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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Thursday, December 01, 2005

IF You Forgive

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse for the Day - Matthew 6:14
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

Daily Scripture ReadingEphesians 4

Puritan Catechism
Question #8: How does God execute his decrees?
Answer: God executes his decrees in the works of creation (Rev. 4:11), and providence (Dan. 4:35).

Devotional Thoughts
Matthew 6:14 - For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

Jesus has already said "amen" at the end of His model prayer and yet He continues to teach the crowd and us about heart attitudes and motives. In verses 14 and 15 He actually amplifies His teaching from the prayer. He has just taught us to forgive as we are forgiven (vs. 12). Of all that He said in His model prayer, only this verse gets amplified here. Why? The single greatest need that we have as sinful human beings is the need to be forgiven. Without forgiveness we can never rid ourselves of our sin! Therefore, we can never please God, exercise faith, love, kindness, or joy out of a pure heart, we can never talk with God and have Him hear and respond! Without the penalty or price of our sin being paid, we are indeed fearfully and dreadfully lost!

Jesus reiterates this fact by focusing now on the topic of forgiveness, or lack thereof as we will see tomorrow. He takes the time to amplify the part of His prayer to which we must pay the most attention. If we understand our need for forgiveness, then we can understand the cost of our sin. Then we can see the grace of God. Then we experience His holiness and unconditional love. All that He taught in the prayer comes flooding into our lives by supernatural progression when we first see Him for who He is, then see ourselves for who we are, and as a result become painfully aware of our great need to be forgiven of all our sin!

As we learn about forgiveness we also learn about who and what we are to forgive. According to Jesus here we are expected and commanded to forgive any trespass against us. Let's take a look at the words Jesus uses. First He mentions the word forgive. To forgive literally means to "leave behind" or "hurl away." Then He teaches us to forgive trespasses. The word trespass speaks of "missing the mark" or more specifically, any deviation from truth.

In plain English, Jesus is teaching us that we are to leave behind and hurl away from us any action, attitude, or word from anyone that on their part deviates from obedience to the Truth of God's Word. Basically, anything sinful that a person can do to us or tell about us is to be instantly put away. It may take time for the hurt feelings to subside, but in our hearts we must forgive as soon as we are sinned against! We have all heard the phrase, "I'll forgive, but I won't forget" haven't we? That is a lie! To forgive is to forget - to hurl away and leave behind. If we hurl someone's sin away and then continually run back and pick it up we see that in our hearts we have NOT forgiven!

The reason for forgiving instantly will be covered tomorrow from verse 15. The fact, though, that we should forgive instantly is plain in Scripture. We are enabled to forgive even when the offender doesn't admit wrong or express sorrow! The offender only works into the equation when we are told to forgive them unconditionally! Their attitude is not a factor in our response. We are also learning here that we forgive because God expects it. In order for Him to forgive us our attitude must at all times be an attitude of humble love and service to God and our neighbors.

Otherwise we aren't repentant and therefore aren't forgiven. When we see ourselves as salt and light and when we understand that when people sin against us it's only because they are being disobedient, then we understand God's plan. If someone sins against us, we must realize that we don't matter. If we are center stage, then we are proud and sinning ourselves. It's not about us, remember?! If, on the other hand, we have a proper view of God and a proper view of ourselves, then we understand that even if we are hurt, it is the offender who needs love and compassion. It is the offender who needs Christ. And if the offender is a not Christian, then we are more certain that they need to be ministered to, not condemned!

We must learn to look beyond ourselves. If someone sins against us, we must not ask from pride, “Why they would do such a thing to me?”! We must have the courage to set self aside and put that other person first. Tend to his or her needs as best we can. They may need a soft answer or an understanding spirit. They may just need to be prayed for. Maybe our loving response of being gracious and kind and forgiving is all God needs to break their hardened heart and lead them out of their sin! Today - no matter what happens - forgive instantly!


Puritan Voices
We are reading a small portion each day from Forgiveness Made Easy
A Sermon on Eph. 4:32 by Charles H. Spurgeon.

THE HEATHEN moralists, when they wished to teach virtue, could not point to the example of their gods, for, according to their mythologists, the gods were a compound of every imaginable, and, I had almost said, unimaginable vice. Many of the classic deities surpassed the worst of men in their crimes: they were as much greater in iniquity as they were supposed to be superior in power. It is an ill day for a people when their gods are worse than themselves. The blessed purity of our holy faith is conspicuous, not only in its precepts, but in the character of the God whom it reveals. There is no excellency which we can propose but we can see it brightly shining in the Lord our God: there is no line of conduct in which a believer should excel but we can point to Christ Jesus our Lord and Master as the pattern of it. In the highest places of the Christian faith you have the highest virtue, and unto God our Father and the Lord Jesus be the highest praise. We can urge you to the tenderest spirit of forgiveness by pointing to God who for Christ's sake has forgiven you. What nobler motive can you require for forgiving one another? With such high examples, brethren, what manner of people ought we to he? We have sometimes heard of men who were better than their religion, but that is quite impossible with us: we can never, in spirit or in act, rise to the sublime elevation of our divine religion. We should constantly be rising above ourselves, and above the most gracious of our fellow Christians, and yet above us we shall still behold our God and Saviour. We may go from strength to strength in thoughts of goodness and duties of piety, but Jesus is higher still, and evermore we must be looking up to him as we climb the sacred hill of grace.

At this time we wish to speak a little concerning the duties of love and forgiveness; and here we note, at once, that the apostle sets before us the example of God himself. Upon that bright example we shall spend most of our time, but I hope not quite so much as to forget the practical part, which is so much needed in these days by certain Unforgiving spirits who nevertheless assume the Christian name. The theme of God's forgiving love is so fascinating that we may linger awhile, and a long while too, upon that bright example of forgiveness which God has set before us, but from it all I hope we shall be gathering grace by which to forgive others even to seventy times seven.

We shall take the text word by word, and so we shall obtain the clearest divisions.

I. The first word to think about is "FOR CHRIST'S SAKE." We use these words very often; but probably we have never thought of their Three, and even at this time we cannot bring forth the whole of their meaning. Let us touch thereon with thoughtfulness, praying the good Spirit to instruct us. "For Christ's sake;" all the good things which God has bestowed upon us have come to us "for Christ's sake," but especially the forgiveness of our sins has come "for Christ's sake." This is the plain assertion of the text. What does it mean? It means. surely, first, for the sake of the great atonement which Christ has offered. The great God can, as a just Lawgiver and King, readily pass by out' offences because of the expiation for sin which Christ has offered. If sin were merely a personal affront toward God, we have abundant evidence that he would be ready enough to pass it by without exacting vengeance; but it is a great deal more than that. Those who view it as a mere personal affront against God are but very shallow thinkers. Sin is an attack upon the moral government of God; it undermines the foundations of society, and were it permitted to have its way it would reduce everything to anarchy, and even destroy the governing power and the Ruler himself. God hath a great realm to govern, not merely of men that dwell on the face of the earth, but beneath his sway there are angels, and principalities, and powers, and we do not know how many worlds of intelligent beings. It would certainly be a monstrous thing to suppose that God has made yonder myriads of worlds that we see sparkling in the sky at night without having placed some living creatures in them; it is far more reasonable to suppose that this earth is an altogether insignificant speck in the divine dominion, a mere province in the boundless empire of the King of kings. Now, this world having rebelled against God high-handedly, as it has done, unless there were a satisfaction demanded for its rebellion it would be a tolerated assault upon the dominion of the great Judge of all, and a lowering of his royal influence over all his domain. If sin in man's case were left unpunished it would soon be known through myriads of worlds, and in fact by ten thousand times ten thousand races of creatures, that they might sin with impunity; if one race had done so, why not all the rest? This would be a proclamation of universal license to rebel. It would probably be the worst calamity that could happen—that any sin should go unpunished by the supreme Judge. Sometimes in a state, unless the lawgiver executes the law against the murderer, life will be in peril, and everything will become insecure, and therefore it becomes mercy to write the death-warrant: so is it with God in reference to this world of sinners. It is his very love as well as his holiness and his justice which, if I may use such a term, compels him to severity of judgment, so that sin cannot and must not be blotted out till atonement has been presented. There must first of all be a sacrifice for sin, which, mark you, the great Father, to show his love, himself supplies, for it is his own Son who is given to die, and so the Father himself supplies the ransom through his Son, that Son being also one with himself by bonds of essential unity, mysterious but most intense. If God demands the penalty in justice, he himself supplies it in love. "Tis a wondrous mystery, this mystery of the way of salvation by an atoning sacrifice; but this much is clear, that now God for Christ's sake hath forgiven us, because satisfaction has been made to the injured honour of the divine government, and justice is satisfied. I want you to consider for a moment how readily God may now blot out sin since Christ hath died. The blotting out of sin seems hard till we see the cross, and then it appears easy enough. I have looked at sin till it seemed to blind me with its horror, and I said in myself, "This damned spot can never be washed out; no fuller's soap can change its hue; sooner might the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots. 0 sin, thou deep, eternal evil, what can remove thee?" And then I have seen the Son of God dying on the cross, and read the anguish of his soul, and heard the cries which showed the torment of his spirit when God his Father had forsaken him, and it has seemed to me as if the blotting out of sin were the easiest thing under heaven. When I have seen Jesus die I have not been able to understand how any sin could be difficult to remove. Let a man stand on Calvary and look on him whom he hath pierced, and believe and accept the atonement made, and it becomes the simplest thing possible that his debt should be discharged now that it is paid, that his freedom should be given now that the ransom is found, and that he should be no longer under condemnation, since the guilt that condemned him has been carried away by his great Substitute and Lord. It is then because of what Jesus Christ has suffered in our stead that God for Christ's sake hath forgiven us,

The second rendering of the text would be this, that God has forgiven us because of the representative character of Christ. It should never be forgotten that we originally fell by a representative. Adam stood for us, and he was our federal head. We did not fall personally at the first, but in our representative. Had he kept the conditions of the covenant we had stood through him, but, inasmuch as he fell, we fell in him. I pray you cavil not at the arrangement, because there lay the hope of our lace. The angels probably fell individually, one by one, and hence they fell irretrievably,—there was no restoring them: but as we fell in one Adam, there remained the possibility of our rising in another Adam; and therefore in the fulness of time God sent forth his Son Jesus Christ, born of a woman, made under the law to become the second Adam. He undertook to remove our burdens and to fulfil the conditions of our restoration. According to covenant he must appear in our nature, and that nature in the fulness of time he assumed. He must bear the penalty: that he hath done in his personal suffering and death. He must obey the law: that he has done to the utmost. And now Christ Jesus, having borne penalty and fulfilled law, is himself justified before God, and stands forth before God as the representative of all that are in him. God for Christ's sake has accepted us in him, has forgiven us in him, and looks upon us with love infinite and changeless in him. This is how all our blessings come to us—in and through Christ Jesus; and if we are indeed in him, the Lord doth not only forgive us our sin, but he bestows upon us the boundless riches of his grace in him: in fact, he treats us as he would treat his Son, he deals with us as he would deal with Jesus. Oh, how pleasant to think that when the just God looks upon us it is through the reconciling medium, he views us through the Mediator. We sometimes sing a hymn which says—

"Him and then the sinner see, Look through Jesus' wounds on me,"

and this is just what the Lord doth. He counts us just for the sake of our Saviour's atonement, and because of his representative character.

Now go a little further. When we read "for Christ's sake" it surely means for the deep love which the Father bears him. My brethren, can you guess a little of the love which the Father hath toward the Only-begotten? We cannot pry into the wondrous mystery of the eternal filiation of the Son of God lest we be blinded by excess of tight; but this we know, that they are one God,—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and the union which exists between them is intense beyond conception. "The Father loveth the Son," was always true, and is true now; but how deeply, how intensely he loves the Son no mind can conceive. Now, brethren, the Lord will do great things for the sake of a Son whom he loves as he loveth Jesus, for in addition to the fact of his eternally loving him, as being one with him by nature and essence, there is now the superadded cause of love arising out of what the Lord Jesus hath done as the servant of the Father. Remember that our Lord Jesus has been obedient to his Father's will—obedient to death, even to the death of the cross, wherefore God hath highly exalted hi in and given him a name that is above every name. One of the sweetest thoughts, to my mind, which I sometimes suck at when I am alone, is this—that God the Father will do anything for Christ. Here is also another piece of a honeycomb—when I can plead Christ's name I am sure to win my suit of him. "For Christ's sake" is a plea that always touches the heart of the great God. Show that for you to receive such and such a blessing will glorify Christ, and the Father cannot withhold it, for it is his delight to honour Jesus. We speak after the manner of men, of course, and on such a theme as this we must be careful, but still we can only speak as men, being only men. It is the joy of the Father to express his love to his Son. Throughout all ages they have had fellowship one with another: they have always been one in all their designs, they have never differed upon any points and cannot differ; and you notice when our Lord says, "Father, glorify thy Son," he is so knit with the Father that he adds, "that thy Son also may glorify thee." Their mutual love is inconceivably great, and, therefore, brethren, God will do anything for Jesus. God will forgive us for Christ's sake; yea, he has done so in the case of thousands around me. And thou, big black sinner, if thou wilt go to God at this moment and say, "Lord, I cannot ask thee to forgive me for my own sake, but do it out of love for thy dear Son," he will do it, for he will do anything for the sake of Jesus. If thou art at this time conscious of sin so as to despair of thyself, it is well that thou shouldest be so, for self-despair is only common-sense, since there is nothing in thyself upon which thou canst rely. But do catch at this hope—it is not a straw, it is a good substantial life-buoy—if thou canst ask forgiveness for the sake of Jesus, God will do anything for Jesus, and he will do anything for thee for his dear sake.

So we read our text once more in the light of a truth which grows out of the love of God; namely, that God does forgive sin for the sake of glorifying Christ. Christ took the shame that he might magnify his Father, and now his Father delights to magnify him by blotting out the sin. If von can prove that any gift to you would reflect glory upon Christ, you may depend upon it you will have it. If there is anything under heaven. that would make Christ more illustrious the Father would not spare it for a moment. If thou seest that for thee to have thy sin forgiven would raise the fame of the Saviour, go and plead that argument with God, and thou shalt surely prevail. Will it not make Christ glad if he saves such a sinner as thou art? Then go with this argument in thy mouth, "Father, glorify thy Son by exalting him as a glorious Saviour in saving me." I find this often a great lever at a dead lift,—to say unto the Lord, "Lord, thou knowest the straits I am in; thou knowest how undeserving I am; thou knowest what a poor, undone creature I am before thee; but if thy dear Son shall help and save me the very angels will stand and wonder at his mighty grace, and so it will bring glory to him, therefore I entreat thee be gracious unto me." Be sure thou art certain to prevail if thou canst plead that it will glorify Christ, and surely thou wouldest not wish to have a thing that would not glorify him. Thy prayer shall always be prevalent, if thy heart be in such a state that thou art willing to have or not to have, according as it will honour thy Lord: if it will not glorify Christ, be thou more than content to do without the choicest earthly good; but be thou doubly grateful when the boon that is granted tends to bring honour to the ever dear and worshipful name of Jesus. "For Christ's sake." It is a precious word; dwell upon it, and lay up this sentence in the archives of thy memory—the Father will do anything for the sake of Jesus Christ his Son.


Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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