Weekly Teachings by Erik Momsen
Forgiveness (week 3)
by Erik Momsen
HEARTLINES film - "Crossroads" www.heartlines.org.za
The Christian faith is about forgiveness. Forgiveness from God to us and and intern our forgiveness of each other. Jesus himself did not come to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:17). Jesus was the perfect example of forgiveness. Some might say that was easy for him because he is God, but he experienced as much as any man could and beyond that He experienced punishment of the spirit for the sake of sinful humanity.
SOME OF WHAT JESUS FORGAVE
- The religious leaders along with one of his own plotted against Him (John 26:3,16).
- His closest friends while promising to stay with Him to the end deserted Him in His darkest hour (John 26:35)
- He was betrayed with a kiss - a sign of affection (John 26:49).
- His trial was rigged. False witnesses testified. In the court he was beaten and mocked.
- Despite being found innocent by the Roman court he was still sentenced to death (27,24).
- He was flogged (27:26), struck with rods, crowned with thorns .
- Jesus was unjustly executed as a criminal while the soldiers mocked Him and gambled for His clothing (27:32-39).
Yet in His dying moments he said in Luke 23:34.
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing".
He did not say; "Father forgive them ... if they apologise ... if they show a change of heart". He forgave his friends and foes alike. There were NO conditions. This is the Christ-like way. It is the only way.
In the Biblical mindset sins demand restitution. It is as if we owe a debt. Yet there is also the understanding that no person can pay these debts. We cannot take back a lie, give back a life or unbreak a heart. Jesus demands that we give up our right to have these debts repaid.
The Lord's Prayer talks about these "debts".
"And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." (Matthew 6:12).
It is very noteworthy that the Lord's prayer does not list a long list of sins. We might have included the long list of sins like lust, greed, violence, bitterness, racism and sexist BUT the Lord was firstly interested in forgiveness. I believe this is a more devastating sin than most of the others. Without forgiveness there can be no;
- new life
- renewed relationships
- personal forgiveness from God
Historians believe that the single greatest cause for the Second World War was the punishment met out to Germany after the First. The Treaty of Versailles made them pay for their part in the war. The lesson was learned after the Second World War and Germany and Japan were rebuilt and became the second and third biggest economies in the world. It was as if forgiveness was on their minds the second time around.
"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matthew 6:14,15)
WHY IS THIS SO?
The key to receiving forgiveness from God is a realisation that I am in desperate need. I must know that without the gift of forgiveness and salvation I am a lost man.
When I see myself as desperate and lost I realize that I am no different from the worst sinner. While I regard myself as better than others salvation has not come to my heart.
If I deny forgiveness to others it shows I have not grasped my own need for forgiveness and hence have not received it from God.
This kind of self-righteousness is the very thing that Jesus saw in the Pharisees and that angered Him so. They were so ready to judge the sinners around them when their own hearts were hard towards God and others.
IT IS GOD'S NATURE TO FORGIVE
"Jehovah! Jehovah God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin" (Exodus 34:6,7)
God knows that what we needed was a removal of the stain of sin from our lives as individuals, families and nations. He provided the price to pay for our debt by the death of Jesus, the only sinless man and Son of God.
By refusing to forgive anything that the Spirit brings to mind we reject the greatest gift of God, i.e. His Son on the Cross.
Some people go thought the same grief the Father went though and are forced to offer their own children to violence, substances and other peoples stupidity. The way to reclaim that loss is by offering the child in forgiveness back to the Father . He is able to make all things new. Our offering of forgiveness will not change the past but WILL change the eternal future of those involved.
Forgiveness is God's door to the future.
Date Added: 2006-08-01
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