in effect, if you are counting – you are not forgiving!
II. As related to God.
A. Forgiveness is given by God and is a result of His perfect nature.
1. He is holy and righteous. He never needs to be forgiven!
2. He is love, mercy, and grace. He is willing to forgive.
3. He is perfect and His forgiving is based on His sovereign choice. He can never be compelled to forgive. (See illustration in Matthew 18:23-35) Man should forgive because he is forgiven. God has no such reason. He forgives simply because He wants to!
4. He is just.
a. He has declared the penalty for sin – death.
b. He paid the penalty for sin – death.
c. He forgives based on the satisfaction of the judgment.
B. Forgiveness is required for salvation.
1. Forgiveness removes one from being condemned. John 3:16-18; 36; Romans 8:1
2. Forgiveness places one in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. Forgiveness gives one joy in the Lord.
Isaiah 43:25 I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.
Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
C. Forgiveness is extended in salvation. 1 John 1:9.
Paul was ready to forgive. He wrote with this in mind – that they would repent and be restored in love for one another, praying for one another, and serving with one another. He cared, so he wrote!
Now to the main question for the day – vs. 21 “Then came Peter to Him and said Lord…”
Peter had a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. It was real and vital. What about you? All of these truths mean nothing except that you are a child of God. Do you have religion or do you have a relationship with God? Is He your Saviour? Today is the day of salvation.