The Delight and Difficulty of Forgiveness

July 22, 2016

Good Afternoon Church,

The greatest blessing experienced in this world because of the grace and mercy[1] of God is the forgiveness of sins for those who repent and the subsequent fellowship with God that follows.[2] God has declared that all men everywhere have sinned and therefore stand before Him as guilty, fully and justly deserving the death penalty[3] for their open rejection of the Lord and His Law.[4] Yet, the sovereign love and grace of God, who is rich in mercy, saw man in his helpless and hopeless state, and sent His sinless and only Son to bear the death penalty and awful punishment due sinners.[5]Thus, Jesus Christ paid the price for sin, providing a way for sinners to be forgiven by God’s grace through personal faith![6]  Salvation is all about man being rescued from the penalty, power, and the presence of sin, and so the heart of our hope in the gospel is the reality of God’s promise to forgive sin.[7] Forgiveness is one of, if not the most critical truth taught in the Scriptures. God is a forgiving God, and therefore we have hope both now and forevermore in Christ![8] Have you been forgiven? Have you turned to Christ as the only answer to the greatest problem of sin in your life? Have you experienced the awesome joy and the blessed hope of forgiveness? There is nothing like it in this world, and the reality of full pardon and release from all sin will utterly, totally, and completely change your world![9]

The Delight and Difficulty of Forgiveness

Helping a friend in need

However, while the necessity for personal pardon is honestly undeniable because of the historicity of sin, and the reality of divine forgiveness is unquestionable because of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, yet the act of forgiving one another is sadly misunderstood and far too often denied. You see, the Bible deals directly with the reality of judicial forgiveness, which is man’s greatest need as God pardons the repentant heart, but it also dramatically and clearly demands that man forgive each other, especially within the church.[10] How can it be that we as wretched sinners would be forgiven so much and yet withhold giving forgiveness toward someone who has harmed us, hurt us, or rejected us. The church is filled with people who are in desperate need of giving and receiving relational forgiveness as they release the past hurts and debts of others to the Lord. I believe the lack of forgiveness within the church is one of the reasons we have such a minimal impact upon our world and such relational dysfunction in many of our homes.

This Sunday we will be returning to Colossians as we consider the centrality of Christ in the Church. We will look again at the command to put on the new man given in 3:12-14, but this time we will consider how all of those virtues really point to, flow from, and drive us to consider the character of Christ. That really is what Paul is getting at as our lives are being conformed into the image of our Creator, who is Christ, through putting on the clothes, or better yet the character, of our Lord.[11]  There are two very important traits of Christ that also are demanded in the church, and those are forgiveness and love. Paul commands us to put on the new man, which will demand that we forgive and love one another like Christ.[12]  Therefore, because of the awesome and inseparable nature between forgiveness and love, we will be taking a biblical look at these two aspects of the character of Christ and how they must be manifested in our ministry.  A few questions we will consider will be what is biblical forgiveness and is it unconditional, because if it is, then why does the Bible say “If your brother repents forgive him”?[13] How does love lay the foundation for forgiveness, and how do I love my enemy? Does forgiveness also mean forgetting, and is forgiveness the same thing as reconciliation? Does forgiveness of sin remove the consequences of sin, and does loving my enemy equate to trusting my enemy?

These are just a few of the questions I hope to grapple with this weekend as we consider the centrality of Christ in the Church as seen in Colossians. This topic as given through this text is so critical to the life and ministry of every biblical church that I hope you will come ready to listen, learn, and live for the Lord! I fully understand we will not answer all the questions surrounding love and forgiveness, as they are very deep, difficult, and often divisive topics. Yet, I do believe this will be another step in growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ as we seek to forgive one another as Christ has forgiven and loved us!

Praising God that I am Pardoned,

Pastor Matt

[1] Ex 34:7

2Lk 24: 46-47; Acts 2:38-39; 3:19-20; Col 1:14

3Exek 18:4, 20; 2 Kings 14:6; Rom 1:32; 5:12; 6:16; 8:6; 8:13; Gal: 6:7-8

4 Gen 2:17; Rom 3:9-20; 6:23; Heb 9:27; 10:28-31

5Isa 52:13-53:12; Mt 20:28; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 9:24-28; 1 Pet 2:22-25

6 Eph 2:1-10; Acts 2:38-39; 1 Pet 1:3-9; 1 Jn 1:6-9; Jn 3:16-18; 1 Tim 1:12-17

7 Rom 5:6-11; 5:12-21; Col 1:14

8 Rom 8:1

92 Cor 5:17; 1 Jn 1:9

10 Mt 18:21-22; Mk 11:25; Lk 6:37; 17:3-4; 2 Cor 2:10-11; Eph 4:32; Col 3:13

11Col 3:10

12Col 3:13-14

13Lk 17:3-4

 

[1] Ex 34:7

[2] Lk 24: 46-47; Acts 2:38-39; 3:19-20; Col 1:14

[3] Exek 18:4, 20; 2 Kings 14:6; Rom 1:32; 5:12; 6:16; 8:6; 8:13; Gal: 6:7-8

[4] Gen 2:17; Rom 3:9-20; 6:23; Heb 9:27; 10:28-31

[5] Isa 52:13-53:12; Mt 20:28; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 9:24-28; 1 Pet 2:22-25

[6] Eph 2:1-10; Acts 2:38-39; 1 Pet 1:3-9; 1 Jn 1:6-9; Jn 3:16-18; 1 Tim 1:12-17

[7] Rom 5:6-11; 5:12-21; Col 1:14

[8] Rom 8:1

[9] 2 Cor 5:17; 1 Jn 1:9

[10] Mt 18:21-22; Mk 11:25; Lk 6:37; 17:3-4; 2 Cor 2:10-11; Eph 4:32; Col 3:13

[11] Col 3:10

[12] Col 3:13-14

[13] Lk 17:3-4

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