Pastoral Staff

Faith to Forgive

  • Date: February 2, 2004
  • Teacher: Pastoral Staff
  • Scripture: "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you."(Matthew 6:14)
  • From Pastor Panel Discussion

We've been so freely and totally forgiven. The Greek "apheimi" means "to be sent away, to be put aside, dismissed." What a phenomenal ability that our Father has to give us that bold access into His presence by the blood of Jesus, just as if we'd never sinned--justified. But if we don't forgive, we can't be forgiven. Matthew 18 talks about the injustice of that one who had been forgiven such a great debt and then went to make demands upon his brother to pay him all. God has the amazing ability to forget our sins. Aren't you glad your sins are forgotten? In God's mind it never happened; there's no record of it. The Scripture says the handwriting of ordinances against us has been blotted out (Col. 2:14). Anytime we bring a sin back against another brother or sister, God puts our sins back on our account. Is unforgiveness against that one individual worth bringing up a lifetime of accusation against us? That is the issue whenever we demand justice and our rights. The memory of the sin against us doesn't have to affect our relationship and response to them. When we say that God forgets, we know that the memory is there. But by faith we have to accept the power of the blood and the law of forgiveness. Faith is more powerful than our recollection and our emotions. Forgiveness is an act of faith and an expression of love.

All of us are faced with people who trespass and sin against us--cut us off on the road, take advantage of us, or say all manner of evil against us (hopefully it's for righteousness' sake). How do we respond? The only way that we can ever truly understand and be capable of forgiving is to believe the love that Father has. Receiving and believing His forgiveness towards us enables us to forgive others around us. One of the greatest necessities of forgiving a brother or sister is the capacity to forgive ourselves, which is accepting the love of God and believing the effectualness of the blood of Jesus. If we can receive God's forgiveness for ourselves, then we can apply it to others. Until that happens, it's very difficult to really believe that forgiveness is capable of working in a life. The power of forgiveness is the most liberating thing any of us will ever find as we walk with one another.

The father of the prodigal son looked for and expected the return of his son. We try to draw on the love of our heavenly Father in that parable, but this is also talking about a real family and real people who have been trespassed against. After the young man went out and squandered all of the blessings that God had given him through his earthly father, he cried, "I have sinned against heaven and against you" (Luke 15:18). What breaks our hearts is the awareness that all of our sin is against God. We're grieved when we realize we've sinned against Father, against His grace and His mercy, and against whoever the innocent party was.

Matthew 6:14 says, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." That's not, "I have to." If you forgive men, your Father forgives you. This shows that you are a regenerated person, justified, and that sin no longer governs your life. This shows that the love of God is working in you.