Forgiveness 11-11

Kingdom, Lord's Prayer, Kingdom of God, Sermon, Church, Series, Church of God, Dayton, Pennsylvania, PA, Rural Valley, Numine, Yatesboro, Smicksburg

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Please remember that sermon notes are meant to act as a guide and may not be exactly what was preached.

Matthew 18:21-35

We have an enemy that is out to kill, steal, and destroy you! To kill your witness, steal your joy, and destroy your salvation – if you allow him.5.6

This guy was saved form his debt, forgiven all that he owed. In today’s money this was millions of dollars. Jesus makes it clear that this is an impossible debt to pay back. Yet even though he owed such a great debt, he is released and forgiven.

We, like that servant, have a debt that cannot be payed, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Romans 6:23 tell us that what we deserve is death, “for the wages of sin is death.” But, while we were still sinners deserving death, Christ died for our sin. He paid the price taking on himself the sins of the world so that you could be forgiven, redeemed, and reconciled to God!

Read Romans 5. Forgiveness is an act of pardoning an offender. In the Bible , the Greek word translated as ‘forgiveness’ literally means “to let go,” as when a person does not demand payment for a debt.

Forgiveness is an act of will. It’s not that we can’t forgive it’s that we won’t. What Jesus is telling us in this parable is that refusing to forgive someone who has offended you reveals a failure to understand what has been done for you by God. This also reveals the fact that you are unable to receive God’s forgiveness.

There are several things that happen when we refuse to forgive.

If the wound you received goes untreated you can bleed on others. You know why? When we harbor unforgiveness, it usually comes out in how we feel about this person.  We relive the hurt, first with ourselves and then with others. This is when the enemy has you right where he wants you- chained to your past, separated from God, and stirring up division. I have seen and experienced families that are split because of the unwillingness to forgive, cousins don’t know each other, holidays are celebrated but not together, excuses are made and families drift apart. And then family members don’t mention anything about the other part of the family for fear of stirring up more hurt or trouble. And it becomes a generational curse…

Unforgiveness has split churches, destroyed ministries, and drove those that do not know Jesus away. Unforgiveness can cause gossip to take root and bitterness to flower. When that tree bears fruit it is in the form of negativity – wounding, hurtful, and scornful fruit that is evident for all to see.  

Romans 1 tells us that God turns us over to our sin if we want it more than we want Him.  If we don’t let go, if we do not forgive, then we can suffer the consequences of depression, anxiety, emotional turmoil, and a much higher risk for heart disease and diabetes.

John Hopkins hospital has done research that shows unforgiveness can cause PTSD – where your fight or flight response is highly elevated. You’re on edge all the time, short tempered… You are carrying that …

Jesus tells us in verse 34 that if we are not forgiving we will be delivered to the jailers. You place yourself in jail with unforgiveness… Holding an offense against someone is like being  their jailer, you lock up the offender.  You keep them there and only you can let them out…. And therein lies the problem – since you’re the jailer, you’re stuck there too.

Here is the test: every time you see that person, or hear of them, do negative thoughts pop up? When you hear about that person being blessed in some way, do you wonder how God could bless them? Do you avoid them at all costs?

If you find yourself constantly talking down about that person to someone else, pay attention to what’s happening! This is a “tell” that the bad seed of unforgiveness is taking root  and it could potentially grow into something that will steal your joy, kill relationships, and destroy your salvation. Unforgiveness is a sin! Jesus tells us in Matthew 6If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Here are some practical things you can do to overcome unforgiveness.               

  1. You must decide to forgive and seal it in action. If you feel that you cannot go to that person, write out your forgiveness in a journal or tell someone you trust that you are forgiving ________ and have them hold you accountable.
  2. Let go of expectations for that relationship.  Forgive, let go, and let God!
  3. Empathize with that person. Try to put yourself in their shoes, to understand what happened when they offended you, where they were at emotionally or mentally, that caused them to be offensive.
  4. Forgive from the heart.  Mean it, practice it, keeping in mind that no one is perfect, not even you.
  5. In Romans 12:14 the Holy Spirit tells us, “bless and do not curse them.” In the Greek to bless means “to speak well of” and to curse means “to speak evil of.” You can’t walk in forgiveness and be a gossip. You must stop repeating the offense. You can’t get over it if you continue to talk about it. Proverbs 17:9 says that he who covers an offense seeks love.                                             Read Matthew 5:21-26                             War Room Video Clip
  6. Pray for your enemies and those who abuse and misuse you. Pray for their happiness and welfare (see Luke 6:27-28). As you pray, God will work on them  as well as you, He will give you strength to handle your next encounter with love and mercy.

Digging Deeper

  • Do you deserve what God has done for you?
  • Have you accepted the forgiveness offered in Christ Jesus?
  • Can you expect forgiveness from God when you harbor unforgiveness in your heart?

Further Reading: Matthew 18:15-35, John 3:16, Romans 5:6-11, Matthew 26:28, Ephesians 1:7, Ephesians 2:1-22, 1 John 1:9, Matthew 5:21-26, Matthew 26:14-15, Mark 11:25-26, Luke 6:37-42, 2 Corinthians 2:5-11, Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:12-13, Hebrews 12:14-15

“The Romans Road”: Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:8, Romans 10:9-10, 13 = John 1:12, John 6:10-11

Johns Hopkins psychiatrist Karen Swartz on forgiveness

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