July 12, 2009
INTRODUCTION – Review & General Overview of this section of Matthew
3 God centered prayers come first
Then 4 us centered prayers
Last week – Give us this day our daily bread – – Focus on God as our loving caring all – knowing Father who is absolutely committed to providing for His kids as they learn to cry out to Him and trust Him for that provision on a daily basis.
This morning, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
Or – “forgive us our sins, as we also have forgiven those who have sinned against us.” One version translates this “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
I. The Blessing of Being Forgiven by God – David spoke of the blessedness of forgiveness in the first couple of verses of Psalm 32
Psalm 32:1,2 “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit.”
How great the blessing is – – Spurgeon
Psalm 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
God declared through the prophet Jeremiah, and I quote – “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”
One person has said, “God throws our sins into the depths of the sea, and puts up a sign on the shore which reads, “No fishing.”
How could such a great blessing be available to people like us who are such great sinners? A couple of reasons
A. Because of the nature of God. God is a forgiving , loving, compassionate, merciful God – – Psa. 51:1 “have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion – blot out my transgressions.” Notice to two “accordings”
Psalm 86:5 “The Lord is good, and ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy unto all of them that call upon Him.”
Daniel – in that long recorded prayer of confession for his sins and the sins of his people declared, “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against Him.” Daniel 9:9
By nature – He is a loving merciful forgiving forbearing God.
But He is also just, righteous, holy and pure. And justice demands that sin be punished.
And that leads to my second reason for why we can experience the blessing of absolute forgiveness
B. Because of the work or substitution of God. Jesus has made a way through His shed blood on the cross for the Justice of God to be satisfied. Romans 3:21-26
Ephesians 1:7 “In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which he lavished on us.”
Many of the men and women who have served God so faithfully and marked their generations with their devoutness and sacrifice – never got over the forgiveness of their sins, and the mercy of God towards them.
If His mercy and forgiveness are so great, why do we not experience it more?
Why are we not more full of joy, and amazement and gratitude about how wonderful this forgiveness and mercy is? 5 Reasons
1. Don’t see ourselves as sinners. Think with me for a moment about this word debtor, which the nasv and niv translate correctly. There are five different greek words that the New Testament uses for sin. This particular one is the word opheilema – – and it literally means a debt. It means a failure to pay that which is due or a failure in duty, which puts us in the condition of debt that is so great – it is impossible for us to pay it.
You and I were created by God for Himself – for His purposes. We owe Him our absolute allegiance and devotion. Our every word and deed should give Him glory and reflect His nature. And yet we have given Him anything but that. Most of us have given Him fits.
Much is being said about the growing debt that the average American is in; and that our individual states and our nation is in. Our national debt is getting to the point where it is almost inconceivable – – hard to grasp.
But friends our debt to a holy God is far greater and far more serious.
Why do we not experience the amazing, freeing blessing that comes from being forgiven and cleansed by a Holy God? Well one reason is because we are in denial about our spiritual debt. May the Holy Spirit open our eyes to the reality of our great debt, and need for it to be removed or forgiven.
2. We don’t ask for it – – first initially when we ask Christ to come into our lives and we are born again; and then continually from then on
David asked repeatedly in Psalm 51
Daniel asked repeatedly in Daniel 9
I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Jesus says – in your daily prayer life, after you give attention to the need for My name to be honored; and after you pray for My kingdom to come and My will to be done; and after you ask for your financial and material needs to be met; you then need to ask for forgiveness, and as you experience that – you need to forgive those who have sinned against you.
Forgiveness is not automatic. We must ask for it to experience it.
3. We don’t ask specifically. Guard against the mindless, vague recitation of this prayer as a sort of rabbit’s foot – – like the Pharisees and Scribes did, and like many in our nation have done over the years.
When God forgives our sins, we should experience a lifting of the guilt and shame and condemnation; and a freedom to relate to God without hesitation or timidity. If we are not experiencing that, often it is because we are not confessing specific sins when we realize we have committed them.
Our every day should be peppered with petitions for forgiveness of specific sins that we have committed – – whether in our thoughts and attitudes, words or deeds.
Of course awareness of specific sins will never come about if we are not daily meditating on the word of God – – wherein we see His righteous standard and wherein we discover where and how we are falling short.
God says of the power of His word through the prophet Jeremiah, “Is not my word like fire declares the Lord, and like a hammer which shatters a rock?”
As we meditate on His word, it – like fire – burns away the dross, the flesh, the worldliness, the soulishness of our lives.
As we meditate upon His word, – like a rock – it breaks down our self will and our rebellion – – it breaks up the hardness of heart and shatters our pride.
4. We are too focused on our financial/material needs and thus blind to our greater need for cleansing and forgiveness. Notice the connection of the 1st request and the 2nd (vs. 11,12) “And”
Matthew Henry, “Our daily bread doth but fatten us as lambs for the slaughter if our sins be not pardoned.”
David says in Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed or contrite in spirit.”
I don’t understand this; but I have discovered in the church that it is possible to focus on material/financial provision and get it; and yet not see one’s greater need for forgiveness and mercy.
5. We haven’t forgiven others. Jesus says we are to forgive any and all people who have sinned against us. God’s forgiveness is tied to that act. (see vs. 14,15)
A man named John Oglethorpe, in talking to John Wesley, once made the comment, “I never forgive”. Mr. Wesley wisely replied, “Then sir, I hope that you never sin.”
Barclay says the real meaning here is that we will be forgiven in proportion to the way we forgive others.
“Easy for you to say. You have no idea how terribly I have been abused and mistreated.”
Josh McDowel’s testimony – – My experience with him at San Jose State Univ. Impact of his research over the years
A single mother once asked the activist Dexter Scott King – one of the sons of Martin Luther King Jr. – for any parenting tips he learned from his mother – the wife of Martin Luther King Jr.
He replied, “My mother had four children who were traumatized when my father was assassinated. She worked to ensure our spirits weren’t poisoned with toxic feelings of bitterness…She used our tragedy to teach us about forgiveness, faith and love…..”
Eph. 4:30-32 “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
How are we to forgive others? “Just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
How did He forgive us? Fully and completely. Undeservedly. Freely.