"... be kind to one another, tenderhearted,
forgiving one another,
just as God in Christ forgave you".
Any consideration of forgiveness must begin with God's forgiveness. How truly astonishing it is! It's the pinnacle of His abundant mercy and grace - and it's given freely.
Here's just one example:
"And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses," Colossians 2'13.
All trespasses forgiven! None forgotten! Simply by taking up our merciful God's grace, repenting and receiving Jesus.
Think of it, He takes unbelievers who are absolutely dead to Him in sin and makes them absolutely alive in Christ's righteousness. Hallelujah!
(There is more about forgiveness on Kingdom Praying 1&2 on the Menu.)
Believers are told that God's forgiveness is always available - available to cleanse completely:
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness," 1 John 1'9.
"And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous," 1 John 2'1.
There is no sin or act of unrighteousness that can bar a Believer from going to the Father's Throne of Grace for forgiveness in Jesus' name.
Although the devil himself might say otherwise, although he may try to hinder, he does not have the power to block the way.
God's mercy is always available and His grace is sufficient. Confess, repent, ask, and He will forgive.
What is it that Believers are to be aware of? It's godliness. It is one the greatest characteristics of the Lord. He demonstrated it continually.
Godliness is simply being aware of the presence of the heavenly Father in everyday living. Being godly involves living with these things in mind:
The Holy Spirit is assisting us, as Galatians 4'6 says:
"And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
And Believers are to be aware of themselves in relationship to the Spirit. This is because it is He who gives access with the Father, as Paul also says:
"... do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.
And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Therefore do not be partakers with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light," Ephesians 4'30-5'1-8.
"If we walk in the light as He is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son
cleanses us from all sin," 1 John 1'7.
(For more see Kingdom Godliness on the Menu.)
Being forgiving is a disposition that brings benefits to Believers in spirit, soul and body. They know that their Father's forgiveness is absolute.
However, as Jesus emphatically there's the condition that if a Believer witholds forgiveness from others our heavenly Father witholds forgiveness from us.
Going to God for forgiveness is not an uncommon thing. But do Believers examine themselves before asking?
Jesus emphasised the attitude, "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors".
Obviously Jesus wanted His People to think this way, so He explained it more fully at the end of His teaching on the manner of praying.
"... 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).
At the Lord's Supper Believers are called to think about this:
"... let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
For he who eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.
For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.
But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world," 1 Corinthians 11'28-32.
This point alone makes a person unworthy to partake. Of course, often this has to be a dispostion because forgiveness can only be given when the one who has committed the offence asks.
Amazingly, the Lord leaves us the privilege, and the blessing, of judging ourselves.
Although there are other reasons for Believers to examine themselves, forgiving can be the most challenging, especially if the offender is someone close.
And the requirement to forgive can seem unreasonable because of the harm the other person has inflicted.
But by putting this condition in place, the Lord shows that He is aware of how serious the personal consequences are - not to mention the wider ill-effects.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted,
forgiving one another,
just as God in Christ forgave you.
As has been said before the temptation to not forgive can be amazingly strong, even justified. Only living with a forgiving disposition keeps us in harmony with Jesus.
And He warns about the serious consequences that not forgiving brings.
He gave an example in Matthew 18:
"... if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother," v.15.
Later Peter asked for clarification:
He "... said, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?
"Jesus said to him:
'I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven'," verses 21-22.
And He gave an illustration in verses 23-34:
"... the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants".
This is about a servant who was unable to repay an enormous debt he owed his master. So he pleaded with him.
His master, "moved with compassion, released him and forgave him the debt".
Then this same servant decided to call in a small debt owed to him by another servant who was unable to pay and who pleaded with him.
But there was no compassion or forgiveness or generosity of heart forthcoming from the servant even though he had been forgiven so much.
Perhaps he didn't realise it, but there were witnesses:
"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" (v31).
But the same master who had been "moved with compassion":
"... delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him" (v35).
Jesus ended His illustration with this warning:
"So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses," (v35).
If a Believer willingly refuses to forgive there are serious consequences because there is only one course of action left open to our Father.
TEMPTATION IS NOT SIN
The enemy is the master of the lie that temptation is sin. Some, especially new, Believers are caught out by it.
However, the good news is that there is a choice: simply submit to God and resist the enemy. Or yield to the temptation.
God "... gives grace to the humble.
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you," James 4'6-8.
Keep in mind, to be tempted is not to sin. Don't consider it!
Temptation is not of God and desire can be very dangerous:
"Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.
But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death," James 1'13-15.
Nevertheless, Believers can know this:
"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it," 1 Corinthians 10'13.
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith .., 1 Peter 5'8-9.
Be sure to act:
"... above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," Ephesians 6'16,17.
Believers are in the right place spiritually when the Father (not ourselves and certainly not the enemy) is given authority over their lives.
Satan's aim is authority. He wants the kingdom, the power and the glory in everything, especially in Believers' lives. Yielding to temptation is only co-operating with him:
"Be angry and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil," Ephesians 4'27-28.
"But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare," 1 Timothy 6'9.
If a Believer willingly yields to temptation, Satan has free access to lead them. However, the right to lead a Child of God belongs to the Holy Spirit.
The enemy has the authority to take over because, having entered into the temptation's sin, the Believer has given him permission to have it. Remember "do not give place to the devil"?
If you have yielded to temptation remember this, God forgives and He will deliver! In Jesus' name our Father is within hearing. He will hear repentant prayer.
Pray. Confess your sins to Him. Repent, ask Him for His forgiveness and in Jesus' name ask for the deliverance that only He can accomplish.
Receive it and thank Him for delivering you! Remind the enemy that God has saved you and has taken you from his power.
Truly, "the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations," 2 Peter 2'9. [For more see Deliverance under "differentchurch" on the Menu.]
Always bear in mind, only the Holy Spirit has the right to lead God's People:
"... as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God,"
And finally, one marvellous foundational truth. The Father:
"... has delivered us from the power of darkness
and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,"
NOT MY WILL BUT YOURS
Foremost in the Lord's life was His disposition in wanting the Father's name to be hallowed and glorified.
Whatever the choice or the decision His disposition was: "Father ... not my will, but Yours, be done" (Luke 22'42).
Peter reminds us:
"For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps," 1 Peter 2'21.
And Paul adds this reminder of the power that is available:
"... all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen,
to the glory of God through us," 1 Corinthians 1'20.
Prayer. Heavenly Father, thank you for Kingdom freedom and the free access to you. Thank you, too, for the example of the Lord's own manner of life in every thing. Amen.