Paul had begun writing 2 Corinthians 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 had been accused of things that he has not done – he is writing to defend himself, explaining his feelings and actions. One thing that he wants these people to know – he has forgiven them for their actions and he desires 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.
Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Colossians 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
Colossians 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
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, 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.
Note: 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?
a. Was everything returned to normal or better?
b. Did the relationship improve?
c. Did the relationship worsen?
D. Forgiveness must include forgetfulness.
A story is told of a husband and wife beginning a counseling session. The counsellor asked the husband why he thought it was so difficult to communicate freely with the wife. The husband replied “Every time we begin to disagree, she gets historical”! The counsellor replied “You mean hysterical”. “No, I mean historical. She brings up everything I have ever done wrong”!
The wife had not forgiven, she had just set aside her anger to be used in the future as she thought necessary.
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 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
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 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
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.