Prayer Part 6: "Forgive Us Our Debts"

Posted on 11/04/2007 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

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TRANSCRIPT: (may not contain everything found in the audio above)

Good morning. Welcome to the Abundant Living Ministries CyberChurch! If you're a first-time visitor, please make sure to touch the welcome sign in the foyer for a notecard before you leave today.

Our purpose for gathering here today is to glorify and magnify the name of Jesus, to worship him, to seek his voice through Scripture, and to minister to him and to one another.

So let's all stand to our feet and start this service with prayer.

Lord God, thank you for meeting with us here today. Thank you for the presence of your Holy Spirit. Thank you that you not only agree, but are anxious to meet with us and to pour out your Spirit upon us.

We take a moment to bring before you the public prayer requests from this past week.

We pray for Tamara's request for provision. We ask that you pour upon her your spirit of truth, her daily bread, that extra omer, for provision for her soul. We ask that you guide her into truth and onto the path that you have prepared for her. And we ask that you provide for her physical needs as well.

We continue to pray for Tyler, the six-year-old boy with Type 1 diabetes. We ask again for a miracle for Tyler. Visit him, Jesus, and lay your healing hands upon him. Make him an example of your love and your power, and that you are Jehovah Rapha, the God who Heals Us.

We pray for all the private and unspoken requests, and for each one here or under the sound of my voice. Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us. Meet us at the point of our need, and draw our focus and attention away from ourselves and onto you, for in your presence is fullness of joy, and at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

And we pray these things in the name of Jesus.

Amen.

Click-touch the pulpit for a notecard, as we worship God with song.

I LOVE TO BE IN YOUR PRESENCE

I love to be in Your presence
With Your people singing praises
I love to stand and rejoice
Lift my hands and raise my voice
You set my feet to dancing
You fill my heart with song
You give me reason to rejoice


TAKE ME IN

Take me past the outer courts
Into the Holy Place
Past the brazen altar
Lord I want to see your face
Pass me by the crowds of people
And the Priests who sing your praise
I hunger and thirst for your righteousness
And it's only found one place

Take me into the holy of holies
Take me in by the blood of the lamb
Take me into the holy of holies
Take the coal, touch my lips, here I am


I LOVE YOU LORD

I love you Lord
     and I lift my voice
To worship you
     O my soul, rejoice!
Take joy, my King
     in what you hear
May it be a sweet, sweet sound
     in your ear

Lord, we do worship you, raising our voices, our hands, and our hearts to you, knowing that true worship is like sweet incense rising up to your throne.

May our ears be tuned and our hearts be open for what you are about to speak to us through your Word. And may we thereby be drawn even closer to you.

And it's in Jesus' name we pray.

Amen.


You may be seated.


For those who don't know, we are nearing the end of an eight-part series on what's commonly called the Lord's Prayer. We've identified this passage as a prayer outline, not something to simply recite, and have been exploring how we can use the eight main parts of this outline as prayer points, removing the excuse that we just don't know what to say when we pray.

Today let's talk about prayer point number six:

Forgive Us Our Debts.


Jesus explained forgiveness in Matthew 18:23-35 like this:

23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle  accounts with his servants.
24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him  ten thousand talents.
25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his  wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant  therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I  will pay you all.’
27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.


How many know that every single one of us owes a debt to God so great that even if we were given a thousands lifetimes to try, we could never pay it off. And that debt grows greater every day that we live in unrepented sin.

And yet for those of us who have turned to Jesus and from our sins, and who seek forgiveness and change when we do stumble, our debt has been paid, and between us and God, we are completely debt free.

The man in this parable owed the king ten thousand talents, which is possibly the same as several million dollars. This man was not identified as a lord or master, but simply as a servant. He was the average working class with a wife and kids. There was no way he could ever possibly make even a dent in that debt.

If he and his wife and his children were sold, they would probably have been separated. And while this is a horrible thing to even consider, it simply makes the depth of what Jesus was teaching that much greater.

When we owe a debt of sin, we have two choices. We can either ask for forgiveness and then show we are serious by choosing to turn from that sin and finding the help we need to over come it; or we can continue in that sin, make excuses for our actions, try to justify that sin and call it something else such as a "choice," or insist that "God understands." And yet there is a great price to pay. We can never pay the price for our sins, so everything we are, everything we have, all our potentials, those we love, and everything dear to us, comes under the dominion of our sin.

Men, do you think you can entertain lustful thoughts and not bring your home or future relationship under the shadow of that sin?

Women, do you think you can harbor resentment against someone and not spread that poison to those you love the most?

Do we really believe we can hold on to sin and be the friend of God? He said in James 4:4 that if we choose to be a friend of the things of the world, we are the enemy of God.

Do we really think we can be the enemy of God and lead those around us to Jesus and breathe life instead of death into their lives?

There is a great price to pay for holding on to our sin, because we cannot be forgiven for that to which we cling. Imagine bringing home a person with whom you're committing adultery, and with your arm around this person, saying to your spouse, "Please forgive me for this and let's have the same good marriage we've always had. I'm going to keep cheating on you with this person, but I know you understand and won't hold it against me."

Before it says that friendship with the world is enmity with God, James 4:4 uses the words, "Adulterers and adulteresses, don't you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."

God wants to forgive us for our sins, our trespasses, our debts against him. He wants to wipe them all away and set us completely free. But we have to let go of those sins and agree to turn from them, or we place everything we are, have, and love, under the dominion of our sin.

If, on the other hand, we submit ourselves to God, resist the devil, and turn from sin to righteousness, then God will forgive us our sins and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And that insurmountable mountain of debt will be completely wiped away.


Now Jesus' parable about forgiveness does not end with the man's debt being wiped away. Let's read the whole story, from Matthew chapter 18, verses 23 through 35.

23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle  accounts with his servants.
24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him  ten thousand talents.
25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his  wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant  therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I  will pay you all.’
27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and  forgave him the debt.

28 But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a  hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying,  "Pay me what you owe!"
29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, "Have  patience with me, and I will pay you all."
30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the  debt.
31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved,  and came and told their master all that had been done.
32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, "You wicked servant! I  forgave you all that debt because you begged me.
33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had  pity on you?"
34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should  pay all that was due to him.

35 So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart,  does not forgive his brother his trespasses.


Notice that the servant said to the king, "Have patience with me, and I will pay you all," and his fellow servant said to him, "Have patience with me, and I will pay you all." Their cry was exactly the same. Apparently the man demanding payment did not realize this, because he refused to have mercy on him and instead threw him into debtor's prison.

I think we tend to take our forgiveness for granted. "Well, I asked for forgiveness, and because it says so in the Bible, God had to give it to me." But we forget that God knew our sin even before we were conceived in the womb, and even before the foundation of the heavens and earth. And Jesus willingly took the blame for those sins. He knew you would seek forgiveness, and he knew that he would grant that forgiveness to a truly repentant heart. So he made provision for you beforehand.

Do we do this for others? Do we prepare ourselves to forgive no matter what someone might do to us?

God's forgiveness is conditional. I realize that probably raises a few eyebrows, but that's exactly how this passage ends: "So my heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother."

In fact, the king did not just refuse to forgive any future debt. Rather, the debt he had already forgiven was demanded in full. While we know that God removes our sin from us as far as the east is from the west, it would be foolish to presume we can hold any unforgiveness at all and still be okay with God. He simply will not forgive those who will not forgive others.


Forgiving is not the same as forgetting. We can forgive someone for raping our daughter, but we do not let them out on the streets or into our home. We can forgive someone for repeatedly stealing from, abusing, and using us even if they don't repent and turn to God for help, but that does not mean we allow them to remain in a place in our lives where they can continue to destroy us.

Forgiveness is releasing any personal rights to vengeance, bitterness, and the feeling of victimization, to God, and praying that they be reconciled to God and be made whole.

If someone is hurting us with their sin, we cannot make them right with God. But we can and must forgive them for their sins against us, and side with God concerning him. It's his will that nobody perish, but that everyone come to a knowledge of the truth. And Jesus died for this person and those sins just as he died for you. Pray that they be shown the truth and that they turn to God. And pray that during this time, others would be protected from their deeds.

I have long ago lost count of the people I've met or heard about who came to Jesus while serving time in prison. Forgiveness does not mean that we allow a dangerous person to roam the streets and find more victims. The best thing for the person and those around them is sometimes that they serve time behind bars.

It is not the bars of steel that constitute unforgiveness, but the bars of the mind and the heart. And the person who is bound the most is actually YOU.

If we are not forgiven for our sins because we refuse to forgive someone else, how can we expect God to hear our prayers? How can we expect God to bless our families, our jobs, and our dreams and goals? How can we expect to walk in abundant life instead of darkness and death?

And so by holding unforgiveness against someone else, we hold ourselves behind cold iron bars, and we and those around us suffer the dark results.

We read in Hebrews 12:14-15,

14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:
15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;

When you do not forgive someone, bitterness takes root. And this will grow and spring up and cause trouble, and this passage says that many become defiled. You see, you cannot keep unforgiveness to yourself. Its poison will seep out of you and seek to destroy everyone and everything around you.

But I believe everyone here today has heard the Word of the Lord, and I believe you know of at least one person against whom you have been holding unforgiveness.

When we get to this point in our prayer, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors," we can ask, "Lord, is there anyone I have not forgiven? Please reveal them to me," and then wait for the Lord to speak. Search your heart. And when someone comes to mind, say, "Lord, I choose to forgive this person," and speak their name. "I turn this person and this situation over to you. Please reveal the truth to them, and bring them into the Kingdom, in Jesus' name." And when we have forgiven others, we can ask for and receive forgiveness ourselves. And we will be set free.


The ministry team can come to the front now.

There may be those here today who have never asked for forgiveness from God, and have never accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. If this describes you, then make your way to the front right now.

And I want you to pray this prayer with me and mean it from your heart. Say this: "Jesus, forgive me for my sins. Come into my heart, and wash me clean. Because you died to forgive me, I choose to forgive those who have sinned against me. Teach me how to have a personal relationship with you. And I will follow you all the days of my life. Thank you Jesus. Amen."

I believe there are many of us here today who are holding unforgiveness against at least one person. And if that's you and you want to be free today, get out of your seat and come to the altar, and you can be set free today.

And as you come, pray this prayer with me. Say, "Lord, forgive me for holding unforgiveness against [say their name]. I know you died so I could be forgiven. And you died so they could be forgiven too. So I release [say their name] right now in Jesus' name. I choose to forgive [say their name]. And I ask that you forgive me, too, and set me free, in Jesus' name."

This altar is open. If you need prayer or ministry, instant message someone on the ministry team. Feel free to come pray and spend time in the presence of the Lord. If you want to start a discussion with someone, please be careful to not distract the moving of the Holy Spirit, and make your way to the room on your left where we'll all meet in a few minutes for fellowship.