Posted on 05/16/2011 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
*** There are no public prayer requests this week. ***
Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.
A REASON TO REJOICE
I have a reason to rejoice
I have a reason to clap my hands
I have a reason to lift my voice
and sing praises to the great I Am
I have a reason to move my feet
and take the Gospel into the street
I have a reason to lose my will
and let Jesus take full control
For you have set me feet to dancin'
You have filled my heart with joy
You have freed me from my passions
and filled me with the Holy Ghost
You have set my heart on fire
Fill my soul with your desire and
Melt me Lord 'til only you remain!
SING A NEW SONG
Sing unto the Lord a new song
Sing unto the Lord all the earth
Sing unto the Lord a new song
Sing unto the Lord all the earth
For God is great
and greatly to be praised
God is great
and greatly to be praised
I EXALT THEE
For thou O Lord art high
above all the earth
Thou are exalted
far above all gods
And I exalt thee
I exalt thee
I exalt thee O Lord
*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***
Today, I'd like for us to talk about a subject which, while it is a requirement for walking with God, is something most of us have struggled with throughout our life, and something that many of us struggle with still today.
It's something that, without it, we are placing ourselves in a very dangerous place, and are putting up a wall between us and God.
It's something that, once we learn and live by it, will set us free, and might even bring healing to our bodies and our minds.
And the title of today's message is "Forgiveness."
Mark 11:25 says this:
25 "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.
26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses."
Most of us have heard this quoted, probably many times. But do you have ANYTHING against ANYONE today? Is there anyone you still hold in a prison in your heart? Is there anyone who, whenever you hear their name or they come to mind, you send in your angry, bitter, hurt-filled thoughts and feelings to torment them?
Every single one of us has been hurt by others, either by something they did or didn't do to us, or by some wrong we might incorrectly perceive. And if we take the time to pray, "Holy Spirit, reveal to me any unforgiveness I hold in my heart," and then we stop, still our minds, and listen, I believe we might just be surprised as the Lord brings to the surface some unforgiveness we have hidden away.
And what did the passage we just read say? "If you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses." That's serious business. Unless you're perfect, you're going to need God's forgiveness; but if you don't forgive everyone else, then God will not forgive you either.
Let's read from Matthew chapter 18.
Matthew 18:21-35 (NKJV)
21 Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"
22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
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."
First, we see that this person owed ten thousand tallents. In today's gold prices, that works out to be $18,032,208,081... Over 18 billion dollars! Now, maybe you have that kind of money lying around. If you do, I encourage you to visit the offering plate before you leave.
But for most people in the world today, we would never be able to pay this debt. And this man's wife, children, all his posessions, and himself were to be sold, he and his wife and kids as slaves, with who knows what happening to his wife and kids while he would be able to do nothing about it.
That sounds like a fate much worse than death. And it would be for life, since the price all of that would bring wouldn't even make a dent in his debt of 18 billion dollars.
And so he fell down at his feet, and begged him to just be patient with him, and he would pay him everything.
Of course he wouldn't have been able to even if he were given thousands of extra years to live, and his master knew this. But verse 27 says, "Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt."
Do you realize how much debt you owed God? Sin against God is treason, as we reject the orders of our king and do something else instead. ALL of us are guilty of this crime, and we have all committed it over and over and over again.
Our spiritual debt was much higher than 18 billion dollars. It was higher than 18 trillion dollars. No amount of riches in the world or in the entire universe could have been exchanged for our sin.
Romans 6:23 says that the price for our sin is death. Only death can pay for your sin. And once you die in your sins, you are seperated from God for all eternity.
But this verse goes on to say that the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And this brings us to one very important difference between this parable concerning earthly debt and our spiritual sin debt we have accumulated against God.
And that difference is this: This man's debt meant his Lord was denied those material riches. But the result of our debt of sin was that our Lord sent His only begotten Son to die the most cruel, painful, shameful death on earth.
YOU crucified Jesus. Your sins alone were enough to either condemn you to hell for all eternity or to nail Jesus to the cross to bear the guilt, the shame, the torment, and the death your sins rightly deserve.
You see, we are a creation that is filled with pride. No matter what we've done, we seem to think that what other people have done to us is far worse than what we have done against God. But we are completely wrong, blinded by our pride.
Verse 28 says that this servant, after having been forgiven his debt of 18 billion dollars, 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!'"
In today's silver prices, 100 denarii is about $3,500 dollars. That's about one month's wages for the average person. Compare 35 hundred dollars to over 18 billion. This man's debt was more than five million times greater than that of his fellow servant, and yet, when he begged for more time to pay a debt that he WOULD be eventually able to pay, this same man who had just been forgiven a debt he could never pay, had him thrown into debter's prison until he could pay every last cent.
And we do the same thing.
Someone might have done horrible things to you. Maybe a parent abused you as a kid. Maybe someone raped you, or killed someone you loved, or did something else against you that you think is unforgiveable. But no matter what debt they owe to you, it pales in comparison to the debt you owed to God. You sent Jesus to the cross to take the blame for and die for your acts of treason against God.
But He loved you and had enough compassion for you to send His only begotten Son to die in your place.
Do you realize the debt from which God has set you free? Someone else has sinned against you, a fallen human being; but YOU have sinned against GOD. What is the exchange rate between a sin against fallen man and a sin against the perfect, holy God of the universe? It would have to be at least five million to one.
So no matter what anyone has done to you, it is NOTHING compared to what you have done against God. Just remember this the next time you try to justify your unforgiveness; and the next time the thought goes through your mind, "Well, God will understand why I can't forgive this person after what they've done," just remember what happened in Jesus' parable: "And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses."
Sometimes we find ourselves in various types of torment. We might have a sickness we can't overcome, or what seems like a financial curse, or some sort of wall that keeps us from coming into God's presence and communing with Him like we want to do. While all these things can have various sources, it is certain that, if you hold unforgiveness against anyone for any reason, you are paying the price every day of your life.
So how do we forgive? It's easy to talk about it, but can seem almost impossible to do.
Well, the easy answer is that we can't, and we need to let God forgive through us. But while this is ultimately true, we need to take action and set ourselves in the right place, the place where God disperses His power both to forgive and to be released from the prison in which we have placed ourselves with our unforgiveness.
And that place is a place of humility.
James 4:6 says "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Do you think that someone's sins against you are greater than your sins against God? Then you are proud, and you have set yourself at odds with God, for "God resists the proud."
Do you need God's grace? Then put things in their proper perspective: no matter how great someone's sins against you were, they are nothing in comparison to your own wicked actions against God; you see, "(God) gives grace to the humble."
Sure, that person who sinned against you has also sinned against God, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." But their sins against God are between them and God, and you don't have the right to stand in the gap between them and God and pronounce judgment upon them; And neither do you have the right to demand they pay their debt to you -- not after your much greater debt to God has been paid for by the same Savior who also died for that person you are refusing to forgive.
I can't count the number of stories I've heard of people who, after forgiving someone, saw that person come to Jesus, or had hopelessly wrecked relationships made better than ever, or were healed, delivered, and set free.
Could you be keeping someone from coming to Jesus and being transformed, because you refuse to forgive them? Your own torment is guaranteed, but you could also be standing in between them and the cross.
So the first step is to realize that you have been forgiven of much more debt than everyone on earth combined could ever own you. Humble yourself, and realize that you are no more deserving of forgiveness than anyone else, regardless of how much better you think you've been than others; and, in that spirit of humility, realize that all of another's sins against you cannot be compared with even one of your sins against God.
Then, in this attitude of humility, speak out their name, and declare that you forgive them. Not, "I forgive you, BUT..." but, "I forgive you unconditionally, even if you continue to do the same thing against me for the rest of your life."
Peter asked the same question we tend to ask: "Lord, how often should I forgive?" And the meaning of Jesus' answer was, "as many times as it takes."
Now, it's important to realize that forgiveness does not necessarily mean pretending that nothing ever happened. If, for example, your spouse continues to cheat on you and maybe even is abusive, and a danger to you and your children. Wisdom would lead you to take yourself and your children out of harm's way, and may even lead you to file for divorce.
Forgiveness of a debt is not the same as opening up that person's line of credit, or giving them access to your bank account. You may need to sever some ties somewhere along the way. But when you do, you will do so out of an attitude of humble wisdom, NOT out of an attitude of unforgiveness.
Forgiveness also does not necessarily mean that our feelings of hurt and betrayal are gone; rather, forgiveness is often the first step toward healing from those wounded feelings.
"I can't forgive so-and-so because I'm too hurt by what they did." And so your emotional wounds continue to fester and breed infection because you refuse to clean them and start their healing by forgiving the person who hurt you.
Forgiveness, very simply put, is letting someone go. And not necessarily from the consequences of their sin; for example, maybe someone performed a sexual sin against you or someone you love. It would probably not be good for them or safe for others if you keep it a secret and didn't press charges. They might need to be locked up for awhile so others will be protected from having this happen to them, and also so hopefully, seeing at least a glimpse of the seriousness of their actions, they might be granted repentance.
But the "letting go" of forgiveness is to release them in your heart. Instead of holding their sins against them, you choose to let those sins go, just as Jesus chose to let YOUR sins go as He paid the price for them.
And once again, the way to let go, is to pray for help; humble yourself and put things in Heaven's perspective; declare that they are unconditionally forgiven; and then, when thoughts about what that person has done come to your mind, let those thoughts go, and dwell instead on something beautiful and worthy of praise.
As Philippians 4:8 says, "whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things."
Personally, I've found that setting aside some time every day to just silence my chattering mind and just listen, has greatly increased my ability to let go. So I encourage you to practice letting go. Set aside some time every day to let go of all the things you need to do, all the problems you need to solve, all the things that have happened in the past and all the things you think might happen in the future; let go of your fears, your doubts, your worries, of all the things that call for your attention, and even of your own addiction to mental turmoil; and just be still. And if you do this every day for at least 10 or 20 minutes a day, before long you'll find that it's much easier for you to let go of worries and fears, as well as those thoughts of what people have done to you.
Practice this type of obedience to God's word, and you will be able to obey more easily.
You see, forgiveness should be a way of life for every believer. We should get to the point that we forgive immediately and without reservation. We may still need to take action to protect ourselves and others from further abuse; but that action will be made out of wisdom, instead of out of bitterness and hurt.
And you will find yourself in better health, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, as you release yourself from the tormenters that are promised to everyone who does not forgive.
And you will be able to come boldly into God's presence, knowing that He will forgive you for your sins, since you continue to forgive everyone from your heart.
I'd like to open up this altar for a time of prayer and ministry. Are you ready to forgive and to set yourself free? Then get out of your seat and take action which represents your resolve to obey God by letting others' sins against you go.
Do you want to commit yourself to living a life of instant and unconditional forgiveness? Then you're invited to get out of your seat and come dedicate yourself to either starting or continuing to walk in Christ-like forgiveness.
If you'd like someone to talk or pray with you, feel free to instant message me, Mariposa, or anyone else on the staff of ministry team.
Whenever you need to go, you're dismissed; and if you can stay until after this time at the altar, you're invited to join us for a bit of fellowship in the Fellowship Room to your left.
Lord, we thank you so much for forgiving us our debt against you which we could have never paid, and which would have cost us an eternity of torment and regret. Please give us humble hearts, hearts that realize that others' sins against us pale in comparison to our sins against you. And give us forgiving hearts, hearts that immediately let go of any offense or transgression against us, and minds that dwell upon things of beauty and praise.
And right now, Lord, we ask for your grace, your power to forgive. Bring any unforgiveness to our minds, as we wait upon you.
And as the Lord brings names to your mind, speak to God, just between you and Him, and declare that you forgive that person in Jesus' name, and you refuse to hold on to their transgressions or hold them against that person any longer.
- - - - - - - - - -
Sometimes we need to also go to that person and tell them we forgive them, and even to ask for their forgiveness for holding them in bondage for how we've been hurt in the past.
So Lord, I ask that as we leave this place, you give each one of us wisdom; that we would know if, how, and when to approach each person, and how to communicate complete forgiveness in an attitude of love and humility.
You're welcome to stay at this altar for as long as the Lord is meeting with you. And I speak peace, forgiveness, and total freedom upon your heart, spirit, and soul, in Jesus' name.