As We Forgive Those Who Sin Against Us!
(The Lord's Prayer - Part 4)
There are four main petitions made to God in the Lord's model prayer. The second of these is for him to forgive our sins as we forgive others their sins (Mat 6:12). It's a request to be treated as we treat others. In other words "We will do unto others as we wish God to do unto us"!Mat 6:12 And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
This follows on from the first petition to "give us this day our daily bread" and since it's joined to it by the conjunction "And" it seems that this should be a daily request also.
This all sounds very good at first until you look at it in the context of our Christian priveledges. It makes our forgiveness dependent on our performance. The word translated "as" in this sentence is 'gar' whose meaning I understand tells you that what follows is the reason for what went before.
This was the case under the law. If you did right then you would be blessed. You could not achieve a perfect forgiving attitude of course so if your forgiveness was to be based on that you're in big trouble! It also tells you that God has not forgiven you permanently but is waiting for you to become perfect and then he will. And if you fail to be perfect he'll take his forgiveness back! That's why they needed "The day of atonement"; to cover the sins that they forgot, which would otherwise kill them!
Jesus gave a parable to illustrate that we could not live up to the standard necessary for complete forgiveness under the Old Covenant and left it as a contrast/comparison to what happens under the New Covenant. It's found in Mat 18:23-35.Mat 18:23-35 "Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.
So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.
But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, 'Pay what you owe.' So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.
When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place.
Then his master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.
So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."
This parable is given as a comparison with the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom is not like this! This shows the situation before Jesus' death and resurection. Your forgiveness was based on your performance and if you failed to forgive you were not forgiven. This is because when God was going to make a covenant with the children of Israel they boasted that - "Whatever God said they would do"! So God gave them a covenant where their blessings were dependent on their performance.
This is not the case for us today. We have been freely forgiven. It's a done deal and Jesus died for our sins even while we were still sinners. All our sins have been forgiven - past, present and future. We don't have to ask him every day to forgive our sins, nor indeed to only forgive us if we forgive others of their sins.
If we were writing the equivalent of this parable to tell our children and grandchildren what the Kingdom of God is like, everything would be the same up till the King is told about what his servant has done. Then in our story the King would go to the prison and pay the debt of that servant and release him. Calling the unforgiving servant before him he would tell him how disappointed he is with him and that he had hoped the servant would learn from and follow his example. He would then tell the servant to go and not do that again.
The King of the kingdom of God has paid all the debts of everyone and does not hold our iniquities against us! Notice that in our story of life in the Kingdom both servants are free at the end. In the end of the other story of life compared with the Kingdom (ie. before Jesus died for our sins), both servants are prisoners in jail. Not only that, the only ones who are free are the ones who could pay their own debt! This would be salvation by works (were it possible!) and not grace.
In actual fact we cannot pay the debt we owe or live without sinning. Knowing that we could not live up to the standard necessary to allow all our sins to be forgiven by God as of right, He provided a better way. By grace through faith!Tit 2:11-13 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. It trains us to renounce ungodly living and worldly passions so that we might live sensible, honest, and godly lives in the present world as we wait for the blessed hope and the glorious appearance of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
And this grace is available because as the song says, "He came down to our level, when we couldn't get up to his".Heb 9:11 But when Christ had become a high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building nor by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered once for all into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
This tells us that by the shedding of his blood Christ has obtained eternal redemption for those who believe and accept his covenant life. All our sins past, present and future have already been forgiven through the blood of Jesus Christ. Eternal redemption.
Interestingly, Heb 10 verses 1 and 2 tells us what would have happened if there could have been a perfect sacrifice under the Old Covenant.Heb 10:1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? Because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
What this tells us is that if there had ever been a perfect sacrifice then there would not have been a need for any more sacrifices and the worshippers would have had their sins removed and would have had no sin consciousness. They would not have had any awareness of sin in their lives.
Goats and bulls couldn't do it but Jesus's sacrifice did. This therefore confirms that the perfect sacrifice of Christ brings us eternal redemption. So we put faith in Jesus Christ and place our trust in Him and all our sins are removed. We don't have to confess sins and keep asking for them to be covered like they did under the old covenant. Christ died once for our eternal redemption. And, we should have no sin consciousness because Hebrews tells us that would be the result!Heb 10:12-14 but he, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; henceforth expecting till his enemies be made the footstool of his feet. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
We have been perfected forever (in our spirit).
Some will bring up 1 John 1:9 as a reason why we must keep confessing all our sins every day or else we will not be saved. This though just puts another nail in the coffin. We cannot forgive other people perfectly to be saved that way and added to this we cannot remember to confess all our sins (those of comission and those of omission) perfectly either!
We should not be walking around wracked by guilt and sin consciousness and feeling we have to confess every sin and have them forgiven individually or else we won't be saved. You couldn't remember them all probably, and what about sins of omission where you didn't do something that you should have done? Can you remember all of those, even the ones you were not aware of not doing at the time?
What 1 John 1:9 is telling us is that when we come to Jesus we are to repent (change our mindset) and admit we are sinners who need God to change us, and he will forgive us through the blood of Jesus Christ. Then we are to walk in newness of life living a life worthy of repentance. God is not imputing our sins against us but that is not a reason for wrong living! We are to live lives aimed at holiness.
We can though do things which will give Satan an inroad into our lives and cause us to be sick. Paul tells us this in 1 Cor 11:29 and that, I believe, is what James meant when he said in Jam 5:16 -Jam 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
This confession that we make as Christians is not for salvation, because as you can see it's not towards God. It towards those who are praying for you so that they can pray from a position of knowledge of the things which are affecting you. You get this sin consiousness which Satan is using against you out of the way so that you can be healed in mind, body and conscience. And we learn to distinguish between the functions of the bread and the wine in the communion service so that we see how sin and healing are both covered in Jesus' atonement.
In the spirit we are perfect, but we have to keep our minds stayed on God, trusting in Jesus and not wracked with guilt and condemnation. Instead we renew our minds to be like our perfectly cleansed and sealed spirit, and then we will live accordingly until the return of Jesus.Heb 12:22-23 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, Eph 1:13-14 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Eph 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
We don't have to keep going back and confessing sins and asking for them to be covered in order to be saved and have a right relationship with God. Our relationship with God is in the spirit and our spirit is perfect and sealed so it stays that way. We don't live under a variant counterpart to the Old Covenant.
Christ died once for our eternal redemption. And, we should have no sin consciousness because the book of Hebrews tells us that would be the result when there was complete propitiation for sins! Our sins were forgiven when Jesus died for us and at the time that we were "saved" this forgiveness was applied and Jesus' rightousness imputed to us not because we confessed our sins but because we accepted Jesus Christ as our saviour, and put our trust in him.
One who has truly turned to God will start to live a Godly life as he/she is led by Holy Spirit. A Christian is one who having been forgiven much loves much, like the woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears. And, because of this love they put away sin because they see (as in Eph 4:30) that the real problem with sin is that when God sees his children do it, it breaks his heart. Christians are not consious of sin; they are conscious that they want to please God.
Also, we are told that we should continue as Christians in the way that we started. Salvation came by putting faith in Jesus, not by confession. People confess to wrong-doing all the time, but without putting faith in Jesus they are not saved. Therefore we live our lives after salvation by putting faith in Jesus 'to will and to do his good pleasure' through us.Gal 3:1-3 O foolish Galatians, who bewitched you not to obey the truth, to whom before your eyes Jesus Christ was written among you crucified? This only I would learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, do you now perfect yourself in the flesh?
So because of putting faith in Jesus we have total forgiveness of all sins for all time. But this does not mean that a Christian will continue in sin. Because of the love of God and our love for him we will live right. If we don't, it's because we don't love and trust God. (see also Living Under Grace )
We can see this is the case by looking at the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The Holy Spirit will convict us of sin. But knowing people could be confused by Satan, Jesus explained what that sin was. It's the sin of not believing in Jesus (John 16:7-11). And Holy Spirit convicts even christians of that or Satan would have the day-2-day victory over us as we believe his lies and give him power over us.Joh 16:7-11 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
Holy Spirit is our comforter. He encourages us. He's not down on us all the time because we have committed sins. Rather he encourages us to do better by telling us we miss the mark because we don't trust Jesus enough! We live upright and holy lives because Jesus lives through us by His grace, and fall down when we 'do it ourselves' instead of relying on Him.
The Holy Spirit will convict us of Righteousness also NOT Un-righteousness and of judgement because SATAN is judged NOT us. We have been set free from Satan's clutches and should not put ourselves back into his hands by not trusting Jesus to live through us.
We have been set free and put into the Kingdom of God's son, Jesus Christ. We have been forgiven, with an eternal redemption, of all our sins. So now we live by faith in Jesus, letting him live his life through us. Our change towards living a godly lifestyle is because of Jesus' power in us. No change over time - no Jesus working inside!
Satan is the one who accuses the brethren and throws sins that they may commit in their faces, not the Holy Spirit! But we are to let Satan know that we are a work in progress as we renew our minds. Our spirits are perfect; we are the righteousness of Christ; and it's Satan who has been judged.
So really we shouldn't keep asking God to do what he's already done. What Paul tells us is that Christians should forgive others because we have been forgiven. We model ourselves on Jesus, not ask him to model his forgiveness on our example!Col 3:12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Our motivation for forgiving others should be 'Love', not because we are commanded to or because we have something to gain. As Paul says to Philemon in Phm verses 8-9 as he asks him to forgive Onesimus.Phm 1:8-9 For this reason, although in Christ I have complete freedom to order you to do what is proper, I prefer to make my appeal on the basis of love.
Love should be the motivation of a Christian to forgive. The love of God shed abroad in our hearts because God forgave us first, totally, for ever.
So you see, we don't have to ask him every day to forgive our sins, nor indeed to only forgive us if we forgive others of their sins. If we keep doing this we will end up with sin consciousness and guilt and think that our relationship with God is blighted. This will give Satan a way into our lives. And if you get like that, Satan will kick sand in your face and steal your ball!
What we must remember is that we are forgiven, totally. God is not imputing our sins against us. Now, what we should do is ask God to develop in us the same forgiving and loving attitude that he has towards us.
While we were still sinners he died for us and forgave all of our sins. We receive that forgiveness by trusting in Him not confessing our sins. God's grace then teaches us to live godly lives and we become zealous for good works, as we yield to him.Tit 2:11-14 For the grace of God as appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Jesus has said that He will never leave us or forsake us. Our God is an awesome God who through the Holy Spirit guides and protects and teaches us 24/7. And Jesus is living His life through us as we trust Him and yield to the promptings of Holy Spirit so that we learn and grow to become forgiving towards others as He was towards us!
We already have the blessings. That's the love of the God that we worship!