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The Power

&

Problem
of

Forgiveness

Trevor Chandler

Sovereign World

Contents
Introduction Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Foundation of Forgiveness What Happened in Old Testament?
Forgiveness and Judgment Forgiveness in New Testament 5 7 36 61 93 1 4 15 19 !

Sowing and Reaping


What is Happening?

How to Forgive

Dedication
This boo" is dedi#a$ed $o all $hose who long $o be free from $he b%rden of %nforgiveness& and al$ho%gh $he' have wres$led wi$h $he (roblem& have been %nable $o find a (ra#$i#al answer $o gen%inel' forgiving from $he hear$)

Trevor Chandler

Introduction
* have alwa's been ama+ed and $hrilled b' $he gra#e of ,od& -is mer#'& forgiveness and (ardon) * have no$ f%ll' %nders$ood how ,od wo%ld be so benefi#en$ in s(i$e of man.s sin and #ons$an$ fail%re& b%$ * have a##e($ed -is wonderf%l (rovisions wi$h a gra$ef%l hear$) Some (eo(le find i$ hard $o a##e($ $ha$ ,od #o%ld so freel' forgive sin and fail%re& and so $he' remain wi$h a sense of g%il$ and #ondemna$ion) /r& if $he' do a##e($ $ha$ ,od has forgiven $hem& $he' find i$ hard $o forgive $hemselves) 0e#a%se of $his& (eo(le live wi$ho%$ $he 1o' and (ea#e $ha$ $he' sho%ld have) /$hers live a life of self (leasing and ind%lgen#e wi$h $he idea $ha$ $he' need onl' as" ,od $o forgive $hem and -e will immedia$el' do so& and $he #onse2%en#es of an' viola$ion or sin will be #an#elled) *$ has been m' #onvi#$ion for several 'ears $ha$ man' of o%r beliefs and #on#e($s abo%$ forgiveness have been inade2%a$e and fa%l$'& and $ha$ (eo(le have $rea$ed $he ma$$er of forgiveness ei$her $oo ligh$l' or #onsidered $ha$ $he im(li#a$ions of forgiveness were be'ond $heir #a(a#i$' $o mee$) 3' e4(erien#e has shown $ha$ $he ma1ori$' of (eo(le #an a##e($ ,od.s forgiveness of $hem& b%$ $he' la#" $he "nowledge and %nders$anding $o gen%inel' forgive o$hers who have wronged or h%r$ $hem) The' "now $ha$ 5es%s said $ha$ if we do no$ forgive o$hers ,od will no$ forgive %s& b%$ $his

"nowledge& ra$her $han solving $he (roblem& in#reases $heir b%rden of g%il$) This boo" is an endeavor $o $hrow ligh$ %(on $he (roblems $ha$ man' (eo(le have wi$h %nders$anding and im(lemen$ing forgiveness) When we do %nders$and how $o forgive we will be in a (osi$ion $o re#eive $he (osi$ive benefi$s whi#h #ome as a res%l$ of forgiving o$hers as ,od has forgiven %s) Trevor Chandler

Chapter 1 The Foundation of Forgiveness


We had $al"ed for abo%$ $wen$' min%$es) -er s$or' was one of hear$brea" and des(air6 a 'o%ng wife and mo$her s%ddenl' deser$ed b' her h%sband) There was a loo" of ho(elessness on her fa#e7 She said& 89re 'o% $elling me $ha$ * m%s$ forgive a man who wal"ed o%$ on o%r #hild and me $o be wi$h ano$her woman: -ow #an * do $ha$: ;o 'o% "now wha$ i$ means $o wa$#h $he las$ #en$ ever' wee" and #r' 'o%rself $o slee( be#a%se of loneliness:<

Why This Subject?


This e4(erien#e and man' o$hers whi#h have #ome from #o%nseling (eo(le over $he 'ears& have made me aware of $he dee( (roblems in $he lives of so man' men and women whi#h demand $he e4er#ise of forgiveness) There have been h%r$s and wo%nds so dee(& $ha$ i$ seems almos$ im(ossible for $hem $o forgive= b%$ * am also aware $ha$ $here is& $hro%gh $he abili$' $o forgive& a $remendo%s benefi$ for good in a (erson.s life) 9 la#" of forgiveness& however& will bring m%#h $ha$ is harmf%l s(iri$%all'& men$all' and (h'si#all') Peo(le have los$ $heir reali$' of ,od& are emo$ionall' and men$all' in $%rmoil and (h'si#all' si#"& be#a%se of bi$$erness $ha$ #omes as a res%l$ of %nforgiveness)

There is, through the ability to forgive, a tremendous benefit for good in a persons life. /%r lives are in$erwoven wi$h $hose of o$hers and we are involved in in$er(ersonal rela$ionshi(s ever' da'& and as a res%l$& man' si$%a$ions whi#h give rise $o mis%nders$anding or offen#e o##%r) *$ is essen$ial $ha$ we %nders$and f%ll' wha$ is involved in $he s%b1e#$ of forgiveness) This boo" has been $i$led The Power and Problem of Forgiveness be#a%se $here is grea$ (ower for good in o%r lives if we #an gen%inel' forgive& b%$ $here is a grea$ (roblem in being able $o do i$7 *$ wo%ld be eas' $o give a lis$ of s#ri($%res based on wha$ $he 0ible sa's abo%$ forgiveness& b%$ $ha$ wo%ld no$ g%aran$ee an answer $o o%r (roblem) We #an "now wha$ is righ$ b%$ no$ "now how $o do i$) * wan$ $o %nfold $his s%b1e#$ s$e(>b'>s$e( $o $he (oin$ $ha$ we "now e4a#$l' wha$ forgiveness is& and also how $o forgive) There is a great power for good in our lives if we can genuinely forgive, but there is a problem in being able to do it! ?e$ me refer $o $wo brief (assages of s#ri($%re) The firs$ is in $he /ld Tes$amen$6 Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. @

Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. (Isaiah !"#$% The se#ond sa's6 &his, then, is how you should pray! 'ur (ather in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. (orgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. )nd lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (or if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly (ather will also forgive you. *ut if you do not forgive men their sins, your (ather will not forgive your sins.+ (,atthew "!-#. % The la$$er (ar$ of $his s#ri($%re& whi#h deals wi$h $he effe#$ $ha$ o%r forgiving o$hers has %(on ,od.s forgiveness of %s& is (ar$i#%larl' #hallenging and is an im(or$an$ as(e#$ of o%r s$%dies) We will& however& deal wi$h $his in de$ail in a la$er #ha($er)

Three Vital Words


We need $o la' a fo%nda$ion b' e4amining $hree words $ha$ are essen$ial $o o%r %nders$anding of $his $o(i#) The words are6 Mercy Forgiveness Pardon 9

5es%s said 2%i$e #learl' $ha$ we were $o forgive one ano$her) -e did no$ 2%alif' $he (ar$i#%lar #a%se) -e did no$ sa'& 8*f i$ is a small h%r$& $hen forgive)< -e did no$ sa'& 8*f i$ is a large h%r$& i$ is differen$)< -e made a (lain s$a$emen$ and $old %s $o forgive one ano$her) A%o$ing s#ri($%re is no$ diffi#%l$= nei$her is giving li( servi#e $o a $r%$h) 0%$ when we have been h%r$ and wo%nded b' $he a#$ion of ano$her& we #an "now $ha$ we sho%ld forgive& and 'e$ feel $o$all' %nable $o do i$) We all find $ha$ $he a#$ions of o$her (eo(le #rea$e some of $he grea$es$ diffi#%l$ies wi$h whi#h we have $o #on$end) Bo man lives %n$o himself Wha$ o$hers sa' and do has a bearing %(on o%r lives almos$ ever' da') *n $he #o%rse of o%r rela$ionshi(s wi$h (eo(le& man' $hings ha((en $o %s6 a#$ions and words $ha$ are %n"ind& in#onsidera$e and h%r$f%l) We ma' e4(erien#e lies $old abo%$ %s& be$ra'al b' friends and o$her in1%s$i#es) Cea#$ions ma' o##%r and ill>will develo(s wi$hin %s) When we have been hurt and wounded by the action of another, we can know that we should forgive, and yet feel totally unable to do it. ?e$ me as" a 2%es$ion& no$ as a (rea#her or 0ible $ea#her b%$ as a man who "nows wha$ i$ is $o go $hro%gh $his "ind of e4(erien#e) 8-ow #an a (erson gen%inel' and hones$l' forgive when #onfron$ed b' (roblems of $his "ind:< i$ is eas' $o sa' we sho%ld forgive& b%$ i$ is no$ so eas' $o do i$7 1!

* was #ond%#$ing a series of s(e#ial mee$ings in Bew Dealand& and one nigh$ was s(ea"ing abo%$ $he (roblem of inferiori$' and a nega$ive self>image) 9$ $he end of $he sermon * gave o((or$%ni$' for an' s%ffering from s%#h (roblems $o #ome forward for (ra'er) 9 n%mber of (eo(le res(onded& and $he firs$ (erson $o whom * wen$ was a $een>age 3aori girl) * did no$ as" an' de$ails abo%$ her (roblem& b%$ as * (la#ed m' hand on her head& * fo%nd m'self (ra'ing in an %n%s%al wa') * said& 8Eo% are a da%gh$er of ,od7 Eo% are a #hild of $he Fing7< * re(ea$ed $hese s$a$emen$s several $imes& m%#h $o m' own ama+emen$& and $he $ears began $o $ri#"le down $he girl.s fa#e) *$ was obvio%s $ha$ $he -ol' S(iri$ was doing a wor" wi$hin her) * moved on& (ra'ing for o$hers& and soon $he mee$ing #losed) Prior $o $he servi#e $he ne4$ nigh$& $he 'o%ng woman #on#erned a((roa#hed me wi$h an ama+ing $es$imon' whi#h she la$er shared in (ar$ wi$h $he whole #ongrega$ion) This is wha$ she said6 When I was several years yo nger! my older sister had been e"tremely #ealo s and hatef l$ %n one o&&asion my sister said! 'I &annot bear yo to to &h me( )on*t ever p t yo r hand on me$ +ven if I am dead! do not to &h me! or I will sit p and spit in yo r fa&e(, -s a res lt of this e"perien&e I had a sense of worthlessness and a deep inner h rt$ .ater I &ommitted my life to Christ and was bapti/ed with the 0oly 1pirit! b t the feelings of insignifi&an&e and inferiority remained$ .ast 11

night for the first time in my life! I was able to re&ogni/e that I was important to 2od! and I really was his da ghter$ I have been set free! and at last have been able to forgive my sister$ *f we "now wha$ $he 0ible sa's& $hen $wo $hings are li"el' $o ha((en) The firs$ is $ha$ we #an be#ome ma"e>believers be#a%se we #anno$ do wha$ $he 0ible sa's b%$ (re$end $o do i$) 5es%s said& 8Forgive one ano$her)< We are h%r$7 We are wo%nded7 0e#a%se we are h%r$ i$ seems im(ossible $o forgive& b%$ be#a%se $he 0ible sa's we sho%ld& we (re$end $ha$ we have obe'ed $his #ommand& b%$ bi$$erness remains wi$hin and we have be#ome ma"e> believers) The se#ond $hing $ha$ #an ha((en is $ha$ we #ome %nder #ondemna$ion& be#a%se we are $r'ing $o be hones$ and "now we sho%ld forgive& 'e$ find o%rselves failing $o do i$ and so have a sense of g%il$ as a res%l$) The s%b1e#$ of gen%ine forgiveness has man' sin#ere Chris$ians in #onf%sion) *n $he le$$er $o $he -ebrew Ch%r#h we read6 See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. (/ebrews .0!. % 3an' (eo(le are s%ffering be#a%se of bi$$erness whi#h has en$ered $heir lives $hro%gh %nforgiveness) Forgiveness #an lif$ b%rdens and res$ore friendshi(s) *$ #an bring (ea#e and 1o' $o a (erson.s life whereas %nforgiveness #an #a%se bi$$erness& ha$red& dis#ord& $%rmoil and si#"ness) The grea$es$ (er#en$age of $he 1

(roblems $ha$ we go $hro%gh are o%r own fa%l$7 We are rea(ing wha$ we have sown) The sub ect of genuine forgiveness has many sincere !hristians in confusion. The (rin#i(le of sowing and rea(ing is rela$ed $o forgiveness& and al$ho%gh we are en1o'ing fellowshi( wi$h ,od& we ma' s$ill be rea(ing from $he seeds of sin and disobedien#e we have sown) /ne of $he $r%$hs we will #over in some de$ail la$er is $ha$ i$ is (ossible $o be forgiven& $o en1o' fellowshi( wi$h ,od& and 'e$ s$ill be %nder $he dis#i(line of ,od7 We need $o %nders$and $he s%b1e#$ of forgiveness in all i$s as(e#$s& so $ha$ we ma' "now how $o gen%inel' obe' $he Word of ,od& and find a (la#e of freedom as we live o%r dail' lives) Forgiveness is no$ a sim(le s%b1e#$7 *$ has no$ been f%ll' %nders$ood b' man' (eo(le and onl' a gen%ine "nowledge of wha$ i$ is& how i$ o(era$es& and how ,od sees i$& will enable %s $o a((ro(ria$e $he benefi$s of $r%e forgiveness) Time m%s$ be $a"en $o la' so%nd fo%nda$ions $o bring %s $o a #lear %nders$anding of $he s%b1e#$ and $o allow $he (rin#i(les $o be absorbed and es$ablished in o%r lives) The essential starting point is to understand the meaning of the three words which have been mentioned" mercy, forgiveness, and pardon. 13

These words are of$en $ho%gh$ of s'non'mo%sl'& and of #o%rse $he' #an be rela$ed& b%$ $he' are essen$iall' differen$) *n #onsidering $hese $erms in a s(iri$%al sense * wan$ $o define ea#h one) The essen$ial s$ar$ing (oin$ is $o %nders$and $he meaning of $he $hree words whi#h have been men$ioned= mer#'& forgiveness and (ardon)

What Do They

ean?

3er#' is $he e4er#ise of less severi$' $han one deserves& or i$ is $he gran$ing of "indness and favor be'ond wha$ one ma' righ$l' #laim) Forgiveness dismisses resen$men$ or dis(leas%re from $he hear$ of $he one offended& and in (ar$i#%lar i$ has referen#e $o feelings and fellowshi() Pardon #om(le$el' remi$s $he o%$ward (enal$' whi#h $he offender deserves) *$ is $he a#$ of a s%(erior $oward an inferior im(l'ing $he righ$ $o (%nish) *$ deals wi$h $he #onse2%en#es of an a#$ion) Pardon is an e4e#%$ive res(onsibili$' whi#h mos$ (eo(le do no$ have $he righ$ $o e4er#ise) These $hree a$$rib%$es of mer#'& forgiveness& and (ardon are in#l%ded in $he #hara#$er of ,od) The 0ible sa's -e is a ,od who shows mer#'& who forgives& and who will ab%ndan$l' (ardon) ?e$ me #onfirm $his from s#ri($%re6 &he Lord, the compassionate (merciful% and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. (12odus 34!"%

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Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God for he will freely pardon. (Isaiah !$% 3er#'& forgiveness& and (ardon are all (ar$ of $he na$%re and a$$rib%$es of ,od& b%$ we m%s$ also %nders$and $ha$ ,od.s #hara#$er in#l%des righ$> eo%sness& $r%$h& and 1%s$i#e) There are #ondi$ions and res(onses whi#h ,od re2%ires when we are dealing wi$h $hese ma$$ers of mer#'& forgiveness& and (ardon) Perha(s i$ is #orre#$ $o sa' $ha$ $here is no$hing $ha$ we re#eive from ,od $ha$ is %n#ondi$ional a(ar$ from -is gra#e) ,od showers -is gra#e %(on (eo(le& b%$ from $ha$ (oin$ on& all $he dealings of ,od $owards %s are in res(onse $o a#$ions or a$$i$%des $a"en or made b' %s) 3er#' and forgiveness on $heir own& wi$ho%$ $he in#l%sion of (ardon& do no$ a%$oma$i#all' remove all $he #onse2%en#es of sin and fail%re) * "now $ha$ some (eo(le reason li"e $his6 8*f ,od has been mer#if%l $o me& $he (roblem is over)< Tha$ is no$ #orre#$7 The' $hin"& 8*f ,od has forgiven me& $hen $he re#ord is wi(ed #lean)< Tha$ is no$ #orre#$7 There wo%ld have $o be $he in#l%sion of (ardon before a #om(le$e res%l$ was a#hieved so we #an have a gen%ine o(era$ion of mer#' and forgiveness and 'e$ no$ have $he removal of $he #onse2%en#es of #er$ain sins) Mercy and forgiveness on their own, without the inclusion of pardon, do not automatically remove all the conse#uences of sin and failure. 15

9ll of $hese a$$rib%$es of ,od.s mer#'& forgiveness and (ardon m%s$ be $a"en in$o #onsidera$ion& no$ 1%s$ some of $hem) /%r a#$ions are going $o bring for$h #er$ain res%l$s& so we need $o "now how ,od in -is $o$al #hara#$er will res(ond $o wha$ we have done& and even $o o%r re2%es$ for forgiveness)

Why Should I !et "i# $ff?


Perha(s we have been %nwilling $o be mer#if%l and forgiving be#a%se we $hin" $ha$ a serio%s re(ea$ed offender will be le$ off& and so we will allow some in1%s$i#e $o #on$in%e& if someone has re(ea$edl' offended %s& we migh$ $hin" $o o%rselves& if * do no$ $a"e some (osi$ive a#$ion agains$ him& b%$ am mer#if%l and forgiving& $hen he will go on doing $his) * #anno$ forgive him be#a%se $his wo%ld mean e4#%sing his a#$ion) We m%s$ reali+e $ha$ $his is a wrong a$$i$%de& be#a%se we do no$ have $he righ$ $o $a"e over $he e4e#%$ive res(onsibili$ies $ha$ go wi$h (ardon) 3er#' and forgiveness do no$ a%$oma$i#all' in#l%de (ardon so i$ is no$ o%r res(onsibili$' $o $a"e (%ni$ive a#$ion agains$ an offender) Tha$ is ,od.s res(onsibili$'7 9 (erson #an re#eive mer#' and forgiveness b' ,od b%$ s$ill s%ffer effe#$s in his life be#a%se he has no$ me$ $he re2%iremen$s for f%ll (ardon) /ne of $he vi$al re2%iremen$s $o re#eive forgiveness and (ardon from ,od is $ha$ we forgive $hose who have wrongf%ll' $rea$ed %s) *f we don.$ forgive& we #an #on$in%e $o s%ffer in o%r own rela$ionshi( wi$h ,od)

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0e#a%se an %nders$anding of $hese (rin#i(les is a$ $he hear$ of $his boo" le$ me ma"e #lear $ha$ showing mer#' and gran$ing forgiveness are o%r res(onsibili$ies when (roblems arise wi$h o$her (eo(le& b%$ (ardoning is ,od.s res(onsibili$') 9 'o%ng man gave me $his $es$imon'6 -t the age of nine years I sat in the ba&3 of a b s waving goodbye to my mother and brother$ I loved my brother deeply! b t there was a deep hatred within me towards my mother who had arranged for me to live with foster parents$ I de&ided as I sat in that b s that I wo ld never forgive her! no matter what happened( -s I grew older my hatred grew( I did not have what the other boys aro nd me had$ I hated my foster parents be&a se they had been party to my being separated from my brother$ I be&ame a rebel in so&iety$ I was ta3en to different psy&hiatrists and they wo ld tal3 to me abo t my attit de toward my mother$ I had no power to &hange my hatred and those interviews seemed to in&rease my bitter feelings$ When I was si"teen years of age my brother &ame to visit me$ From him I obtained my mother*s address and wrote several letters as3ing her to visit me$ I had a deep motive of hatred in writing to her$ When she &ame I said! 'I hate yo and will never forgive yo (, 17

4ine years later I a&&epted 5es s Christ as my 1avior and was bapti/ed in water and with the 0oly 1pirit$ It was a revol tionary e"perien&e! b t my Christian life fl &t ated and there were days of #oy and vi&tory! b t also days of defeat and despair$ 1omething was wrong$ %ne night I listened to a visiting prea&her spea3ing on the s b#e&t of forgiveness$ 0e said! 'We m st p t away all hatred! we m st forgive o r mother if ne&essary$, I 3new that the 0oly 1pirit was spea3ing to me( I felt that the .ord was saying! 'I will not open yo r life &ompletely to me ntil yo learn to forgive$, I determined to p t things right and traveled over a tho sand miles to the &ity where my mother lived to tell her that I forgave her and loved her$ I was released from what seemed li3e &hains binding me! and fo nd a new p rpose and &onsisten&y in my Christian life$ Toda'& $he man who gave $his $es$imon' is an elder in one of $he #h%r#hes belonging $o $he gro%( of #h%r#hes wi$h whi#h * am asso#ia$ed) *$ has been a blessing for me $o see $he #on$in%ed grow$h in his life& his #heerf%l Chris$ian +eal& and $o see $he wa' $ha$ he and his wife have es$ablished a fine famil') $ne of the vital re#uirements to receive forgiveness and pardon from %od is that we forgive those who have wrongfully treated us.

1@

Wha$ * am sa'ing in $his #ha($er ma' be a new #on#e($ $o some Chris$ians& b%$ we m%s$ fa#e $he reali$' of $hese iss%es and e4$end mer#' and forgiveness $o o$hers and leave $he (ardoning $o ,od& o$herwise $he dealings of ,od #an #on$in%e in a 1%dgmen$al wa' %(on o%r lives al$ho%gh ,od has been mer#if%l and has forgiven %s) *f we do no$ %nders$and wha$ ha((ens when ,od forgives %s& $hen we will be #onf%sed) Peo(le have said $o me& 8* "now m' hear$ is righ$ wi$h ,od) * have as"ed -im $o forgive me& b%$ * do no$ %nders$and wh' $hese (roblems are #on$in%ing in m' life)< Problems #an arise for vario%s reasons) /ne of $he reasons is be#a%se we are s$ill rea(ing wha$ we have sown& and ano$her is be#a%se ,od is allowing %s $o go $hro%gh -is dealings for $he develo(men$ of o%r lives) There are o$her reasons as well& so we m%s$ learn $o de$ermine whe$her we are viola$ing some (rin#i(le of ,od or whe$her -e is dis#i(lining %s for o%r own good and develo(men$) *n a la$er #ha($er we will dis#over how we #an "now $he differen#e be$ween being %nder $he 1%dgmen$al hand of ,od al$ho%gh we have been forgiven& and going $hro%gh $he dealings of ,od $o refine o%r #hara#$er for -is (%r(ose) The dealings of %od can continue in a udgmental way upon our lives, although %od has been merciful and has forgiven us.

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%nderstanding

ercy

* wan$ $o deal now wi$h $he s%b1e#$ of mer#'& be#a%se $ha$ is where $he fo%nda$ion of forgiveness begins) We need $o reali+e firs$ of all $ha$ ,od *s mer#' is s%b1e#$ $o #er$ain limi$a$ions) There is a general mer#' of ,od $ha$ a((lies $o all man"ind) The 0ible sa's6 /e causes /is sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (,atthew !4 % -ave 'o% ever wondered wh' a godl' man and an %ngodl' man bo$h have $heir #ro(s growing and (ros(ering in $he same wa': ,od de#lares $ha$ -e gives a general mer#' $o all -is #rea$ion) The s%n shines on $he righ$eo%s and also on $he %nrigh$eo%s) The rain falls on $he good and also on $he evil) Gver'bod' in $his world is in some meas%re %nder $he mer#if%l dealings of ,od) The (salmis$ sa's6 The ?ord is good $o all= he has #om(assion on all he has made) HPsalm 14569I The 0ible does no$ sa' $ha$ -e has #om(assion or mer#' on some of -is #rea$ion b%$ on all of i$) *rres(e#$ive of o%r si$%a$ion& we are all re#eiving more $han we 1%s$l' deserve) ,od& however& has s(e#ial blessings for $hose who are obedien$ $o wha$ -e sa's and -e (ros(ers $hose who give a##ording $o -is word) *n $he 0oo" of 3ala#hi ,od sa's $ha$ if we bring o%r $i$hes in$o $he s$oreho%se -e will o(en $he windows of heaven and (o%r o%$ s%#h a blessing $ha$ $here will no$ be room eno%gh $o re#eive i$)

There are s(e#ial blessings& b%$ $here are also general blessings& and all (eo(le& even $ho%gh $he' ma' be a$heis$i# or blas(heme $he Bame of ,od #ome %nder $he mer#if%l (rovisions of a loving ,od) * wan$ $o #all $his '$em(oral mer#',) Tem(oral means '$o be #onfined $o $his na$%ral life or $his ear$h,& so $here is $he mer#' of ,od $ha$ a((lies $o %s while we are living in $his world) ,od bes$ows $his mer#' so $ha$ a (erson ma' res(ond $o -im) 9 (erson #an loo" aro%nd and see $he bea%$' of $he world& $he (rovisions $ha$ have been made& and in so doing re#ogni+e $ha$ $he mer#' of ,od is e4$ended $owards him& b%$ $his mer#' does no$ e4$end be'ond $he (erson*s ear$hl' life) We have a res(onsibili$' $o re#ogni+e ,od from his #rea$ion and -is gra#io%s> ness $o %s) The a(os$le Pa%l in wri$ing $o $he #h%r#h in Come said6 (or since the creation of the world God5s invisible 6ualities # his eternal power and divine nature # have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without e2cuse. (7omans .!08% We read of$en of $he mira#%lo%s wa's $ha$ ,od has in$ervened $o save #ommi$$ed Chris$ians from dea$h or in1%r') * have heard $es$imonies and read $he s$ories of men and women wonderf%ll' (ro$e#$ed in air #rashes& road a##iden$s& or shi(wre#"s& e4(erien#es $ha$ obvio%sl' were d%e $o divine (ro$e#$ion) %od declares that &e gives a general mercy to all &is creation. 1

-ebrews #ha($er 11 $ells of $he men and women of fai$h who were mira#%lo%sl' hel(ed b' ,od& b%$ i$ also $ells of o$hers who s%ffered $or$%re& im(risonmen$& and dea$h) Ee$ $he s#ri($%re sa's $ha$ all of $hese& $hose who e4(erien#ed mira#les of deliveran#e and $hose who did no$& were #ommended for $heir fai$h7 ,od is mer#if%l& b%$ -e has a (lan $ha$ -e is wor"ing o%$ for o%r lives and we #anno$ g%aran$ee $he degree of mer#' or deliveran#e $ha$ will be (rovided in an' si$%a$ion of life) Wha$ ,od does %n#ondi$ionall' (romise& however& is $he gra#e $o #o(e wi$h wha$ever #ir#%ms$an#e ma' arise) * was in b%siness as an *ns%ran#e ?oss 9d1%s$er and 9ssessor a$ $he $ime of a disas$ro%s flood whi#h o##%rred in $he #i$' and s%rro%nding areas of 0risbane& in 1974) *$ wo%ld be wonderf%l $o re(or$ $ha$ no Chris$ians s%ffered in $ha$ #'#lone and flood& b%$ $ha$ wo%ld no$ be a $r%e a##o%n$) *n $ha$ disas$er some b%ildings were #om(le$el' s%bmerged& homes and b%siness (remises were des$ro'ed& millions of dollars of damage was done& and lives were los$) -omes and b%sinesses belonging $o bo$h Chris$ians and non>Chris$ians were affe#$ed) * saw Chris$ians wee( as $he' re(or$ed how $heir (re#io%s (ossessions were #arried o%$ of $heir homes a sodden mess& b%$ * did no$ do%b$ ,od.s abili$' $o s%(erna$%rall' s%s$ain $hem in $heir sorrow and loss and la$er $o ma"e o$her (rovisions $o re>es$ablish $hem in life) We #anno$& however& g%aran$ee $ha$ (ro$e#$ion and good will alwa's be $he lo$ of $he Chris$ian& while $he non>Chris$ian s%ffers) We need $o %nders$and

$ha$ in addi$ion $o $he $em(oral mer#' of ,od $here is also an e$ernal mer#') G$ernal mer#' is s%b1e#$ $o righ$ res(onses on o%r (ar$ $o ,od) The Psalms re#ord $his s$a$emen$6 9*ut from everlasting to everlasting the Lord5s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children5s children # with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.+ (:salm .83!.$#.;% There is a $em(oral mer#' of ,od available $o all& b%$ $here is an everlas$ing mer#' as well) This everlas$ing mer#' is for those who fear him ))) who 3eep his &ovenant and remember to obey his pre&epts$ 9 (erson ma' en1o' $he mer#' of ,od in $his na$%ral life& b%$ we #an also ma"e s%re $ha$ we en1o' $he mer#' of ,od from everlasting to everlasting( We cannot, however, guarantee that protection and good will always be the lot of the !hristian, while the non'!hristian suffers! Cemember ver' #aref%ll' $ha$ mer#' is no$ $he same as forgiveness) 3er#' is $he e4er#ise of less severi$' $han a (erson deserves& or i$ is $he gran$ing of a "indness be'ond wha$ one ma' #laim) 3en and women are #ommanded $o be mer#if%l and $o be forgiving) The' are no$ #ommanded $o (ardon) *n a s(iri$%al sense& and in mos$ of $he even$s of life& we do no$ have $he righ$ or (rivilege $o (ardon) *$ is ,od& no$ men and women& who deals wi$h #onse2%en#es7 3

*n $he differen$ so#ie$ies and na$ions in whi#h we live $here are laws) To some (eo(le $here ma' be given $he res(onsibili$' of e4er#ising $hose laws wi$h some degree of dis#re$ion) 0' wa' of an e4am(le& if we brea" $he law and a (oli#eman sees %s& he has no righ$ $o e4#%se o%r offen#e) -is res(onsibili$' is $o enfor#e $he law of $he land) *f& be#a%se of $ha$ offen#e we are la$er $a"en $o #o%r$& $he magis$ra$e or 1%dge ma' be able $o e4er#ise an a%$hori$' $ha$ $he (oli#eman did no$ have& and he migh$ sa'& 8* have #onsidered all $he #ir#%ms$an#es& and in $his ins$an#e * in$end $o (ardon 'o%)< /r i$ ma' be $ha$ $he righ$ of (ardon res$s onl' wi$h a (erson s%#h as a governor& (residen$& "ing or 2%een) There are #er$ain e4e#%$ive (osi$ions $ha$ #arr' wi$h $hem $he (ower and righ$ $o (ardon& b%$ we as ordinar' (eo(le have been #ommanded b' ,od $o be mer#if%l and forgiving& irres(e#$ive of wha$ ma' ha((en in regard $o (ardon) * wan$ $o em(hasi+e $ha$ being mer#if%l does no$ mean being sof$ or eas' going) *$ does no$ mean (re$ending $ha$ some$hing has no$ ha((ened) * "now $ha$ s%#h an a$$i$%de wo%ld s%i$ a world $ha$ wan$s $o des$ro' absol%$es and be r%led b' si$%a$ion e$hi#s) *$ is eas' $o sa'& 8*.m no$ h%r$ing o$hers so * #an (lease m'self< Peo(le sa'& 83oral val%es are differen$ now) We don.$ have $o a##e($ $he s$andards of o%r (aren$s)< Someone else sa's& 8*$.s a good #a%se so $he end 1%s$ifies $he means7< The #on#e($ of si$%a$ion e$hi#s #an be s%mmed %( b' $he words of wha$ be#ame a (o(%lar song& 8*$ #an.$ be wrong when i$ feels so righ$)< The iss%e of de fa#$o rela$ionshi(s is a #ase in (oin$) The 0ible 4

$ea#hing in bo$h /ld and Bew Tes$amen$s ver' #learl' shows $ha$ s%#h rela$ionshi(s are sinf%l) Those involved in $hese rela$ionshi(s& however& will alwa's be read' $o 1%s$if' $hem) 8* needed a roof over m' head&< 8This was m' onl' #han#e for ha((iness&< 8We love ea#h o$her&< 89 (ie#e of (a(er does no$ ma"e o%r love an' more real)< The same reasoning #an be seen in $he arg%men$s for abor$ion) 8?e$ a woman have $he (ower $o de#ide wha$ $o do abo%$ her own bod'&< $he feminis$s and $hose who demand freedom of #hoi#e #r' as $he' wave $heir banners) The 0ible $ells %s (lainl' $ha$ o%r bodies are no$ o%r own& b%$ ,od.s& and $he fo#%s is no$ $he woman.s own) /n $he gro%nds of nervo%s $ension& finan#ial s$ress& or sim(l' 8* don.$ wan$ $o have ano$her bab'&< abor$ion is #hosen and $he serio%sness of $he des$r%#$ion of $he %nborn #hild is 1%s$ified b' $hese reasons) The o$her al$erna$ives s%#h as ado($ion or even be$$er& $r%s$ing ,od& are no$ serio%sl' #onsidered) * do no$ see" $o minimi+e $he (roblems $ha$ arise from %nwan$ed (regnan#ies b%$ we m%s$ learn $ha$ we #anno$ viola$e $he Word of ,od wi$ho%$ #onse2%en#es being involved) Si$%a$ion e$hi#s are a((lied in ever'da' life b' (eo(le who $a"e advan$age of a $ele(hone brea"down $o ma"e free long dis$an#e #alls& who "ee( e4$ra #hange given b' mis$a"e in some sho(& who $a"e (en#ils& erasers& r%lers and s$a$ioner' from $heir (la#es of em(lo'men$) 8*$.s all righ$&< $he' sa'& 8$he $ele(hone #om(an'J$he governmen$J$he boss #an afford i$& and * #an.$)< 9ll of $hese are e4am(les 5

of flagran$ disregard for ,od.s law 1%s$ified& albei$ (oorl'& b' $he need of a (erson a$ $ha$ $ime) Ce#en$l' * fo%nd amongs$ m' (a(ers a se$ of d%(li#a$ed no$es on $he s%b1e#$ 89 0asis for 3orali$')< The a%$hor is %n"nown so * am %nable $o give an a#"nowledgmen$& b%$ (ar$ of $he ar$i#le is relevan$ $o wha$ is (resen$ed here so * 2%o$e6 1ven though all have not succumbed to the :ermissive Society, we must all confess that we are surrounded by it and sometimes, perhaps, we are influenced by its pragmatism. :ragmatism means broadly 9if what I do makes me happy then it is right.+ In other words, morality is made sub<ective to e2perience. &o bolster the pragmatic approach, in the words of one psychologist, it is necessary to 9damn the absolutes.+ )nd where and what are the absolutes= &hey are the final statements of society on moral behavior chiefly written into the laws of the land. &hese laws of western society find their roots in the &en >ommandments. /ence the final attack on the absolutes must be on the *ible itself. &his attack looked like being successful up to midway into this century. /owever, since that time a remarkable event has taken place. God sent the >harismatic 7enewal which, as well as being a sub<ective spiritual e2perience, has for its basis the ob<ective truths and absolutes of the ?ord of God.

,odern society may well yet turn to the >hurch for guidance in moral matters when it finds that its idol of permissiveness is an idol with clay feet. ,od is mer#if%l& b%$ mer#' does no$ mean a do#ile agreemen$ wi$h wha$ men and women wan$ $o do) 3er#' is no$ being sof$) Far from i$7

ercy and Truth


When s$%d'ing $he s#ri($%res rela$ing $o mer#'& * fo%nd $ha$ $he word mos$ asso#ia$ed wi$h mer#' was $r%$h) 3er#' and $r%$h7 We #anno$ have gen%ine mer#' wi$ho%$ $he o(era$ion of $r%$h7 The s#ri($%re ma"es $his de#lara$ion6 *y mercy and truth ini6uity is purged. (:roverbs ."!" @AB% *ni2%i$' is no$ (%rged b' mer#' alone= i$ is (%rged b' $he o(era$ion of bo$h mer#' and $r%$h $oge$her) We are mis$a"en if we $hin" of mer#' a$ $he e4(ense of $r%$h or law) Tr%e mer#'& however& involves a sense of (i$' and #on#ern& and an a#$ion $o relieve $he s%ffering) *f we merel' loo" wi$h s'm(a$h' a$ some si$%a$ion& $hen $ha$ is no$ mer#') 3er#' m%s$ do some$hing in a (ra#$i#al and $angible wa' $o mee$ $he need) There have been o##asions when * have fel$ s'm(a$he$i# abo%$ a si$%a$ion b%$ * have done no$hing abo%$ i$) * have no$ shown mer#'= * have been s'm(a$he$i#) * have loo"ed a$ (i#$%res of s$arving #hildren and read a((eals for hel() * have read s$ories of disas$er and famine and fel$ a des(era$ion a$ $he (ligh$ of $he (eo(le) * have read abo%$ hardshi(& (erse#%$ion& and 7

im(risonmen$ of Chris$ians in Comm%nis$> domina$ed #o%n$ries) There was a gen%ine sense of s'm(a$h'& b%$ onl' when * $oo" some a#$ion& ei$her in giving or (ra'ing& was $here an o(era$ion of mer#') We are mistaken if we think of mercy at the e(pense of truth or law. 9 #lear ill%s$ra$ion of mer#' is fo%nd in $he (arable whi#h 5es%s $old of $he ,ood Samari$an) 9 5ewish $raveler was a$$a#"ed b' $hieves and robbers and was lef$ l'ing on $he side of $he road bleeding and br%ised) Two (eo(le& one a (ries$ and $he o$her a ?evi$e& wen$ b' and (assed on) The' loo"ed a$ $he wo%nded and need' man b%$ $oo" no a#$ion) Then $he Samari$an #ame) The Samari$an did no$ have an' obliga$ion $o $he wo%nded 5ew) -e was of a differen$ ra#e of (eo(le) Samari$ans were des(ised b' $he 5ews& b%$ $his Samari$an wen$ $o $he aid of $he in1%red $raveler and began $o bind %( his wo%nds) -e hel(ed $he man and $oo" him $o an inn and (aid $he bill for $he in1%red man.s a##ommoda$ion) The Samari$an said $o $he inn> "ee(er& 8?oo" af$er him and if i$ #os$s an' more * will (a' i$ when * re$%rn< H?%"e 1!635I) The in1%red man had no legal #laim on $he Samari$an) This 5ew had no righ$s $ha$ he #o%ld demand& b%$ $he Samari$an o%$ of mer#' $owards him rea#hed o%$ and gave him some$hing $ha$ he #o%ld no$ legall' #laim) Tha$ is an e4am(le of gen%ine mer#'6 going be'ond wha$ a (erson has a @

legal righ$ $o e4(e#$) ?e$ me give ano$her ill%s$ra$ion& $his $ime from m' own e4(erien#e) The girl was nei$her a$$ra#$ive nor (ar$i#%larl' li"e> able) She had been rebellio%s in her home and gone her own wa') -er mo$her was a dedi#a$ed Chris$ian b%$ in s(i$e of a good famil' e4am(le& $he da%gh$er $%rned $o dr%gs& al#ohol& and $oba##o and finall' was admi$$ed $o a men$al hos(i$al for $rea$men$) /n her dis#harge from $he hos(i$al& she be#ame an infre2%en$ a$$endee a$ $he #h%r#h where * was $he (as$or& b%$ $here was li$$le abo%$ $he girl $o evo"e s'm(a$h' as her selfish a$$i$%de was s$ill ver' eviden$) -er sis$er was $o be $he bridesmaid a$ a wedding and an invi$a$ion $o a$$end $he re#e($ion was given $o $he famil') The girl& be#a%se of la#" of wor"& had li$$le mone'& and $he mo$her lived on a 8bread line< b%dge$) The wedding invi$a$ion (osed a (roblem as $he girl did no$ have s%i$able #lo$hing $o wear) /ne of $he women in $he #h%r#h $oo" $he girl in$o $he #i$' and (%r#hased for her a #om(le$e o%$fi$ of #lo$hing) *$ was a s(on$aneo%s a#$ of love and generosi$' when no d%$' or res(onsibili$' res$ed %(on $he giver)

ercy and &udg#ent


3er#' does no$& however& eradi#a$e all 1%dgmen$) 9no$her "e' (arable of 5es%s $ha$ rela$es $o $his $o(i# is fo%nd in 3a$$hew*s ,os(el) This s$or' is "nown as The Parable of $he Kn1%s$ or Knmer#if%l Servan$) The (arable $ells of a servan$ who owed his mas$er a large amo%n$ of mone') -e was #alled 9

before $he mas$er $o give an a##o%n$ of his deb$) The 0ible re#ord gives $his a##o%n$6 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. &he servant fell on his knees before him. 9*e patient with me,+ he begged, 9and I will pay back every thing.+ (,atthew .;!0 #0"% Will 'o% no$e $ha$ $he servan$ did no$ as" for forgiveness of $he deb$= he did no$ as" for (ardon from $he deb$= he as"ed for mer#'7 Wha$ he as"ed for was an e4$ension of $ime $o mee$ $he amo%n$ $ha$ was owed) The mas$er wo%ld have been mer#if%l had he done 1%s$ $ha$) -e wo%ld have been going be'ond wha$ was his legal righ$ $o demand) Mercy does not, however, eradicate all udgment. *n $his (ar$i#%lar (arable& however& $he mas$er did no$ s$o( wi$h an e4(ression of mer#' b%$ he wen$ on $o forgive $he man& and also $o (ardon him of $he $o$al deb$) We read6 &he servant5s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go. (,atthew .;!0$% This (arable shows $he o(era$ion of mer#'& forgiveness& and (ardon& al$ho%gh $he servan$ as"ed onl' for mer#') The servan$ who had re#eived $his %ndeserved (rovision $hen wen$ o%$ and laid hold of a fellow servan$ who owed him a small deb$& and demanded 3!

immedia$e (a'men$) The 0ible $ells $ha$ $he se#ond servan$ as"ed for mer#' and said& ',ive me $ime $o (a', H3a$$hew 1@6 9I) The firs$ servan$ denied $he re2%es$ for mer#'& $he ver' $hing $ha$ had been given $o him& and he had $he se#ond servan$ $hrown in$o (rison) When $he mas$er was $old of wha$ had ha((ened he #alled $he firs$ servan$ and reb%"ed him and said6 9I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn5t you have had mercy on your fellow servant <ust as I had on you=+(,atthew .;!30#33% The mas$er $hen revo"ed $he (ardon& forgiveness& and mer#' $ha$ he had (revio%sl' e4$ended $o $he firs$ servan$) ?e$ me em(hasi+e& $ha$ if we are going $o %nders$and how $o forgive we m%s$ firs$ learn $o be mer#if%l& be#a%se forgiveness is a s$e( be'ond mer#') *f we do no$ learn $o be mer#if%l& we will never be forgiving7 3er#' #omes firs$& $hen forgiveness follows) We m%s$ re#ogni+e $ha$ if we will no$ e4$end mer#' $o o$hers& $he mer#' $ha$ has been e4$ended $o %s ma' be res#inded) Gver' believer in $he ?ord 5es%s Chris$ is re2%ired $o be mer#if%l) *$ is $he fo%nda$ion s$one of forgiveness) *f we do no$ learn $o be mer#if%l $hen i$ is #er$ain $ha$ we will never be able $o forgive from $he hear$) We ma' a((ear $o have some s%##ess in forgiving a (erson wi$h whom we have had a dis(%$e and $hin" $ha$ we have won $he ba$$le $o forgive& b%$ some #onfli#$ wi$h $ha$ (erson will again arise& and $he old h%r$ will be fel$ on#e more) 31

)f we are going to understand how to forgive, we must first learn to be merciful. We m%s$ begin where ,od begins& and $ha$ is a$ $he (la#e of mer#') Bone of %s has a righ$ $o demand his 8(o%nd of flesh<) Gver' one of %s is obliged b' ,od.s Word $o e4$end some degree of mer#' a##ording $o $he si$%a$ion $ha$ migh$ a((l')

'o (etribution
5es%s& in his $ea#hing& #om(le$el' did awa' wi$h $he righ$ of e2%al re$rib%$ion) *$ is no$ a ma$$er of sa'ing& 8Eo% did $ha$ $o me& * will do $he same $o 'o%<) 5es%s said6 Cou have heard that it was said, 91ye for eye, and tooth for tooth. *ut I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 9)nd if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 9If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.+ (,atthew !3;#4.% The Chris$ian does no$ have $he righ$ $o demand e4a#$ re$rib%$ion a$ $he level of wha$ he has re#eived) *f we are $o e4er#ise mer#'& $hen we #anno$ demand an e4a#$ legal (enal$'& b%$ we m%s$ rea#h o%$ wi$h some %nders$anding and "indness) 9 (ara(hrase of 5ames 361 #o%ld be e4(ressed as& be #aref%l abo%$ be#oming $ea#hers or leaders) The more 'o% "now of $he will and wa's of ,od& $he grea$er will be 'o%r res(onsibili$'& *f 'o% are a 3

Chris$ian and have "nown $he ?ord for& sa'& one wee"& and #ommi$ a (ar$i#%lar sin& and if some more ma$%re Chris$ian sho%ld #ommi$ $he same sin& $he s$andard of ,od.s mer#' will be differen$) The new Chris$ian will re#eive a higher level of mer#' $han $he e4(erien#ed Chris$ian& be#a%se $he ma$%re (erson has $he benefi$ of grea$er "nowledge b' whi#h he #o%ld 1%dge his own a#$ions) The Word of ,od ma"es #lear $ha$ $he more we "now $he grea$er is o%r a##o%n$abili$'& be#a%se mer#' is no$ meas%red b' $he same 'ards$i#") i$ is meas%red b' $he #ir#%ms$an#es& o%r ba#"gro%nd& and o%r %nders$anding) ?e$ me give a sim(le ill%s$ra$ion of how we migh$ a((l' mer#' in a (ra#$i#al wa') *f 'o% len$ someone L1!! on $he #ondi$ion $ha$ he wo%ld re(a' b' a (ar$i#%lar da$e& and when $ha$ $ime #ame& he was no$ in a (osi$ion $o (a'& wha$ $hen wo%ld be a mer#if%l $hing $o do: To gen%inel' e4$end mer#'& all $ha$ 'o% wo%ld need $o do wo%ld be $o sa'& 8* will give 'o% ano$her wee" $o (a')< *f 'o% gave even one e4$ra da' 'o% wo%ld have been mer#if%l) *$ wo%ld have been $o a small degree& b%$ $here wo%ld have been mer#'& be#a%se $he deb$ was legall' d%e (rior $o $ha$ $ime) Gver' da' given be'ond $he d%e da$e wo%ld be an e4$ension of mer#') To be mer#if%l does no$ demand $ha$ one forgoes or red%#es $he deb$) 0' $he mere (rovision of addi$ional $ime one has me$ $he re2%iremen$s of mer#') *f& however& 'o% said& 8*ns$ead of L1!!& (a' me L9!&< 'o% wo%ld $hen have gone be'ond mer#' $o forgiveness and a meas%re of (ardon) *f 'o% said& 33

8,od has blessed me so * wan$ $o #an#el $he deb$&< 'o% wo%ld have been mer#if%l& forgiving& and (ardoning)

34

Mercy is not measured by the same yardstick. )t is measured by our circumstances, our background, and understanding. ?e$ %s #learl' %nders$and $he differen#e in $hese $erms) *$ is so im(or$an$ $ha$ we re#ogni+e $hese as(e#$s be#a%se ,od.s mer#' does no$ ne#essaril' remove -is 1%dgmen$s) The dealings of ,od #an #on$in%e in o%r lives even when ,od has been mer#if%l& b%$& be#a%se of -is #hara#$er& -e alwa's red%#es $he severi$' of wha$ we sho%ld righ$f%ll' re#eive& so $he mer#' of ,od is $he beginning of forgiveness) *$ ma' also be $he beginning of (ardon& b%$ $he (rovisions of mer#'& forgiveness& and (ardon are se(ara$e s$e(s& and ea#h one ma' re2%ire a differen$ res(onse from %s in order $o re#eive $hem) ,od does no$ re2%ire an' res(onse from %s before -e is mer#if%l) Whenever we #all on $he ?ord we #an e4(e#$ -im $o be mer#if%l& b%$ before -e forgives& and (ardons& $here ma' be some res(onses $ha$ we have $o ma"e) We #an alwa's a((roa#h ,od and -e will deal wi$h %s wi$h less severi$' $han we deserve& and $ha$ is a marvelo%s $r%$h $o "now7 3er#'& however& is alwa's lin"ed wi$h $r%$h and righ$eo%sness) ,od will no$ viola$e -is Word b%$ will show #om(assion& and we will alwa's ge$ more #onsidera$ion from -im $han $ha$ $o whi#h we sho%ld be en$i$led) 35

,od has been mer#if%l $o %s& so le$ %s in $%rn be mer#if%l $o o$hers) ;on.$ $r' $o give $he same $rea$men$ $ha$ 'o% have re#eived) *f we give $i$ for $a$& we have failed a$ $he firs$ s$e( whi#h is $o be mer#if%l) ;on.$ demand e2%al sa$isfa#$ion) Tha$ migh$ ma"e a (erson feel 1%s$ified b%$ i$ will %l$ima$el' des$ro' him) The provisions of mercy, forgiveness, and pardon, are separate steps, and each one may require a different response from us in order to receive them. We have no righ$ $o e2%al re$rib%$ion if we are going $o be mer#if%l& be#a%se i$ is no$ o%r d%$' $o (%nish) *$ is ,od who 1%dges& (%nishes& and (ardons) 0eing mer#if%l is a firs$ s$e( $o sin#erel' forgiving from $he hear$)

36

Chapter ) What "appened in The $ld Testa#ent?


?e$ %s now e4amine $he s%b1e#$ of forgiveness in $he /ld Tes$amen$& be#a%se we need $o follow $he whole (a$$ern of $he Word of ,od in order $o f%ll' %nders$and $his s%b1e#$)

Was It Cruel?
There are (eo(le who #onsider $ha$ $he /ld Tes$amen$ reveals a ,od who is harsh and #r%el& b%$ m%#h of $his $hin"ing is d%e $o mis%nders$anding) The s#ribes and Pharisees in $he $ime of 5es%s $a%gh$ 8Eo% shall love 'o%r neighbor and ha$e 'o%r enem'&< b%$ we #o%ld sear#h $he (ages of $he /ld Tes$amen$ and no$ find s%#h a s$a$emen$ be#a%se $he /ld Tes$amen$ does no$ sa' i$7 ,od has alwa's shown 1%s$i#e and righ$eo%sness) The s#ribes and Pharisees of$en (%$ in$er(re$a$ions on $he Word of ,od $o s%i$ $hemselves) The defini$e 1%dgmen$s $ha$ are se$ o%$ in $he 0oo" of G4od%s& (ar$i#%larl' in #ha($er 1& (la#e a limi$ on revenge $ha$ was so #ommon a$ $ha$ $ime) The laws of ,od were no$ onl' $o (%nish for a delibera$e offen#e b%$ also $o limi$ revenge) The' were $o es$ablish mer#' and $r%e 1%s$i#e) *n (rimi$ive $imes an assa%l$ on one member of a (ar$i#%lar $ribe #o%ld #a%se a fe%d $o brea" o%$ and 37

man' (eo(le wo%ld die as a res%l$) The law of ,od laid down $ha$ onl' $he (erson who #ommi$$ed $he offen#e #o%ld be (%nished& and his (%nishmen$ was $o be no more $han $he e2%ivalen$ of $he offen#e #ommi$$ed) There was a #lear #ommand in $his regard6 *ut if there is serious in<ury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound. (12odus 0.!03D0 % This was no$ a demand $ha$ s%#h re$rib%$ion sho%ld be e4a#$ed& b%$ i$ was a limi$ on $he demands $ha$ #o%ld be made b' $he offended (ar$') 9 (riva$e individ%al was no$ allowed $o see" (ersonal revenge& b%$ $he law did (rovide a basis for an a((oin$ed 1%dge $o assess $he (enal$' and $he a((ro(ria$e (%nishmen$ for $he offen#e) *n o$her words $he (%nishmen$ had $o be e2%al $o $he #rime #ommi$$ed and had $o be im(osed b' an im(ar$ial (erson or (ersons) The laws of %od were not only to punish for deliberate offence but also to limit revenge.

Who said 8"ate your *ne#y?<


,od never said& 8-a$e 'o%r enem'7< This s$a$emen$ is no$ (ar$ of ,od.s #ommand) 5es%s said6 Cou have heard that it was said, 9Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.+ *ut I tell you! Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your (ather in heaven... (,atthew !43#44% 3@

5es%s was no$ al$ering $he law b' $his s$a$emen$& b%$ #orre#$ing an error $ha$ had res%l$ed from $he $ea#hings of $he s#ribes and Pharisees) When $he s#ribes and Pharisees %sed $he e4(ression 8The ?aw< $he' #o%ld be referring $o one of fo%r $hings6 1) The Commandmen$s ) The firs$ five boo"s of $he 0ible $he Pen$a$e%#h& whi#h $o $he 5ews was $he mos$ im(or$an$ (ar$ of s#ri($%re) 3) The law and $he Pro(he$s) This e4(ression in#l%ded $he whole of $he /ld Tes$amen$ 4) The /ral or S#ribal law) *$ was $he oral 8law< $ha$ 5es%s so of$en a$$a#"ed7 This was $he s%((osed law of ,od made %( from $he in$er(re$a$ions of $he s#ribes and Pharisees& and was no$ (ar$ of ,od.s dire#$ #ommand) For $hese religio%s leaders ever'$hing had $o be defined) Ta"e& for e4am(le& $he #ommand 6emember the sabbath day by 3eeping it holy HG4od%s !6@I) The s#ribes and Pharisees had made %( more $han 1&5!! reg%la$ions $o define $his #ommand7 This is wh' 5es%s said6 9)nd why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition= ... 9&hus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. Cou hypocritesE Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, F&hese people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. &hey worship me in vain; their teachings are rules taught by men.5+ (,atthew . !3, "#-% 39

*$ is also im(or$an$ $o reali+e& as we s$%d' $he s%b1e#$ of forgiveness& $ha$ ,od never made (rovision for a (riva$e individ%al $o demand his own re$rib%$ion) ,od did (rovide for wrong>doers $o be (%nished& for ,od is 1%s$& b%$ $he 1%dgmen$ was never $o be made or $he (enal$' infli#$ed b' $he one who had been wronged) This is a ver' im(or$an$ (rin#i(le $o remember when we have been h%r$ b' $he a#$ions or words of ano$her (erson) Gver' one of %s has been h%r$ a$ some $ime& b%$ $he (rin#i(le of ,od is $ha$ none of %s has $he righ$ $o si$ in 1%dgmen$ or infli#$ $he (%nishmen$ on $he one who has offended %s) %od never made provision for a private individual to demand his own retribution. The vario%s (%nishmen$s (rovided b' $he law were no$ alwa's (erformed li$erall'& b%$ $he in1%r' was assessed a$ i$s mone$ar' val%e) *$ was based on $he (ain and s%ffering& loss of $ime& $he indigni$' $ha$ had been s%ffered& and $hese fa#$ors are s$ill $he basis of $he law of damages and #om(ensa$ion in modern $imes) *f a (erson is in1%red $oda'& $hen $he law does no$ allow for $he same in1%r' $o be infli#$ed on $he assailan$& b%$ im(oses a (enal$' e2%ivalen$ in val%e $o $he in1%r'& and $he amo%n$ is (aid $o $he one who has been h%r$) The /ld Tes$amen$ is a boo" of mer#') We read6 Go not hate your brother in your heart. 7ebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt. 4!

Go not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord (Leviticus .-!.$#.;% *n $he 0oo" of Proverbs a s$a$emen$ is made $ha$ also #on$radi#$s wha$ $he s#ribes and Pharisees said6 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. (:roverbs 0 !0 .% So of$en $he religio%s leaders did no$ sa' wha$ $he ?aw of ,od said) The' gave $heir own in$er(re$a$ions) 0e#a%se ,od said& 8.ove yo r neighbor< H?evi$i#%s 1961@I& $he' inferred $ha$ $he o((osi$e was $o a((l'& and so an enem' was $o be ha$ed) ,od does sa' $ha$ -e ha$es some (ar$i#%lar $hings and also $he a#$ions of some (eo(le& b%$ -e does no$ sa' $ha$ we are $o ha$e o%r enemies) *$ is so eas' $o 1%m( $o #on#l%sions and $hen find $ha$ o%r ideas are no$ in line wi$h wha$ $he 0ible a#$%all' sa's) *n $he 0oo" of Proverbs we find a re#ord of seven $hings $ha$ ,od sa's -e ha$es6 &here are si2 things that the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him; haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are 6uick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.+ (:roverbs "!."#.-% Bowhere does ,od sa' $ha$ we are $o ha$e (eo(le7

ercy and &ustice


G4amina$ion of $he vario%s s#ri($%res in $he /ld Tes$amen$ $ha$ deal wi$h forgiveness& no$ onl' 41

reveal a ,od who is mer#if%l& #om(assiona$e& and forgiving& b%$ also a ,od of 1%s$i#e and righ$eo%sness) Tr%e mer#' is based on 1%s$i#e7 We m%s$ learn $o balan#e $hese differen$ a$$rib%$es) Where $here has been an infringemen$ ma"ing a (enal$' ne#essar'& ,od does no$ (re$end $he offen#e did no$ ha((en for -e is a ,od of $r%$h and righ$eo%sness) When a wrong has been done $hen a 1%s$ (enal$' m%s$ be im(osed) We do no$ have eno%gh de$ail in $he 0ible $o show %s wh' ,od #ommanded #er$ain severe (%nishmen$s $o be #arried o%$) For e4am(le& when $he (eo(le of *srael wen$ in$o $he land of Canaan& ,od #ommanded $ha$ $he' were $o %$$erl' des$ro' all $he inhabi$an$s of $he land) * %nders$and& from $he reading $ha$ * have done& $ha$ $he evil in $he land of Canaan was grea$) There were h%man sa#rifi#es and ever' "ind of immoral a#$ whi#h was a #om(le$e affron$ $o all of ,od.s s$andards) The 0ible de#lares $ha$ 8Will not the 5 dge of all the earth do right7 < H,enesis 1@6 5I& and we #an be s%re of $his& $ha$ we #an $r%s$ -im) Gven when o%r na$%ral mind #anno$ %nders$and wh' a (ar$i#%lar (enal$' was im(osed& we "now $ha$ we are dealing wi$h a 1%s$ ,od) The $ld Testament reveals a %od who is merciful, compassionate, and forgiving, but who is also a God of justice and righteousness.

+od,to, an Forgiveness
3os$ of $he /ld Tes$amen$ s#ri($%res $ha$ deal wi$h forgiveness are ei$her #alls b' individ%als $o ,od $o forgive $heir $res(asses and sins& or $o $han" ,od for forgiving $hem) We find& as we e4amine $he s#ri($%res& $ha$ i$ is generall' a man>$o>,od or a ,od>$o>man rela$ionshi( whi#h is involved) ,od.s forgiveness is no$& however& %n#ondi$ional7 When (eo(le #alled %(on ,od for forgiveness& al$ho%gh -e was willing $o forgive& -e laid down #lear #ondi$ions) These #ondi$ions were alwa's #onsis$en$ and involved re(en$an#e& #onfession& s%((li#a$ion& and of$en in#l%ded ma"ing offerings or sa#rifi#es as an a$onemen$ for $he sin) This was a $'(e of wha$ was done la$er b' $he ?ord 5es%s Chris$& when -e shed -is blood on $he #ross as an a$onemen$ for $he sin of all man"ind) 5es%s was $he ?amb of ,od who shed -is blood as an offering for sin) -owever& %nder $he /ld Covenan$& ,od (rovided a wa' in whi#h sin #o%ld be deal$ wi$h %n$il -is final (lan for salva$ion and forgiveness was f%lfilled) So when (eo(le in /ld Tes$amen$ $imes bro%gh$ an animal as a sa#rifi#e for $heir sin& i$ was an e4(ression of re(en$an#e and #on$ri$eness of hear$) The dis(osi$ion of ,od is alwa's mer#if%l and forgiving) Forgiveness was readil' (rovided when $he righ$ #ondi$ions were me$ b' men and women in $he /ld Tes$amen$) * wan$ $o em(hasi+e again $ha$ forgiveness and (ardon are no$ $he same) Forgiveness res$ores fellowshi( and righ$ rela$ionshi( wi$h ,od& wi$ho%$ ne#essaril' removing $he $em(oral #onse2%en#es of 43

a (ar$i#%lar sin) We ma' be forgiven b' ,od& res$ored $o fellowshi( wi$h -im& and 'e$ for some $ime ma' #on$in%e $o s%ffer $he effe#$s of $he sin for whi#h we have been forgiven) This is be#a%se of $he (rin#i(le of sowing and rea(ing $ha$ we will deal wi$h in de$ail la$er) To e4(lain $his& i$ is im(or$an$ for %s $o no$e $ha$ wi$h ,od $here are $wo "inds of 1%dgmen$) There is $em(oral 1%dgmen$& whi#h (er$ains $o $he affairs of $his life) *$ is a 1%dgmen$ $ha$ a((lies $o %s while we are alive on $his ear$h) There is also e$ernal 1%dgmen$ whi#h will have an effe#$ %(on %s no$ onl' in $ime& b%$ also $hro%gho%$ e$erni$') Forgiveness restores fellowship and right relationship with %od, without necessarily removing the temporal consequences of a sin.

Continuing Conse-uences
* have said $ha$ i$ is (ossible $o #on$in%e $o s%ffer $he #onse2%en#es of an a#$ion #ommi$$ed d%ring o%r life$ime al$ho%gh we have been forgiven b' ,od) This "ind of 1%dgmen$ wo%ld no$ a((l' in e$erni$') *$ is a $em(oral 1%dgmen$& a dealing b' ,od in $his life onl') We m%s$ also remember $ha$ al$ho%gh a 1%dgmen$ ma' no$ #on$in%e on in$o e$erni$'& $he s#ri($%res (lainl' show $ha$ b' o%r fail%re $o obe' ,od& or $o ma"e righ$ res(onses in differen$ #ir#%ms$an#es& we s%ffer loss& and be#a%se of $his& fail $o a$$ain $o $he f%llness of ,od.s (%r(ose for o%r lives) This does no$ mean $ha$ we lose o%r salva$ion& 44

b%$ we ma' have los$ an o((or$%ni$' $o go on $o ,od.s highes$ (%r(ose for o%r lives) -ow of$en when fa#ed wi$h a #risis si$%a$ion have we blamed ,od: We have $ho%gh$ $ha$ ,od didn.$ #are or had forsa"en %s) We have as"ed $he 2%es$ion& 8Wh' did $his ha((en $o me:< ,od is #on#erned as $o how we res(ond even when $he mos$ diffi#%l$ $hings ha((en $o %s) Several 'ears ago m' wife and * had driven from 0risbane $o S'dne'& a dis$an#e of over 6!! miles& $o #ond%#$ a series of mee$ings over a wee"end) * was s$ill involved in b%siness as well as leading $he #h%r#h and i$ was im(or$an$ for me $o be ba#" in m' offi#e on $he 3onda') We en1o'ed a wonderf%l wee"end of mee$ings wi$h ,od.s blessing being eviden$& and la$e on $he S%nda' evening se$ off $o drive home $hro%gh $he nigh$ ho%rs) * was (h'si#all' $ired& b%$ e4hilara$ed b' $he 1o'o%s mee$ings) The ho%rs moved on as we $raveled homewards) 0' abo%$ 4 a)m) m' e'es were beginning $o droo(7 * was losing #on#en$ra$ion) 3' wife had diligen$l' s$a'ed awa"e $al"ing $o me $o hel( me "ee( aler$ while o%r da%gh$er and $wo friends do+ed in $he ba#" sea$) We sho%ld have s$o((ed and res$ed) *$ was im(or$an$ $o me $ha$ * was ba#" in m' offi#e wi$ho%$ $oo m%#h dela'& so m' wife& who seemed wide awa"e& gallan$l' offered $o $a"e over $he driving) We s$o((ed $he #ar and #hanged (la#es) * #ha$$ed $o her for a while& b%$ * was $ired af$er $he b%s' wee"end) 3' wife was driving well= * $ho%gh$ 45

$ha$ she #o%ld be $raveling a li$$le fas$er& b%$ * fel$ safe and sli((ed in$o a (ar$ial slee() The s%dden #rash seemed %nreal7 * o(ened m' e'es) The #ar was s$o((ed and $he bonne$ was s$anding %( in fron$ of $he winds#reen) 3' wife was in $ears) * was s%ddenl' awa"e and 2%i#"l' o%$ of $he #ar) The fron$ of $he #ar was smashed in $he bonne$ #a$#h had been dislodged& and $wo large road mar"er (os$s were %nder $he vehi#le) We were on a bend in $he road& and were now s$randed on $he grass' sho%lder a$ $he side) Bo one was in1%red) We loo"ed a$ $he s#ene) * fel$ angr'7 We had (ra'ed $oge$her before leaving S'dne' for a safe 1o%rne'& and now $his7 * was no$ angr' wi$h m' wife) She was so %(se$& b%$ * was anno'ed $ha$ we sho%ld be involved in an a##iden$ and now wo%ld (ossibl' be s$randed for ho%rs) God is concerned as to how we respond even when the most difficult things happen to us. * had been (rea#hing $he (rin#i(les of ,od.s Word and had been en#o%raging (eo(le in $he 0ible $r%$hs of (raise and worshi(& b%$ a$ $ha$ momen$ * did no$ feel li"e (raising ,od for all $hings) *$ was m%#h la$er $ha$ * reali+ed o%r mira#%lo%s (reserva$ion) 3' wife had beg%n $o reali+e $ha$ her e'es were dro((ing #losed& b%$ was (ersevering for m' sa"e) Kn#ons#io%sl' she was driving more slowl'& b%$ m%s$ have los$ momen$ar' awareness as she en#o%n$ered $he bend in $he road and $he #ar had 46

#on$in%ed s$raigh$ ahead& firs$ s$ri"ing one mar"er (os$ $hen ano$her) -ow eas' i$ wo%ld have been $o have veered in$o $he (a$h of vehi#les #oming in $he o((osi$e dire#$ion7 Two large inden$a$ions were in $he fron$ of $he #ar where ea#h mar"er (os$ had s$r%#") 0e#a%se of $he angle of $he bend& one (os$ had s$r%#" $o $he lef$ of $he radia$or #r%shing $he b%m(er bar& grill& and bonne$) The o$her (os$ had s$r%#" $o $he righ$ of $he radia$or& doing almos$ iden$i#al damage) We loo"ed in ama+emen$ a$ $he radia$or and engine %naffe#$ed b' $he im(a#$7 Bo$ far ahead on $he same side of $he road was a s$ee( ban"& and had $he #ar lef$ $he road $here& we wo%ld %ndo%b$edl' have rolled over& wi$h (ossible serio%s res%l$s) We managed $o (%ll $he mar"er (os$s from %nder $he #ar and drove off wi$h #onsiderable damage $o $he fron$ bod'& b%$ $he engine never missed a bea$ as we #on$in%ed on o%r wa' home) * was s$ill anno'ed) * was no$ $hen $han"f%l for an ama+ing es#a(e b%$ was s$ill %(se$ a$ $he (roblem) * missed an o((or$%ni$' $o ma"e $he righ$ "ind of res(onse whi#h wo%ld have allowed ,od $o do a wor" of develo(men$ in m' #hara#$er) Perha(s la$er (roblems $ha$ * have en#o%n$ered were ne#essar' be#a%se * did no$ allow $ha$ e4(erien#e $o b%ild m' $r%s$ and #onfiden#e in ,od a$ $ha$ $ime) 5ob& in $he $ime of his #risis was %rged b' his wife $o #%rse ,od and die H5ob 69I) Thro%gh ever' "ind of loss& (ain& and dis#o%ragemen$& he main$ained his #onfiden#e in ,od and %l$ima$el' re#eived blessings far grea$er $han he had (revio%sl') 47

The s#ri($%re ma"es #lear $ha$ Chris$ is o%r fo%nda$ion and we are $o b%ild on -im) *n 1 Corin$hians 3611M15 $he a(os$le Pa%l s(ea"ing s'mboli#all' sa's $ha$ we ma' b%ild wi$h ma$erials of ha'& wood& and s$%bble& b%$ when $he fire of ,od #omes on $hem& $he' will be des$ro'ed= b%$ $he s#ri($%re goes on $o sa'6 he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames H1 Corin$hians 3615I) Salva$ion was s$ill a reali$' for $he one #on#erned& b%$ he had los$ wha$ had been b%il$ on $he fo%nda$ion) *f& $o $he #on$rar'& he had b%il$ on $he fo%nda$ion gold& silver& and (re#io%s s$ones& when $he fire of ,od #ame $hese ma$erials wo%ld no$ have been des$ro'ed& and $he man wo%ld have had a las$ing s$r%#$%re of e$ernal val%e) 9l$ho%gh 1%dgmen$ ma' no$ go on in$o e$erni$'& $here is a #on$in%ing loss we #an s%ffer& if we do no$ b%ild o%r lives on ,od.s (a$$ern& or ma"e res(onses #onsis$en$ wi$h -is Word)

an,to, an Forgiveness
*$ is im(or$an$ $o reali+e $ha$ referen#es $o forgiveness in $he /ld Tes$amen$ in#l%de onl' $hree whi#h deal wi$h man>$o>man forgiveness) 9ll $he o$hers are ei$her ,od>$o>man or man>$o>,od) The /ld Tes$amen$ is a re#ord of (eo(le& %nder $he law& who were en$i$led $o $he (ro$e#$ion $ha$ $he law gave $hem) *n addi$ion& $he' #o%ld demand $he (enal$' $he law (rovided if an offen#e was #ommi$$ed agains$ $hem or $heir (ro(er$') *f a (erson s%ffered a$ $he hands of ano$her& he had a (erfe#$ righ$ $o sa'& 80e#a%se of wha$ * have s%ffered& * demand $ha$ 1%s$ (%nishmen$ be given $o $he offender)< Tha$ demand 4@

was 1%s$ and righ$& b%$ be#a%se $he offended man #o%ld demand $he (enal$' of $he law& he was also obliged $o live wi$hin $he law) *f we wan$ (eo(le $o drive #aref%ll' on o%r roads& observe s(eed limi$s& and (ro$e#$ o%r lives and (ro(er$'& $hen we m%s$ do $he same $hing for $hem) *$ is an a#$ of $o$al selfishness& when one (erson drives on $he roads wi$h disregard $o $he law& if he #om(lains when involved in an a##iden$ wi$h someone else who is also viola$ing $he law) When we are %nder $he law& we are (ro$e#$ed b' $he (rovisions of $he law& b%$ if we demand $he righ$ of $he law& $hen we are obliged $o obe' $he law o%rselves) This (rin#i(le is an e4am(le of gen%ine 1%s$i#e) *n $he /ld Tes$amen$& ;avid #alled %(on ,od $o deal wi$h his enemies) Perha(s we have $ho%gh$& 8* wish * #o%ld do $ha$7 Wh' #o%ld ;avid ge$ awa' wi$h #alling on ,od $o smi$e his enemies7.: We $hin"& 8Wh' sho%ld (eo(le be allowed $o #a%se me all $his $ro%ble:< * have #ome $o %nders$and& however& wh' ;avid #o%ld do $his) -e wro$e in one of his (salms6 9In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.+ (:salm .43!.0% ;avid was being $rea$ed %n1%s$l' a$ $he $ime& and %nder $he law was en$i$led $o #all $o ,od& for 1%s$ and legal re$rib%$ion) )f we demand the right of the law, then we are obliged to obey the law ourselves. 49

+race (e-uires +race


*n Chris$& however& we are no$ %nder $he law& b%$ %nder gra#e) We #anno$ #all& as ;avid did& for ,od $o smi$e o%r enem'& be#a%se ;avid was %nder $he law& and was en$i$led $o $he 1%s$i#e of $he law) We are no$ %nder $he law= we are %nder a (rovision $ha$ is grea$er and more mer#if%l $han $he law #o%ld ever be7 We are now $he re#i(ien$s of ,od.s gra#e) *n sim(le $erms $ha$ means $ha$ be#a%se of wha$ 5es%s Chris$ has done& ,od sees %s $hro%gh $he redem($ive wor" of Chris$& and no$ as we a#$%all' are& in o%rselves) ,ra#e is $he %nmeri$ed favor $ha$ ,od shows $owards %s al$ho%gh we have done no$hing $o deserve i$) 0e#a%se we are %nder gra#e& we are re2%ired $o e4er#ise gra#e in dealing wi$h o$hers) *f we wan$ $he (enal$' of $he law infli#$ed on o$hers& $hen we o%rselves #ome %nder $he same #ondemna$ion of $he law) The dis(ensa$ion of gra#e $ha$ we en1o' in Chris$ gives %s so m%#h more& b%$ i$ re2%ires so m%#h more of %s in re$%rn) *f we are %nder gra#e& we #anno$ ma"e $he "ind of (lea $ha$ ;avid made) There is a new law in o(era$ion and $ha$ is $he law of gra#e) *f * benefi$ from i$& $hen * am obliged $o res(ond %nder $hose same (rovisions) This is ver' im(or$an$& as man' of %s $oda' wan$ $he (rovisions of ,od.s law $o a((l' $o o$hers who have offended %s while we in $%rn wan$ $o re#eive $he benefi$s of gra#e) We wan$ ,od $o s$rongl' #ondemn and 1%dge $hose who have mis$rea$ed %s& b%$ in $%rn we wan$ ,od $o $rea$ %s "indl'7 This is a #on$radi#$ion of $he law of gra#e) 5!

*ecause we are under grace, we are re#uired to exercise grace in dealing with others. Forgiveness on a (erson>$o>(erson basis in $he /ld Tes$amen$ was an ill%s$ra$ion of gra#e ra$her $han law) Cemember& law was wha$ a (erson was re2%ired $o "ee( and $herefore was en$i$led $o demand) 9s * have men$ioned earlier& $here are onl' $hree ill%s$ra$ions re#orded and ea#h one is im(or$an$& be#a%se %s%all' i$ was a man who #alled on ,od for forgiveness) *n $he /ld Tes$amen$ ill%s$ra$ions& gra#e was en#o%raged b' ,od& al$ho%gh -e allowed $he 1%s$ (rovisions of $he law) These e4am(les $ha$ are given in $he 0ible (oin$ed $oward $he higher godli"e rela$ionshi( be$ween (eo(le whi#h was $o be bro%gh$ in $hro%gh 5es%s Chris$) 9 new s$andard of rela$ionshi( be$ween men and women was $o #ome in$o o(era$ion wi$h $he Bew Covenan$6 $ha$ is $he new wa' $ha$ ,od was (re(ared $o deal wi$h men and women be#a%se of wha$ 5es%s had done) ?e$ %s e4amine $he $hree e4am(les we find in $he /ld Tes$amen$ regarding (erson>$o>(erson forgiveness) The firs$ e4am(le is fo%nd in ,enesis #ha($er 58$ We find $ha$ 5a#ob& $he fa$her of 5ose(h& as"ed 5ose(h s(e#ifi#all' $o forgive his bro$hers for $he wrong $he' had done $o him) The message $ha$ $he bro$hers bro%gh$ $o 5ose(h was a dire#$ re2%es$ from $heir fa$her) The bro$hers said& 2%o$ing $heir fa$her6 I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and wrongs they committed in treating you so badly. 51

How please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father. (Genesis 8!.$% -ere was a re2%es$ for forgiveness) 5ose(h.s re(l' was ver' signifi#an$) -e said6 Gon5t be afraid. )m I in the place of God= (Genesis 8!.-% 5ose(h reali+ed $ha$ al$ho%gh he was no$ in a (osi$ion ei$her $o 1%dge or (ardon& be was being given $he (rivilege of forgiving) 9n' 1%dgmen$ for $he %n1%s$ $rea$men$ b' his bro$hers was a ma$$er $ha$ #on#erned ,od& no$ 5ose(h7 Bo$i#e $ha$ $he bro$hers f%lfilled $he $wo vi$al #ondi$ions for gen%ine forgiveness= $he' a#"nowledged $heir sin b' #onfession& and re(en$ed of $he wrong $he' had done) /n $hose #ondi$ions 5ose(h forgave $hem) -e de#lared $ha$ al$ho%gh his bro$hers had mean$ harm agains$ him& ,od had %sed $he even$s for good& and as a res%l$ an en$ire na$ion had been saved) 5ose(h forgave& b%$ $he righ$ #ondi$ions had been me$) *$ is signifi#an$ $ha$ 5ose(h said& 89m * in $he (la#e of ,od:.& for he reali+ed $ha$ i$ was no$ his (reroga$ive $o 1%dge or (ardon) Wha$ ,od ma' have done in 1%dging his bro$hers $he 0ible does no$ $ell %s) 0%$ 5ose(h& however& had e4er#ised gra#e $owards $hem& no$ $he (rovisions of $he law) Joseph realized that although he was not in a position either to udge or pardon, he was being given the privilege of forgiving. 5

The se#ond e4am(le is fo%nd in $he 0ible s$or' of $he deliveran#e of $he *sraeli$es from Gg'($) We read $hese words of Pharoah6 I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. How forgive my sin once more and pray to the Lord your God to take this deadly plague away from me. (12odus .8!."#.$% Pharoah was %l$ima$el' no$ sin#ere in $ha$ s$a$emen$& b%$ i$ did involve $he essen$ial elemen$s of a#"nowledgmen$ and re(en$an#e) We have a man as"ing for forgiveness& b%$ be#a%se he wen$ ba#" on his word& 1%dgmen$ #ame %(on him) The $hird e4am(le& a ver' signifi#an$ one& is fo%nd in 1 Sam%el 25$ We need $o refer $o some verses in (ar$i#%lar& b%$ a brief o%$line of $he s$or' will hel( %s as $his his$ori#al even$ is im(or$an$ in seeing ,od.s a#$ion even when one man has forgiven ano$her) This in#iden$ deals wi$h $he iss%es of forgiveness and (ardon and $he #on$in%ing 1%dgmen$ when forgiveness has been gran$ed) There are $hree ma1or #hara#$ers in $he s$or'6 a man #alled Babal& who was a weal$h' farmer& $he owner of $hree $ho%sand shee( and a $ho%sand goa$s& a woman& 9bigail& Babal.s wife& and ;avid& who was $hen a f%gi$ive from Fing Sa%l) The 0ible re#ord $ells %s $ha$ ;avid.s 'o%ng men had res(e#$ed and (ro$e#$ed Babal.s (ro(er$'& b%$ $here #ame a $ime when ;avid sen$ $en of his men $o as" for food) This seems $o have been a reasonable re2%es$ in ligh$ of $he obvio%s (ro$e#$ion $ha$ ;avid and his men had given $o Babal) Babal ref%sed $he re2%es$& and when $he message #ame ba#" $o ;avid& 53

he was angr' and se$ o%$ $o $a"e revenge) When 9bigail heard wha$ her h%sband had done& she wen$ o%$ on a mission $o in$er#ede for Babal) The s$or' $ells how she rode o%$ $o mee$ ;avid who was #oming wi$h $he in$en$ion of #om(le$el' des$ro'ing all $he male members of Babal.s ho%sehold) She s$o((ed ;avid& a(ologi+ed& and as"ed for forgiveness) She had a((aren$l' no$ #ons%l$ed wi$h her h%sband& b%$ wen$ on an errand $o see" mer#') This is wha$ 9bigail said6 9:lease forgive your servant5s offence, for the Lord will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my master, because he fights the Lord5s battles. Let no wrong doing be found in you as long as you live.+ (. Samuel 0 !0;% ;avid was angr'& and obvio%sl' fel$ $ha$ he had #a%se for his anger& b%$ #learl' $his was a serio%s over>rea#$ion b' ;avid in wan$ing $o $a"e $he lives of Babal.s men) -e a##eded $o $he re2%es$ for mer#' and forgiveness $ha$ 9bigail made) -e a#"nowledged $ha$ ,od had dire#$ed 9bigail in her a#$ion& and so was in$ervening $o (reven$ him from $a"ing an a#$ion $ha$ he had no righ$ $o $a"e M $o see" (ersonal revenge) ;avid said $o 9bigail6 9:raise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. ,ay you be blessed for your good <udgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands.+ (. Samuel 0 !30#33% 54

;avid reali+ed $ha$ $he a#$ion $a"en b' 9bigail was reall' $he in$erven$ion of ,od& s$o((ing him from doing some$hing $ha$ wo%ld have viola$ed $he law of ,od) ;avid ma' have $ried $o 1%s$if' $he a#$ion he in$ended& b%$ he was reall' see"ing $o $a"e (ersonal revenge and also $o infli#$ a (%nishmen$ whi#h was far above $he re$rib%$ion allowed b' $he law of ,od) ;avid obvio%sl' reali+ed $ha$ his in$ended a#$ion wo%ld have #on$ravened $he (rin#i(les of ,od whi#h he relied %(on for his own (ro$e#$ion) %od was intervening to prevent him from taking an action that he had no right to take + to seek personal revenge. The s$or' ends in a drama$i# wa') 9bigail re$%rned home and $he ne4$ da' she $old her h%sband wha$ had ha((ened) We read6 &hen in the morning, when Habal was sober, his wife told him all these things, and his heart failed him and he became like a stone. )bout ten days later, the Lord struck Habal and he died. (. Samuel 0 !3$#3 ;% ;avid had e4$ended bo$h mer#' and forgiveness $owards Babal& b%$ $he 1%dgmen$ of ,od on Babal #on$in%ed7 Babal had wronged ;avid) ;avid se$ o%$ $o e4a#$ re$rib%$ion $o whi#h he was no$ en$i$led& b%$ ,od gra#io%sl' in$ervened $hro%gh 9bigail) ;avid saw $he error of his in$ended a#$ion& and $ho%gh he gran$ed $he mer#' and forgiveness re2%es$ed b' 9bigail& ;avid did no$ have $o a#$ in 1%dgmen$& be#a%se i$ was ,od who did $ha$7 ,od moved agains$ $he %ngra$ef%l man Babal& and he died) 55

;avid "e($ his rela$ionshi( wi$h ,od in harmon' be#a%se of $he mer#' and forgiveness $ha$ he had e4$ended) *f ;avid had no$ forgiven and had ins$ead e4a#$ed $he vengean#e he in$ended& he ma' have had an e4(erien#e similar $o $ha$ of a la$er o##asion when he $oo" ano$her man.s wife and ,od.s 1%dgmen$ #ame %(on him) We need $o re#ogni+e $ha$ $he forgiveness gran$ed b' ;avid did no$ remove ,od.s righ$ $o infli#$ 1%dgmen$ and (%nishmen$ on $he offender) ,avid kept his fellowship with %od in harmony because of the mercy and forgiveness that he had e(tended.

Choosing !a. or +race


The /ld Tes$amen$ reveals a ,od of mer#'& forgiveness& and (ardon) *$ deals wi$h a (eo(le %nder $he law who were obliged $o obe' $he law) *$ limi$ed (ersonal revenge b%$ allowed 1%s$ re$rib%$ion) *$ allowed a man $he (rivilege of forgiving& b%$ did no$ demand i$ from him) *$ merel' demanded 1%s$ $rea$men$) The /ld Tes$amen$ #learl' gave $he righ$ $o forgive $o $he individ%al b%$& a$ $he same $ime& showed $ha$ ,od.s 1%dgmen$ #o%ld s$ill a((l' $o $he offender& even when forgiveness had been gran$ed) The (rin#i(le we m%s$ %nders$and is $ha$ if we live %nder law& $hen we re#eive i$s (ro$e#$ion& b%$ we also re#eive i$s 1%s$ (enal$') *$ is s$range $ha$ born> again believers who are re#eiving $he benefi$s of ,od.s gra#e of$en wan$ $o im(ose $he (enal$ies of 56

$he law agains$ $hose who have offended $hem and $he' $hen wonder a$ $he res%l$s $ha$ follow in $heir own lives) 3an' sin#ere Chris$ians are de$ermined $ha$ believers in Chris$ sho%ld be %nder a Sabba$h ?aw) *$ is righ$ $o "ee( a da' for ,od& b%$ if we demand one (ar$ of $he law& we are obliga$ed $o all $he law) -ow ama+ing $ha$ now $ha$ we are %nder gra#e we sho%ld wan$ $o be %nder law) ,od has se$ %s free $hro%gh fai$h in $he ?ord 5es%s Chris$& b%$ if we live %nder gra#e& $hen we m%s$ also give i$s (rovisions $o o$hers whom we mee$ da'>b'>da') ,ra#e demands a higher res(onse& b%$ i$ gives grea$er benefi$s) We are %nder gra#e= we are no$ %nder $he law7 ,od remains 1%s$& righ$eo%s& mer#if%l& forgiving& and (ardoning& b%$ -e re2%ires $ha$ $he righ$ #ondi$ions be me$ if we are $o re#eive -is gra#e wi$h all i$s benefi$s) &ow ama-ing that now we are under grace, we should want to be under law. *$ is eas' $o be 1%dgmen$al of o$hers and den' $hem gra#io%s hel( or res$ora$ion& b%$ we #an (la#e o%rselves in danger b' s%#h an a$$i$%de) *mmorali$' is a $raged' and a snare wi$hin $he #h%r#h and es(e#iall' amongs$ $hose in minis$r' or leadershi() * "now of a (ar$i#%lar in#iden$ where $he moral fail%re had been a serio%s one) The s$ri#$es$ dis#i(line was needed and was e4er#ised) Several 'ears (assed before $ha$ man was allowed $o again $a"e a (la#e on a #h%r#h (la$form and (rea#h) The $ime of dis#i(line had been mar"ed b' a #om(le$e 57

famil' re#on#ilia$ion& a willingness $o fa#e $he (roblem& and a s(iri$%al #onsis$en#') When $he man #on#erned was res$ored $o minis$r'& a fellow minis$er said& 89 man wi$h $ha$ "ind of (roblem sho%ld never be allowed ba#" in $he minis$r'7< Wi$hin a shor$ $ime& $he minis$er who had made $his 1%dgmen$al s$a$emen$ was himself e4(osed for ad%l$er'7 This man wo%ld no$ $hen fa#e %( $o $he dis#i(line he had demanded for o$hers) /ne of $he o$her errors in$o whi#h we #an fall is $o forgive o%rselves when forgiveness m%s$ firs$ be so%gh$ from $hose whom we have offended) Perha(s in an endeavor $o save (eo(le from self> #ondemna$ion we have s$ressed $he need $o forgive o%rselves& b%$ $his #an onl' (ro(erl' be done af$er we have as"ed o$hers $o forgive %s for o%r fail%re) This means $ha$ we have a res(onsibili$' $o (%$ righ$ an' wrongs $ha$ we ma' have #ommi$$ed agains$ ano$her& and no$ 1%s$ (re$end $ha$ $he offen#e did no$ o##%r) *f we have fai$hf%ll' done o%r (ar$ in (%$$ing righ$ $ha$ whi#h was wrong& $hen we have f%lfilled o%r (ar$ even if $he o$her (erson ref%ses $o a##e($ o%r re2%es$ for forgiveness) 9s an e4am(le * read of a (rea#her who was s#hed%led $o #ond%#$ a series of mee$ings in a $own b%$ s%ddenl' $he organi+ers of $he mee$ings dis#overed his involvemen$ in a re(ea$ed ad%l$ero%s si$%a$ion) When #onfron$ed wi$h $he allega$ion $he man o(enl' #onfessed his g%il$& offered $o #onfess $o his wife& and said& 8Bow le$ %s ge$ on wi$h $he mee$ings)< 5@

This man had ins$an$l' forgiven himself7 The organi+ers #an#elled $he mee$ings) $ne of the other errors into which we can fall is to forgive ourselves when forgiveness must first come from those whom we have offended. *$ is no$ o%r righ$ $o forgive o%rselves& b%$ we m%s$ firs$ see" forgiveness from $hose we have offended) We are no$ onl' res(onsible $o ,od b%$ also $o $he whole 80od' of Chris$.) When a((ro(ria$e dis#i(line has been a((lied& and $he offender has h%mbled himself b' re(en$an#e& $hen res$ora$ion #an be se$ in mo$ion) We have no righ$ $o forgive o%rselves& %n$il $hose we have failed offer $heir forgiveness $o %s& or we f%lfill $he #ondi$ions $ha$ 1%s$if' s%#h forgiveness) Then we #an and sho%ld forgive o%rselves) ?e$ me ill%s$ra$e $his from a $'(i#al #h%r#h si$%a$ion) The 'o%$h gro%( had (lanned an o%$ing& and #ars had been arranged $o $rans(or$ all $hose a$$ending) 9$ $he de(ar$%re $ime& one #ar owner had no$ arrived) The gro%( s$ood aro%nd wai$ing& a li$$le fr%s$ra$ed and growing an4io%s as $he min%$es (assed b') Thir$' min%$es la$er $he missing #ar wi$h i$s driver s#ree#hed $o a hal$ beside $he wai$ing gro%(& a smiling driver leaning his elbow 1a%n$il' on $he o(en window frame) 8Where have 'o% been:< sho%$ed a do+en voi#es) The 'o%ng man.s grin broadened& 80e$$er la$e $han never&< he re(lied self> #onfiden$l') 59

This 'o%ng man had forgiven himself) -is righ$f%l a$$i$%de sho%ld have been one of a(olog' and e4(lana$ion) *$ was $he (rivilege of $he wai$ing gro%( $o forgive him for his la$e arrival& and no do%b$ $he' wo%ld have done so had his a$$i$%de been righ$) 0%$ he $oo" i$ as his righ$ $o forgive himself) Forgiveness is no$ ob$ained in $his wa') The o((osi$e a$$i$%de is $o demand a legalis$i# a((roa#h) The 3osai# law is a grea$ g%ide $o $he wa's and $r%$h of ,od& b%$ if we demand i$s (rovisions& be (re(ared $o re#eive $hem in re$%rn) *f we wan$ $o #all ,od.s 1%dgmen$ down on an offender& be (re(ared for ,od $o bring his 1%dgmen$ down on %s) When we a((re#ia$e $he gra#e whi#h has been given $o %s& we will in $%rn le$ $he gra#e of ,od flow o%$ from %s& so $ha$ in o%r dealings wi$h ea#h o$her we will be mer#if%l and forgiving wi$ho%$ viola$ing $he (rin#i(le $ha$ o$hers m%s$ forgive %s) /r we m%s$ mee$ $he #ondi$ions for forgiveness& before we #an forgive o%rselves) Some (eo(le will hold an a$$i$%de of %nforgiveness even when a (erson has a(ologi+ed and as"ed $o be forgiven& so $heir wrong res(onse #anno$ be allowed $o be a barrier $o o%r forgiving o%rselves) *f we follow $his #o%rse o%r fellowshi( wi$h ,od will be %naffe#$ed and we ma' be s%re $ha$ a migh$' ,od& who "nows all $hings& is s$ill a$ wor" $o deal wi$h %nrigh$eo%sness wherever i$ migh$ be fo%nd) ,od does no$ $%rn 8a blind e'e< $o $he failings& disobedien#e& and wrongs of Chris$ians& b%$ if $he' #all %(on -im in sin#eri$' -e will hear and res$ore $hem $o righ$ rela$ionshi( wi$h -im) This does no$& however& g%aran$ee $ha$ ,od.s $em(oral hand of 6!

1%dgmen$ will no$ remain %(on $hem) There #an be #onse2%en#es $ha$ follow sin& even when forgiveness has been given) %od does not turn a blind eye to the failings, disobedience, and wrongs of !hristians, but if they call on &im in sincerity &e will hear and restore them. ?e$ %s be s%re $o show mer#' and forgiveness in o%r rela$ionshi(s wi$h one ano$her) ,od #an $a"e #are of $he offender) *$ is no$ o%r (roblem& b%$ -is7 We are $o re#ogni+e $he gra#e $ha$ we have re#eived $hro%gh fai$h in 5es%s Chris$& live wi$hin $he (rovisions of $ha$ gra#e& and in re$%rn for wha$ we have re#eived& $rea$ o$hers wi$h gra#e)

61

Chapter / Forgiveness and &udg#ent


*n see"ing $o %nders$and $he (ro(er meaning of forgiveness i$ is essen$ial& in order $o avoid mis%nders$anding& $o reali+e wha$ ha((ens when forgiveness is given) *$ is #lear from s#ri($%re $ha$ $he e4er#ise of mer#'& whi#h ,od alwa's gran$s& and $he (rovision of forgiveness& do no$ a%$oma$i#all' remove all 1%dgmen$ for $he offense $ha$ has been #ommi$$ed) We need $o #onsider $his ver' #aref%ll' as $here are im(li#a$ions involved wi$h forgiveness $ha$ ma' have been overloo"ed) ?e$ me s%gges$ $hree as(e#$s of forgiveness)

Co#plete Forgiveness
The $erm 8#om(le$e forgiveness< is %sed $o indi#a$e $he $o$al forgiveness of $he offender in#l%ding #om(le$e (ardon& whi#h removes an' #on$in%ing 1%dgmen$ for $he offense) We read $hese words in $he (salms6 )s far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (:salm .83!.0% 5es%s made $his s$a$emen$6 &his is what is written! 9&he >hrist will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and 6

repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Aerusalem.+ (Luke 04!4"#4$% *n Pa%l*s le$$er $o $he Coman #h%r#h he sa's6 9*lessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.+ (7omans 4!$% Wha$ marvelo%s (romises $hese are7 *$ is ver' (lain $ha$ $here is a forgiveness b' ,od $ha$ #om(le$el' eradi#a$es $he (enal$' of (as$ sin) ,od #an blo$ o%$ $he re#ord of sin so $ha$ no #onse2%en#es remain) This "ind of forgiveness res$ores a (erson $o (erfe#$ fellowshi( wi$h ,od so $ha$ $he former sinner& who was aliena$ed from ,od and wi$ho%$ ho(e& is a##e($ed in Chris$ 1%s$ as if he had never #ommi$$ed a sin) There is a #ommon mis#on#e($ion $ha$ ,od forge$s o%r sins) Peo(le sa'& 8,od has #as$ o%r sins in$o $he dee(es$ sea of -is forge$f%lness never $o be remembered agains$ %s an' more)< This s$a$emen$ is no$ in $he 0ible al$ho%gh some (eo(le ma' have $ho%gh$ $ha$ i$ was an a#$%al s#ri($%re verse7 -ow #o%ld an omni(o$en$& omni(resen$& and omnis#ien$ ,od forge$: When $he 0ible refers $o ,od no$ remembering sins and ini2%i$ies it means $ha$ ,od will no$ a#$ 1%dgmen$all' agains$ a (erson or na$ion& as $o (enal$' or #onse2%en#es& ra$her $han a li$eral forge$$ing $ha$ $he in#iden$ had $a"en (la#e) 9n e4am(le is as follows6 (or I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. (/ebrews ;!.0% 63

,od was no$ going $o hold $heir sin agains$ $hem& b%$ -e had no$ forgo$$en $ha$ $he' had sinned7 *$ is eas' $o %se $he $ho%gh$ $ha$ 8,od forge$s< as an e4#%se for no$ dealing wi$h a (roblem or no$ (%$$ing righ$ a wrong) When we a#$ in a##ordan#e wi$h ,od.s Word& $hen -e (%$s awa' $he $ho%gh$ of o%r fail%re so $ha$ i$ is no$ a barrier $o o%r rela$ionshi( wi$h -im) ,od has $he abili$' no$ $o allow an' sin we have #ommi$$ed and $hen #onfessed& $o affe#$ o%r fellowshi( wi$h -im) There is a forgiveness by %od that completely eradicates the penalty of past sin. This hel(f%l $es$imon' was given $o me b' a friend6 Garl' one S%nda' morning * fo%nd i$ ne#essar' $o #orre#$ one of m' $eenage da%gh$ers be#a%se of her behavior) -er res(onse was one of $o$al re1e#$ion of wha$ * had said& and * was $a"en b' s%r(rise and offended b' her angr' rea#$ion) * did no$ res(ond al$ho%gh * fel$ ver' anno'ed& b%$ wen$ in$o m' room $o (ra') * had been #hallenged 1%s$ (revio%sl' b' $he verse in 3ar" 116 4& Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. This s#ri($%re was so #lear& and here was a need in o%r home $ha$ re2%ired ,od.s hel(& so * as"ed -im $o #hange m' da%gh$er.s 64

a$$i$%de and give $o her $he gra#e of obedien#e) * as"ed $he ?ord $o do i$ $ha$ da'7 The ho%rs of $he da' wen$ (as$ wi$h no res(onse from m' da%gh$er) 9$ 9)3! ()m) $ha$ evening * dro((ed on m' "nees beside m' bed& and feeling bi$$erl' disa((oin$ed * #ried o%$ $o ,od and as"ed -im wh' -e had no$ answered m' (ra'er) * was #er$ain $ha$ * had had $he fai$h $o re#eive $ha$ (romise) The ne4$ verse in 3ar" 11 $hen #ame $o m' mind) And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. * s%ddenl' reali+ed $ha$ * was $rea$ing forgiveness as forge$$ing) * had been misled b' $he #li#hN& 8,od forgives and forge$s)< * had (%$ m' da%gh$er.s remar"s and an$agonism o%$ of m' mind and $ho%gh$ $ha$ $his #ons$i$%$ed forgiveness) 3' a$$i$%de had been (assive& 1%s$ (re$ending $ha$ $he in#iden$ hadn.$ $a"en (la#e& and * was wai$ing for ,od $o solve $he (roblem) *n doing $his& * had lef$ m' da%gh$er on an island of isola$ion) 3' hear$ warmed wi$hin me and * go$ %( from m' "nees $o go $o her room and e4(ress m' love for her& b%$ ,od had bea$en me $o i$) 3' da%gh$er and * me$ in $he (assage& ea#h on $he wa' $o (%$ $hings righ$ wi$h $he o$her)

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* had $ho%gh$ $ha$ $r'ing $o forge$ wo%ld solve $he (roblem& b%$ * learned $ha$ da' wha$ a vi$al (ar$ forgiveness has in $he s(iri$%al realm) 9s soon as * gen%inel' forgave from m' hear$& ,od moved in her life& and m' (ra'er was answered) )t is easy to use the thought that %od forgets as an e(cuse for not dealing with a problem or not putting right a wrong. *n a (revio%s #ha($er we saw $he differen#e be$ween $em(oral forgiveness and e$ernal forgiveness) Tem(oral forgiveness is rela$ed $o $his life whereas e$ernal forgiveness goes on in$o e$erni$') Wi$h #om(le$e forgiveness& whi#h we are #onsidering now& ,od also gives $o$al (ardon) This means $ha$ bo$h in $his (resen$ life and also e$ernall'& $he re#ord is made #lear and $here are no f%r$her (enal$ies for o%r sins and fail%res) -ow devoid of a((re#ia$ion we wo%ld be if we did no$ re1oi#e in a (rovision s%#h as $his7 9ll $he g%il$ and b%rden of sin are gone) Se$ free7 This is $he mos$ #ommon %nders$anding of forgiveness& and i$ is wonderf%l $o reali+e $ha$ ,od forgives in s%#h a #om(le$e wa') Temporal forgiveness is related to this life, whereas eternal forgiveness goes on into eternity.

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Conditional Forgiveness
We #anno$& however& a%$oma$i#all' ass%me $ha$ #om(le$e forgiveness is alwa's given b' ,od& be#a%se $here is a se#ond as(e#$ whi#h * will #all 8#ondi$ional forgiveness.) This is where a (erson ma' sin and #on$in%e $o re(ea$ $he offen#e) ,od alwa's forgives when $he righ$ #ondi$ions are me$& so i$ does no$ ma$$er how serio%s $he fail%re ma' be& if $he (erson gen%inel' re(en$s and #onfesses& $hen fellowshi( wi$h ,od is res$ored) ;efini$e #ondi$ions are re2%ired) ,od sa's& 8*f 'o% re(en$ and #onfess& * will res$ore 'o% $o fellowshi( wi$h me)< We live in a na$%ral world and are s%b1e#$ed $o man' (ress%res and $em($a$ions& and we "now $ha$ 'ielding $o $em($a$ion is no$ alwa's a delibera$e or willf%l a#$) There are for#es $ha$ #an gain hold in o%r lives a$ differen$ $imes& and al$ho%gh we have des(ised o%rselves when $hese sins have o##%rred& we have failed and re(ea$ed a viola$ion of ,od.s Word) *$ is (ossible $o be en$angled b' some bese$$ing sin& and man' sin#ere (eo(le gra((le wi$h $his "ind of (roblem) When $his ha((ens in o%r life& ,od #anno$ ignore i$) ,od ma' have $o deal wi$h %s and (la#e #er$ain res$ri#$ions on %s as a (roba$ion& a (roving (eriod $o es$ablish dis#i(line and vi#$or' in areas of fail%re) *n $hese #ir#%ms$an#es we have $he benefi$ of $he -ol' S(iri$.s minis$r' of #onvi#$ing %s of sin) 5es%s said $ha$ $he -ol' S(iri$ wo%ld #onvi#$ %s of sin& righ$eo%sness and 1%dgmen$ H5ohn 166@I) We m%s$ alwa's be sensi$ive $o $his #onvi#$ion and res(ond $o i$ if we wan$ $he #on$in%ed blessing of

67

$he ?ord and also $o be free of $he #onse2%en#es $ha$ #an #ome from delibera$e sin) %od always forgives when the right conditions are met. 9$ $he #lose of $he boo" of 5osh%a we read how 5osh%a warned $he (eo(le $ha$ al$ho%gh ,od had been wi$h $hem and had given $hem vi#$or'& $he ?ord wo%ld 1%dge $hem if $he' disobe'ed -is Word or served o$her gods) These words are re#orded6 *e very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the *ook of the Law of ,oses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. Go not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. Cou must not serve them or bow down to them. *ut you are to hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have until now. &he Lord has driven out before you great and powerful nations; to this day no one has been able to withstand you. 'ne of you routs a thousand, because the Lord your God fights for you, <ust as /e promised. So be very careful to love the Lord your God. *ut if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, then you may be sure that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. 6@

Instead they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the Lord your God has given you. How I am about to go the way of all the earth. Cou know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. 1very promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. (Aoshua 03!"#.4% If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you after he has been good to you. (Aoshua 04!08% %od may have to deal with us and place certain restrictions on us as a probation, a proving period to establish discipline and victory in areas of failure. ,od was warning $hese (eo(le agains$ $he #onse2%en#es of disobedien#e even af$er $he' had en1o'ed -is s%(erna$%ral hel( and blessing) * wonder whe$her we $a"e in$o a##o%n$ $he #onse2%en#es of disobedien#e in o%r rela$ionshi( wi$h ,od) *$ was no$ $ha$ $he' #o%ld never be res$ored again& be#a%se ,od did res$ore $hem on man' o##asions af$er $he' viola$ed $ha$ (ar$i#%lar #ommand& b%$ ,od warned $hem of $he #onse2%en#es if $he' did no$ do wha$ -e said) ,od was #lear7 -e said $ha$ if $he' did no$ obe' -im and #on$in%e in -is wa'& and also #om(le$el' drive o%$ $he enem'& even $ho%gh -e had done so m%#h for 69

$hem& $he Canaani$es wo%ld re#a($%re $he land from $hem) 9nd i$ ha((ened7 We #o%ld ill%s$ra$e $his from a famil' si$%a$ion) *$ is eas' $o %nders$and $he wa's of ,od if we %se $he na$%ral famil' as an e4am(le) Thin" of a #hild of s#hool age $o whom $he mo$her sa's& 8* wan$ 'o% $o #ome home immedia$el' af$er s#hool)< The #hild #omes home la$e and is ver' a(ologe$i#) The mo$her sa's& 89ll righ$ dear& $ha$.s fine& b%$ do no$ le$ i$ ha((en again)< 9ll is well in $he famil'& $he #hild is forgiven& and $he home is in harmon') Be4$ af$ernoon& $he same $hing ha((ens& $he #hild is la$e7 3o$her sa's& 80%$ * $old 'o% 'es$erda' $o #ome s$raigh$ home)< There are $ears& more a(ologies& b%$ re(en$an#e res$ores $he ha((iness of $he home) *f& however& $ha$ #ond%#$ #on$in%es da' af$er da'& $hen i$ is inevi$able $ha$ $he mo$her will (la#e #er$ain res$ri#$ions on $he #hild be#a%se of $he #on$in%ed disobedien#e) The re(en$an#e and #onfession of $he #hild res$ored fellowshi(& b%$ $he #on$in%a$ion of $he offen#e res%l$ed in dis#i(line being a((lied) 9 (roving $ime wo%ld be re2%ired $o wor" o%$ $he f%ll a((li#a$ion of forgiveness and again es$ablish a basis for $r%s$) This is how $he -ol' S(iri$ wor"s) /%r 'o%nger da%gh$er had loo"ed forward eagerl' $o 1oining her older bro$her and sis$er a$ s#hool) When she rea#hed $he longed>for age of five 'ears& i$ was an e4#i$ed li$$le girl who se$ off for her firs$ da' a$ s#hool) She was #heerf%l and warm hear$ed& and 2%i#"l' made friends) Ga#h af$ernoon she was a li$$le la$er in #oming home from s#hool) The 7!

$em($a$ion $o s(end more $ime (la'ing wi$h her new friends af$er s#hool or $o s$o( a$ a girlfriend.s ho%se on $he wa' home was (roving $oo m%#h for her) 3' wife $old her re(ea$edl'& 8Come home immedia$el' af$er s#hool)< The li$$le girl.s fa#e wo%ld loo" sad and re(en$an$) *$ was hard for m' wife $o resis$ wha$ $o %s was a #%$e li$$le blonde whose loo" #o%ld mel$ $he hardes$ hear$& b%$ finall' $he %l$ima$%m was made& 8Eo% #ome home immedia$el' af$er s#hool or else7< 0%$ she was la$e again7 8Where have 'o% been:<& demanded m' wife) The li$$le head dro((ed& e'es loo"ed $o $he gro%nd& and she said& 8* was wal"ing wi$h m' head down and * los$ m' wa')< 3' wife had $o $%rn awa' $o hide her la%gh$er a$ $he novel e4#%se from a five 'ear old b%$& needless $o sa'& for $he ne4$ few da's mo$her was wai$ing a$ $he s#hool ga$e $o (i#" %( a li$$le girl who had $o learn $ha$ 8Come s$raigh$ home< reall' mean$ $ha$7 ;id we love her less: Perha(s we even loved her more be#a%se of her love of friendshi(& b%$ dis#i(line had $o be $a%gh$) This is $he same in o%r dealings wi$h ,od) *$ is (erfe#$l' reasonable $ha$ o%r heavenl' Fa$her will $a"e res$ri#$ive a#$ion if we #on$in%e $o ignore wha$ -e sa's) We e4(e#$ $his $o ha((en in o%r famil') We wo%ld no$ allow a #hild $o go on disobe'ing b%$ we wo%ld no$ #as$ o%$ o%r #hild from $he home or remain wi$h a s%llen& angr' a$$i$%de $owards him) *f we are ma$%re (aren$s& we wo%ld wan$ o%r 71

rela$ionshi( wi$h o%r #hild res$ored& b%$ if $he #hild was #ons$an$l' disobedien$& we wo%ld be for#ed $o $a"e dis#i(linar' a#$ion) ,od does $his7 ,od some$imes (%$s res$ri#$ions on %s& -is #hildren& and (la#es %s on (roba$ion) -e (%$s %s $hro%gh a (roving $ime& $o es$ablish $ha$ -e #an reall' $r%s$ %s) * am s%re $ha$ all of %s wan$ ,od no$ onl' $o love %s b%$ also $o $r%s$ %s) *$ is $r%e $ha$ o%r h%man na$%re of$en #a%ses %s $o fall shor$ of $he high s$andard of $r%s$wor$hiness $ha$ ,od.s word (or$ra's& b%$ ,od is s$ill e4(e#$ing %s $o be obedien$ #hildren) Tr'ing $o de#eive ,od is $o$all' %ns%##essf%l& be#a%se -e "nows bo$h o%r a#$ions and mo$ives) /%r #hildren ma' s%##eed wi$h de#e($ion or disobedien#e for a $ime& b%$ wi$h ,od no$hing is hidden) We need a rela$ionshi( wi$h $he ?ord where $here is no$ onl' gen%ine fellowshi( $hro%gh mer#' and forgiveness& b%$ also where we are no$ res$ri#$ed be#a%se -e #anno$ $r%s$ %s) -ave 'o% ever #onsidered $ha$ a$ a h%man level $here #an be gen%ine love and fellowshi( wi$ho%$ $r%s$: *n fa#$& $he 0ible $ells %s $ha$ we #anno$ reall' $r%s$ (eo(le& even $hose who are #loses$ $o %s) The in$en$ions of (eo(le ma' be wor$h' b%$ of$en $he' fail $o live %( $o $hose in$en$ions) /%r res(onsibili$' is $o love one ano$her b%$ $o $r%s$ onl' ,od) When we (%$ o%r $r%s$ in (eo(le& i$ is inevi$able $ha$ a$ some s$age a (erson will fail $ha$ $r%s$& b%$ $ha$ does no$ ha((en wi$h ,od) This idea ma' a$ firs$ seem $o be #on$radi#$or'& b%$ #aref%l #onsidera$ion will show $ha$ we #an love o%r 7

#hildren ver' dearl'& and have gen%ine fellowshi( wi$h $hem& b%$ no$ $r%s$ $heir abili$' $o ma"e righ$ res(onses in differen$ si$%a$ions) 0e#a%se of $his& we (ro$e#$ $hem b' dis#i(line and res$ri#$ion) We do no$ a((l' $his dis#i(line $o harm $hem& b%$ $o save $hem) Trying to deceive %od is totally unsuccessful, because &e knows both our actions and our motives. *f we remember $his (rin#i(le in regard $o o%r rela$ionshi( wi$h ,od& i$ will hel( $o give %s be$$er %nders$anding) /%r heavenl' Fa$her does wha$ we wo%ld do wi$h o%r #hildren& b%$ wi$h m%#h grea$er %nders$anding& #om(assion& and love $han we #o%ld show) There is a #ondi$ional forgiveness as well as a #om(le$e forgiveness) Condi$ional forgiveness is where ,od forgives %s of $he (enal$' of $he sin& b%$ we are %nder -is res$ri#$ive wa$#h) Com(le$e forgiveness is where we are $o$all' res$ored $o ,od and ever' sin is wi(ed o%$ never $o be held agains$ %s again) We s$and before ,od #leansed from sin and g%il$ and wi$ho%$ res$ri#$ion be#a%se of $he blood of 5es%s Chris$) *f& however& we do no$ live in obedien#e b%$ go agains$ $he Word of ,od and (lease o%rselves& ,od will res$ore %s $o fellowshi( wi$h -im if we re(en$ and #onfess& b%$ $he forgiveness ma' be #ondi$ional) There are man' (eo(le $oda' who wonder wh' #er$ain (roblems and diffi#%l$ies ha((en in $heir lives) /ne of $he s%b1e#$s we will deal wi$h is $i$led 8Wha$ is -a((ening:<& be#a%se * have had $ha$ 2%es$ion as"ed so of$en d%ring #o%nseling) Peo(le 73

do no$ %nders$and wha$ is ha((ening in $heir lives& b%$ if $he' will a##e($ some of $he (rin#i(les $ha$ we are e4amining& $he' will begin $o %nders$and $he #a%se of man' of $heir (roblems) ,od.s res$ri#$ive& dis#i(linar' hand #an be in o(era$ion in a (erson.s life& and ins$ead of en1o'ing #om(le$e forgiveness& he is e4(erien#ing #ondi$ional forgiveness7 %od will restore us to fellowship if we repent and confess, but the forgiveness may be conditional.

&udicial Forgiveness
* have #alled $he $hird as(e#$ of forgiveness 85%di#ial Forgiveness<) The laws of $he "ingdom of ,od are absol%$es) The' #anno$ be bro"en7 We ma' a((ear $o brea" $hem& b%$ we do no$& as in reali$' we brea" o%rselves on ,od.s laws) *f we viola$e $hese laws& $hen $here is some defini$e effe#$ %(on %s) 9lwa's remember $ha$ ,od is mer#if%l& b%$ mer#' $a"es in$o #onsidera$ion "nowledge and e4(erien#e& so as we have seen (revio%sl'& $he degree of mer#' $ha$ is e4$ended varies a##ording $o $he "nowledge and %nders$anding $ha$ a (erson has) *f a new Chris$ian #ommi$s a sin& $hen ,od.s mer#' $oward him ma' be m%#h grea$er $han if an e4(erien#ed Chris$ian #ommi$$ed $he same sin) 3er#' is $he lessening of $he severi$' of $he (enal$' whi#h is deserved) We read in 5ames. le$$er6 Gear brothers, don5t be too eager to tell others their faults, for we all make many mistakes; and when we teachers, who should know better, do wrong, 74

our punishment will be greater than it would be for others. (Aames 3!. &he Living *ible% This $r%$h of re(en$an#e and 1%di#ial forgiveness is #learl' ill%s$ra$ed in $wo e4am(les from $he life of Fing ;avid) * wan$ $o e4amine $hese be#a%se $he' are ver' im(or$an$ in giving %s #lari$' in all as(e#$s of forgiveness) The s#ri($%re s$a$es6 So the king said to Aoab and the army commanders with him, 9Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Gan to *eersheba and enroll the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are.+ *ut Aoab replied to the king, 9,ay the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. *ut why does my lord the king want to do such a thing=+ &he king5s word, however, overruled Aoab and the army commanders; so they left the presence of the king to enroll the fighting men of Israel. (0 Samuel 04!0#4% The s$or' #on$in%es in $he same #ha($er6 ;avid was #ons#ien#e>s$ri#"en af$er he had #o%n$ed $he figh$ing men& and he said $o $he ?ord& 9I have sinned greatly in what I have done. How 8 Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.+ (0 Samuel 04!.8% This was a #lear s$a$emen$ of re(en$an#e and #onfession b' ;avid) ,od& however& sen$ $he (ro(he$ ,ad& ;avid.s seer& $o ;avid) This is wha$ $he 0ible re#ords6 75

Go and tell Gavid, 9&his is what the Lord says! I am giving you three options. >hoose one of them for me to carry out against you+ So Gad went to Gavid and said to him, 9Shall there come upon you three years of famine in your land= 'r three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you= 'r three days of plague in your land= How then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me.+ Gavid said to Gad, 9I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men.+ So the Lord sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Gan to *eersheba died. (0 Samuel 04! .0#. % .ome offences in the sight of %od are so serious that although %od will forgive if there is repentance and confession, there is a continuing udicial result. ;avid had re(en$ed and #onfessed his sin& b%$ ,od s$ill sen$ 1%dgmen$7 The f%ll im(li#a$ions of ;avid.s a#$ion in n%mbering $he (eo(le is no$ #lear in $he s#ri($%re) There is a (rovision made in $he /ld Tes$amen$ for n%mbering $he (eo(le& b%$ i$ wo%ld seem& be#a%se of $he (enal$' whi#h ,od im(osed& $ha$ behind ;avid.s a#$ion in n%mbering $he (eo(le was (ride in wha$ he had a#hieved) *$ wo%ld a((ear $ha$ ;avid m%s$ have had self>sa$isfa#$ion be#a%se of $he n%mber of (eo(le he had ga$hered aro%nd 76

him) ;avid had failed $o a#"nowledge $ha$ i$ was ,od who had given him (ower and vi#$or') ;avid.s generals& 5oab and o$hers& had (leaded wi$h him no$ $o n%mber $he (eo(le& b%$ he had gone ahead willf%ll') Bow& reali+ing $he enormi$' of his a#$ion& he #ried o%$ $o ,od in re(en$an#e) 0%$ i$ was $oo la$e7 ;avid was res$ored $o fellowshi( wi$h ,od as a res%l$ of his re(en$an#e& b%$ (ardon for $he #onse2%en#es of his sin was no$ gran$ed) 0e#a%se of ;avid.s a#$ion& 1%dgmen$ fell on $he whole na$ion) There was a #on$in%ing 1%di#ial res%l$ from ;avid.s fail%re) Perha(s $his sho%ld be a sal%$ar' lesson for some Chris$ian leaders $oda' who (%$ grea$ s$ress on $he n%mbers of (eo(le who a$$end $heir mee$ings) We need $o #ons$an$l' remember $ha$ an' s%##ess $ha$ we en1o' is be#a%se of ,od.s gra#e and -is S(iri$ ra$her $han on o%r own energies or abili$ies) 9 more serio%s ill%s$ra$ion is $he one dealing wi$h ;avid.s ad%l$er' wi$h 0a$hsbeba& and $he arranged dea$h of her h%sband& Kriah) These %ndo%b$edl' were $he dar"es$ even$s in ;avid.s life) The s$or' is re#orded in Sam%el 11) ?a$er ;avid was #onfron$ed wi$h $hese $wo sins& his ad%l$er'& and $he m%rder of one of $he men who had $r%s$ed him) Some #ommen$a$ors sa' $ha$ i$ ma' have been %( $o fo%r 'ears before ;avid gen%inel' re(en$ed and as"ed ,od.s forgiveness even $ho%gh ;avid did immedia$el' re#ogni+e wha$ he had done& b%$ was %nwilling $o fa#e %( $o his a#$ions) We #an a##e($ 77

$ha$ we have done wrong b%$ no$ gen%inel' re(en$) ;avid ins$an$l' a#"nowledged his sin& b%$ #o%ld no$ have been gen%inel' re(en$an$& be#a%se he was no$ immedia$el' res$ored $o fellowshi( wi$h ,od HPsalm 3 63>4I) *f we wan$ $o %nders$and $he inner ba$$le $ha$ ;avid e4(erien#ed in see"ing $o be res$ored in his rela$ionshi( wi$h $he ?ord& we #an read his own a##o%n$ in Psalm 3 ) This (salm reveals a (eriod of grea$ (ersonal s$r%ggle before ;avid finall' and sin#erel' #onfessed and re(en$ed of $he enormi$' of his sin) The living 0ible (ara(hrases $he e4(erien#e of ;avid in $his gra(hi# manner6 ?hat happiness for those whose guilt has been forgivenE ?hat <oys when sins are covered overE ?hat relief for those who have confessed their sins and God has cleared their record &here was a time when I wouldn5t admit what a sinner I was. *ut my dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with frustration. )ll day and all night your hand was heavy on me. ,y strength evaporated like water on a sunny day until I finally admitted my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself FI will confess them to the Lord5 )nd you forgave meE )ll my guilt is gone. (:salm 30!.# % We can recogni-e that we have done wrong but not genuinely repent. Wha$ a drama$i# a##o%n$ of an inner #onfli#$) ;avid finall' rea#hed $he (la#e of gen%ine sorrow) -e 7@

re(en$ed& and #onfessed& and ,od res$ored him $o fellowshi( wi$h -im) /ne #anno$ read Psalm 3 wi$ho%$ sensing $he grea$ weigh$ $ha$ had been lif$ed from ;avid and $he 1o' $ha$ was now wi$hin him even $ho%gh dis#i(line and 1%dgmen$ were no$ removed) This is #onfirmed as we read ;avid.s words in Psalm 51) ;avid was obvio%sl' aware of $he #on$in%ing effe#$ his sin had on ,od.s highes$ (%r(ose for his life) *$ is sobering $o read $he verses of $his (salm again in $he ligh$ of wha$ has been (resen$ed in $his s$%d'6 /ave mercy upon me, 8 God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgression. ?ash away all my ini6uity and cleanse me from my sin. (or I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. )gainst you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and <ustified when you <udge. (:salm .!.#4% /ide your face from my sins and blot out all my ini6uity. >reate in me a pure heart, 8 God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Go not cast me from your presence or take your /oly Spirit from me. 7estore to me the <oy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 79

&hen I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. (:salm .!-#. 3% Cou do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. &he sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, 8 God you will not despise. (:salm .! ."#.$%

Continuing &udg#ent
3an' Chris$ians have been %nwilling $o fa#e $he fa#$ $ha$ $here #an be #on$in%ing 1%dgmen$ af$er forgiveness has been given) *$ is eas' $o sa'& 8 -s far as the east is from the west! so far has 0e removed o r transgressions from s< HPsalm 1!361 I) We #an $a"e $ha$ $o mean $ha$ o%r sin is blo$$ed o%$ and finished wi$h in ever' wa'& b%$ $ha$ ma' no$ be #orre#$) * have heard (eo(le sa' when $he' s(ea" abo%$ $he mer#' and forgiveness of ,od& 8Well& love #overs a m%l$i$%de of sins& ,od is a loving ,od& and will no$ hold o%r fail%re agains$ %s)< Many !hristians have been unwilling to face the fact that there can be continuing udgment after forgiveness has been given. *f we are see"ing $o grow s(iri$%all'& we need $o $a"e $his as(e#$ $o hear$) *n ;avid.s #ase& ,od.s forgiveness did no$ elimina$e $he #onse2%en#es of an a#$ion) Bo$ onl' did $he #hild $ha$ was born $o 0a$hsheba die& b%$ ,od infli#$ed a #on$in%ing $em(oral 1%dgmen$ on ;avid) -e was $old b' $he (ro(he$ Ba$han6 @!

How, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Iriah the /ittite to be your own. (0 Samuel .0!.8% These words were s(o"en $o ;avid who was des#ribed as 8a man af$er ,od.s own hear$7< ;avid had been #hosen b' ,od and ordained $o be "ing of *srael) -e loved $o (raise and worshi( $he ?ord and $o have fellowshi( wi$h -im) ;avid& however& was a man who had be#ome #a($%red b' l%s$ for 0a$hsheba) -e finall' re(en$ed& b%$ al$ho%gh ,od forgave him for $he sins he had #ommi$$ed& dea$h and $ro%ble #on$in%ed $o infli#$ his famil') There were #on$in%ed $em(oral #onse2%en#es of his sin) ;isas$ers and hear$a#he followed ;avid.s famil') 9mmon& ;avid.s son& ra(ed his own sis$er& and la$er (aid $he (enal$' wi$h his life) 9bsalom (lo$$ed agains$ his fa$her $o $a"e $he $hrone and won $he hear$s of $he (eo(le b' de#ei$) ;avid s%ffered be$ra'al b' 9bsalom& and la$er 9bsalom died violen$l') *n s(i$e of 9bsalom.s de#e($ion& ;avid was in grea$ dis$ress when $old of his son.s dea$h) We read in $he s#ri($%re re#ord6 &he king was shaken. /e went up to the room over the gateway and wept. )s he went he said, 9' my son )bsalomE ,y son, my son )bsalomE If only I had died instead of you # ' )bsalom, my son, my sonE+ (0 Samuel .;!33% We wo%ld have hard hear$s if we did no$ feel some$hing of $his fa$her.s ang%ish) Gven $he grea$ and wise Solomon who s%##eeded his fa$her ;avid as "ing of *srael& ended his da's in selfish (leas%re& @1

his hear$ $%rned awa' from ,od) ;avid.s ho%sehold did s%ffer be#a%se of his sins) We live $oda' in a (ermissive so#ie$' where ad%l$er' and forni#a$ion have be#ome #ommon(la#e) * $hin" i$ is sobering $o remember $ha$ %nder $he law of 3oses ad%l$er' re#eived $he (enal$' of dea$h b' s$oning) ,od (ar$i#%larl' said $o ;avid& 9Cou are not going to die+ (0 Samuel .0!.3%. ;avid sho%ld have died %nder $he $erms of $he law b%$ ,od& however& showed mer#' %(on him and did no$ demand $he f%ll (enal$' of $he law) -owever& $he #onse2%en#es of ;avid.s sin #on$in%ed $o affe#$ him and his famil')

!a. or 0rinciple?
* s%((ose some (eo(le wo%ld sa'& 8*sn.$ $ha$ onl' /ld Tes$amen$ (%nishmen$:< This wo%ld leave %s wi$h $he 2%es$ion $o answer as $o whe$her we are dealing wi$h an /ld Tes$amen$ s$or' or wi$h a (rin#i(le of ,od) *f i$ is a (rin#i(le of ,od& $hen i$ does no$ #hange) *n 1 5ohn 5916 $he a(os$le 5ohn wri$es abo%$ a sin $ha$ is no$ %n$o dea$h and a sin $ha$ is %n$o dea$h) *n 3a$$hew -enr'.s 0ible Commen$ar' on $his (ar$i#%lar verse he sa's6 &he gospel does not positively threaten death for the more visible sins of the members of >hrist, but only some chastisement. &here is room left for divine wisdom or goodness or even severity, to @

determine how far the chastisement or the scourge shall proceed. The conse#uences of ,avids sin continued to affect him and his family. There is also a Bew Tes$amen$ (a$$ern for $he #on$in%ing dealings of ,od as $o #onse2%en#es& even when fellowshi( has been res$ored $o ,od $hro%gh mer#' and forgiveness) 9n e4am(le of a $em(oral or ear$hl' 1%dgmen$ (ro#eeding& even $ho%gh $here has been (rior forgiveness& is fo%nd in -ebrews 6$ This #ha($er begins wi$h s$a$emen$s of $he grea$ fo%nda$ional do#$rines of o%r fai$h and goes on $o ma"e $his de#lara$ion6 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the /oly Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they shall fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and sub<ecting him to public disgrace. (/ebrews "!4#"% This is a ver' solemn (assage of s#ri($%re) ,od.s (%r(ose $oward %s is good& b%$ in $he mids$ of o%r 1o' in $he blessings -e gives& we also need $o %nders$and $he (rin#i(les b' whi#h we grow $o f%ll ma$%ri$') The Chris$ians referred $o in -ebrews 6 obvio%sl' had e4(erien#ed a dee( rela$ionshi( wi$h ,od) The' had been enligh$ened and had $as$ed $he heavenl' gif$) The' had shared in $he wor" of $he -ol' S(iri$) *f& however& af$er all of $his $he' fell @3

awa' from $heir fai$h& $he s#ri($%re is ver' final= i$ is im(ossible $o bring $hem ba#" $o re(en$an#e7 ;oes $his mean a loss of salva$ion: Salva$ion is no$ los$ be#a%se of some fail%re or indis#re$ion al$ho%gh i$ is (ossible for one $o lose his salva$ion) G$ernal se#%ri$' #omes from a #on$in%ing rela$ionshi( wi$h 5es%s Chris$& so we need $o be #aref%l in see"ing $o %nders$and $his (ar$i#%lar (ar$ of ,od.s Word) Perha(s& when ,od has blessed %s wi$h -is goodness& has filled %s wi$h $he -ol' S(iri$& and has given gif$s of $he S(iri$& and we re(%dia$e $hese b' word or a#$ion& i$ be#omes im(ossible $o bring %s ba#" $o $he same (la#e of rela$ionshi( wi$h $he ?ord) * have seen $his ha((en $o (eo(le7 The' have never been res$ored $o a vi$al (la#e in ,od& af$er den'ing or $rea$ing ligh$l' a (owerf%l e4(erien#e of ,od.s gra#e and (ower) There are& however& $hose who wo%ld (la#e a m%#h s$ri#$er in$er(re$a$ion on $hese verses) The' wo%ld see $hese s#ri($%res as referring $o a (erson who has had a dee( (ersonal e4(erien#e of ,od and $hen delibera$el' and #om(le$el' $%rns his ba#" on $he ?ord and $he $r%$h of $he 0ible) This wo%ld be in$er(re$ed as a 8sin %n$o dea$h< from whi#h $here is no (la#e of res$ora$ion) Bo do%b$ $his #an ha((en& b%$ in general& $his s#ri($%re (ossibl' refers $o a #on$in%ing $em(oral 1%dgmen$ ra$her $han loss of salva$ion) There are dealings of ,od $ha$ begin in $his (resen$ life& and even if $here is gen%ine #onfession and re(en$an#e& $here is no wa' $ha$ we are able $o es#a(e $he 1%di#ial hand of ,od) @4

The s$or' of Gsa% is ano$her e4am(le) *$ wo%ld seem& $ha$ when he sold his bir$hrigh$ $o his bro$her 5a#ob for $he (ri#e of a meal& $ha$ he did so wi$ho%$ #onsidering all $he im(li#a$ions of his a#$ion) The wri$er $o $he -ebrews& refers $o $his in#iden$ and sa's6 See that noDone is se2ually immoral, or is godless like 1sau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. )fterwards, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was re<ected. /e could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears. (/ebrews .0!."#.$% This is ano$her ill%s$ra$ion of a((aren$ re(en$an#e where $he loss whi#h had been s%ffered #o%ld no$ be res$ored) We need $o #onsider $he #onse2%en#es before embar"ing on a #o%rse of a#$ion $ha$ viola$es $he (rin#i(les of ,od) /ven if there is genuine confession and repentance, there is no way that we are able to escape the udicial hand of %od.

Facing Failure
Wha$ is $he answer $o a si$%a$ion s%#h as $his: There is onl' one remed') *f we have gone agains$ $he Word of ,od $o $he e4$en$ $ha$ $he 1%di#ial hand of ,od remains on %s& af$er we have re(en$ed and as"ed $o be forgiven& $hen $he onl' answer is $o h%mble o%rselves before $he ?ord) Fa#e $he (roblem) ;on.$ e4#%se i$) 9##e($ i$) ?oo" i$ s$raigh$ @5

in $he fa#e and sa'& 8:es! i$ ha((ened& and * am res(onsible)< *n h%mbling o%rselves before $he ?ord& we m%s$ admi$ wha$ we have done) We m%s$ $hen allow ,od.s a#$ions in o%r lives wi$ho%$ resis$an#e) The more we resis$& if we are %nder $he 1%di#ial dealings of ,od& $he longer we will remain $here) *$ is onl' when we sa'& 8?ord& * am des(era$el' in need of 'o%r mer#'& forgiveness and (ardon< $ha$ we o(en $he wa' for ,od $o lif$ his 1%dgmen$ and dis#i(line) ?i"e ;avid of old& we m%s$ sa'& 8* will $hrow m'self %(on $he mer#' of ,od)< Then s$a' #lose $o $he ?ord) *$ is hard $o fa#e fail%re& or a#"nowledge $ha$ we ma' have been wrong) Oer' few (eo(le ever have $he #o%rage $o re$ra#e $heir s$e(s) * have "nown man' (eo(le who have& for vario%s reasons& been %(se$ over some as(e#$ of #h%r#h life or em(hasis and have lef$ $he #h%r#h& %s%all' wi$h $he #ommen$ $ha$ $he ?ord had dire#$ed $hem in $heir a#$ion) 3an' of $hese (eo(le have s%bse2%en$l' be#ome s(iri$%al wanderers and $heir Chris$ian grow$h has be#ome s$%n$ed& #learl' indi#a$ing b' $he fr%i$ of $heir lives $ha$ $heir original de#ision $o leave $he #h%r#h was no$ a$ ,od.s dire#$ion) * well remember a 'o%ng man who infl%en#ed a gro%( of 'o%ng (eo(le $o be#ome dis#on$en$ed and #ri$i#al and leave $he #h%r#h where * (as$ored) The a##%sa$ion leveled a$ $he minis$r' was $ha$ $here was a la#" of fai$h (rea#hing) This 'o%ng man de#lared $ha$ if one had s%ffi#ien$ fai$h& one #o%ld have an'$hing one wan$ed) The 'o%ng man #on#erned lef$ @6

$he Tea#hers College where he was $raining and de#lared $ha$ $he ?ord had $old him $o read $he 0ible and wai$ on -im) For some wee"s $he friends of $he 'o%ng man rallied aro%nd him& (a'ing $he ren$ of his a(ar$men$ and (roviding mone' for his food& %n$il $he' be#ame disill%sioned b' $he even$s) Kl$ima$el' $he 'o%ng man a((lied $o go ba#" $o Kniversi$'& and as far as * "now& his s(iri$%al involvemen$ in a#$ive #h%r#h life #ame $o a s$ands$ill) -e never #ame ba#" $o a(ologi+e for his a##%sa$ions or $he %(se$ #a%sed in man' o$her lives) *$ is hard $o be h%mble eno%gh $o as" for forgiveness when we have $ho%gh$ $ha$ we were righ$ b%$ fo%nd $ha$ we were wrong) 3os$ (eo(le 1%s$ $r' $o forge$ abo%$ i$ or (re$end $ha$ no$hing serio%s ha((ened) *$ is $r%e $ha$ man' of o%r errors begin o%$ of sin#eri$' b%$ $he minis$r' of $he -ol' S(iri$ is $o g%ide %s in$o $r%$h& so if we will "ee( a $ea#hable s(iri$ we will soon #ome %nder #onvi#$ion) The sad (ar$ is $ha$ so man' (eo(le will no$ $a"e s$e(s $o (%$ righ$ wha$ is wrong) Sin does no$ have $o be some serio%s immoral a#$ion as an' "ind of disobedien#e or self>will #an ma"e i$ ne#essar' for %s $o h%mble o%rselves in order $o be res$ored $o $he righ$ (la#e of fellowshi( $ha$ ,od wan$s %s $o have wi$h -im) *$ is signifi#an$ $ha$ when 9#han disobe'ed ,od.s #ommand and $he na$ion of *srael s%ffered defea$ a$ $he #i$' of 9i& $he (eo(le had $o go ba#" $o $he (la#e of defea$ and #on2%er $ha$ #i$' before $he' #o%ld (ro#eed an' f%r$her in $heir #on2%es$ of $he @7

Promised ?and of Canaan) This is a good ill%s$ra$ion of how we m%s$ go ba#" $o $he (la#e of defea$ and deal wi$h $he fail%re if we are $o grow in o%r s(iri$%al lives) )t is hard to be humble enough to ask for forgiveness when we have thought that we were right but found that we were wrong.

@@

Three 1inds of &udg#ent


5%dgmen$ #an be a (ar$ of gen%ine forgiveness7 There are $hree "inds of 1%dgmen$ $ha$ a((l'6 1) Self>1%dgmen$ &herefore let us stop passing <udgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother5s way. (7omans .4!.3% This verse $ells %s $ha$ we are $o 1%dge o%r own a#$ions) *n his le$$er $o $he Corin$hian #h%r#h $he a(os$le Pa%l was $ea#hing abo%$ $he manner in whi#h believers were $o #ome $o $he ?ord.s $able& and he said6 ) man ought to e2amine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. (. >orinthians ..!0;% The ?ord re2%ires a gen%ine hones$ self> e4amina$ion) To 2%o$e f%r$her from $he same #ha($er of Pa%l.s le$$er6 *ut if we <udged ourselves, we would not come under <udgment. ?hen we are <udged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world. (. >orinthians ..!3.# 30% This $ea#hing is #lear= if we are willing $o 1%dge o%rselves& $hen ,od.s 1%dgmen$ does no$ #ome on %s& b%$ if we do no$ 1%dge o%rselves& $hen ,od will 1%dge %s and bring on %s wha$ever dis#i(line is needed) @9

) 5%dgmen$ b' $he Ch%r#h This migh$ be a new as(e#$ $o some& be#a%se we seldom do $his in (ra#$i#e) 5es%s was& however& ver' #lear abo%$ i$ and gave s(e#ifi# ins$r%#$ions abo%$ $he (ro#ed%re $o be followed when $here was a dis(%$e be$ween believers6 If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, <ust between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. *ut if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a ta2 collector. (,atthew .;!. #.$% *n 1 Corin$hians 5! $here is ano$her referen#e $o 1%dging $he wrong #ond%#$ of believers) We are $old no$ $o "ee( #om(an' wi$h an' man who #alls himself a bro$her b%$ is se4%all' immoral or greed'& an idola$er or a slanderer& a dr%n"ard or a swindler) These are s$rong words& b%$ $he' are #lear ins$r%#$ions $o $hose in $he #h%r#h as $o how $he' are $o a#$ $oward o$hers who sa' $he' are believers b%$ are g%il$' of bad behavior) *n Pa%l.s le$$er $o Ti$%s we read $he following6 (or there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. &hey must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach # and that for the sake of dishonest gain. 1ven one of their own prophets 9!

has said, 9>retans are always liars, evil brutes, laJy gluttons.+ &his testimony is true. &herefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith. (&itus .!.8#.3% The reb%"e and (enal$' are no$ for $he (%r(ose of ridding $he #h%r#h of %ndesirable (eo(le& b%$ $o dis#i(line $hem in $he Chris$ian fai$h) The #h%r#h has a (owerf%l 1%di#ial a%$hori$' %nder ,od) ,enerall' s(ea"ing& we have failed $o e4er#ise $his res(onsibili$'& b%$ i$ is (rovided for in s#ri($%re) 3) The 1%dgmen$ of ,od -imself We have seen b' $he ill%s$ra$ions $ha$ have been given $ha$ ,od.s dealings #an #on$in%e even af$er forgiveness has been gran$ed) We read $his in -ebrews6 (or we know him who said, 9It is mine to avenge; I will repay,+ and again, 9&he Lord will <udge his people.+ It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (/ebrews .8!38#3.% This warning is wri$$en $o Chris$ians7 *f we wish $o es#a(e from $he 1%di#ial hand of ,od& i$ is no$ onl' a ma$$er of re#eiving -is mer#' and forgiveness& b%$ we m%s$ also h%mble o%rselves b' allowing 1%dgmen$& $hro%gh $he #onvi#$ion of $he -ol' S(iri$ or admoni$ion of o$her Chris$ians) We m%s$ also be o(en& if ne#essar'& for 1%dgmen$ b' $he #h%r#h& alwa's re#ogni+ing $ha$ %nless we do so& $he 1%dgmen$ of ,od %(on %s will #on$in%e) The church has a powerful udicial authority under %od. 91

Wha$ has been said in $he (re#eding (aragra(h m%s$ be em(hasi+ed& be#a%se i$ is alwa's ,od.s desire $o res$ore (eo(le $o righ$ rela$ionshi( wi$h one ano$her and also wi$h -im) The a(os$le Pa%l $a%gh$ #learl' $ha$ $here was $o be res$ora$ion af$er 1%dgmen$) * am glad we have a ,od li"e $his be#a%se who of %s wo%ld wan$ $o (%nish o%r #hild wee" af$er wee" or mon$h af$er mon$h: P%nishmen$ of a #hild ma' be ne#essar' be#a%se of a rebellio%s a$$i$%de& disobedien#e& or #arelessness& b%$ * am s%re $ha$ loving (eo(le wo%ld wan$ res$ora$ion) ,od does no$ wan$ $o be alwa's infli#$ing dis#i(line) ,od does no$ wan$ $o have -is famil' %nder a heav' hand of 1%dgmen$7 -is desire is $ha$ we sho%ld wal" in 1o'o%s fellowshi( wi$h -im) We #an do $ha$ b' living in $he ligh$ of ,od.s Word)

(estoration after &udg#ent


Consider $wo (assages in $he le$$er $o $he Corin$hians6 It is actually reported that there is se2ual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans! ) man has his father5s wife. )nd you are proudE Shouldn5t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this= 1ven though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. )nd I have already passed <udgment on the one who did this, <ust as if I were present. 9

?hen you are assembled in the name of our Lord Aesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Aesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord. (. >orinthians !.# % This s#ri($%re $ells of $he dis#i(linar' a#$ion agains$ a man who was immoral& b%$ a member of $he #h%r#h) The ins$r%#$ion was $o deliver him $o Sa$an& for $he des$r%#$ion of his flesh) When we #ome $o Pa%l.s se#ond le$$er $o $he Corin$hian #h%r#h we find& however& $ha$ Pa%l is %rging res$ora$ion for $his man6 &he punishment inflicted on him by the ma<ority is sufficient for him. How instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by e2cessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. (0 >orinthians 0!"#;% We now see $he #h%r#h members being en#o%raged $o res$ore $he one who had sinned& and $o #omfor$ and love him) There is a need for %s $o be $o$all' hones$ in a((l'ing $he (rin#i(les of ,od.s Word) *f we wan$ gen%ine forgiveness& le$ %s reali+e $ha$ m%#h more is involved $han 1%s$ ignoring $he sin $ha$ has been #ommi$$ed) The #h%r#h has a re(%$a$ion for "illing off i$s wo%nded7 /ne of $he grea$es$ blessings we #an re#eive is $o see a (erson who has failed being f%ll' res$ored) * remember hearing $his 2%o$e& 8We are no$ fail%res be#a%se we fail= we are onl' fail%res when we s$o( $r'ing)< 93

The 0ible is a boo" of res$ora$ion) * "now man' (eo(le who have failed badl' in $heir (ersonal lives& b%$ * have also seen some of $hem h%mble $hemselves& $a"e $he a((ro(ria$e dis#i(line whi#h was given& main$ain a h%mble and re(en$an$ a$$i$%de& and be f%ll' res$ored $o (osi$ions of res(onsibili$' and blessing) )f we want genuine forgiveness, let us reali-e that more is involved than ignoring the sin that has been committed. ,od is mer#if%l and forgiving& b%$ i$ is (ossible $o remain %nder -is 1%dgmen$ al$ho%gh o%r rela$ionshi( wi$h -im has been res$ored) ,od.s desire& however& is no$ onl' $o res$ore %s $o fellowshi( wi$h -im b%$ also $ha$ we migh$ en1o' $he benefi$s of f%ll (ardon $hro%gh $he dis#i(line we re#eive) When sin is a#"nowledged and dis#i(line a##e($ed& $hen $he #ondi$ions have been es$ablished for f%ll res$ora$ion $o $a"e (la#e) 5%dgmen$ and dis#i(line are essen$ial #ondi$ions before $he f%ll (rovisions of forgiveness and (ardon are en1o'ed b' $he Chris$ian who has willf%ll' sinned)

94

Chapter 2 Forgiveness in 'e. Testa#ent


We #ome now $o $he words of $he 3as$er Tea#her -imself& $he ?ord 5es%s Chris$)

Forgiven 3s We Forgive?
Wha$ 5es%s $a%gh$ is fo%nd in $he Sermon on $he 3o%n$& 3a$$hew 5M7& and also in $he differen$ (arables -e $old) We have shown in $he #o%rse of $his s$%d' $ha$ ,od is forgiving) There is no 2%es$ion abo%$ $ha$7 We do have a wonderf%l ,od who forgives& b%$ i$ is (ossible for #er$ain #onse2%en#es $o #on$in%e even af$er we have been forgiven) The wa' $o deal wi$h $hese #onse2%en#es is b' h%mbling o%rselves& 1%dging o%rselves& allowing $he 1%dgmen$ of $he #h%r#h as (rovided for in s#ri($%re if $ha$ is ne#essar'& and re#ogni+ing ,od.s righ$ $o 1%dge and dis#i(line %s $hro%gh $he dire#$ion of $he -ol' S(iri$) Some #onse2%en#es ma' #on$in%e& b%$ b' mee$ing $he bibli#al re2%iremen$s we #an lessen $he (enal$ies whi#h o$herwise migh$ a((l') /%r -eavenl' Fa$her has a righ$ $o e4er#ise a dis#i(linar' hand %(on $hose who belong $o -is famil'& so even af$er ,od has res$ored %s $o fellowshi( wi$h -im& -e ma' #on$in%e $o $a"e res$ri#$ive a#$ion agains$ %s %n$il s%#h $ime as we have (roved o%rselves b' obedien#e $o -is Word) 95

,od alone is $he 1%dge of $his& so we m%s$ main$ain a s%bmissive a$$i$%de a$ all $imes) Perha(s $he mos$ #hallenging as(e#$ of $his s%b1e#$ is $he a((li#a$ion of forgiveness be$ween individ%als) 9s Chris$ians we are #alled %(on $o forgive o$hers& so $he 2%es$ion arises #on#erning $he effe#$ $ha$ o%r forgiving or fail%re $o forgive has %(on ,od.s forgiveness of %s) *n o$her words& $o wha$ e4$en$ does o%r res(onse $o $he #ommand $o forgive o$hers refle#$ on $he forgiveness we re#eive from ,od: There are some im(or$an$ #om(ara$ive s#ri($%res $ha$ need $o be e4amined) The firs$ is fo%nd in $he Sermon on $he 3o%n$& where 5es%s said6 9(or if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly (ather will also forgive you. 9*ut if you do not forgive men their sins, your (ather will not forgive your sins.+ (,atthew "!.4# . % This is a ver' s$rong s$a$emen$ b' 5es%s and we need $o %nders$and $he f%ll im(li#a$ion of $hese words) The se#ond referen#e is fo%nd in 3ar".s gos(el6 )nd when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your (ather in heaven may forgive you your sins. (,ark ..!0 # 0"% The $hird referen#e is fo%nd in ?%"e*s gos(el6 (orgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. )nd lead us not into temptation. (Luke ..!4% 96

There are man' (eo(le who mis%nders$and $hese s#ri($%res& and read in$o $hem an obliga$ion $ha$ $he' of$en find im(ossible $o f%lfill) This leads $hem ei$her in$o #ondemna$ion or (re$en#e) There is a de($h of meaning in $hese verses $ha$ we m%s$ %nders$and in order $o find a #lear answer) 9 #as%al reading of $hese (assages #o%ld leave a (erson $hin"ing $ha$ he wo%ld be forgiven b' ,od onl' $o $he e4$en$ $ha$ he was willing or able $o forgive ano$her) Tha$ is $r%e in a #er$ain as(e#$ b%$ i$ m%s$ be 2%alified) There are also $hose (eo(le who gain a #er$ain s(iri$%al sa$isfa#$ion from forgiving o$hers for $heir fail%res b%$ never loo" a$ $heir own bad behavior or reali+e $ha$ mos$ of $he diffi#%l$ies begin wi$h $hem and no$ wi$h $hose $he' are an4io%s $o forgive7 This will be dis#%ssed in $he ne4$ #ha($er)

+race or Wor4s?
*f o%r #on#e($ of forgiveness in#l%des $he (rovision of (ardon& $hen $he 2%es$ion wo%ld immedia$el' arise as $o who wo%ld be saved if o%r salva$ion de(ended %(on $he e4$en$ $o whi#h we from $he hear$ forgave o$hers: Was 5es%s dealing wi$h $he 2%es$ion of $he forgiveness $ha$ rela$es $o salva$ion& and whi#h in#l%des (ardon& or some o$her as(e#$ of forgiveness: /ver man' 'ears of #o%nseling& * have fo%nd $ha$ (eo(le have dee( h%r$s and (roblems in $heir lives rela$ed $o $he iss%es of forgiveness and %nforgiveness) 3os$ of $hem have been #ommi$$ed Chris$ians and man' were ba($i+ed wi$h $he -ol' 97

S(iri$ and were a#$ive in #h%r#h life) The' loved ,od& and 'e$ $he' made s%#h s$a$emen$s as $his= 8* have been so h%r$ and wo%nded emo$ionall' and men$all' $ha$ * find i$ im(ossible $o forgive)< The h%r$ ma' have been #a%sed b' a (aren$& or someone else #lose $o $hem& and $he' were %nable $o forgive $ha$ (erson) Who would be saved !f our salvation depended upon the e(tent to which we from the heart forgave others0 Was * dealing wi$h a (erson who was o%$side of $he salva$ion of Chris$& be#a%se 5es%s said $ha$ if we do no$ forgive one ano$her $hen o%r -eavenl' Fa$her will no$ forgive %s: ?e$ me in#l%de ano$her ill%s$ra$ion from m' (ersonal e4(erien#e) 0efore be#oming Chris$ians& a h%sband and wife had e4(erien#ed a s$orm' and largel' %nha((' marriage) There were #ons$an$ #onfron$a$ions and angr' words $ha$ had lef$ bi$$er h%r$s) When $he' a##e($ed Chris$& a new love and %nders$anding develo(ed b%$ (roblems remained over ma$$ers of mone' and o$her fr%s$ra$ions $ha$ had also arisen in $heir rela$ionshi() * s(en$ man' ho%rs wi$h $hem in #o%nseling and advi#e on b%dge$ing and in o$her areas where diffi#%l$ies o##%rred& and al$ho%gh $hese ma$$ers seemed $o be#ome resolved& i$ was never long before ano$her #risis arose) There are alwa's $wo sides $o an' s$or'& b%$ * had no do%b$ $ha$ $he ma1or (roblems o##%rred be#a%se of $he h%sband.s demanding and obs$ina$e a$$i$%de) -e develo(ed 9@

some devian$ wa's whi#h added $o $he (ress%res in $he home& and in des(era$ion $he wife lef$ $he ho%se in $he ho(e $ha$ a $rial se(ara$ion migh$ hel( solve $he (roblems) We #on$in%ed $he #o%nseling& and * a((oin$ed o$hers $o $a"e a more de$ailed oversigh$& b%$ al$ho%gh $he h%sband showed re(en$an#e& i$ was no$ long before his old wa's and a$$i$%des re$%rned) Se(ara$ion and re#on#ilia$ion o##%rred again and again wi$h $he wife wan$ing $o do $he righ$ $hing& b%$ finding $ha$ #ondi$ions alwa's be#ame in$olerable) Finall' she #o%ld $a"e no more7 Some serio%s even$s had $a"en (la#e in $he h%sband.s #ond%#$ $ha$ made i$ im(ossible for me $o insis$ $ha$ $he wife sho%ld re$%rn $o her h%sband& and as she had $ried so of$en before& she had now rea#hed $he end of her abili$' $o forgive and be re#on#iled) The h%sband #on$in%ed $o demand re#on#ilia$ion& b%$ $he wife #o%ld no$ fa#e $he (ros(e#$ of again going $hro%gh $he emo$ionall' des$ro'ing e4(erien#es $ha$ she had s%ffered so of$en before) The h%sband s%ed for divor#e) Some Chris$ians wo%ld as" whe$her $he woman had endangered her salva$ion: The answer $o $his 2%es$ion is no) The woman.s ref%sal $o re$%rn $o her h%sband did no$ endanger her salva$ion& b%$ her ref%sal $o forgive her h%sband #o%ld lead $o o$her (roblems whi#h wo%ld red%#e her s(iri$%al effe#$iveness) 3an' (eo(le live wi$h g%il$ and are %nder #ondemna$ion be#a%se $he' #anno$ forgive) The h%r$s $he' have s%ffered are gen%ine) The' ma' have been grea$l' wronged= (erha(s someone had 99

$a"en advan$age of $hem when $he' were #hildren) Serio%s #ases of #hild ab%se are now reg%larl' being e4(osed) 3arriages ma' have bro"en down& or friends ma' have be$ra'ed $he $r%s$ (%$ in $hem) Peo(le have been in a (osi$ion emo$ionall' where $he' have been so h%r$ $ha$ $he' did no$ "now how $o forgive) 9s a res%l$ $he' have been %nder a grea$ sense of g%il$ and fear) Wi$h man' s%#h (eo(le $here is also a dee( inner bi$$erness) The 0ible warns $ha$ we m%s$ be #aref%l les$ a roo$ of bi$$erness s(rings %( and defiles %s& and %nforgiveness is $he #a%se of $his roo$ of bi$$erness) *$ #an #lo%d reali$'& dis$or$ $hin"ing& and lead $o severe emo$ional ins$abili$') ;ee( wi$hin $hese (eo(le who wan$ed $o love and serve ,od were h%r$s $ha$ #rea$ed anger& fear& resen$men$& and g%il$) Knresolved (ain and %nforgiveness #an lead $o do%b$s as $o whe$her $he' were in righ$ rela$ionshi( wi$h ,od in regard $o $heir salva$ion) Many people live with guilt and under condemnation because they cannot forgive. Prior $o $he divor#e (ro#eedings of $he afore> men$ioned #o%(le& man' vindi#$ive a#$ions had been $a"en b' $he h%sband $owards his es$ranged wife) Fa#$s were dis$or$ed and informa$ion was given $o o$her (eo(le who sho%ld no$ have been involved) The wife was dee(l' h%r$& and * #an %nders$and how hard i$ m%s$ have been for her $o fa#e false a##%sa$ions) *$ is eas' $o si$ in an *vor' Tower and demand wha$ sho%ld be done in (ar$i#%lar #ir#%ms$an#es& b%$ when one is in $he mids$ of a 1!!

(roblem li"e $his& i$ is e4$remel' diffi#%l$ $o gen%inel' forgive) The home life was r%ined7 9ll $his $ime& $he woman had main$ained her #h%r#h fellowshi( and * have no do%b$ $ha$ her e$ernal salva$ion was se#%re& in s(i$e of $he $remendo%s inner ba$$le she was end%ring) * now 2%o$e from a wri$$en $es$imon' whi#h she gave $o me6 Forgive 'o%r h%sband)< The words seemed so #lear al$ho%gh $here was no a%dible voi#e) *$ was a $ime when * was see"ing $he ?ord for an answer $o false a##%sa$ions being made agains$ me) * had los$ some of m' 1o' and (ea#e b%$ did no$ $hin" $ha$ * had been harboring %nforgiveness in m' hear$ $owards m' former h%sband) The words rang $hro%gh m' mind and * fel$ an inner sho#") * s%ddenl' reali+ed $ha$ * had been sinning agains$ ,od and * as"ed for -is forgiveness) Then * said $o $he ?ord $ha$ * wo%ld sin#erel' forgive m' h%sband& b%$ * "new $ha$ * wo%ld also need $o go and see him and (%$ ma$$ers righ$) * a#$ed 2%i#"l' and wen$ $o see him) Bo$ onl' did he re#eive m' #onfession and e4(ression of forgiveness& b%$ we e4#hanged m%$%al forgiveness and love and (ea#e $owards ea#h o$her whi#h onl' $he -ol' S(iri$ #o%ld have made (ossible) * ins$an$l' fo%nd a new sense of ,od.s love and -is 1o' and (ea#e) 1!1

* wo%ld have li"ed $o have been able $o sa' $ha$ $his marriage was saved and res$ored& b%$ $ha$ did no$ o##%r) The se#ond bes$ $oo" (la#e and $he $wo (eo(le fo%nd a (la#e of sin#ere forgiveness of ea#h o$her al$ho%gh $he' #o%ld no$ fa#e $he (ros(e#$ of #on$in%ing wi$h $heir marriage) ,od ha$es divor#e& b%$ some$imes ever' effor$ seems $o fail in ge$$ing diverse (eo(le $o live in harmon' and we have $o a##e($ $he reali$' of se(ara$ion) * do no$ believe $ha$ $his fail%re is d%e $o $he la#" of (ower $ha$ $he ?ord (rovides& b%$ is d%e $o o%r h%man inabili$' $o a((ro(ria$e $he f%llness of wha$ is (rovided $hro%gh $he -ol' S(iri$) *n #o%nseling wi$h (eo(le who have gone $hro%gh marriage (roblems similar $o $his& * agree $ha$ si$%a$ions #an be#ome so %gl' when one (ar$' does no$ wan$ $o #hange& $ha$ $he o$her (ar$' has no o($ion b%$ $o finall' ge$ o%$ of $he marriage for his or her own sani$' and heal$h) There are $imes when $he s#ri($%re $ells %s $o hake the dust off your feet !"atthew #$%#&'. We m%s$& however& gen%inel' $r'& and $r' hard& before we resor$ $o an a#$ion $ha$ is essen$iall' agains$ $ha$ whi#h ,od desires) * am no$ (re(ared $o sa' $ha$ a (roblem is ho(eless) * believe in $he (ower of ho(e and #onsider $ha$ we sho%ld hold $o o%r ho(es even in $he mos$ diffi#%l$ #ir#%ms$an#es& %n$il we are absol%$el' s%re $ha$ $he door $o a (ar$i#%lar ho(e has been finall' #losed) Then we m%s$ allow $he -ol' S(iri$ $o (%$ new ho(e ba#" in$o o%r hear$s and minds and (ress forward in o%r lives& and in $he f%lfillmen$ of ,od.s (lan for %s)

1!

The diffi#%l$' in gen%inel' forgiving is a ver' real dilemma $ha$ is fa#ed b' man' (eo(le& and $he' have been afraid $o s(ea" abo%$ i$) * have dis#overed $ha$ man' (eo(le go $hro%gh serio%s #rises in $heir s(iri$%al lives& b%$ are afraid $o $al" abo%$ (roblems as $he' feel $he' are $he onl' ones wi$h $he (ar$i#%lar (roblem) 0' sharing $heir diffi#%l$' wi$h someone else $he' feel inferior as Chris$ians& and Sa$an deligh$s in de#eiving sin#ere believers in s%#h a manner) We all fa#e $hese #hallenges and need $o %nders$and how $he' #an be #omba$ed and over#ome) To do $his we m%s$ %nders$and $he real meaning of forgiveness and wha$ is involved when we forgive) ?e$ %s #onsider $hese (oin$s) *f o%r salva$ion is de(enden$ %(on o%r abili$' $o #om(le$el' forgive o$hers from $he hear$& $hen $he salva$ion of man' born again and S(iri$>filled Chris$ians wo%ld be in do%b$& be#a%se %nforgiveness is& wi$ho%$ 2%es$ion& a (roblem in $he #h%r#h) *f o%r salva$ion de(ends on o%r abili$' $o #om(le$el' forgive o$hers from $he hear$& $hen where does $he 0ible $r%$h of 1%s$ifi#a$ion b' fai$h s$and: 9re we 1%s$ified b' o%r fai$h in Chris$ (l%s o%r abili$' $o forgive ano$her (erson or are we 1%s$ified before a hol' ,od be#a%se of $he (rovisions of Calvar' and $he blood of 5es%s Chris$ alone: The Word of ,od $ells %s $ha$ we are saved b' gra#e $hro%gh fai$h& an a#$ of re(en$an#e and #onfession of o%r sin& no$ be#a%se of an abili$' $o forgive ano$her who ma' have serio%sl' wronged %s)

1!3

The 'eed to Forgive


*n sa'ing $hese $hings& we are no$ for one momen$ minimi+ing $he need $o forgive one ano$her& b%$ we are (%$$ing $he 0ible $ea#hing #on#erning forgiveness in$o a righ$ (ers(e#$ive) *$ needs $o be s$rongl' em(hasi+ed $ha$ we are now referring $o $he 2%es$ion of forgiving one ano$her onl' in regard $o how i$ affe#$s o%r salva$ion) Salva$ion is an a#$ of mer#' b' a loving ,od whi#h in#or(ora$es -is mer#'& forgiveness& and (ardon) The benefi$s of salva$ion are bes$owed %(on %s as a res%l$ of gra#e& and gra#e alone) /%r salva$ion& $herefore& is no$ de(enden$ %(on o%r abili$' $o forgive ano$her (erson who has wronged %s& b%$ is de(enden$ en$irel' on $he gra#e of ,od and $he res(onse of o%r hear$s in re(en$an#e and #onfession) We are saved by grace through faith, by an act of repentance and confession of our sin, not because of an ability to forgive another who may have seriously wronged us. * am no$ #ondoning %nforgiveness7 5es%s $a%gh$ $ha$ we m%s$ forgive one ano$her) There is a des(era$e need for individ%al Chris$ians $o learn $o forgive one ano$her) 3an' (eo(le are in serio%s $%rmoil s(iri$%all'& men$all'& emo$ionall'& and (h'si#all'& be#a%se $he' have been %nwilling $o forgive) The h%r$s $he' have s%ffered have been so dee( $ha$ $he' sa' $he' are %nable $o forgive) 3os$l'& $his inabili$' is d%e $o %nwillingness $o forgive& b%$ o$her $imes i$ is d%e $o no$ "nowing how $o begin $o forgive) The 1!4

$as" is $oo grea$ for $hem and $he' do no$ "now $ha$ showing mer#' is $he firs$ s$e( $o forgiveness) Perha(s& be#a%se of %nforgiveness& a demoni# s(iri$ has gained a hold so $ha$ $he (erson finds he is (owerless in $he ba$$le $o be#ome willing $o forgive) -is will $o gen%inel' forgive has be#ome so gri((ed b' Sa$an.s (ower& $ha$ he fails $o do wha$ he "nows sho%ld be done) 9 (erson in $his #ondi$ion ma' need s(e#ial (ra'er for deliveran#e) We are not condoning unforgiveness! 1esus taught that we must forgive one another. ,enerall' s(ea"ing& however& all %nforgiveness is d%e& a$ leas$ in $he firs$ ins$an#e& $o an %nwillingness or ignoran#e of how $o forgive) Bone of %s #an sa' $ha$ we are %nable $o forgive& be#a%se $he Word of ,od $ells %s $ha$ we are $o forgive) *$ wo%ld be a #on$radi#$ion in $erms $o sa' $ha$ $he 0ible $ells %s $o forgive b%$ $ha$ reall' i$ is im(ossible $o do so) *f $he 0ible de#lares $ha$ we are $o forgive one ano$her& $hen obvio%sl' $his is wha$ we sho%ld do and wha$ we are able $o do if we "now $he s$e(s) Forgiveness has $o do wi$h hear$ a$$i$%de) We have alread' said $ha$ forgiveness involves $he dismissal of resen$men$ or dis(leas%re) * was given $his (ersonal $es$imon'6 3' #hildhood was mainl' %nha((' be#a%se of $he #ons$an$ arg%ing of m' fa$her and mo$her) *$ was no$ %n$il m' earl' $eens $ha$ * began $o reali+e $he grea$ (ress%re $ha$ m' mo$her s%ffered be#a%se of $he heav' 1!5

drin"ing habi$s of m' fa$her and his infideli$' wi$h o$her women) * loved m' fa$her and $here were some ha((' famil' $imes& b%$ $he' were shor$>lived) *n m' mid> $eens& m' fa$her lef$ home $o live wi$h ano$her woman and an added finan#ial s$rain was (la#ed %(on o%r famil') 9s * grew older and married& * 1%s$ wan$ed $o (%$ m' fa$her o%$ of m' mind al$oge$her& and * had no desire $o see him again) * $ho%gh$ $ha$ 8forge$$ing< wo%ld solve $he (roblem of $he dee( h%r$ * had s%ffered be#a%se of a bro"en home) The 'ears (assed b' b%$ * did no$ reali+e $ha$ $here was reall' a dee( %nforgiveness and bi$$erness s$ill e4is$ing wi$hin me $owards m' fa$her) ;%ring $his $ime& ,od was blessing o%r lives and m' h%sband and * had #ome in$o new e4(erien#es of ,od.s (rovision and em(owering) 9 $ele(hone #all sha$$ered m' life7 3' bro$her whom * loved dearl' had been "illed in an a##iden$) 3' h%sband and * flew $he long dis$an#e ba#" $o m' home>#i$' for $he f%neral) 9s * s$e((ed from $he air#raf$& $he firs$ (erson * saw was m' fa$her) 3' emo$ions were in $%rmoil& b%$ we embra#ed and some$hing ha((ened inside me) 3' fa$her was a bro"en man M devas$a$ed b' $he dea$h of $he son he had mainl' negle#$ed M and * fel$ #om(assion and forgiveness welling %( wi$hin me) 1!6

We were able $o visi$ him la$er and * fo%nd all m' old h%r$s and dis(leas%re were gone) Sorrow and disa((oin$men$ remained& b%$ * fo%nd a new (ea#e and #on$en$men$) * dis#overed $ha$ $r'ing $o forge$ was ver' differen$ $han forgiving)

Do We Deserve Forgiveness?
There are (ra#$i#al wa's $o over#ome $he (roblem of forgiving o$hers) We m%s$ fa#e %( $o $he fa#$ $ha$ we did no$ deserve an'$hing from ,od o%rselves& e4#e($ 1%dgmen$& b%$ -e forgave %s) -e also wen$ be'ond forgiveness and (ardoned %s as well) -e $oo" awa' $he g%il$ and (enal$' of o%r sins so we are deb$ors $o $he mer#' and gra#e of ,od) Gver'one who has made a #ommi$men$ of his life $o 5es%s Chris$ is a deb$or $o $he gra#e& mer#'& and forgiveness of ,od) *f ,od forgave %s a deb$ be'ond o%r abili$' $o (a'& $hen i$ is a #om(ara$ivel' small $hing for %s $o forgive ano$her some $res(ass agains$ %s& be#a%se an' wrong $ha$ is done $o %s #o%ld never #om(are wi$h $he wrong $ha$ we have done $o ,od) Tha$ ma' be hard for a (erson $o a##e($ when $he' are h%r$ing7 We feel o%r own h%r$s ver' dee(l' and o%r h%man minds #an be ver' self>#en$ered) This is wh' $he 0ible s$resses $he need for $he mind $o be renewed and (ro$e#$ed& o$herwise o%r feelings will dis$or$ o%r abili$' $o ob1e#$ivel' a##e($ $he $r%$h of wha$ $he 0ible sa's) *$ was o%r sin $ha$ made $he sa#rifi#e of Chris$ ne#essar') *$ was $he sin of man"ind& and $he sin $ha$ we have #ommi$$ed& $ha$ made i$ ne#essar' for 1!7

Chris$ $o be se(ara$ed from -is Fa$her and s%ffer and die) The h%r$s $ha$ we have s%ffered from o$hers are so small #om(ared $o $he enormi$' of o%r sin agains$ ,od) When we $hin" abo%$ $his ob1e#$ivel' we "now i$ is $r%e& b%$ i$ is hard $o view o%r #ir#%ms$an#es ob1e#$ivel' when we are in dis$ress) *$ is onl' af$er we have beg%n $o heal and ge$ hold of life again $ha$ we reali+e $he enormi$' of o%r sin agains$ ,od& o$hers and o%rselves) We sin agains$ o%rselves when we revel in (ain and we sin agains$ o%r Crea$or when we do no$ allow -im $o heal %s and g%ide %s in$o wholeness in s(iri$& so%l& and bod') We need $o #ome $o a (ra#$i#al reali+a$ion of $he effe#$s of o%r sins $oward o$hers and $oward ,od& be#a%se i$ will hel( %s $o forgive $he $ransgressions of o$hers agains$ %s) *n $he (arable of $he Knmer#if%l Servan$& whi#h we have alread' referred $o and whi#h is fo%nd in 3a$$hew 1@& $his (rin#i(le is ver' #learl' shown) The $r%$hs #on$ained in $his s$or' are so im(or$an$) The firs$ servan$ was forgiven a grea$ deb$& b%$ he in $%rn ref%sed $o show an' mer#' $o a fellow>servan$ who owed him a ver' small amo%n$) When $he mas$er of bo$h of $hose servan$s dis#overed wha$ had been done& he revo"ed $he mer#'& forgiveness& and (ardon $ha$ he had shown $o $he firs$ servan$) There are practical ways to overcome the problem of forgiving others. When we fail $o res(ond wi$h $he same "ind of %nders$anding $ha$ has been given $o %s we are in 1!@

danger of losing wha$ we o%rselves have re#eived) Bo one #o%ld do%b$ $he 1%s$i#e of $ha$7 *$ is no$ s$range $ha$ if ,od has forgiven %s a grea$ deb$ $hen -e wo%ld e4(e#$ %s $o forgive o$hers a ver' m%#h smaller deb$& irres(e#$ive of how serio%s we ma' #onsider i$ $o be) *n #om(arison wi$h wha$ ,od has forgiven %s and $he (enal$' $ha$ o%r fail%re righ$l' deserves& an' forgiveness e4(e#$ed from %s wo%ld have $o be insignifi#an$)

Delivered to the Tor#entors5


The Fing 5ames Oersion of $he 0ible %ses gra(hi# lang%age in des#ribing $he a#$ion of $he mas$er in dealing wi$h $he %nmer#if%l servan$) *$ sa's& (e delivered him to the tormentors) The BW sa's& In anger his master turned him over to the *ailers until he should pay back all he owed. !"atthew #+%,&'. The ne4$ verse ma"es $his %ne2%ivo#al s$a$emen$% This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart. !"atthew #+%,-' Tha$ sho%ld be eno%gh $o (%$ $he fear of ,od in$o o%r hear$s7 * $hin" i$ wo%ld be sobering for %s $o remember $he words of $he F5O as $he (hrase 8the tormentors e4(resses wha$ so of$en ha((ens $o $hose who ref%se $o forgive) The (arable of $he Knmer#if%l Servan$ #anno$ be in$er(re$ed $o mean a loss of salva$ion $o $he firs$ servan$) The %n1%s$ servan$ was delivered $o $he $ormen$ors& he was no$ delivered $o $he e4e#%$ioners7 *$ is no$ ne#essar' $o $r' $o e4(lain wh' $his $ransla$ion was given in $he F5O b%$ $he word 8$ormen$< #an refer $o men$al ang%ish& agon'& $or$%re& or in$ense bodil' (ain) This was $he %l$ima$e res%l$ for $he %nmer#if%l servan$) 1!9

We migh$ add $ha$ he deserved i$ be#a%se of his grossl' selfish and %n#aring a$$i$%de) 0%$ are we also g%il$' of s%#h #ond%#$: 9 friend who had s%ffered for 'ears be#a%se of $he s$r%ggle $o forgive wro$e $his #ommen$ $o me& 8When we do no$& or #anno$ forgive we s%ffer men$al ang%ish& some$imes (h'si#al ang%ish& and even$%al s(iri$%al de#a')< %od in !hrist not only forgave but pardoned us. )n comparison to this, how small are the wrongs that we have suffered. 3' e4(erien#e in dealing wi$h (eo(le #onfirm $ha$ man' are li$erall' in $ormen$ be#a%se $he' will no$ forgive) The' wonder abo%$ $he origin of man' of $heir (roblems& b%$ so of$en i$ is be#a%se $he' will no$ forgive) The' are s$ill saved b' $he gra#e of ,od and #leansed of $heir sin b' $he blood of Chris$& b%$ $he' are in $he hands of $he $ormen$ors be#a%se $he' will no$ forgive ano$her& as ,od has forgiven $hem) ?e$ me give $his ill%s$ra$ion) * do no$ $hin" $ha$ * #an remember a (erson more fearf%l& $ormen$ed& and erra$i# in her Chris$ian life as $his (ar$i#%lar woman) There were o##asions when she seemed $o radia$e Chris$ M da's when she was e4%beran$ and 1o'o%s M $hen $he #rash wo%ld #ome7 She be#ame mood'& s%s(i#io%s& nega$ive& and even vindi#$ive) She was a woman wi$h abili$' and a good 1ob& and a$ $imes her s(iri$%al life wo%ld rea#h a (ea" of vi#$or'& b%$ more of$en she wo%ld be in ho(eless des(air)

11!

There were $imes when we wondered abo%$ her men$al s$abili$'& b%$ $ha$ was no$ $he (roblem= she sim(l' ref%sed $o forgive) The sligh$es$ in#iden$ wo%ld be in$er(re$ed as a ma1or sligh$) The a#$ions of friends wo%ld be $rea$ed as (ersonal ins%l$s if $he' did no$ mee$ wi$h her (leas%re) She held gr%dges& disli"es& and resen$men$& and a$ $imes wo%ld #om(le$el' ignore her friends if she was %(se$ b' some in#iden$) * never heard her a(ologi+e= she 1%s$ (re$ended no$hing had ha((ened af$er her bla#" mood had (assed) * believe she reall' loved ,od& b%$ she was never reall' willing $o forgive) -er Chris$ian life #on$in%ed in $his wa' %n$il * finall' los$ #on$a#$ wi$h her when she lef$ $he #h%r#h) 0' #ons$an$ viola$ion of $he #ommand of 5es%s $o forgive o$hers& $his woman was in reg%lar men$al and emo$ional $ormen$) When we forgive o$hers we re#eive a (osi$ive benefi$ o%rselves) When we hold %nforgiveness $oward o$hers we be#ome $heir slave as $he wrong $he' have done $o %s is #ons$an$l' on o%r mind) Forgiving ano$her (erson is a libera$ing e4(erien#e for %s) 0%$ we find i$ hard $o forgive be#a%se we don.$ %nders$and ,od.s role wi$h regard $o (ardon) /%r res(onsibili$' is $o be mer#if%l $oward $he one who has wronged %s and $o be willing $o dismiss from o%r hear$ $he resen$men$ we feel) We #an do $his b' (ra'ing in a (osi$ive wa' for $he (erson who has offended %s) 5es%s $old %s $o love o%r enemies and $o (ra' for $hose who (erse#%$e %s H3a$$hew 59;;<$ ;o no$ %nderes$ima$e $he wor" of $he -ol' 111

S(iri$ as we $a"e s$e(s $o a#$ in obedien#e $o ,od.s Word) /%r firs$ s$e(s ma' be rel%#$an$ and feeble b%$ $he -ol' S(iri$ res(onds b' hel(ing %s) The a(os$le Pa%l said we do no$ even "now how we o%gh$ $o (ra'& b%$ $he -ol' S(iri$ himself in$er#edes for %s HComans @6 6I) My e(perience in dealing with people confirms that many are literally in torment because they will not forgive. Wha$ ,od e4$ends $o %s& -e e4(e#$s %s $o e4$end wi$hin $he s#o(e of o%r a%$hori$'& $o o$hers) The e4$en$ of o%r a%$hori$' and $he #ommand $o %s from $he ?ord is $o be mer#if%l and forgiving a$ all $imes) *$ is no$ o%r righ$ or (reroga$ive $o (ardon) This righ$ belongs $o ,od7

Forgiveness 6 Conditional or %nconditional?


There is ano$her ma1or as(e#$) *$ is $ha$ ,od im(oses #ondi$ions before forgiveness #an be re#eived) These #ondi$ions are 2%i$e #lear) The firs$ is re(en$an#e and $he se#ond is #onfession) ,od onl' forgives on $he basis of $hese $wo #ondi$ions) *f we re(en$ and #onfess& $hen -e will forgive) /%r #on$in%ing fellowshi( wi$h ,od is adversel' affe#$ed b' an' sin& an' falling shor$ of or missing $he mar" $ha$ ,od re2%ires for o%r lives) -olding bi$$erness or resen$men$ is a #lear viola$ion of ,od.s Word) *f $hese are in o%r hear$s $oward o$her (eo(le& $hen o%r fellowshi( wi$h ,od is in$err%($ed) We are 11

no longer wal"ing in $he ligh$ in regard $o o%r fellowshi( wi$h ,od) *$ is in$eres$ing $o no$e $ha$ in $he 9m(lified Oersion of 3a$$hew 6614M15 rela$ing $o forgiving one ano$her& $he words 8giving %( resen$men$< are %sed) This is $he snare $ha$ believers in Chris$ #ons$an$l' fa#e) We are %nwilling $o& or do no$ "now how $o give %( resen$men$& b%$ we do no$ reali+e $ha$ we are (la#ing o%rselves in $he hands of $he 8$ormen$ors<) /%r salva$ion $hro%gh 5es%s is s$ill a reali$'& b%$ we lose $he sense of $he nearness of $he ?ord) This leads %s $o a ver' im(or$an$ $r%$h) ,od.s hear$ is alwa's o(en $o forgive& so ,od re2%ires an' believer $o have a similar hear$ a$$i$%de of willingness $o forgive o$hers irres(e#$ive of wha$ has been done $o him) There are no e4#e($ions& we m%s$ have a hear$ a$$i$%de $ha$ is o(en $o forgiveness and believe $ha$ ,od will im(ar$ $he needed gra#e $o do so) )t is not our right or prerogative to pardon. This right belongs to %od. ?e$ me #onfirm $ha$ ,od.s forgiveness re2%ires #onfession b' $he one who has sinned6 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and <ust and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (. Aohn .!-% *n o$her words& ,od will forgive %s and res$ore %s $o fellowshi( wi$h -im if we #onfess wha$ we have done) Confession is of no val%e %nless $here is 113

sin#ere sorrow for $he fail%re& so $his s#ri($%re (res%((oses $ha$ $here has been $r%e re(en$an#e before $he #onfession is made) These are $he %n#hanging gro%nds for forgiveness $o be #om(le$ed) S%rel' ,od does no$ re2%ire a believer $o o(era$e on a higher s$andard $han -e does: ;o 'o% $hin" $ha$ ,od wo%ld e4(e#$ %s $o have a higher level of #ond%#$ $han -imself: We are unwilling to give up resentment, but we do not reali-e that we are placing ourselves in the hands of the tormentors. *f ,od.s forgiveness of %s is no$ %n#ondi$ional& $hen is o%r forgiveness of one ano$her %n#ondi$ional: The wa' we of$en a#$ wo%ld ma"e i$ seem $ha$ $his was so7 We wan$ o$hers $o forgive and forge$ $ha$ we have done wrong $o $hem b' o%r a#$ing as if no$hing had ha((ened) This does no$ wor"& and i$ does no$ (rod%#e gen%ine forgiveness as far as ,od is #on#erned) * need $o again 2%o$e $he signifi#an$ $ea#hing b' 5es%s $ha$ we have #onsidered in an earlier #ha($er& as $his is vi$al in %nders$anding $ha$ forgiveness be$ween one ano$her is no$ %n#ondi$ional6 If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, <ust between the two of you. (,atthew .;!. % This #ommand b' 5es%s is (robabl' disobe'ed more $han an' o$her one) We $al" $o o$her (eo(le abo%$ wha$ we #onsider $he wrong done $o %s& we gossi(& we #ri$i#i+e& b%$ seldom do we go and see $he one 114

wi$h whom we have $he fa%l$) 5es%s made i$ (lain $ha$ $he righ$ #o%rse was $o go dire#$ $o $he (erson #on#erned and in doing $his we ma' win o%r bro$her and $he ma$$er ma' be resolved) *f having done $his& he will no$ hear %s& $hen we are $o $a"e one or $wo o$hers and go $o him $o #onfirm wha$ is being said& if $hen& even wi$h $he wi$nesses $o $he (roblem& $he bro$her is s$ill %nwilling $o lis$en& $he iss%e is $o go before $he #h%r#h) Seldom& however& do we find $ha$ $he #h%r#h is willing $o be involved in s%#h (ersonal ma$$ers& b%$ 5es%s has inves$ed a%$hori$' in $he #h%r#h& and $he #h%r#h has a vi$al (ar$ $o (la' in re#on#ilia$ion be$ween #onfli#$ing members) *$ is eas' $o reason $ha$ i$ is be$$er $o le$ an iss%e dro( ra$her $han bea$ a dead horse& b%$ so of$en $he %nresolved (roblem remains li"e a #an#er $ha$ is slowl' ea$ing awa' $he bod') Knresolved (roblems have a habi$ of e4(loding wi$h a m%#h more devas$a$ing res%l$ $han $he (ain #a%sed in $r'ing $o deal wi$h $hem a$ $he $ime $he' arise) Following $his $ea#hing wi$h $he $hree #lear s$e(s for forgiveness& Pe$er #ame $o 5es%s and as"ed him a s(e#ifi# 2%es$ion6 Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me= Ip to seven times= (,atthew .;!0.% * am s%re $ha$ Pe$er $ho%gh$ $ha$ he was being es(e#iall' gra#io%s and s(iri$%al as he as"ed $ha$ 2%es$ion) K( $o seven $imes seemed a ma1or #on#ession be#a%se $he oral law of $he s#ribes and 115

Pharisees (rovided $ha$ forgiveness be given onl' $hree $imes) To forgive $hree $imes was no$ (ar$ of $he law of 3oses& b%$ i$ was (ar$ of $he $radi$ion $ha$ had been added $o $he law) *$ was a big s$e( for Pe$er $o be willing $o forgive seven $imes7 -e m%s$ have been ama+ed b' $he re(l' given b' 5es%s6 I tell you, not seven times, but seventyDseven times. (,atthew .;!00% *$ is in$eres$ing $o no$e $ha$ in $he F5O 5es%s is s$a$ed as sa'ing $o forgive seven$' $imes seven7 Wha$ever $ransla$ion is a##e($ed& i$ seems obvio%s $ha$ 5es%s was $elling Pe$er $ha$ $here is no limi$ $o how of$en one sho%ld forgive) -owever& in $he ligh$ of wha$ 5es%s had been sa'ing in $he (revio%s verses& $he (erson a$ fa%l$ was re2%ired $o a#"nowledge his fail%re) *f $ha$ was no$ done af$er $he $hree (ro#ed%res had been followed& $hen $he (enal$' is 2%i$e #lear6 If he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a ta2 collector. D(,atthew .;!.$% %od says that if we repent and confess, &e will restore us to fellowship with &imself /n man' o##asions * have had $o deal wi$h men and women whose a$$i$%des and #ond%#$ have been wrong) Some$imes $hese (eo(le have been in (osi$ions of leadershi( and res(onsibili$') *ndivid%al #o%nseling was %ns%##essf%l) Times of dis#%ssion wi$h one or $wo o$hers or even wi$h an Gldershi( failed $o gain a righ$ res(onse) Wha$ sho%ld have 116

ha((ened $hen: 9##ording $o $he $ea#hing of 5es%s& $he ma$$er sho%ld $hen have been $a"en before $he whole #h%r#h7 Seldom does $he #h%r#h ma"e (rovision for s%#h an a#$ion) Perha(s we have been afraid $o air dir$' linen in fron$ of $he #ongrega$ion and so have allowed a (erson $o sli( o%$ of #h%r#h life& of$en leaving $he im(ression $ha$ $he leadershi( and no$ $he (erson was a$ fa%l$7 The ne4$ news we have is $ha$ $he (erson #on#erned has been given a (osi$ion of res(onsibili$' in ano$her #h%r#h and his wrong a#$ion or a$$i$%de has no$ been deal$ wi$h) * have "nown men $o go from a (osi$ion of a%$hori$' in one #h%r#h $o a leadershi( (osi$ion in ano$her #h%r#h or Chris$ian a#$ivi$'& leaving behind a $o$al viola$ion of $hese (rin#i(les) *$ is $r%e $ha$ 5es%s said we were $o forgive one ano$her& b%$ -e laid down #lear r%les as $o wha$ was $o be done if a fa%l$ arose be$ween bre$hren& and how $he' were $o res(ond) 9nd if $he' did no$ do so& $hen $he' were $o be re1e#$ed from fellowshi( wi$h o$her believers& no$ given a leadershi( role in some o$her s(here) We have alread' seen $ha$ 5es%s $old Pe$er $ha$ forgiveness was no$ $o be limi$ed $o a #er$ain n%mber of $imes) *$ wo%ld also hel( %s $o #om(are wha$ 5es%s said $o Pe$er wi$h $he words of $he ?ord re#orded in ?%"e.s gos(el6 If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 9I repent, forgive him.+ (Luke .$!3#4% 117

This is a signifi#an$ addi$ion $o wha$ we have in 3a$$hew.s gos(el) When (eo(le sin agains$ %s we don.$ 1%s$ be#ome a door ma$ and allow o%rselves $o be wal"ed on7 5es%s in#l%ded $he ver' im(or$an$ s$a$emen$ 1%s$ men$ioned& 8If yo r brother sins! reb 3e him! and if he repents! forgive him$< There are $wo vi$al a#$ions= reb%"e $he one who has sinned and forgive him if he re(en$s7 *$ was as a res%l$ of $hese words of 5es%s $ha$ $he dis#i(les said $o $he ?ord& 8in&rease o r faith< H?%"e 1=95<$ The in#rease of fai$h was no$ for (erforming mira#les b%$ for $he abili$' $o re(ea$edl' forgive) * am s%re $ha$ we wo%ld feel $he same ?e$ me s%mmari+e $he si$%a$ion& $he bro$her who has sinned is firs$ $o #ome and re(en$) *f $here is re(en$an#e& $hen $here are no gro%nds on whi#h a Chris$ian #an hold an' h%r$ or resen$men$) Ce(en$an#e m%s$ bring for$h $he res(onse of forgiveness) There m%s$ alwa's be& however& even before re(en$an#e is e4(ressed& a willingness $o forgive& b%$ $he forgiveness #anno$ be #om(le$ed %nless $here is re(en$an#e b' $he one who has #a%sed $he offen#e) -ere we have $he same #onsis$en$ gro%nds for $he #om(le$ion of gen%ine forgiveness6 re(en$an#e and #onfession) There are $wo im(or$an$ #a$egories $o #onsider) The firs$ one is $hose who are Chris$ians& and where one has offended agains$ ano$her b%$ re(en$ed) This si$%a$ion of$en arises in #h%r#h life) Someone has grieved ano$her b%$ #omes and a#"nowledges $he fa%l$ and re(en$s) Forgiveness in s%#h #ir#%ms$an#es is $o be %n#ondi$ional) We have no s#ri($%ral 11@

gro%nds for re$aining an' wrong a$$i$%de or ill>will $owards a (erson who has re(en$ed) Gven if $he offen#e is re(ea$ed& and $he (erson on#e more re(en$s& $hen 5es%s said $ha$ he m%s$ be forgiven) There is no limi$ $o forgiveness if re(en$an#e is shown& no ma$$er how of$en one (erson fails ano$her) The increase of faith was not for performing miracles but for the ability to repeatedly forgive.

Forgiveness and Trust


5es%s did no$ sa' $ha$ we were $o have $he same #onfiden#e or $r%s$ in $he (erson& b%$ -e did sa' $ha$ we m%s$ forgive) We have seen (revio%sl' $ha$ i$ is (ossible $o have fellowshi( res$ored and $o forgive a (erson from $he hear$ and 'e$ s$ill no$ have $he same $o$al $r%s$ or #onfiden#e in him be#a%se #redibili$' has $o be res$ored) This is a differen$ ma$$er al$oge$her $han holding %nforgiveness) The se#ond #a$egor' is when a (erson who has sinned agains$ ano$her does no$ re(en$) Wha$ ha((ens in $his #ase: The (roblem is $ha$ no$ man' (eo(le #ome and sa' $ha$ $he' are sorr' when an offen#e has been #ommi$$ed) Some (eo(le $r' $o (re$end $ha$ no$hing has ha((ened) The' 1%s$ wan$ $o forge$ abo%$ i$) The' $r' $o renew $he rela$ionshi( from where $he (roblem o##%rred& be#a%se $he' will no$ h%mble $hemselves and a(ologi+e) So wha$ do we do: This is a (roblem $ha$ alwa's seems $o be wi$h %s) We #an onl' a((eal $o $he firs$ 119

se$ of s#ri($%res $ha$ give a general #ommand $o forgive) /%r a$$i$%de m%s$ alwa's be one of willingness $o forgive& whe$her a (erson re(en$s or no$) We have $he res(onsibili$' $o dismiss an' bi$$erness or resen$men$ $ha$ we ma' feel irres(e#$ive of how $he offender s%bse2%en$l' a#$s) *f $he (erson does no$ re(en$& $hen forgiveness has no$ been #om(le$ed as far as i$ rela$es $o him) -e is in $ro%ble& no$ wi$h %s b%$ wi$h ,od) These are no$ o%r r%les $he' are ,od.s7 We have no scriptural grounds for retaining any wrong attitude or ill'will towards a person who has repented. When a (erson does no$ $a"e $he ini$ia$ive $o (%$ righ$ a wrong& he remains %nder $he 8$ormen$ors.) The (erson who s%ffers is no$ $he one offended agains$& b%$ $he one who has offended& be#a%se he remains %nder ,od.s 1%dgmen$) This will #on$in%e %n$il he has h%mbled himself and #om(lied wi$h $he obliga$ion $o re(en$ and #onfess) Bone of %s is ever free of $his obliga$ion) *$ a((lies $o o%r rela$ionshi( wi$h ,od and i$ a((lies $o o%r rela$ionshi( wi$h one ano$her) *f we have sinned a s(e#ifi# #onfession is re2%ired) *$ is no$ s%ffi#ien$ a$ $he end of a da' $o (ra' a general (ra'er as"ing for forgiveness) *$ is no$ as eas' as $ha$7 We need $o fa#e $he reali$' of $he (rin#i(les wi$h whi#h we are dealing) When we "now $ha$ we have delibera$el' disobe'ed ,od.s Word& we need $o fa#e %( $o i$ and #onfess i$ b' name) ,od #an $hen #leanse %s and res$ore %s $o fellowshi() *$ is $he 1 !

same wi$h one ano$her) *$ ma' firs$ be ne#essar' $o (%$ some$hing righ$ wi$h ano$her (erson or ma"e res$i$%$ion& b%$ we m%s$ $a"e $he s$e( $o e4(ose $he (roblem and deal wi$h i$) Forgiveness whi#h m%s$ be offered a$ all $imes& is onl' #ons%mma$ed M bro%gh$ $o #om(le$ion and (erfe#$ion M when $he offender re(en$s and #onfesses) 2ot many people come and say they are sorry when an offence has been committed. /%r danger is& $ha$ as $he offended (ar$'& we #an be so #on#erned wi$h o%r bro$her.s $res(ass agains$ %s $ha$ we fall in$o $he sin of being %nmer#if%l $owards him) We fail $o remember $he mer#' of ,od $ha$ has firs$ been re#eived b' %s) 5es%s said $ha$ $hose who had been forgiven m%#h wo%ld love m%#h) *n ?%"e.s gos(el we have $hese words $o Simon Pe$er6 Aesus answered him, 9Simon, I have something to tell you.+ 9&ell me teacher,+ he said. 9&wo men owed money to a certain moneylender. 'ne owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Heither of them had the money to pay him back so he cancelled the debts of both. How which of them will love him more=+ Simon replied, 9I suppose the one who had the bigger debt cancelled.+ 9Cou have <udged correctly,+ Aesus said. (Luke $!48#43% 1 1

When we have been forgiven m%#h& $hen we in $%rn sho%ld be (re(ared $o forgive m%#h)

+enuine Forgiveness
* wan$ $o give $wo e4am(les from $he 0ible $ha$ ill%s$ra$e $he hear$ a$$i$%de of forgiveness) The firs$ #on#erns $he #r%#ifi4ion of 5es%s6 ?hen they came to the place called &he Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals # one on his right, the other on his left. Aesus said, 9(ather, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. 9 )nd they divided up his clothes by casting lots. (Luke 03!33#34% 5es%s had been %n1%s$l' $ried& $or$%red& and now was d'ing) ?e$ me as" a 2%es$ion) Were all $hose asso#ia$ed wi$h $he #r%#ifi4ion forgiven: When 5es%s said& Father forgive them! did $his mean $ha$ all $he Coman soldiers& $he #hief (ries$& Pila$e& and $he o$her (er(e$ra$ors of $his #rime were ins$an$l' forgiven: Bo7 5es%s was demons$ra$ing a hear$ a$$i$%de of willingness $o forgive $owards $hose who had falsel' a##%sed -im and nailed -im $o $he Cross) *n doing $his 5es%s "e($ -is fellowshi( wi$h ,od in (erfe#$ harmon') Probabl' $hose (eo(le #on#erned wo%ld no$ have been forgiven b' ,od %n$il ea#h one (ersonall' re(en$ed and #onfessed $he sin of whi#h he was g%il$') When we have been forgiven much, then we in turn should be prepared to forgive much.

The se#ond e4am(le #on#erns S$e(hen who was $he firs$ man $o die be#a%se of his fai$h in 5es%s Chris$6 ?hile they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, 9Lord Aesus, receive my spirit.+ &hen he fell on his knees and cried out, 9Lord do not hold this sin against them.+ ?hen he had said this, he fell asleep. ()cts $! -#"8% We need $o as" $he same 2%es$ion) Were all $hose who were s$oning S$e(hen $o dea$h forgiven: Were $he' 1%dged no$ g%il$' b' ,od be#a%se of S$e(hen.s (ra'er: Bo7 0%$ S$e(hen was demons$ra$ing a hear$ a$$i$%de of willingness $o forgive& even $owards $hose who were m%rdering him) 0' $his (ra'er S$e(hen.s fellowshi( wi$h ,od was %nim(aired) 9ll of $hose involved in "illing S$e(hen wo%ld have needed $o (ersonall' re(en$ and #onfess in order $o be forgiven& 1%s$ as Sa%l& $he man who la$er be#ame $he a(os$le Pa%l& did) 5es%s of$en deno%n#ed $he s#ribes and Pharisees 'e$ as -e #ame near $o $he end of -is ear$hl' minis$r' -e s$ood loo"ing down on 5er%salem and said6 ' Aerusalem, Aerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. (,atthew 03!3$% /n#e again we see from 5es%s a hear$ a$$i$%de of a willingness $o forgive in s(i$e of $he re1e#$ion -e had re#eived& b%$ for $ha$ forgiveness $o have a (ra#$i#al a((li#a$ion in $he lives of $hose #on#erned& ea#h wo%ld have $o ma"e a (ersonal res(onse) 1 3

Gven 5%das& $he dis#i(le who was wi$h 5es%s for more $han $hree 'ears and $hen be$ra'ed -im& did no$ re#eive #ondemna$ion from $he ?ord) 5es%s main$ained an a$$i$%de of willingness $o forgive a$ all $imes) 9n a$$i$%de li"e $his g%aran$ees #on$in%ing fellowshi( wi$h ,od) .tephen was demonstrating a heart attitude of willingness to forgive, even towards those who were murdering him. *n s%mmar'& la#" of re(en$an#e and la#" of forgiveness be$ween believers does no$ nega$e $heir salva$ion& b%$ i$ (%$s $hem in $he (osi$ion where ,od is dealing 1%dgmen$all' wi$h $hem) This #an res%l$ in loss of (ea#e and ass%ran#e in $heir salva$ion) Forgiveness does no$ mean (ardon) Pardon is ,od.s res(onsibili$') *f someone has wronged %s& and he or she as"s $o be forgiven& $hen we m%s$ forgive him or her wi$ho%$ reserva$ion) *f $here is an' #on$in%ing 1%di#ial dealing of ,od a((l'ing $o $ha$ (erson& $hen $ha$ is ,od.s res(onsibili$'& no$ o%rs) Ce(en$an#e and #onfession are alwa's essen$ial elemen$s in $r%e forgiveness& b%$ ,od re2%ires a forgiving hear$ a$$i$%de from %s a$ all $imes) We are $o love one ano$her) We have been forgiven m%#h= we have re#eived $he mer#' and (ardon of ,od and we sho%ld be deligh$ed $o e4$end $he same gra#e $o o$hers) *n a h'mn wri$$en b' Wm C) Bewell $he #hor%s sa's6 3er#' $here was grea$ and gra#e was free& Pardon $here was m%l$i(lied $o me& 1 4

There m' b%rdened so%l fo%nd liber$' 9$ Calvar'7 *f we have e4(erien#ed forgiveness li"e $his& $hen we m%s$ be willing $o forgive ano$her (erson who has wronged %s) Gven if $he o$her (erson is $o$all' a$ fa%l$& o%r hear$ a$$i$%de m%s$ s$ill be $o forgive) There are %s%all' $wo sides $o ever' dis(%$e or differen#e of o(inion& b%$ even if we are l!!P righ$ and $he o$her (erson is 1!!P wrong& we m%s$ be willing $o forgive $ha$ (erson wi$ho%$ an' resen$men$ remaining) Forgiveness means 8$o e4#%se.) We m%s$ e4#%se or dismiss $he #om(lain$ whi#h we have) ,od.s a#$ions a((l' in $wo wa's) *f we are in $he righ$ b%$ are no$ willing $o forgive& we #ome %nder ,od.s dis#i(line) *f we are in $he wrong b%$ will no$ re(en$ and #onfess& we also #ome %nder ,od.s dis#i(line) We #an have $he si$%a$ion where bo$h $he one who is righ$ and $he one who is wrong are %nder ,od.s 1%dgmen$ be#a%se $he' will no$ have $he righ$ a$$i$%de or will no$ $a"e $he righ$ a#$ion) *n o$her words& bo$h $he %nforgiving and $he %nre(en$an$ s%ffer $he #onse2%en#es of $heir own disobedien#e $o $he (rin#i(les of ,od.s Word)

1 5

Chapter 7 So.ing and (eaping


/%r s$%dies so far have made #lear from s#ri($%re $ha$ al$ho%gh mer#' and forgiveness and some degree of (ardon have been e4$ended b' ,od $ha$ i$ is (ossible $o #on$in%e $o s%ffer $he #onse2%en#es of sin and fail%re) This was ill%s$ra$ed in a (revio%s #ha($er from $he life of Fing ;avid who& al$ho%gh sin#erel' and gen%inel' re(en$ing of $he sin he had #ommi$$ed& and who was forgiven and res$ored $o fellowshi( wi$h ,od& remained %nder a $em(oral 1%dgmen$ of ,od) ;avid wro$e af$er he had re(en$ed& of $he blessing for $he man whose $ransgressions were forgiven and whose sin $he ?ord did no$ #o%n$ agains$ him HPsalm 3 61M I& 'e$ ,od had de#lared $ha$ $he 8sword wo ld never depart from his ho se< H Sam%el 1 61!I) *$ is im(or$an$ as we #on$in%e $o s$%d' $he s%b1e#$ of bibli#al forgiveness $ha$ we remember $his (rin#i(le)

3 Creative 0rinciple
*$ is ne#essar' $o elabora$e on $his as(e#$) ,od has b%il$ in$o life a #rea$ive (rin#i(le $ha$ is "nown as 8sowing and rea(ing<) *n a na$%ral wa'& i$ a((lies $o #ro(s and $he (lan$s $ha$ we grow) We m%s$ firs$ sow before we #an rea() We will never ob$ain a harves$ of whea$ or an' o$her grain or (lan$ if we do no$ firs$ sow $he seed) We will no$ ge$ $he vege$ables we en1o' and need for good heal$h if $he 1 6

seeds are no$ (lan$ed) This is $r%e in a na$%ral wa' and i$ is also $r%e s(iri$%all' wi$h regard $o o%r dail' a#$ions) Cea(ing wha$ we have sown #an #on$in%e& even af$er forgiveness has been re#eived from ,od& or even when i$ has been re#eived from man) * wan$ $o refer $o some im(or$an$ s#ri($%res6 )s I have observed, those who plough evil and those who sow trouble reap it. (Aob 4!;% &he wicked man earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward. (:roverbs ..!.;% /e who sows wickedness reaps trouble, and the rod of his fury will be destroyed. (:roverbs 00!;% 9ll of $hese s#ri($%res are im(or$an$ in re#ogni+ing $ha$ we will rea( wha$ever we sow) *n $he (ro(he#' of -osea we read6 &hey sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. &he stalk has no head; it will produce no flour. ?ere it to yield grain, foreigners would swallow it up. (/osea ;!$% *n $he same boo" of $he 0ible we find $his s$a$emen$6 Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you. *ut you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. 1 7

*ecause you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors. (/osea .8! .0#.3% 3eaping what we have sown can continue, even after forgiveness has been received from %od, or even when it has been received from man. 9ll of $hese s#ri($%res $ell %s $ha$ wha$ever we are (lowing and sowing will #ome ba#" $o %s) *f i$ is evil and ini2%i$'& or selfishness and (ride& $he same will re$%rn $o %s) There is no es#a(e from $he divine (rin#i(le of rea(ing wha$ we sow& whe$her i$ be in a na$%ral or s(iri$%al sense7 *n Pa%l*s le$$er $o $he ,ala$ians $his (rin#i(le is again #onfirmed) The relevan$ (assage begins wi$h $he words& 9Go not be deceived+ !.alatians /%0') There are man' (eo(le $oda' who are de#eived& and $he' are willing $o be de#eived& be#a%se $he' will no$ a##e($ $his #lear $r%$h from ,od*s Word) Some$imes i$ seems $ha$ ,od is slow in a#$ing on wha$ -e has said) This is be#a%se of -is mer#' and -is willingness $o allow $ime for re(en$an#e& b%$ inevi$abl' ,od will a#$ on wha$ -e has said) The verse sa's6 Go not be deceived; God cannot be mocked. ) man reaps what he sows. &he one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit, will reap eternal life. (Galatians "!$D;% 1 @

3' fa$her is now de#eased& b%$ was eigh$'>seven 'ears of age when he died) 9s a 'o%ng married man& in his mid>$hir$ies& he had a (ersonal e4(erien#e of re#eiving Chris$ as his Savior and ?ord& b%$ (rior $o $his he had no (ar$i#%lar involvemen$ wi$h $he #h%r#h& nor did he have e4$ensive s(iri$%al "nowledge) -e wor"ed in a hard environmen$ where drin"ing and swearing were a normal (ar$ of life) * am $he 'o%nges$ member of a large famil' and m' oldes$ sis$er& as a small girl wal"ed from o%r home $o a nearb' 0a($is$ #h%r#h one S%nda' morning and sa$ on $he s$e(s and lis$ened $o $he #ongrega$ion singing) She #ame home and said $o m' fa$her& 8;add'& will 'o% $a"e me $o #h%r#h:< To h%mor $he li$$le girl he said& 8Ees& dear& *.ll do i$ ne4$ wee")< *$ was 1%s$ an eas' re(l' for him and no$ for one momen$ did he $hin" $ha$ m' sis$er wo%ld remember $he (romise& b%$ she did7 When $he S%nda' #ame& she reminded him& and he rel%#$an$l' honored $he (romise and $oo" m' sis$er $o $he #h%r#h) -e was dee(l' moved b' $he servi#e and re$%rned $o $he #h%r#h $ha$ evening wi$h m' mo$her& and a$ $he #lose of $he mee$ing #ommi$$ed his life $o Chris$) -e remembered onl' one (ar$ of $he sermon& $he $e4$ from whi#h $he minis$er (rea#hed& 2od is not mo&3ed! for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap$ 3' fa$her re#eived 5es%s Chris$ in$o his life be#a%se of $he #onvi#$ion $ha$ #ame $hro%gh $ha$ verse of s#ri($%re) -e reali+ed $ha$ he was sowing a life of self>(leasing and sin& and was s%ddenl' fa#ed wi$h $he fa#$ $ha$ he wo%ld %l$ima$el' rea( $he same 1 9

res%l$ if his life did no$ #hange) -is s(iri$%al awa"ening and obedien#e $o $he #onvi#$ion of $he -ol' S(iri$ $ha$ nigh$ #hanged $he des$in' of o%r famil' and %l$ima$el' all $he famil' members #ame $o "now $he ?ord in a (ersonal wa') 4 man reaps what he sows.

'egative and 0ositive


*n all $he s#ri($%res $ha$ have been 2%o$ed& $here is a nega$ive and (osi$ive as(e#$) This is eviden$ $hro%gho%$ $he Word of ,od) *n $he verses 1%s$ 2%o$ed& $he nega$ive res%l$s are M (lo%gh evil and rea( evil) Sow $ro%ble and rea( $ro%ble) Sow $o $he wind and rea( $he whirlwind) Plan$ wi#"edness and rea( evil) 9ll of $hese are nega$ive res%l$s $ha$ arise o%$ of o%r own a#$ions) * wan$ $o in#l%de ano$her (ersonal e4(erien#e #on#erning a man whom * me$ on several o##asions) -e was (ar$ of ano$her #h%r#h #ongrega$ion& b%$ from $ime>$o>$ime * visi$ed $ha$ #h%r#h and also had #on$a#$ wi$h o$her members of his famil') -e was diffi#%l$ and rigid and seldom smiled al$ho%gh if some$hing (leased him& he #o%ld be warm and #om(limen$ar') *$ wasn.$ a #omfor$ing sigh$ $o see him si$$ing in $he #ongrega$ion as he lis$ened wi$h a fi4ed loo" on his fa#e) Was he a((roving or disa((roving: -e was even willing $o (%bli#l' 2%es$ion a novi#e (rea#her in $he mids$ of a sermon if he disagreed wi$h some s$a$emen$) There were $imes when he #o%ld be genero%s& b%$ he was feared more $han he was li"ed) -ow m%#h 13!

ha((ier life #o%ld have been for him& b%$ his nega$ive and of$en #ri$i#al a$$i$%de #a%sed him $o see $he wors$ ra$her $han $he bes$ in mos$ as(e#$s of life) 9 #h%r#h f%n#$ion was (lanned and e4#i$emen$ and generosi$' were $he order of $he da') This man grew in his garden a (ar$i#%lar vege$able $ha$ was re2%ired and a re2%es$ was made6 #o%ld he s%((l' $he 2%an$i$' needed: The need was no$ large& and his s%((l' was 2%i$e ab%ndan$& b%$ when $he bo4 of (rod%#e was handed over $he demand was made& 8Tha$ will be L1!< -e died a ra$her lonel' man& devoid of m%#h friendshi( $ha$ #o%ld have been his) The word of ,od was a s%b1e#$ of dee( in$eres$ $o him& b%$ wha$ is $he val%e of "nowledge if we #anno$ im(lemen$ i$: /ne #an "now $he words b%$ no$ "now wha$ $he' mean7 The small gif$ of vege$ables wo%ld have been a minor #on$rib%$ion $o $ha$ whi#h o$hers of far less means gladl' made& b%$ $he in#iden$ mar"ed him as a man la#"ing in generosi$') G4$ra mone' ma' have been his& b%$ he los$ love& friendshi(& and res(e#$ as a res%l$ of his miserl' s(iri$) ;o we rea( wha$ we sow: /f $his fa#$& * have no do%b$7 There is& however& $he (osi$ive res%l$ as well) The 0ible alwa's has a (osi$ive (rovision $ha$ releases a (erson from a nega$ive (enal$' in$o a (osi$ive benefi$& so we also have $hese (romises6 &he wicked man earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward. (:roverbs ..!.;% 131

Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love. (/osea .8!.0% &he one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians "!;% These are $he #hoi#es $ha$ are laid before %s) Wha$ever we do in life& from all o%r a$$i$%des and a#$ions& will #ome for$h a defini$e res%l$ ei$her for good or ill) There is no es#a(ing from $his) From ever'$hing we sow we will rea(& so we have $he #hoi#e of whe$her we wan$ benefi#ial or harmf%l #onse2%en#es as we (ro#eed $hro%gh life) The Word of the 5ord always has a positive provision that releases one from a negative penalty into a positive benefit. -ere is an o((osi$e e4am(le from $he s$ing' man 1%s$ men$ioned) *$ wo%ld be hard $o imagine a more genero%s (erson $han a woman * "new) Bo$hing was a $ro%ble& and no sa#rifi#e was $oo grea$) *n fa#$& * am s%re she never $ho%gh$ of giving as a sa#rifi#e& b%$ as a (rivilege) *f someone was si#"= dishes of food wo%ld be (re(ared wi$ho%$ an' as"ing) 9 b%s' mo$her $r'ing $o #o(e wi$h $he washing& ironing& and #oo"ing for a famil' of si4 livel'& h%ngr' #hildren& wo%ld s%ddenl' hear a "no#" a$ $he door and $here she wo%ld be& read' $o do a s$in$ of $wo ho%rs a$ $he ho$ ironing board) -er #om(an' was a 1o'7 -er ver' (resen#e radia$ed warm$h and res$ored s$reng$h $o $hose she hel(ed) 13

She never did manage $o a##%m%la$e m%#h mone' in $he ban"& b%$ if weal$h was meas%red in a((re#ia$ion& love and admira$ion& she was a millionaire7 This (rin#i(le of sowing and rea(ing #on$in%es $hro%gho%$ s#ri($%re& bo$h in $he /ld Tes$amen$ and in $he Bew Tes$amen$) The words 8sowing and rea(ing< ma' no$ alwa's be %sed& b%$ $he o%$#ome is $he same) Thin" for a momen$ of $he 0ab'lonian "ing& Beb%#hadne++ar) The 0ible $ells how $his man was filled wi$h (ride and self ad%la$ion be#a%se of his #on2%es$s and (ower) -e #onsidered himself above ,od) There is an in#iden$ re#orded in $he 0oo" of ;aniel where& be#a%se of Beb%#hadne++ar.s (ride& $he 1%dgmen$ of ,od #ame %(on him) These words are re#orded6 Immediately what had been said about HebuchadneJJar was fulfilled. /e was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. /is body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird. (Ganiel 4!33% This (owerf%l "ing who had enslaved so man' (eo(les and na$ions s%ddenl' began $o rea( ,od.s 1%dgmen$ and (%nishmen$ be#a%se of $he (ride $ha$ was in his hear$) ,od is no$ mo#"ed& and an' (erson will %l$ima$el' and #er$ainl' rea( wha$ he has sown) *n $he ne4$ #ha($er of $he 0oo" of ;aniel& we read of 0elsha++ar) The o(ening verses of #ha($er 5 sa'6 133

@ing *elshaJJar gave a great ban6uet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. ?hile *elshaJJar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that HebuchadneJJar his father had taken from the temple in Aerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Aerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. )s they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronJe, iron, wood and stone. (Ganiel !.#4% This man was sowing7 -e was sowing $he seeds of blas(hem' and disregard for $he sa#red vessels from $he $em(le of $he ?ord) 9s we read $hro%gh $he #ha($er& we find $he 1%dgmen$ of ,od being (rono%n#ed on him& and in $he final (ar$ of $he #ha($er we read6 &hat very night *elshaJJar, king of the *abylonians, was slain, and Garius the ,ede took over the kingdom... (Ganiel !38#3.% 0elsha++ar $ho%gh$ $ha$ he #o%ld blas(heme ,od& b%$ he rea(ed 1%dgmen$) *n $he Bew Tes$amen$ we read of Fing -erod) This man*s evil a#$ions are re#orded in man' (la#es $hro%gho%$ $he s#ri($%re) 0r%$ali$' and m%rder were b%$ some of $he #rimes of whi#h he was g%il$') The 134

(rin#i(le of sowing and rea(ing as i$ a((lied $o -erod*s life is re#orded in 9#$s 1 6 'n the appointed day /erod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. &hey shouted, 9&his is the voice of a god, not a man.+ Immediately, because /erod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. ()cts .0!0.#03% This was ano$her o(era$ion of $he %n#hanging $r%$h of sowing and rea(ing) -erod rea(ed from wha$ he had sown) *$ wo%ld be (ossible $o give man' o$her ins$an#es from $he 0ible where individ%als or na$ions re#eived a dire#$ (enal$' as a res%l$ of $heir a#$ions) /ne e4am(le wo%ld be $he #hildren of *srael who were $a"en in$o slaver' be#a%se of disobedien#e) So of$en we read of individ%als& na$ions& "ings or servan$s& who were affli#$ed& diseased& or s%ffered o$her dis$ressing #ir#%ms$an#es as a dire#$ res%l$ of $heir own evil a#$ions)

So.ing and the Increase


*$ is im(or$an$ $ha$ we remember $ha$ rea(ing is normall' in grea$er meas%re $han $ha$ whi#h is sown) The 0ible s(ea"s of a seed whi#h brings for$h $hir$' or si4$' or a h%ndredfold) Seldom do we (lan$ one seed or one flower and ge$ onl' one ba#" again) There is a m%l$i(li#a$ion whi#h $a"es (la#e be#a%se of $he sowing) 9n a#$ion for good or ill& whi#h ma' 135

seem $o be minor& ma' have far>rea#hing and devas$a$ing res%l$s in a (erson.s life) We ma' sa'& 8Tha$ wasn.$ an'$hing ver' serio%s& ,od wo%ldn.$ be #on#erned abo%$ $ha$) /ne small seed& however& #an (rod%#e a large res%l$) *$ was man' 'ears ago $ha$ $he following even$s $oo" (la#e& b%$ * vividl' remember $hem) * a((roa#hed $he ho%se wi$h a feeling of $re(ida$ion& 'e$ e4#i$emen$ be#a%se * was a 'o%ng and ine4(erien#ed (as$or) The name of $he o##%(an$ of $he ho%se had been sen$ $o me b' $he #o%nseling #ommi$$ee of $he 0ill' ,raham #r%sade& m' ver' firs$ #on$a#$7 Wha$ "ind of a res(onse wo%ld * ge$: 3' "no#" on $he door was a li$$le %n#er$ain& b%$ was lo%d eno%gh $o bring a res(onse& and $he door o(ened) -e s$ood framed in $he doorwa'& a big man wi$h a hard fa#e and * fel$ li"e a ;avid #onfron$ing his ,olia$h7 3' words of in$rod%#$ion $%mbled o%$ and * re#eived a warm wel#ome& and was soon sea$ed wi$h him in $he living room) *$ was $he beginning of a mi4$%re of e4(erien#es) *n $he 'ears $ha$ la' ahead& * was $o re#eive from $his man warm friendshi(& s%((or$& %nreliabili$'& dishones$'& re(en$an#e& ego$is$i#al behavior& dr%n"enness& s(iri$%al affir> ma$ions of desire $o live a #onsis$en$ Chris$ian life& and $hen wa$#h him fa#e ban"r%($#' and $he %l$ima$e brea"down of his marriage) 9 man wi$h so m%#h (o$en$ial who %l$ima$el' rea(ed from $he seeds of selfishness and sin $ha$ he #on$in%ed $o sow)

136

There is a multiplication which takes place through sowing. -e wan$ed ,od in his life& b%$ he also wan$ed his own wa') The war 'ears had made him $o%gh and somewha$ r%$hless) Commando $raining had b%il$ a violen#e $ha$ wo%ld of$en rise %( wi$hin him& b%$ he was li"eable and eas' $o forgive) 3' new #h%r#h needed all $he man(ower (ossible& and he began $o hel( wi$h $he 'o%$h wor"& b%$ al#ohol was an o##asional (roblem al$ho%gh he wo%ld den' i$) We hel(ed him s$ar$ in b%siness& b%$ he mis%sed o((or$%ni$ies and s(en$ mone' needed $o (a' s%b>#on$ra#$ors for his own (leas%re and for "ee(ing %( a (re$en#e $ha$ he was a weal$h' b%sinessman) * #o%ld no$ #o%n$ $he ho%rs $ha$ o$hers and * s(en$ wi$h him) We (ra'ed& (leaded& and even we($& b%$ ever' a#$ of re(en$an#e b' him was followed b' an a#$ of selfishness or foolishness) The seed was small when i$ was firs$ sown& b%$ i$ bro%gh$ for$h a harves$ of des(air and des$r%#$ion) * wo%ld li"e $o wri$e of a ha((' ending b%$ i$ didn.$ ha((en) 9f$er * lef$ $he area and $hen moved $o ano$her #o%n$r' * heard of his ban"r%($#'& ad%l$er' and divor#e) The 'ears (assed wi$ho%$ hearing an'$hing abo%$ him& $hen no$ long ago he a$$ended a mee$ing whi#h * was #ond%#$ing in $he #i$' where he was living) -e had seen m' name adver$ised and had #ome $o $he mee$ing) -e was in $he las$ s$ages of $erminal #an#er& b%$ * had $he o((or$%ni$' $o (ra' wi$h him and $hen wri$e $o him before he died) * believe $ha$ 137

he had made his (ea#e wi$h ,od& b%$ * s$ill mo%rn when * $hin" of $he was$ed (ossibili$ies of his life) * have alread' 2%o$ed $he s#ri($%re& 81ow the wind and reap the whirlwind< H-osea @67I) 3os$ da's& $he wind is blowing) Gven if $he wind be#omes s$rong& i$ is normall' no$ a (roblem) The e4(ression 8 sow to the wind< is ill%s$ra$ing a na$%ral #lima$i# o(era$ion of $he wind& *f& however& a whirlwind o##%rs& $ha$ is en$irel' differen$) *f 'o% have e4(erien#ed a whirlwind& or a $ornado& or #'#lone& 'o% will "now $ha$ i$ is ver' differen$ from $he wind $ha$ blows da'>b'>da') We e4(erien#e #'#lones in $he (ar$ of $he world where * live& and * have e4(erien#ed man' severe s$orms and #'#lones over $he 'ears and have seen $heir devas$a$ing effe#$) *n $he se#%lar o##%(a$ion whi#h * was engaged in for man' 'ears as an inde(enden$ ?oss 9d1%s$er& bo$h in Bew Dealand and 9%s$ralia& * was involved in $he assessmen$ of damage #a%sed b' mos$ of $he s$orms $ha$ o##%rred in $hose 'ears) * have seen $he effe#$s of a whirlwind7 * have seen roofs ri((ed from ho%ses and s$rongl' #ons$r%#$ed b%ildings des$ro'ed li"e ma$#hwood) * have seen r%in lef$ in $he (a$h of #'#lones) Ee$ da' af$er da'& $he wind had blown over $hose ho%ses and b%ildings and no damage o##%rred& b%$ s%ddenl'& be#a%se of $he whirlwind& $here was des$r%#$ion) .ow the wind and reap the whirlwind. /n $he 1!$h 9(ril 196@ a devas$a$ing s$orm s$r%#" $he #i$' of Welling$on in Bew Dealand and * was an 13@

e'e wi$ness $o (erha(s $he wors$ s$orm ever $o s$ri"e $ha$ (ar$ of $he world) The so%$herl' wind lashed a$ $he ho%ses and #ommer#ial b%ildings near $o $he #oas$ and on $he e4(osed hillsides) 0%ildings designed $o resis$ $he mos$ severe winds #o%ld no$ wi$hs$and $he violen#e of $he s$orm and were wre#"ed) The large in$er> island mo$or vessel Wahine was #a%gh$ b' $he violen#e of $he s$orm as $he shi( a$$em($ed $o en$er $he Welling$on -arbor& and was #arried on $o a reef and wre#"ed) 3ira#%lo%sl'& $he ma1ori$' of (assengers and #rew were saved al$ho%gh over fif$' (eo(le were drowned) Who #o%ld imagine a s#ene li"e $his: For mon$hs m' offi#e was in%nda$ed wi$h $he assessmen$ of $ho%sands of #laims for damage) We em(lo'ed e4$ra men and women $o hel( %s #o(e wi$h $he sheer vol%me of wor" as a res%l$ of $he devas$a$ion) For over fo%r mon$hs * wor"ed from 7 a)m) $o 1! ()m) ever' da'& and mos$ wee"s $his in#l%ded S%nda') * "now wha$ a s$orm #an do7 *$ #an #hange a s#ene of bea%$' and $ran2%ili$' $o one of horror and des$r%#$ion) * have a dee( a((re#ia$ion of wha$ $he 0ible means when i$ de#lares& 81ow the wind and reap the whirlwind(< When $he s#ri($%re sa's $ha$ we are no longer dealing wi$h $he wind& b%$ wi$h a whirlwind& i$ gra(hi#all' ill%s$ra$es $he in#rease $ha$ #an #ome from wha$ we sow b' o%r a#$ions) The seed $ha$ is (lan$ed seems small b%$ $he res%l$s whi#h s%ddenl' #onfron$ %s are devas$a$ing) We need $o $hin" serio%sl' abo%$ $his analog' %sed in ,od.s Word) 139

?e$ me now deal wi$h $he (osi$ive benefi$s of sowing and rea(ing) We #an sow $ha$ whi#h ,od a((roves and blesses and in $%rn rea( $hir$'& si4$'& and a h%ndred $imes of $he blessings of ,od) 5es%s said6 9?ell done, my good servantE+ his master replied, 9*ecause you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.+ (Luke .-!.$% *n $his (arable a small amo%n$ of fai$hf%lness rea(ed a large reward) The good $ha$ we sow is magnified as is $he evil $ha$ we sow) Wha$ever we sow will be grea$er in $he rea(ing $han in $he sowing) -ow foolish $hen& $ha$ we sho%ld sow $o $he nega$ive when we have been $old #learl' $ha$ we will rea( a far grea$er nega$ive res%l$ when we #an& ins$ead& sow $o $he (osi$ive and re#eive ab%ndan$ blessings and (rovision) The seed that is planted seems small but the results which suddenly confront us are devastating. We need $o live $o (lease ,od and no$ 1%s$ $o (lease o%rselves) We of$en loo" a$ even$s from a shor$ $erm (oin$ of view& b%$ ,od is loo"ing a$ $hem in $he long>$erm) When we (lan$ seeds in a garden& we do no$ e4(e#$ $o see $he harves$ s(ring %( immedia$el') There is a $ime la(se) We ma' sow disobedien#e and evil and for a $ime see no$hing adverse& b%$ $he (rin#i(le is in o(era$ion and an inevi$able res%l$ will follow) 14!

There is an in#iden$ in $he life of 5es%s when a Coman #en$%rion a((ealed $o 5es%s $o heal a servan$ who was si#") When 5es%s offered $o go $o $he #en$%rion.s ho%se $he man re(lied6 Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. *ut <ust say the word, and my servant will be healed. (,atthew ;!;% 5es%s was ama+ed a$ $he fai$h shown b' $he #en$%rion and said6 9I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.+ (,atthew ;!.8% 9s a res%l$ of $he fai$h in 5es%s shown b' $he #en$%rion& his servan$ was healed) The #en$%rion& b' (lan$ing a seed of fai$h& re#eived a harves$ of ,od.s healing in $he life of his servan$) ,od wan$s $o in#rease $he good $ha$ -e desires for o%r lives) ,od is mer#if%l and will alwa's infli#$ less %(on %s $han $he legal (%nishmen$ $ha$ we deserve& so if sin re$%rns an in#rease& i$ sho%ld ma"e %s %nders$and) how serio%s sin is $o ,od) 9 hol' ,od and sin of an' "ind is in#om(a$ible: The good that we sow is magnified, as is the evil that we sow. Whatever we sow will be greater in the reaping than in the sowing.

So.ing by the %nbeliever


The (rin#i(le of sowing and rea(ing as i$ a((lies $o (eo(le in $hree differen$ #a$egories are as follows6 Q The %nbeliever) 141

Q The (erson who is #onver$ed $o Chris$) Q The Chris$ian in his s(iri$%al life) The 2%es$ion we need $o answer is $his6 wha$ does forgiveness (rovide for $he (erson in $hese $hree differen$ #a$egories& and how does $he (rin#i(le of sowing and rea(ing a((l' $o him:

The %nbeliever
The 0ible sa's& &he wages of sin is death !1omans /%2,'. *$ also sa's& &he soul who sins is the one who will die !34ekiel #+%2$I) The (erson who does no$ a##e($ b' fai$h $he salva$ion $ha$ is offered $hro%gh 5es%s Chris$& is %nder sen$en#e of e$ernal se(ara$ion from ,od& be#a%se $he 0ible also sa's& )ll have sinned HComans 36 3I) Bone of %s is righ$eo%s7 The bes$ of o%r a#$ions fail $o #ome %( $o $he s$andard re2%ired b' a hol' ,od) The %nbeliever ma' #on$in%e $o en1o' #er$ain $em(oral benefi$s and blessings $ha$ #ome from $he general mer#' of ,od) We have seen before how ,od gives $he benefi$s of $he differen$ seasons $o bo$h $he 1%s$ and $he %n1%s$ ali"e) ,od is no$ res$ri#$ed $o a((l'ing $he law of sowing and rea(ing in $his life alone) ,od.s wa's are e$ernal& so $he $r%$h of sowing and rea(ing will #on$in%e $o a((l') The %nbeliever goes on re#eiving a meas%re of $he mer#' and $he goodness of ,od and ma' (ros(er in a ma$erial wa') Some %nbelievers ma' #on$in%e $o (ros(er all $heir lives& even $ho%gh $he' have a#$ed %n1%s$l')

14

We need $o reali+e $ha$ $he e$ernal #onse2%en#es of rea(ing wha$ we have sown are far more dras$i# and im(or$an$ $han $he $em(oral as(e#$) * wo%ld ra$her rea( $he blessings of ,od e$ernall' $han now& if * had $o ma"e a #hoi#e) This life is des#ribed in $he s#ri($%re as 8a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes< H5ames 4614I) ,od has (romised %s onl' a limi$ed life s(an a$ $he bes$& b%$ e$erni$' is %nending) This life is ,od.s $raining gro%nd for wha$ lies ahead of %s in e$erni$') We find& however& $ha$ some (eo(le rea( ver' 2%i#"l' $he res%l$s of $heir wa' of life& and s%#h #ases are no$ isola$ed) There are (eo(le in $he world who have rea(ed 2%i#"l' from wha$ $he' have sown) We #o%ld $hin" of some weal$h' (eo(le whose wa's of b%siness have been %ns#r%(%lo%s and dishones$) The' have b%il$ finan#ial em(ires& b%$ onl' $o see wha$ $he' have b%il$ #olla(se aro%nd $hem) There are man' s%#h #ases a$ $he (resen$ $ime and some of $hose involved have ended in ban"r%($#' and even (rison) We #o%ld $hin" of $he famo%s who have rea#hed a (la#e of (rominen#e $hro%gh de#ei$ or selfishness& and $hen s%ddenl' had $heir a#$ions e4(osed and $heir re(%$a$ions r%ined) The eternal conse#uences of reaping what we have sown are far more drastic and important than the temporal aspect. We do no$ have $o go ba#" far in #on$em(orar' his$or' $o re#all leaders of na$ions who were s%ddenl' disgra#ed be#a%se $he' were sowing seeds 143

of dishones$'& and s%ddenl' $hese s(rang %( in$o sigh$ and were e4(osed) The same is $r%e of some religio%s and #h%r#h leaders) The' rea(ed wha$ $he' had sown7 We of$en read of men and women in $he en$er$ainmen$ ind%s$r' who died& some a$ a 'o%ng age& be#a%se of wha$ $he' had sown in $heir own lives) The' rea(ed 2%i#"l'7 The' had sown $o $he wind and $r%l' rea(ed a whirlwind) /f$en& i$ had been a whirlwind of disease or men$al disorder) Some have sown seeds of #orr%($ion b' dr%g ab%se and ever' "ind of e4#ess and (erversion& and s%ddenl' $he whirlwind #ame) ,od allows some $o rea( 2%i#"l' from $heir sin and o$hers $o a((ear $o #on$in%e $o (ros(er& b%$ $he o(ening verses of Psalm 37 are a((ro(ria$e for %s $o remember6 Go not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. &rust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and en<oy safe pasture. (:salm 3$!.#3% The (salm #on$in%es wi$h $hese words6 (or evil men will be cut off but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. ) little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them they will not be found. (:salm 3$!-#.8%

144

/ne $hing is s%re6 $he %nbeliever will %l$ima$el' rea( from his sin) -e will rea( from i$ e$ernal 1%dgmen$ and se(ara$ion from ,od& a(ar$ from an' $em(oral 1%dgmen$ $ha$ his sin ma' invo"e)

What "appens at Conversion? The 0erson Who is Converted to Christ


We #ome now $o $he se#ond #a$egor') -ow does $he law of sowing and rea(ing a((l' in $his (erson.s life: The 0ible de#lares $ha$ $he blood of 5es%s Chris$& ,od.s Son& #leanses %s from all sin) Pa%l& wri$ing $o $he Corin$hian #h%r#h said6 &herefore, if anyone is in >hrist, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has comeE (0 >orinthians !.$% &he Living *ible paraphrase of this verse says! ?hen someone becomes a >hristian, he becomes a brand new person inside. /e is not the same any more. ) new life has begun. This is a #lear s$a$emen$& b%$ of$en i$ does no$ seem $o ha((en7 Peo(le re#eive Chris$ and i$ does no$ seem $ha$ $he old $hings (ass awa') There are h%r$s& wo%nds& and disa((oin$men$s $ha$ remain& allowing nega$ive a$$i$%des $o domina$e $hem) $ne thing is sure + the unbeliever will ultimately reap from his sin. * wan$ $o give $he ill%s$ra$ion of a 'o%ng man * "new) -e had a grea$ s$ar$ $o his Chris$ian life) -is 145

bro$her was a fine Chris$ian 'o%ng man and we had (ra'ed for $he salva$ion of his bro$her for some $ime before be finall' #ame $o #h%r#h) The $wo bro$hers #ame $o o%r home for a sna#" a$ $he #lose of $ha$ S%nda' nigh$ servi#e& and we $al"ed abo%$ $he need $o re#eive Chris$ in a (ersonal wa') * e4(lained $he wa' of salva$ion and as"ed if he wo%ld li"e $o re#eive Chris$ in$o his life) -e re(lied in $he affirma$ive and * began $o lead him in a (ra'er of re(en$an#e and a##e($an#e of 5es%s) Bo words #ame from his mo%$h7 * re(ea$ed $he sim(le (ra'er& b%$ s$ill no words #ame) 9s we loo"ed a$ him his mo%$h seemed $o be lo#"ed& and $r' as he wo%ld& no words wo%ld #ome7 We dis#erned $ha$ he was bo%nd b' some demoni# s(iri$& and we began $o s(ea" agains$ i$ in $he Bame of 5es%s) S%ddenl' he was free7 The (ra'er flowed from his li(s and $he 1o'o%s #hange in his whole a((earan#e was ama+ing) ?a$er $ha$ nigh$ he and his bro$her were (h'si#all' a$$a#"ed b' demoni# for#es $o $he e4$en$ $ha$ $he older bro$her fell $o $he floor& a((aren$l' %n#ons#io%s) 9gain& we #laimed $he a%$hori$' in $he Bame of 5es%s and saw #om(le$e deliveran#e) ?e$ me ass%re 'o% $ha$ $his is no$ an ill%s$ra$ion of some e4$reme a$$i$%de $o deliveran#e) Bever before or sin#e have * had a similar e4(erien#e) ,od.s (ower was marvelo%sl' (rovided for $he release of $his 'o%ng man and for $he (ro$e#$ion of his older bro$her) We saw $he 'o%nger bro$her (ress on in $he Chris$ian life for some mon$hs& b%$ $hen he began $o 146

do%b$ and allowed old nega$ive fears and a$$i$%des $ha$ had (revio%sl' (lag%ed his life $o re$%rn) -is Chris$ian life be#ame in#onsis$en$) 9 moodiness $ha$ had been a (roblem and whi#h had vanished wi$h his #onversion re$%rned& and his s(iri$%al life be#ame wea" and indifferen$) * am glad $o sa' $ha$ in la$er 'ears he re#a($%red $he blessing and (ea#e of ,od and $oda' he is involved wi$h a livel' effe#$ive #h%r#h& b%$ he s(en$ some 'ears in s$r%ggling $o over#ome his wea"nesses) Sho%ld o%r s(iri$%al e4(erien#e be li"e $his& or do we of$en fail $o a((ro(ria$e all $ha$ is available $hro%gh o%r fai$h in Chris$: There #an be a big ga( in $he lives of (eo(le be$ween wha$ $he' have 8(ossessionall'<& $ha$ is& wha$ $he' a#$%all' e4(erien#e in $heir lives and wha$ $he' have 8(osi$ionall'<& $ha$ is& $he f%llness of wha$ ,od has (rovided in 5es%s Chris$) * am s%re $ha$ man' of $he (roblems $ha$ Chris$ians fa#e $oda' are be#a%se $he' have no$ dis#overed how $o re#eive wha$ 5es%s has a#$%all' (rovided for $hem) *$ is o%r a((ro(ria$ion $ha$ is defe#$ive and no$ $he (rovisions of $he Word of ,od or $he (ower of $he -ol' S(iri$) 3an is a $ri(ar$i$e being #om(rising s(iri$& so%l& and bod') There is a $o$al (rovision in all of $hese areas $hro%gh $he sa#rifi#e of Chris$ on $he Cross) There is healing for o%r s(iri$ from $he effe#$ of sin and also from a wo%nded s(iri$) The s(iri$ is $he inner s(iri$%al (ar$ of a (erson& $he (ar$ $ha$ has an affini$' wi$h ,od) There is healing for $he so%l) The so%l is $he area of $he na$%ral man& involving mind& emo$ions and will) -ealing was (rovided for $hese fa#%l$ies when 5es%s $oo" o%r griefs and sorrows 147

%(on -imself) The dea$h of 5es%s also (rovided a##ess $o (h'si#al healing for o%r bodies) The dea$h of 5es%s Chris$ on $he Cross was a #om(le$e defea$ of Sa$an and a #om(le$e vi#$or' for 5es%s) 0' -is dea$h and $hen -is res%rre#$ion& (rovision was made for all o%r needs) We reali+e& however& $ha$ ,od is wor"ing a sovereign (lan and we #anno$ demand $ha$ all o%r needs be immedia$el' me$ be#a%se -is $iming is no$ o%r $iming) We are #hallenged b' $he Word of ,od $o be 8over#omers<& $o #ome $hro%gh ever' $es$ and $rial as winners and no$ losers& $o s$and firm and $r%s$ ,od wha$ever ma' be ha((ening) We are re2%ired $o live o%r lives in ho(e& wi$h an eager and #onfiden$ e4(e#$a$ion of good regardless of o%r #ir#%ms$an#es& and we need $o learn how $o a((ro(ria$e all $ha$ Chris$ has (rovided for %s& ra$her $han allow o%r (as$ (roblems $o domina$e %s) )t is our appropriation that is defective and not the provisions of the Word of %od. When a (erson a##e($s Chris$ as Savior $he (rin#i(le of sowing and rea(ing from an e$ernal (ers(e#$ive is lif$ed) ,od no longer infli#$s $he (enal$ies whi#h wo%ld o$herwise be a((li#able be#a%se of sins #ommi$$ed b' $he (erson (rior $o his salva$ion) The sla$e is wi(ed #lean from $he (enal$' and g%il$ of all (as$ sin) Wha$ a fan$as$i# (rovision $ha$ is7 Salva$ion does no$& however& save a (erson from $he $em(oral #onse2%en#es of a #rime of whi#h he or she ma' be g%il$') ,od has #leared $he re#ord and $here will be 14@

no e$ernal (enal$'& b%$ $he (erson ma' s$ill be a##o%n$able $o $he #ivil a%$hori$ies) *$ is a $raged'& however& $ha$ so man' Chris$ians $hro%gh %nwillingness $o a##e($ $ha$ ,od has reall' forgiven $hem& and $hro%gh %nbelief& fear& and do%b$& allow old a$$i$%des $o #on$in%e and so bring abo%$ a nega$ive rea(ing in $heir lives) *n doing $his& $he (erson red%#es in his own life some of $he wonderf%l (rovisions of $he Cross) The new #onver$& and also $he e4(erien#ed Chris$ian& m%s$ #ons$an$l' allow his mind $o be renewed& his emo$ions $o be (%rified and his will $o be se$ free so as $o a##e($ $he forgiveness $ha$ ,od has given& and $o harmoni+e wi$h ,od.s will for his life) Knfor$%na$el'& we find in e4(erien#e& $ha$ born again Chris$ians are s$ill rea(ing in a s(iri$%al sense from even$s $ha$ ha((ened before $he' were saved) This sho%ld no$ be7 When one re#eives Chris$ 8the old is gone! the new has &ome< H Corin$hians 5617I) This is $he (romise& b%$ we are $hen fa#ed wi$h $he #hallenge of ma"ing $his real in o%r dail' e4(erien#e) Many !hristians through unbelief and fear, allow old attitudes to continue, and so bring about a negative reaping in their lives.

$ur 'e. !ife in Christ The Christian in "is Spiritual !ife


This is $he $hird #a$egor')

149

The 8new bir$h< (rovides a fresh s$ar$ from ,od.s (oin$ of view& b%$ from $hen on we again be#ome a##o%n$able for o%r a#$ions) The law of sowing and rea(ing on#e more be#omes (ar$ of o%r life as i$ was before #onversion) 3er#' and forgiveness are alwa's available b%$ #onse2%en#es are a reali$' $o be fa#ed) *n 5ohn.s firs$ le$$er we read6 &his is the message we have heard from him and declare to you! God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. *ut if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Aesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (. Aohn .! #$% This is $he (romise of ,od) -e #leanses %s and res$ores %s $o fellowshi( wi$h him& b%$ $he (romise is for forgiveness and fellowshi(& no$ (ardon) There are fail%res $ha$ have $o be deal$ wi$h) We ma' have $ho%gh$ $ha$ all was well) /ne migh$ sa' $o himself6 8Ees& * did $rea$ $ha$ (erson badl'& b%$ i$ ha((ened a long $ime ago and (erha(s i$ is now forgo$$en)< 8* wo%ld be $oo embarrassed $o go ba#" now and a(ologi+e)< 8Ees * did le$ $hem down) * $old lies abo%$ $hem)< Kn$il wrongs are (%$ righ$& we #an go on s%ffering $he #onse2%en#es of wha$ we have sown7 We #anno$ (%$ ba#" $he #lo#" $o $he da' when we were firs$ saved& when& if onl' we had %nders$ood 15!

$hese (rin#i(les& how differen$ o%r Chris$ian life migh$ have been) We #an& however& avail o%rselves now of ,od.s gra#e and h%mble o%rselves bo$h before ,od& and o%r bro$her if ne#essar'& in order $o brea" $he #'#le of rea(ing wha$ we have sown) *$ is vi$al $o em(hasi+e a $r%$h $ha$ has (revio%sl' been men$ioned) We #an be wi$ho%$ fa%l$ in a dis(%$e& b%$ be#a%se we are %nforgiving& ,od.s 1%dgmen$ s$ill res$s %(on %s be#a%se we will rea( $he (enal$' of %nforgiveness) The g%il$' (ar$' also is no$ e4#%sed as& even if he is forgiven& ,od.s dealings ma' #on$in%e %n$il $he righ$ res(onses are made) We do no$ need $o be bo%nd b' $he fail%res of $he (as$) We #an s$ar$ rea(ing $he fr%i$ of righ$eo%sness and no$ $he fr%i$ of %nrigh$eo%sness) We do no$ need $o rea( a whirlwind b%$ we #an rea( $he blessings and rewards of ,od) 9s we a##e($ $he (rovisions of $he Cross& f%lfill ,od.s #ondi$ions and wal" in obedien#e $o -im& $his #an be o%r e4(erien#e) 9 'o%ng married man in a leadershi( (osi$ion in a #h%r#h gave me $his $es$imon'6 * had $he (rivilege of a fine& s$able home life and a$ $he age of $hir$een 'ears was #onsidered a de#en$ "id) * had a$$ended a denomina$ional #h%r#h b%$ "new no$hing abo%$ a (ersonal e4(erien#e of "nowing 5es%s Chris$ as Savior and ?ord) 9$ $his age * began $o desire a##e($an#e from o$hers of m' own age gro%(& man' of whom were involved in immorali$' and drin"ing) 151

This desire in#reased as * (rogressed $hro%gh high s#hool& and $o gain $he es$eem of $he o$her bo's * began $o #rea$e a web of lies abo%$ m'self and m' a#$ivi$ies) These lies in#reased $o s%#h an e4$en$ $ha$ b' m' earl' $wen$ies $he real me was a s$ranger $o m'self) 3' $een 'ears gave me $he o((or$%ni$' $o develo( a life s$'le in whi#h * do%b$ed $he e4is$en#e of ,od& and #onsidered Chris$iani$' a middle #lass so#ial #l%b) 0' $he $ime * rea#hed $wen$'>one 'ears& * was a heav' drin"er and was involved in ever' "ind of #ond%#$ #on$rar' $o m' earl' %(bringing) 3' life was a mess of falsehood as * $ried $o "ee( %( wi$h $he image * had #rea$ed for m'self& b%$ dee( wi$hin $here was inse#%ri$'& de(ression& and self>(i$') * wore a "nife s$ra((ed $o m' leg& and on o##asions #arried a sho$g%n in $he ba#" of m' #ar in order $o feed m' ego as a 8$o%gh man.7 *n $his si$%a$ion a des(air began $o gri( m' fian#Ne and me and * began $o sear#h for some s(iri$%al answer) We $ried s(iri$%alism& eas$ern m's$i#ism& and (hiloso(h'& b%$ $hese merel' made %s #ri$i#al of e4is$ing religions and so#ial (a$$erns) 3' fian#Ne and * married and de#ided $o s(end some $ime fr%i$ (i#"ing) The or#hard owners were evangeli#al Chris$ians and we were dee(l' #hallenged b' $he message of 15

$he ,os(el b%$ seemed %nable $o rea#h a (la#e of $o$al a##e($an#e of Chris$.s wa') We moved from Bew Dealand $o S'dne'& 9%s$ralia& and again be#ame asso#ia$ed wi$h Chris$ians and were in#reasingl' #onvi#$ed of $he degree of falsehood $ha$ was in bo$h of o%r lives) The -ol' S(iri$ was dealing wi$h %s& and old fears and (re1%di#es were beginning $o #r%mble) /ne Sa$%rda' nigh$ we a$$ended a film servi#e in a lo#al Pen$e#os$al Ch%r#h) 0o$h m' wife and * res(onded $o $he invi$a$ion $o re#eive Chris$ as Savior& and one wee" la$er were ba($i+ed in wa$er) Wi$hin a shor$ $ime we were bo$h ba($i+ed wi$h $he -ol' S(iri$) Wha$ a #hange7 9ll $hose 'ears of (re$ending $o be some$hing $ha$ * wasn.$ and $r'ing $o find a sa$isfa#$ion $ha$ remained be'ond m' gras() Bow i$ was over7 ,od had man' $hings $o do in m' life) -e deal$ wi$h (ride& %nwillingness $o be s%bmissive& and self effor$& b%$ we had fo%nd some$hing real and meaningf%l in o%r lives) * (raise ,od for -is gra#e and (ower) When * f%ll' reali+ed $ha$ * was in a ra#e of life and ,od.s wa' was $he onl' wa' and $here was no wa' ba#"& * almos$ (ani#"ed& wondering if * #o%ld ma"e i$7 Then * reali+ed $ha$ $he s$reng$h and abili$' were -is& no$ mine) 3' wife and * now desire $o be $o$all' #ommi$$ed $o $he ?ord 5es%s Chris$ and $o 153

live ,od.s wa' b' $he (ower of $he -ol' S(iri$) Tr%l'& old $hings are (assed awa') We do not need to be bound by the things of the past. We can start reaping the fruit of righteousness and not the fruit of unrighteousness.

154

Chapter 8 What is "appening?


9n %n%s%al $i$le has been #hosen for $his #ha($er be#a%se of wha$ (eo(le have said $o me) /n man' o##asions * have $al"ed wi$h men and women who were e4(erien#ing (roblems and diffi#%l$ies and $he' have said& 8Wha$ is ha((ening: * do no$ %nders$and wha$ is $a"ing (la#e in m' life7< * wan$ $o refer $o $hree differen$ (assages of s#ri($%re& and $he' need $o be read so $ha$ $he #om(arison #an be #learl' seen) The firs$& fo%nd in Comans @6 @M39& has been se$ o%$ on $he fea$%re (age of $his #ha($er) The se#ond s#ri($%re is fo%nd in The 0oo" of 5%dges6 &he angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to *okbim, and said! 9I led you up from 1gypt and brought you to the land that I swore to give to your forefathers. I said, 9I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars. Cet you have disobeyed me. ?hy have you done this= How therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you. (Audges 0!.# 3% 155

The $hird s#ri($%re is fo%nd in $he le$$er $o $he -ebrew #h%r#h6 )nd you have forgotten that word encouragement that addresses you as sons! of

9,y son, do not make light of the Lord5s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.+ 91ndure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. (or what son is not disciplined by his father= 9If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline%, then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9,oreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. /ow much more should we submit to the (ather of our spirits and liveE 9'ur fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.+ (/ebrews .0! # .8%

Three 3lternatives
We have 2%o$ed $hese s#ri($%res in f%ll for an im(or$an$ reason) *n $hese (assages we have $hree vas$l' #on$ras$ing as(e#$s) The verses in Comans @6 @M39 s(ea" of $he (romises and (rovisions of ,od so $ha$ in s(i$e of ever' "ind of diffi#%l$' and $es$ing we #an be #onfiden$ $ha$ ,od is s$ill wi$h %s& 156

and we #an live $ri%m(han$l') Promises of s$reng$hening and hel( are given so $ha$ $hose who love ,od and are #alled b' -im will s$and firm and no$ be sha"en in $heir fai$h and ho(e regardless of $heir #ir#%ms$an#es) The se#ond s#ri($%re H5%dges 61M3I refers $o a (eo(le #hosen b' ,od who& %nder -is dire#$ion& wen$ in $o (ossess $he land of Canaan $ha$ had been (romised $o $hem) The enem' was #onfron$ed and $he land #on2%ered of$en in mira#%lo%s wa's) 0%$ la$er $he (eo(le of *srael be#ame disobedien$ $o ,od& and be#a%se of $heir disobedien#e& s%ffered o((osi$ion and a$$a#" from $he original o##%(an$s of $he land) ,od de#lared $ha$ $he Canaani$es wo%ld now be#ome 8$horns in $he sides of $he *sraeli$es and $he gods of $he land of Canaan wo%ld be#ome a snare $o $hem< H5%dges 63I) The *sraeli$es were a (rivileged (eo(le and ,od had been wi$h $hem& b%$ now $he' were reb%"ed and 1%dged) The $hird s#ri($%re H-ebrews 1 65M1!I $ells of a loving heavenl' Fa$her dis#i(lining -is #hildren o%$ of #on#ern and #are be#a%se -e loves $hem and wan$s $o see $hem grow and develo( in$o $he li"eness of Chris$) Peo(le have s(o"en $o me of (roblems and diffi#%l$ies in home life& (ersonal rela$ionshi(s& or in $heir wor"& and al$ho%gh $he' had $a"en a((aren$ s$e(s of $r%s$ in ,od $heir effor$s had ended in a blind alle'7 *n #onf%sion and no$ "nowing where $he' were going in life& $he' had #ome for #o%nsel& (o%ring o%$ a s$or' of des(air and had said& 8Wha$ is ha((ening:< 157

Cause and *ffect


From wha$ has been said in $he las$ #ha($er dealing wi$h rea(ing and sowing $here are some as(e#$s $ha$ m%s$ now be #larified) The 2%es$ion $ha$ #onfron$s %s is wha$ are $he reasons for $he #hallenges& (roblems& and diffi#%l$ies $ha$ o##%r in o%r dail' lives: The' #an be s%mmari+ed %nder $hree headings6 1) -ave we failed $o a((ro(ria$e $he $o$al (rovisions of $he Cross: We have alread' deal$ wi$h $he $o$al redem($ive wor" of $he Cross and have seen how 5es%s gave -imself as a sa#rifi#e in bod'& so%l& and s(iri$) -e made i$ (ossible for o%r s(iri$ $o be born anew and indwel$ b' $he S(iri$ of ,od so $ha$ we migh$ be#ome (ar$ of a new #rea$ion) -e (o%red o%$ his so%l $o dea$h and bore o%r griefs and sorrows and deal$ wi$h ever' infl%en#e $ha$ $o%#hes o%r mind& emo$ions& and will) Some 0ible $ea#hers have em(hasi+ed $he s%b1e#$ of inner healing and healing of memories& b%$ 5es%s made (rovision for $his on $he Cross when -e s%ffered in $he realm of $he so%l) There ma' be lingering res%l$s from some of o%r (as$ e4(erien#es& b%$ we sho%ld no$ need $o re#eive (ro$ra#$ed minis$r' or (ra'er for s%#h (roblems) The (ro(he$ *saiah de#lared& 8>y his wo nds we are heated< H*saiah 5395<$ 9 (rovision has been made for (h'si#al healing $hro%gh $he s%ffering and sa#rifi#e of Chris$ on Calvar') 15@

*f we have %ne4(lainable (roblems& $he firs$ 2%es$ion we m%s$ as" o%rselves is are we a((ro(ria$ing $he f%ll benefi$s of wha$ Chris$ has alread' done for %s: ) 9re we rea(ing wha$ we have sown: Gver' a#$ion has a res%l$7 There is no$hing $ha$ we do $ha$ is isola$ed& b%$ as we have deal$ wi$h $his s%b1e#$ in de$ail i$ is no$ ne#essar' $o elabora$e) ?e$ %s& however& no$e #aref%ll' $ha$ ever' a#$ion we $a"e will have a res%l$ for good or ill& so when we are fa#ed wi$h #onf%sion or diffi#%l$'& we need $o ma"e an hones$ eval%a$ion as $o whe$her we are rea(ing a nega$ive res%l$ from wha$ we have sown) 3) *s ,od& $hro%gh $hese diffi#%l$ #ir#%ms$an#es& dis#i(lining %s and (r%ning o%r lives be#a%se of -is love and #are: The s#ri($%re sa's6 ...because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. (/ebrews .0!"% 5es%s gave $ea#hing $ha$ is similar $o $his6 9I am the true vine and my (ather is the gardener. /e cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.+ (Aohn . !.#0% /very action we take will have a result for good or ill.

159

*n $imes of diffi#%l$'& %n#er$ain$'& or $es$ing we are fa#ed wi$h $hese $hree al$erna$ives) Whi#h of $hese $hree reasons a((l': We m%s$ "now so $ha$ we #an find (ea#e or& if $here is a wrong $o be (%$ righ$& $a"e a#$ion $o bring abo%$ a sol%$ion) The (roblem we all have is $o be gen%inel' ob1e#$ive when we $r' $o eval%a$e wha$ is ha((ening $o %s) We all see $hings from o%r own (oin$ of view) 3os$ Chris$ians are sin#ere in $heir desire $o serve ,od& b%$ we all loo" a$ even$s from o%r own (ers(e#$ive) *$ is ver' na$%ral $o sa'& 80e reasonable& do i$ m' wa'7< We are %s%all' #onvin#ed $ha$ o%r wa' is righ$& so i$ is hard $o loo" a$ $he (roblem from all angles and (ar$i#%larl' $o re#ogni+e $ha$ we all have some blind s(o$s) We do no$ see i$ be#a%se we reall' are blind $o i$7 The onl' (erson who #an hel( %s $o see a blind s(o$ is someone else) 9 wife #an be good a$ seeing a blind s(o$ her h%sband has& and a h%sband #an do $he same wi$h his wife& b%$ of$en nei$her are a##%ra$e be#a%se i$ %s%all' $a"es some disasso#ia$ed (erson $o gen%inel' see wha$ $he (erson #on#erned #anno$& or will no$ see) We are (rone $o be s%b1e#$ive and $oo #lose $o o%r own (roblems $o see a #a%se) * wo%ld be deligh$ed $o give a sim(le form%la $o $his (roblem b%$ $here is no eas' answer) There are& however& (rin#i(les $ha$ we #an learn and a((l') 3an' adverse e4(erien#es in life are %n2%es$ionabl' allowed b' ,od when $here has been no (ersonal fail%re on o%r (ar$) We read in $he s#ri($%res how 5es%s and -is dis#i(les were wal"ing (as$ a man 16!

who was blind from bir$h) The dis#i(les as"ed 5es%s $his 2%es$ion6 97abbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind=+ 9Heither this man nor his parents sinned,+ said Aesus, 9but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.+ (Aohn -!0#3% The na$%ral $enden#' of $he dis#i(les was $o find a #a%se for $he blindness and $heir immedia$e rea#$ion was $o $hin" $ha$ $here had been some fail%re ei$her b' $he man or his (aren$s) Tha$ was ver' m%#h in line wi$h $he 5ewish $hin"ing of $hose $imes) 5es%s& however& #om(le$el' s2%ashed s%#h a (ro(osi$ion and in fa#$ was em(ha$i# $ha$ nei$her $he man nor his (aren$s were a$ fa%l$& b%$ ,od had allowed $his man $o go $hro%gh 'ears of blindness so $ha$ $he wor" of ,od migh$ be dis(la'ed in his life) )t is hard to be ob ective regarding ourselves and difficult to reali-e that we all have some blind spots. The 0oo" of 5ob gives %s a similar si$%a$ion) We read in $he o(ening #ha($er of $his boo"6 &hen the Lord said to Satan, 9/ave you considered my servant Aob= &here is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.+ 9Goes Aob fear God for nothing=+ Satan replied. 9/ave you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has= Cou have 161

blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land 9*ut stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will curse you to your face.+ &he Lord said to Satan, 9Bery well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.+ (Aob .!;#.0% ?a$er& ,od allowed Sa$an $o a$$a#" 5ob.s bod' and he was #overed wi$h (ainf%l sores& b%$ in all of $his 5ob did no$ sin in wha$ he said) 5ob had done no$hing wrong when ,od allowed $his des$r%#$ion and loss of famil'& (ossessions& and heal$h $o be infli#$ed %(on him) ,od allowed a grea$ $es$ $o #ome on 5ob& b%$ in la$er 'ears ,od res$ored $o 5ob do%ble of wha$ he had had before $hese disas$ers #ame) ,od was allowing $hese e4$reme $es$s $o (rove $he #hara#$er of his servan$ 5ob) Many adverse e(periences of life are un#uestionably allowed by %od when there has been no personal failure on our part.

The Trial of Faith


* wan$ $o remind 'o% of $he s%ffering& $es$ing& and $rials of $he a(os$le Pa%l) When wri$ing $o $he Corin$hian #h%r#h he re#o%n$ed wha$ he had end%red6 )re they servants of >hrist= (I am out of my mind to talk like this.% I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more fre6uently, been flogged more severely, and been e2posed to death 16

again and again, (ive times I received from the Aews the forty lashes minus one. &hree times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. *esides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. (0 >orinthians ..!03#0;% Were $hese e4(erien#es be#a%se Pa%l& $he grea$ a(os$le& did no$ "now how $o a((ro(ria$e $he benefi$s of wha$ Chris$ had (rovided $hro%gh $he Cross: ;id $his man $o whom 5es%s gave $he revela$ion of $he #h%r#h M a m's$er' $ha$ had been hidden down $hro%gh $he ages M no$ "now how $o re#eive $he f%llness of wha$ 5es%s had a##om(lished: S%#h a (ossibili$' is %n$hin"able& al$ho%gh some s%((osed fai$h $ea#hers $oda' wo%ld $r' $o have %s believe $ha$ if Pa%l "new as m%#h as $he' do $oda'& or had $he fai$h $ha$ $he' #laim $o have& he wo%ld no$ have needed $o fa#e s%#h hardshi(s7

163

Was Pa%l s%ffering be#a%se he had sown nega$ivel' in his life: We are aware $ha$ Pa%l& before his #onversion& was a (erse#%$or of $he #h%r#h and a wi$ness $o $he dea$h of S$e(hen& $he firs$ mar$'r& b%$ in re#eiving Chris$ he wo%ld have been $o$all' forgiven) These s%fferings $ha$ Pa%l e4(erien#ed #o%ld no$ have been a res%l$ of rea(ing nega$ivel' from sowing disobedien#e7 Pa%l was $o$all' #ommi$$ed $o $he gos(el of 5es%s Chris$) -e #hallenged $he Chris$ians of his da' $o imi$a$e him7 Bo$ man' of %s wo%ld dare $o ma"e s%#h a #laim) The onl' o$her e4(lana$ion is $ha$ ,od was molding a man.s life and #hara#$er for $he (%r(ose $ha$ -e re2%ired) ,od was $a"ing a life $ha$ -e had #hosen and allowing him $o go $hro%gh $he mos$ harrowing e4(erien#es so $ha$ Pa%l wo%ld be e2%i((ed $o a##om(lish all $ha$ $he ?ord wan$ed from his life) We don.$ %s%all' learn m%#h from $he eas' even$s of life) We learn when $he (ress%res #ome and we have o%r ba#"s $o $he wall and have $o $r%s$ 5es%s when we #an.$ see $he final res%l$& and when a((aren$ disas$er s$ares %s in $he fa#e$ Pa%l.s own ferven$ (ra'er was $his6 *ut whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of >hrist. ?hat is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing >hrist Aesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain >hrist and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own which comes from the law, but that which is through faith in >hrist # that righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 164

I want to know >hrist and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Hot that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which >hrist Aesus took hold of me. (:hilippians 3!$#.0% %od was molding a mans life and character for the purpose that &e re#uired. *$ is #lear from $he le$$ers $ha$ Pa%l wro$e $o $he differen$ #h%r#hes $ha$ he had man' de$ra#$ors in his da') *$ wo%ld be reasonable $o ass%me $ha$ $here were man' in $he #h%r#h a$ $ha$ $ime who wo%ld have in$er(re$ed Pa%l.s $rials and s%fferings $o be $he res%l$ of some (ersonal disobedien#e or fail%re) Pa%l had man' enemies wi$hin $he #h%r#h and of$en fo%nd i$ ne#essar' $o defend his a(os$leshi() Those who were agains$ him no do%b$ wo%ld have been (leased $o (oin$ $he finger of a##%sa$ion a$ him be#a%se of his $rials and hardshi(s) 9s we loo" ba#" over $he re#ord of Pa%l.s life and his effe#$iveness& fr%i$f%lness& s$eadfas$ness& dedi#a$ion& and $he revela$ions he had re#eived from $he ?ord& we see a man who ma' no$ have been (erfe#$ in ever'$hing he did& b%$ one who was $o$all' #ommi$$ed $o $he ?ord 5es%s Chris$& and whose minis$r' eviden#ed signs& wonders& and $he (ower of ,od) We see a man who& be#a%se of $he $es$ings and $rials of life& be#ame so s$rong $ha$ no$hing #o%ld 165

move him) Pa%l made $hese $wo differen$ affirma$ions in $wo se(ara$e le$$ers $ha$ he wro$e $o $he #h%r#hes6 (or our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fi2 our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. (or what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (0 >orinthians 4!.$#. ;% Hot only so, but we also re<oice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. )nd hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the /oly Spirit, whom he has given us. (7omans !3# % The s#ri($%res are #lear= (erse#%$ion& s%ffering& and $es$ing are (ar$ of $he $r%e Chris$ian life7 *n $he Sermon on $he 3o%n$& 5es%s said6 *lessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 7e<oice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (,atthew !..#.0% 5es%s (redi#$ed (erse#%$ion for $hose who followed -im) *$ wo%ld be eas' for someone $o sa'& 8* am s%ffering and going $hro%gh $his diffi#%l$ $ime be#a%se * am living in obedien#e $o 5es%s7< Tha$ ma' or ma' no$ be so) We are 2%i#" $o find e4#%ses for o%rselves) There are& however& $he $hree 166

al$erna$ives $ha$ #o%ld a((l'& and we m%s$ be ver' hones$ as we #ome $o dis#ern $he #a%se of differen$ (roblems) The a(os$le Pa%l was e4(erien#ing an affli#$ion a$ one $ime d%ring his minis$r' and he (ra'ed and as"ed $he ?ord $o remove i$) The re(l' he re#eived was no$ wha$ he wo%ld have e4(e#$ed& and he wro$e abo%$ i$ in $his wa'6 &o keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. &hree times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. *ut he said to me, 9,y grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.+ &herefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that >hrist5s power may rest on me. &hat is why, for >hrist5s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. (or when I am weak, then I am strong. (0 >orinthians .0!$#.8% We see a man who, because of the testings and trials of life, became so strong that nothing could move him. There is no eviden#e in $he 0ible $o s%gges$ $ha$ Pa%l was referring $o a (h'si#al si#"ness when he wro$e of $his 8thorn in the flesh$< Pa%l ma' have 167

been referring $o $he (erse#%$ion& o((osi$ion and hardshi( $ha$ he #ons$an$l' fa#ed) *$ wo%ld be na$%ral for Pa%l $o (ra' earnes$l' for $he ?ord $o deliver him o%$ of s%#h #ir#%ms$an#es) /n $he o$her hand& $here is no eviden#e $o show $ha$ he was no$ s%ffering from a (h'si#al #ondi$ion $ha$ ma' have made his missionar' wor" more diffi#%l$) 9n' #ommen$ as $o $he meaning of Pa%l.s thorn in the flesh is s(e#%la$ion) The hear$ of $he meaning of $his (assage of s#ri($%re has $o do wi$h $he res(onse $ha$ Pa%l made $o $he ?ord.s re(l' $o $he (ra'er) Pa%l a##e($ed $ha$ $he ?ord was no$ going $o remove $he (roblem a$ $ha$ (oin$ in $ime) When Chris$ said& ?y gra&e is s ffi&ient for yo ! for my power is made perfe&t in wea3ness! Pa%l a##e($ed $ha$ answer wi$ho%$ f%r$her 2%es$ion) Pa%l #o%ld have given %( his missionar' wor"7 -e #o%ld have be#ome offended wi$h 5es%s be#a%se he didn.$ ge$ wha$ he wo%ld have li"ed7 -e #o%ld have los$ #onfiden#e in $he #all $ha$ was on his life7 -e did no$ do an' of $hese $hings7 -e (ressed on wi$h his wor" "nowing $ha$ $he ?ord wo%ld give him $he s$reng$h and (ower $ha$ he needed) This is $he a#id $es$& $o de$ermine if ,od is allowing a (roblem for o%r grow$h and develo(men$ and no$ be#a%se of some (ersonal fail%re) Can we sa' in $he mids$ of $he diffi#%l$' $ha$ -is gra#e is s%ffi#ien$ for %s and $ha$ -is (ower is made (erfe#$ in o%r $ime of wea"ness:

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Trusting 9ut 'ot 9eing Delivered


?ife has i$s %(s and downs and (roblems) * read $his s$a$emen$& 8Pain is inevi$able& b%$ miser' is o($ional7< H5ohnson& 0arbara) Pain is Inevitable b t ?isery is %ptional$ Word P%blishing6 Gng) 1991I) *f we are in $he mids$ of $ro%ble& #an we hones$l' sa' $ha$ $he ?ord.s gra#e is s%ffi#ien$ for %s& or are we so in des(air $ha$ we are read' $o give %(: /bvio%sl'& $he a(os$le Pa%l was des(era$e when he (ra'ed $o $he ?ord& and al$ho%gh $his a$$a#" of Sa$an was no$ immedia$el' removed& $he (romise of $he ?ord.s hel( in $he (roblem was eno%gh for Pa%l $o (ress on wi$ho%$ wavering) *n -ebrews 11 we read of $he grea$ heroes of fai$h) 9ma+ing #on2%es$s $hro%gh fai$h& mira#les& and vi#$ories are re#orded) We read of men s%#h as Gno#h& Boah& 9braham& *saa#& 5a#ob& 5osh%a& ,ideon& Samson& ;avid& and o$hers who $hro%gh fai$h #on2%ered "ingdoms& adminis$ered 1%s$i#e& gained wha$ had been (romised& sh%$ $he mo%$hs of lions& 2%en#hed $he f%r' of $he flames& and es#a(ed $he edge of $he sword) The s#ri($%re sa's& 8Whose wea"ness was $%rned $o s$reng$h< H-ebrews 1163 M 34I) 0%$ as we read on in $his #ha($er we #ome $o an en$irel' differen$ s$or'6 ... 'thers were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced <eers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 169

&hey were stoned, they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. &hey went about in sheepDskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and illDtreated # the world was not worthy of them. &hey wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. (/ebrews ..!3 # 3;% Wha$ ha((ened $o $hese (eo(le: Were $he' disobedien$ or %nable $o rea#h ,od in (ra'er: Were $he' rea(ing wha$ $he' had sown: ;o we have in -ebrews 11 a lis$ of s%##esses who "new how $o e4er#ise fai$h and (ra' $hro%gh $o a (la#e of vi#$or' in $heir #ir#%ms$an#es& and also a gro%( of fail%res who were disobedien$ and whose (ra'ers were %nheard: Oerse 39 in $his #ha($er gives a ver' #lear answer6 &hese were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. (/ebrews ..!3-% These were all #ommended for $heir fai$h& as well as $hose who had had mira#%lo%s deliveran#es) The' were no$ s%ffering be#a%se of $heir inabili$' $o $r%s$ ,od& nor were $he' rea(ing nega$ivel' from wha$ $he' had sown& b%$ ,od had allowed $hem $o s%ffer and even die7 Bo one is able $o e4(lain $he wa's of ,od) Wh' ,od allows differen$ even$s $o $a"e (la#e& even $o $hose who love and serve -im wi$h $o$al $r%s$& is "nown onl' $o ,od -imself) 0%$ we #an be ass%red $ha$ ever' e4(erien#e of life is allowed b' $he ?ord so $ha$ if we ma"e righ$ res(onses we will be 17!

(re(ared no$ onl' for ,od.s bes$ in $his life& b%$ also in e$erni$') !an we say in the midst of the difficulty that &is grace is sufficient for us and that &is strength is being revealed in our time of weakness0

$pportunity !ost
0' wa' of #on$ras$& le$ %s #onsider Fing -erod who was $he onl' man in $he 0ible $o whom 5es%s ref%sed $o s(ea") Wha$ a dis$in#$ion7 There is no re#ord of 5es%s being %nwilling $o s(ea" $o an' o$her (erson in#l%ding (ros$i$%$es& (%bli#ans& le(ers& s#ribes or Pharisees) Some$imes 5es%s s(o"e s$ernl' and wi$h reb%"e& b%$ -is words alwa's #on$ained ho(e and o((or$%ni$' for re#on#ilia$ion wi$h ,od) To -erod& however& 5es%s wo%ld no$ s(ea") ?%"e re#ords $his in#iden$ in his gos(el6 ?hen /erod saw Aesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. (rom what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. (Luke 03!;% We #o%ld well $hin" $his wo%ld have been a grea$ o((or$%ni$' for 5es%s $o #onvin#e Fing -erod& a (rominen$ na$ional leader& $ha$ -e had s%(erna$%ral (ower and was $he Son of ,od& b%$ $he s#ri($%re sa's6 /e plied him with many 6uestions, but Aesus gave him no answer. (Luke 03!-% 171

5es%s ref%sed $o s(ea" $o -erod) There were no words of #om(assion or ho(e for $his evil "ing and la$er -erod rea(ed wha$ he had sown as a res%l$ of a life of selfishness& br%$ali$'& and m%rder) ,od.s $em(oral 1%dgmen$ %(on -erod was re#orded in #ha($er five of $his boo") 9no$her ill%s$ra$ion #on#erns 5%das& one of $he $welve dis#i(les& a man who was wonderf%ll' favored b' ,od and given $he (rivilege of being wi$h 5es%s for more $han $hree 'ears& and 'e$ for his own selfish reasons a##e($ed $hir$' (ie#es of silver $o be$ra' 5es%s) ?a$er& 5%das& filled wi$h des(air and #ondemna$ion& hanged himself) -ere was a man wi$h one of $he grea$es$ o((or$%ni$ies of all his$or'& b%$ be#a%se of his greed and self>desire& he had rea(ed wha$ he had sown) /very e(perience of life is allowed by %od so that, if we will make the right responses, we will be prepared not only for %ods best in time, but also in eternity.

Dictator or Directed?
We are s$ill e4amining how we #an de$ermine wha$ is ha((ening when $here are (roblems and diffi#%l$ies in o%r lives) *$ is hard when we are (ersonall' involved and are #a%gh$ in des(air) The 0ible ma"es $wo s(e#ial (rovisions $o hel( %s o%$ of $he dilemma in whi#h we ma' find o%rselves) The s#ri($%res (rovide for $he o(era$ion of s(iri$%al a%$hori$' and also for $he (l%rali$' of leadershi()

17

The 0ible $ells %s $o s%bmi$ $o $hose who are over %s6 'bey your leaders and submit to their authority. &hey keep watch over you as men who must give an account. 'bey them so that their work will be a <oy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. (/ebrews .3!.$% The 0ible also sa's6 Submit to one another out of reverence for >hrist. (1phesians !0 .% S%bmission is a s%b1e#$ $ha$ has been mis%sed and mis%nders$ood) S%bmission is an a$$i$%de ra$her $han an a#$ion) The Bew Tes$amen$ does no$ (rovide $ha$ an' (erson sho%ld be %nder $he domina$ion of ano$her as o%r life rela$ionshi( is essen$iall' wi$h $he ?ord 5es%s Chris$) 0%$ ,od has (rovided a wa' of (ro$e#$ion b' o%r being s%bmi$$ed $o s(iri$%al leaders and also $o one ano$her) S%bmission is no$ $o #r%sh a (erson.s life or $o $a"e awa' in#en$ive& b%$ $ha$ o$hers wo%ld be able $o give %s ob1e#$ive dis#ernmen$ and #o%nsel when we are #onfron$ed wi$h $he (roblems of life) This is also $he reason for (l%rali$' of leadershi( so $ha$ no one man #an $a"e a di#$a$orial oversigh$) ,od gives s(iri$%al (ro$e#$ion when we obe' s(iri$%al (rin#i(les) We migh$ wonder if an eldershi(& overseer& or (as$or wo%ld alwa's have $he righ$ answer for o%r lives& and of #o%rse ea#h (erson has a righ$ $o e4(ress his own view (oin$ or leading in an' si$%a$ion) 0%$ if we will obe' s(iri$%al (rin#i(les $hen& in $he even$ of an overseer being 173

wrong in his dire#$ion& ,od will s$ill honor -is (rin#i(les and (ro$e#$ %s even when we don.$ %nders$and how -e will do i$) * do no$ s%gges$ $ha$ an' (erson sho%ld viola$e his own #ons#ien#e or a#$ #on$rar' $o a gen%ine #onvi#$ion in order $o obe' a s(iri$%al a%$hori$') ,enerall' s(ea"ing& we are safer obe'ing s(iri$%al overseers& even if we $hin" $he' are wrong& $han doing wha$ we wan$ $o do even if we $hin" $ha$ we are righ$) A%i$e of$en righ$ and wrong #anno$ be de$ermined a$ $he $ime an even$ is $a"ing (la#e and onl' $ime shows wha$ was $he #orre#$ #o%rse of a#$ion) Bever overloo" ,od.s abili$' $o in$ervene on behalf of $he (erson who is a#$ing wi$h a sin#ere hear$) These #ommen$s are made in regard $o g%idan#e or (roblems $ha$ are being fa#ed and where i$ wo%ld be wise and benefi#ial $o see" #onfirma$ion or #o%nsel from an e4(erien#ed leader or ano$her ma$%re Chris$ian before $a"ing some %nila$eral a#$ion) %od has provided a way of protection by our being submitted to spiritual authority and to one another. When $here is a di#$a$orial leader& $here is none $o whom he is a##o%n$able= $here is none $o give him #orre#$ion so $he Bew Tes$amen$ (a$$ern is ver' #learl' $ha$ of elders6 (l%ral) Perha(s 'o% believe $his and wo%ld sa'& 8Ees& * believe $ha$ $he Bew Tes$amen$ (a$$ern for #h%r#h governmen$ is (l%rali$' of leadershi( and $ha$ eldershi( is ,od.s (a$$ern) There sho%ld no$ be one 174

man wi$h all $he sa'& domina$ing $he life of $he #h%r#h& or a (ar$i#%lar (ar$ of Chris$.s 0od')< ;o we reali+e& however& $ha$ while we ma' agree wi$h $his (rin#i(le $ha$ i$ is eas' $o ma"e o%rselves a di#$a$orial a%$hori$' over o%r own life: We sa'& 8Bo one $ells me wha$ $o do) * #an go s$raigh$ $o 5es%s) * don.$ need a she(herd) *.m #om(le$e in Chris$ and don.$ need an'bod' else7< There is a degree of $r%$h in $hose s$a$emen$s& b%$ we #an ma"e o%rselves a di#$a$or over o%r own life b' $his a$$i$%de) We m%s$ balan#e $he ama+ing (rovision of (ersonal rela$ionshi( wi$h Chris$ wi$h $he #ommand $ha$ we are $o s%bmi$ $o $hose having a%$hori$' over %s and also $o one ano$her) 0' s%bmission& we allow ,od $o (ro$e#$ %s b' $he #on#ern and #o%nsel of leadershi(& and also b' o%r bro$hers and sis$ers in Chris$) The' #an hel( %s $o eval%a$e $he #ir#%ms$an#es in whi#h we find o%rselves) We #an be sin#ere 0ible>believing Chris$ians and 'e$ s$ill need hel( when i$ #omes $o reall' dis#erning wha$ is ha((ening a$ an' s$age of o%r life) We are safer obeying spiritual oversight even if we think they are wrong, than doing what we want even if we think we are right. We need $o %nders$and $he wa' $ha$ ,od.s (rin#i(les wor") 9$ #rea$ion ,od demanded obedien#e from 9dam and (la#ed 9dam in a%$hori$' over Gve) The (%r(ose of ,od was $ha$ $he' sho%ld m%l$i(l' and re(lenish $he ear$h and r%le over i$) Gve failed in her s%bmission $o 9dam and 9dam failed in his obedien#e $o ,od and $he' los$ $he 175

o((or$%ni$' $o f%lfill ,od.s (%r(ose) -ad ea#h done wha$ had been re2%ired of $hem& $he' wo%ld have shared $he righ$s $ha$ ,od had (romised) 5es%s #ame as $he las$ 9dam& and #om(le$el' f%lfilled -is $as" b' obedien#e $o $he Fa$her) Gve was a bride M a $'(e of $he #h%r#h M so $he #h%r#h is $o be in s%bmission $o her heavenl' 0ridegroom& 5es%s) When $he #h%r#h is s%bmi$$ed $o Chris$ $he -ead& $hen -e brings -is 0ride $o a (la#e of e2%ali$' so she r%les and reigns wi$h -im on $he $hrone) The 0ible sa's $ha$ $he h%sband is $he head of $he wife and $ha$ $he wife is $o s%bmi$ $o her h%sband) Chris$ is& of #o%rse& $he head of $he h%sband and $he h%sband m%s$ obe' $he ?ord) *f $he h%sband obe's Chris$ and $he wife s%bmi$s $o her h%sband $hen ,od.s divine order is #om(le$e& and $he' $oge$her& h%sband and wife& en$er in$o e2%al righ$s in ,od and r%le over $he famil') S%bmission does no$ ma"e one less $han ano$her) S%bmission in divine order& #om(le$es ,od.s (lan of a%$hori$'& and allows e2%ali$'& in sharing $he righ$s and (rivileges as #o>heirs wi$h Chris$) The fa#$ $ha$ some leaders have mis%sed $he (rin#i(le of s%bmission and have bro%gh$ (eo(le in$o bondage and de(enden#e on $hem does no$ invalida$e $he $r%$h of gen%ine 0ible s%bmission) ;o no$ be afraid of bibli#al s%bmission as i$ #an be $he means of releasing a (erson in$o liber$'& and also a righ$ %nders$anding of ,od.s will for his life)

176

9$ $he $ime of wri$ing $his boo" one 'o%ng woman in $he #h%r#h where * was (as$or& gave me $his %nsoli#i$ed $es$imon'6 9n in#iden$ o##%rred in m' life some 'ears ago d%ring a $ime of ra$her bi$$er disill%sionmen$ and * had made a de#ision $o leave $he #h%r#h) * $ho%gh$ $o m'self& 8*.ll s$ill believe in ,od b%$ * won.$ go $o #h%r#h an'more)< When S%nda' #ame& a small voi#e wi$hin me seemed $o sa'& 8The (as$or has been good $o 'o%) 9$ leas$ 'o% #an have $he #o%r$es' $o $ell him $ha$ 'o% are going $o leave)< * $ho%gh$ abo%$ i$ and de#ided $ha$ * wo%ld do $ha$& so * dressed for #h%r#h& arrived la$e and sa$ in $he ba#" and no$ near $he fron$ where * normall' sa$) ,od was mer#if%l $o me and * sensed -is (resen#e and s%ddenl' $ho%gh$& 8* don.$ #are wha$ (eo(le have done $o me or wha$ $he' migh$ do in $he f%$%re or even wha$ * have done m'self& * love ,od and * am going $o follow -im)< Some$hing ha((ened inside me7 Con$in%ing her $es$imon'& $he 'o%ng woman said $ha$ a$ $he #lose of $he servi#e * had #ome $o her and said& 8Where have 'o% been:< 9l$ho%gh she had been absen$ for seven wee"s she said& 8/h& *.ve 1%s$ been $hin"ing&< and * said $o her& 8Can.$ 'o% do $ha$ a$ #h%r#h:< She said& 8Bo& $his (la#e affe#$s m' $hin"ing $oo m%#h&< and * re(lied& 8Eo% have been $a"ing a wrong #o%rse of a#$ion7< She #on$in%ed wi$h her s$or'6 177

This was $he end of a #risis for me) * never s$a'ed awa' from #h%r#h af$er $ha$ and when * $ho%gh$ abo%$ $he in#iden$ i$ frigh$ened me how #losel' * had #ome $o reall' missing o%$ in m' wal" wi$h ,od) *f * had no$ obe'ed $ha$ li$$le voi#e wi$hin me $ha$ sen$ me ba#" $o $ell wha$ * had in$ended doing& * wo%ld have lef$ $he #h%r#h and * do no$ "now wha$ $he #onse2%en#es wo%ld have been) 9$ $he $ime * did no$ see an' s(iri$%al (rin#i(le behind wha$ had ha((ened and $ho%gh$ $o m'self& 8-ow #o%ld ,od le$ m' life hang on wha$ seemed s%#h a sim(le iss%e:< *$ was no$& however& a sim(le iss%e= i$ was one $ha$ #o%ld have serio%sl' affe#$ed m' whole life) * now %nders$and $ha$ ,od was (ro$e#$ing me and bringing me ba#" %nder a s(iri$%al overseer) .ubmission, in divine order, completes %ods plan of authority, and allows e#uality, in sharing the rights and privileges as co' heirs with !hrist. ;o no$ %nderes$ima$e $he #a(a#i$' of a believer in Chris$ $o re#eive #lear individ%al g%idan#e b' $he -ol' S(iri$ or $o be led b' $he Word of ,od and (ra'er& b%$ * wan$ $o s$ress $ha$ i$ is no$ alwa's eas' $o gen%inel' hear from ,od in o%r S(iri$) We need $o learn $o dis#ern $he voi#e of $he -ol' S(iri$ as dis$in#$ from o%r own s(iri$& and g%idan#e and hel( from $hose who #are for %s is vi$al as we are develo(ing in $his abili$') 17@

The words& 8,od has $old me&< do no$ valida$e $he a#$ions of a (erson7 So of$en a (erson has said $o me& 8,od has $old me&< b%$ $he o%$#ome has dis(roved $he words& as $he a#$ion $a"en b' $he (erson has res%l$ed in #onf%sion& disorder& and some$imes disas$er) The mere e4(ression& 8,od has $old me&< is no$ a divine seal on a #o%rse of a#$ion) Time has of$en (roven $ha$ wha$ was done b' a (erson was his own desire and no$ g%idan#e b' $he -ol' S(iri$) ;on.$ be#ome a di#$a$or over 'o%r own life7 ,od wan$s %s in#reasingl' $o learn how $o dis#ern -is voi#e& b%$ man' fa#$ors are involved) /%r #ons#ien#e m%s$ be #leansed and "e($ sensi$ive) We m%s$ develo( an in$%i$ive abili$' $o hear $he inner voi#e of $he S(iri$ of ,od and b%ild o%rselves %( in $he Word and in (ra'er) 9ll of $his #an $a"e $ime and e4(erien#e& so "ee( a s%bmissive a$$i$%de $owards $hose who are in (osi$ions of delega$ed a%$hori$') * had been a Chris$ian for more $han $hir$' 'ears before * reall' dis#overed $he im(or$an#e of #ons#ien#e in hearing $he voi#e of ,od) * do no$ re#all having heard a sermon or being given $ea#hing on $his s%b1e#$ in all $ha$ $ime) /f$en $he #ommen$ had been (assed& 8;o no$ $r%s$ 'o%r #ons#ien#e= i$ is %nreliable7< From a #aref%l s$%d' of s#ri($%re& * #ame $o see $ha$ o%r #ons#ien#e was a vi$al fa#%l$' of $he h%man s(iri$ b' whi#h we #o%ld dis#ern righ$ or wrong and $r%$h or error) *n addi$ion& o%r #ons#ien#e is $he ,od>ordained (rovision $o enable %s $o dis#ern $he law of ,od whi#h is a#$%all' wri$$en in o%r hear$s) 179

The words, %od has told me, do not validate the actions of a person. This s%b1e#$ is a ma$$er for se(ara$e s$%d'& b%$ le$ me sa' $ha$ be#a%se of sin and disobedien#e& man.s #ons#ien#e has been #orr%($ed and #allo%sed so as $o grea$l' red%#e i$s sensi$ivi$') This& however& #an be #hanged7 The blood of 5es%s Chris$ no$ onl' #leanses %s from sin& b%$ also #leanses o%r #ons#ien#e from a#$s $ha$ lead $o dea$h H-ebrews 9614I) When o%r #ons#ien#e is s(iri$%all' #leansed as a res%l$ of $he new bir$h& and "e($ sensi$ive b' obedien#e $o i$s (rom($ings& $hen i$ be#omes a vi$al fa#$or $o enable %s $o #learl' hear $he voi#e of ,od) So man' Chris$ians fail a$ $he basi# levels of obedien#e& (ar$i#%larl' in regard $o reading of $he 0ible& (ra'er& and "ee(ing a #lear #ons#ien#e) * have never in all m' 'ears of minis$r' deal$ wi$h a ba#"slider who #o%ld hones$l' sa'& 8* have diligen$l' read $he 0ible and (ra'ed)< /%r #omm%nion wi$h ,od is so vi$al $o b%ilding and main$aining an abili$' $o "now #learl' $he dire#$ion of ,od) Peo(le #an so glibl' sa' $ha$ ,od has led $hem in a (ar$i#%lar dire#$ion& b%$ $he eviden#e of $heir lives is one of self>(leasing and disorder) 9n' sin#ere (erson who #onsiders $ha$ $he -ol' S(iri$ has given g%idan#e in some im(or$an$ ma$$er or dire#$ion sho%ld be willing $o s%bmi$ $ha$ g%idan#e $o $r%s$ed s(iri$%al leaders for #onfirma$ion) /ver $he 'ears * have been glad $o wor" wi$h $eams of men wi$h whom * have been able $o s%bmi$ wha$ 1@!

* believed ,od was sa'ing $o $he #h%r#h& $o $he wider fellowshi( of #h%r#hes& or $o m' life a$ a (ersonal level) We #an easil' develo( (ersonal desires and #onvi#$ions $ha$ ma' no$ be $he will of ,od& and $o have $hose who love and #are for %s sa'& 8We do no$ believe $ha$ $his is $he righ$ a#$ion< is a val%able (ro$e#$ion)

1@1

) came to see that our conscience was a vital faculty of the human spirit by which we could discern right and wrong, and truth and error.

ind

ade %p5

The ma1ori$' of (eo(le who have #ome $o me for g%idan#e over man' 'ears& (ar$i#%larl' in ma$$ers of im(or$an#e& have& generall' s(ea"ing& alread' made %( $heir own minds before #oming) The' have #ome $o me for a 8r%bber s$am(< endorsemen$7 The momen$ * have beg%n $o 2%es$ion $hem or raised do%b$s as $o $heir a#$ion $here has been a rea#$ion& and of$en $he' have been offended) Some$imes $hese (eo(le have $hen lef$ $he #h%r#h7 *$ is eas' $o sa' s(iri$%al words& b%$ when we are #onfron$ed wi$h $he 2%es$ion of wha$ is ha((ening in life we need $o reali+e $ha$ we are of$en $he a%$hor of o%r own misfor$%ne& be#a%se we will no$ a#$ in a##ordan#e wi$h ,od.s wa') Tragi# res%l$s& ba#"sliding& #onf%sion& and resen$men$ have followed $hose who have de$ermined $o go $heir own wa') * $hin" wi$h sadness of a gro%( of (eo(le in one of $he home mee$ings in m' own #h%r#h who lef$ $he #h%r#h wi$h a wrong a$$i$%de and wi$ho%$ e4(lana$ion) Wi$hin a #om(ara$ivel' shor$ $ime hardl' an' were #on$in%ing as a#$ive Chris$ians& 'e$ all of $hem obvio%sl' $ho%gh$ $ha$ $he' were $a"ing $he righ$ a#$ion in leaving $he #h%r#h) Time (roved 1@

$ha$ $he s$e(s $a"en were of $heir own ini$ia$ive and no$ of ,od.s leading) There is a #on$in%al hear$a#he $o (as$ors and loss $o $he Fingdom of ,od be#a%se men and women have made %( $heir own mind and are de$ermined $o $a"e a#$ion %nder $he g%ise of ,od.s will) Tragic results, backsliding, confusion and resentment have followed those who have determined to go their own way. /n one o##asion * lis$ened $o an in$erna$ional s(ea"er $ea#hing abo%$ $he (rin#i(le of release) -e said $ha$ when we viola$e ,od.s Word or wa' $here is a bondage $ha$ #an remain in o%r lives) -e s(o"e (ar$i#%larl' in regard $o (eo(le leaving a #h%r#h wi$ho%$ ma"ing an e4(lana$ion& or wi$h h%r$ feelings and a #ri$i#al s(iri$) The fa#$ $ha$ $he' had been (ar$ of $he lo#al bod' for several 'ears was $o$all' imma$erial $o $hem& b%$ be#a%se of some disagreemen$& $he' fo%nd i$ #onvenien$ $o sa' $ha$ $he ?ord had $old $hem $o go) This in$erna$ional s(ea"er #onfided $ha$ on one o##asion he had lef$ $he #h%r#h where he had been $he (as$or be#a%se a se$ of h%r$f%l #ir#%ms$an#es and ill>will and bi$$erness had been involved) Kl$ima$el'& he re$%rned $o $ha$ #h%r#h and s$ood before $he #ongrega$ion and as"ed $hem $o release him be#a%se he had fo%nd& $ha$ in $he manner of his leaving $he #h%r#h& he had bro%gh$ res$ri#$ion %(on his own life and minis$r') -e had been %nable $o find freedom and (ea#e in ,od be#a%se he had viola$ed ,od.s wa' of being g%ided b' $he -ol' S(iri$ and 1@3

#onfirma$ion from o$hers) *n#iden$s similar $o $his& b' ei$her leadershi( or la' (eo(le& arise so of$en in #h%r#h life $ha$ we need $o fa#e $he $r%$h $ha$ #onf%sion and (roblems will follow %s if we a#$ in selfishness and has$e) ?e$ %s be ver' #lear abo%$ $wo ma$$ers6 1) *f we do no$ a((ro(ria$e wha$ Chris$ has (rovided for %s we are #ommi$$ing sin7 0' #on$in%ing wi$h old a$$i$%des of mind& emo$ion& and will& we red%#e $he (ower of Chris$.s dea$h and res%rre#$ion $o bring %s in$o #om(le$e liber$' and vi#$or') There are several differen$ ,ree" words $ha$ are $ransla$ed b' $he Gnglish word 8sin.) /ne of $hese words is hamartia whi#h means& to fall short of the mar3 or target) This is $he word %sed b' $he wri$er $o $he -ebrew #h%r#h where he sa's6 &herefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (/ebrews .0!.% The sin $ha$ easil' en$angles %s is $he sin $o fail $o be all $ha$ we #o%ld be& and no$ $o a##e($ all $ha$ Chris$ has (rovided) *$ is eas' $o be sa$isfied wi$h $he medio#re and fail $o a$$ain $he f%ll (%r(ose of ,od for o%r lives) *f we live o%r own wa'& doing $hose $hings we did before #oming $o Chris$& and #on$in%e wi$h old habi$s& $hen we are #ommi$$ing sin b' failing $o 8hi$ $he $arge$< ,od has se$ for %s)

1@4

We need to consider not only violations of %ods Word but also failure to press on to %ods will for our lives. ) *f we sow an' form of %nrigh$eo%sness or disobedien#e as Chris$ians i$ is sin7 We $han" ,od for -is willingness $o forgive& b%$ if we disobe' -is Word i$ is sin) So we be#ome a##o%n$able& and $he res%l$ will be $he rea(ing of a nega$ive harves$) Cemember $ha$ a harves$ is alwa's grea$er in (ro(or$ion $han $ha$ whi#h is sown) /ne seed seldom brings for$h one= i$ brings for$h man') We need $o #onsider no$ onl' viola$ions of ,od.s Word b%$ also fail%re $o (ress on $o f%lfill ,od.s will for o%r lives) 0o$h of $hese as(e#$s are vi$al if we are $o avoid ,od.s 1%di#ial dealings)

Signs and Sy#pto#s


-ow #an we "now $he #a%se of $he (roblem or diffi#%l$' $hro%gh whi#h we are (assing: *n $he medi#al (rofession do#$ors loo" for signs and s'm($oms $o hel( $heir diagnosis) *$ is (ossible $o ma"e a s(iri$%al diagnosis) Wha$ are $he signs and s'm($oms if o%r diffi#%l$' is d%e $o fail%re $o a((ro(ria$e all $he (rovisions of $he Cross or if we are rea(ing nega$ive res%l$s in o%r lives from sin or disobedien#e: *f we are rea(ing adverse res%l$s be#a%se we have sown nega$ivel'& $hen $here will be in o%r lives a sense of des(air& do%b$& #onf%sion& and fear) There will be $imes of %nbelief and a sense of grea$ 1@5

(ress%re) There will be a heaviness %(on o%r lives and a la#" of s$reng$h) Bo$ all of $hese will be (resen$ $oge$her& b%$ we will e4(erien#e some if no$ all of $hese %n$il $he righ$ a#$ion is $a"en $o bring freedom and release) *n Psalm 33& Fing ;avid wri$ing of his e4(erien#e following his sin& made $he s$a$emen$ $ha$ is re#orded in The ?iving 0ible in $his manner6 *ut my dishonesty made me miserable, and filled my days with frustration. )ll day and all night. Cour hand was heavy on me. ,y strength evaporated like water on a sunny day. (:salm 30!3#4% ;avid was rea(ing from wha$ he had sown& and $his was eviden$ b' $he signs and s'm($oms $ha$ were affe#$ing his life) We have loo"ed a$ $he $wo nega$ive as(e#$s M failing $o a((ro(ria$e or rea(ing wha$ we have sown M so i$ is now essen$ial $ha$ we learn $o #learl' %nders$and if o%r diffi#%l$ies are being allowed b' ,od for o%r grow$h and develo(men$) Wha$ are $he signs and s'm($oms if we are being dis#i(lined& or pr ned b' ,od so $ha$ we will be $r%e Sons and da%gh$ers and be able $o bring for$h more fr%i$: We will have a grea$ sense of #onfiden#e in ,od and a re#ogni$ion of $he s%ffi#ien#' of -is gra#e) Gven in $he mids$ of $%rmoil& $here will be inner (ea#e and 1o') We will have a #lear #ons#ien#e and be free of inner g%il$ be#a%se of wha$ we were on#e $r'ing $o hide) There will be an a##e($an#e $ha$ ,od is wor"ing all $hings $oge$her for good) We will no$ have $o $al" o%rselves in$o believing $his& b%$ we will "now i$ dee( in o%r 1@6

s(iri$s and will have #onfiden#e $ha$ in s(i$e of all $ha$ is $a"ing (la#e& ,od is s$ill in #on$rol and has no$ forsa"en %s) We will "now wha$ i$ means $o be an over#omer and so rise above $he #ir#%ms$an#es $ha$ #onfron$ %s& and no$ onl' win vi#$or' over $hem& b%$ #on$in%e $o #on2%er $hem %n$il $he' have no a#$ive (ower $o rise %( again and bring des(air $o %s) This is wha$ $he 0ible means when i$ s(ea"s abo%$ o%r being 8more than &on@ erors< HComans @637I) Bo$ onl' have we #on2%ered& b%$ we have also s%bd%ed $he enem' or area of fail%re& and i$ has no (ower $o affe#$ %s again) /ven in the midst of turmoil, there will be an inner peace and oy. The inner wi$ness of $he -ol' S(iri$ is a grea$ #onfiden#e& b%$ we need $o have $his #onfirmed b' o%r bro$hers and sis$ers in Chris$) *$ is (ossible $o #onvin#e o%rselves $ha$ we have (ea#e even when we are wrong) There is a signifi#an$ (assage of s#ri($%re fo%nd in ;e%$eronom' following $he (romises of blessings or #%rses $ha$ are given for obedien#e or disobedien#e6 ?hen such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, 9I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.+ &his will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry. &he Lord will never be willing to forgive him; his wrath and Jeal will burn against that man. )ll the 1@7

curse written in this book will fall upon him, and the Lord will blot out his name from under heaven. (Geuteronomy 0-!.-#08% This is a ver' solemn (assage $ha$ s(ea"s of a man who is viola$ing $he Word of ,od and 'e$ blesses himself in his hear$ and sa's $ha$ he will have (ea#e) Peo(le have some$imes said $o me& '* have a (erfe#$ (ea#e abo%$ wha$ * am doing&, b%$ la$er even$s have (roven be'ond do%b$ $ha$ $heir a#$ion was wrong) The ?iving 0ible (erha(s gives even a #learer %nders$anding of $he verses $o whi#h we have 1%s$ referred6 Let no one blithely think, when he hears the warnings of this curse, I shall prosper even though I walk in my own stubborn wayE (or the Lord will not pardonE /is anger and <ealousy will be hot against that man. )nd all the curses written in this book shall lie heavily upon him, and the Lord will blot out his name from under heaven. (Geuteronomy 0-!.-#08% *$ is no$ onl' o%r own inner (ea#e and #onfiden#e $ha$ is needed& i$ is also $he #onfirma$ion of $hose who #an loo" a$ o%r a$$i$%de and a#$ion ob1e#$ivel') From 'ears of observing Chris$ians& and from m' own (ersonal e4(erien#e& * am #onvin#ed $ha$ a high (er#en$age of o%r (roblems are of o%r own ma"ing) We are %nder $he 1%di#ial dealings of ,od be#a%se of some disobedien#e or fail%re even $ho%gh we have been forgiven) ?e$ %s loo" a$ some #onfirming s#ri($%res6 /ave you noticed how )hab has humbled himself before me= *ecause he has humbled himself I will 1@@

not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son. (. @ings 0.!0-% 0e#a%se 9hab h%mbled himself& ,od removed $he immedia$e 1%dgmen$ from him& b%$ la$er allowed $he (enal$' $o #ome on 9hab.s ho%sehold) ,od e4$ended mer#' $o 9hab& b%$ no$ removal of $he #onse2%en#es) We read6 *ecause your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people, that they would become accursed and laid waste, and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the Lord. (0 @ings 00!.-% This is an in#iden$ in $he life of Fing 5osiah when ,od s(ared him be#a%se of his 'o%$h& b%$ la$er $he na$ion s%ffered be#a%se of his sin) )t is possible to convince ourselves that we have peace, even when we are in the wrong. ?hen the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, this word of the Lord came to Shemaiah! 9Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance. ,y wrath will not be poured out on Aerusalem through Shishak. 9&hey will, however, become sub<ect to him, so that they may learn the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands.+ (0 >hronicles .0!$#;% 1@9

This (assage s(ea"s of Fing Cehoboam who re(en$ed of $he sin he had #ommi$$ed& b%$ $he 0ible sa's $ha$ al$ho%gh he re#eived mer#' from ,od and deliveran#e in his immedia$e si$%a$ion& he wen$ on rea(ing some of $he #onse2%en#es of his foll') &hen /eJekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Aerusalem; therefore the Lord5s wrath did not come upon them during the days of /eJekiah. (0 >hronicles 30!0"% -e+e"iah& af$er his fail%re& h%mbled himself and ,od removed $he (%nishmen$ $ha$ had been $hrea$ened& b%$ la$er $he na$ion s%ffered) Some$imes we #an es#a(e $he #onse2%en#es of o%r a#$ions b%$ leave a nega$ive heri$age for o$hers) The 0ible sa's $ha$ $he sins of $he fa$hers #an be visi$ed %(on $he #hildren $o $he $hird and fo%r$h genera$ions7 HG4od%s !65I) When ,od is allowing $es$ing for o%r develo(men$& however& we will no$ be li"e $hese /ld Tes$amen$ fig%res who willf%ll' disobe'ed and $hen so%gh$ ,od*s mer#'& b%$ we will have an a$$i$%de of s%bmission and h%mili$') We will no$ be arrogan$ and self>willed& de$ermined $o do wha$ we $hin" is righ$ regardless of $he o(inions of o$hers who are #on#erned for o%r welfare) 3ore $ragedies have #ome from s%#h an a$$i$%de $han from an' o$her single #a%se in $he life of $he #h%r#h) Eears of #onf%sion have of$en followed $hose who have a#$ed in $his wa') 5es%s made $his s$a$emen$6 &he greatest among you will be your servant. (or whoever e2alts himself will be humbled, and 19!

whoever humbles himself will be e2alted. (,atthew 03!..#.0% ,od as"s for h%mili$' from %s& $hen when we a#$ $his wa' he gives %s honor and re#ogni$ion) 5ames sa's $his6 /umble yourselves before the Lord, and /e will lift you up. (Aames 4!.8% The a(os$le Pe$er #on$in%es wi$h $he same $heme6 9Coung men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. )ll of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. /umble yourselves, therefore, under God5s mighty hand, that /e may lift you up in due time.+ (. :eter ! K"% ,od wan$s $o honor %s if we will be h%mble and s%bmissive) When we main$ain $his a$$i$%de& $hen even $ho%gh we (ass $hro%gh $imes $ha$ ma' seem diffi#%l$& ,od will %se $he #ir#%ms$an#es $o refine o%r #hara#$er and #a%se %s $o grow more li"e Chris$) This is& of #o%rse& ,od.s %l$ima$e (%r(ose) .ometimes we can escape the conse#uences of our action, but leave a negative heritage for others. We #an live in gen%ine freedom and have vi#$or' over $he adverse #ir#%ms$an#es whi#h #onfron$ %s) We #an en1o' ,od.s fellowshi( and (ea#e $hro%gh -is forgiveness) We #an have $he #onfiden#e $ha$ be#a%se of ,od.s (ardon we are no$ s%ffering $he 191

#onse2%en#es of sin) This is wha$ ,od wan$s) -e does no$ wan$ (eo(le %nder #ondemna$ion and fear& b%$ (eo(le who are filled wi$h 1o' and (ea#e and who are overflowing wi$h ho(e& "nowing $ha$ in ever' $es$ $he gra#e of ,od will be s%ffi#ien$ for $hem) There are $imes when we all feel a meas%re of des(air) * have of$en fel$ li"e giving %( $he res(onsibili$' of #h%r#h leadershi() * have never wan$ed $o give %( m' fai$h in $he ?ord) * have never wan$ed $o be a ba#"slider) There have been& however& $imes of dee( disa((oin$men$ when * have been dis#o%raged and la$er fo%nd i$ ne#essar' $o #onfess $o $he ?ord $ha$ * had no$ been loo"ing $o -im b%$ $o $he (roblem) Some$imes * have had $o rea( wha$ * have sown and go $hro%gh $he dealings of ,od in a 1%dgmen$al wa' be#a%se of m' own fear& disobedien#e& or %nwillingness $o $r%s$ -im when * was %nder (ress%re) We all have $he same h%man $enden#ies $ha$ #a%se %s $o feel $he im(a#$ of o((osi$ion or h%r$s& b%$ $he ?ord wan$s $o $ea#h %s $o s$and fas$ and a##e($ $ha$ all of $hese even$s will %l$ima$el' be for o%r good) When #ond%#$ing a series of s$%dies on $he Sermon on $he 3o%n$& * was im(ressed b' $he words in $he ?ord.s Pra'er whi#h ma"e $his sim(le s$a$emen$& 82ive s today o r daily bread< H3a$$hew 6611I) Wha$ grea$ fai$h i$ re2%ires $o be able $o (ra' $hose words and as" for a s%((l' s%ffi#ien$ for onl' one da'7 Bo$ man' of %s wo%ld li"e $o be in $he (osi$ion of having food for onl' one da' in o%r ho%se7

19

We can live in genuine freedom and have victory over the adverse circumstances which confront us. Wha$ $r%s$ in ,od had $o be shown b' $he (eo(le of *srael when wandering in $he wilderness $o ga$her onl' eno%gh manna for one da'7 Wha$ na$%ral do%b$s wo%ld have been in $heir minds wondering whe$her $he s%((l' wo%ld again be available $he ne4$ da') We ma' be fa#ed wi$h $imes when we will need an absol%$e ass%ran#e $ha$ ,od is wi$h %s in s(i$e of o((osi$ion or hardshi(& so we need $o "now how $o dis#ern wha$ is ha((ening in o%r lives) *f we a((l' $he (rin#i(les se$ o%$ in $his #ha($er& we will 2%i#"l' learn whe$her we are s%ffering be#a%se of o%r own fail%re or are being $rained as $r%e sons and da%gh$ers of ,od)

193

Chapter : "o. to Forgive


We have e4amined man' differen$ as(e#$s as we have s$%died $he bibli#al basis of forgiveness& and * now wan$ $o give some (ra#$i#al wa's b' whi#h we #an a#hieve $he ob1e#$ of "nowing how $o gen%inel' forgive)

"earing or Doing?
*$ is no$ diffi#%l$ $o se$ o%$ (rin#i(les and #ommands $ha$ we dis#over in $he 0ible& b%$ $o (%$ $hem in$o (ra#$i#e is& as all of %s have dis#overed& an en$irel' differen$ ma$$er) We #an "now wha$ $he 0ible sa's& we #an agree wi$h i$& b%$ when i$ #omes $o doing i$& $he #hallenge #an be $oo hard for %s) 5es%s "new $ha$ men and women were be$$er hearers $han doers and $he 0ible has m%#h $o sa' abo%$ $he differen#e be$ween hearing and doing) *n (ar$i#%lar& 5es%s s(o"e s$rongl' on $he s%b1e#$ when -e said $o $he #rowd who had ga$hered& 8)o yo have eyes b t fail to see! and ears b t fail to hear7 < H3ar" @61@I) These (eo(le were wa$#hing -im and lis$ening $o -im& b%$ obvio%sl' were no$ (%$$ing in$o (ra#$i#e wha$ was being said) *n 3a$$hew 7 a$ $he #lose of $he #ha($er #on#l%ding $he Sermon on $he 3o%n$& $he ?ord em(hasi+ed wi$h a (owerf%l (arable $he differen#e be$ween hearing and doing) * have alwa's 194

been #hallenged b' $his (arable of $he $wo ho%ses& one b%il$ on $he sand and $he o$her on $he ro#") *$ is eas' $o $ell (eo(le $o be doers of $he Word and no$ hearers onl') This living o%$ $he Word of ,od m%s$ be#ome real in o%r e4(erien#e) We #anno$ 1%s$ give li( servi#e $o wha$ $he 0ible sa's= $here m%s$ be a defini$e im(lemen$a$ion of $he s#ri($%re) We read6 ?e know that God does not listen to sinners. /e listens to the godly man who does his will. (Aohn -!3.% *$ is no$ merel' o%r worshi((ing $ha$ #a%ses ,od $o hear %s& b%$ i$ is a worshi((er who does -is will $ha$ $he ?ord hears) The $heme of being a doer and no$ a hearer onl' is re(ea$ed in man' (ar$s of s#ri($%re) We read $his in $he le$$er wri$$en b' 5ames6 )nyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. *ut the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it # he will be blessed in what he does. (Aames .!03#0 % The difference between building upon a rock and building upon sand is not how much we know, or how much we believe, but how much we do.

195

The em(hasis is %(on $he need $o (%$ in$o (ra#$i#e wha$ we hear) 5ames #on$in%es his le$$er wi$h $his s$a$emen$6 )nyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn5t do it, sins. (Aames 4!.$% *f we are aware of $r%$h and do no$ do wha$ is #ommanded& we are g%il$' no$ merel' of an omission& b%$ of sin7 There are a#$s of #ommission where we delibera$el' viola$e ,od.s Word& b%$ $here are also a#$s of omission& where we "now $o do wha$ ,od #ommands b%$ we fail $o do i$) 0o$h are sins as far as ,od is #on#erned)

3 (oot Cause
The (ra#$i#al a((li#a$ion of o%r fai$h ver' of$en seems $oo diffi#%l$) We #an be e4$remel' $han"f%l $ha$ ,od forgives %s& b%$ we also need $o be aware of o%r res(onsibili$' $o forgive one ano$her) We #an also a#"nowledge $ha$ fail%re $o forgive ano$her (erson will im(air o%r fellowshi( wi$h ,od) We #an a##e($ $he 0ible s$a$emen$ $ha$ %nforgiveness #an #a%se a roo$ of bi$$erness whi#h #an defile o%rselves and man' o$hers& 'e$ in s(i$e of $his "nowledge we ma' have been so dee(l' h%r$ b' $he even$s of life $ha$ i$ seems im(ossible $o forgive) We m%s$ find a (ra#$i#al answer) -ow #an we forgive when $he h%r$s have been so dee( and $he wo%nds have done so m%#h damage $o o%r (ersonali$' $ha$ we #anno$ (%$ o%r "nowledge in$o (ra#$i#e:

196

*n $he las$ #ha($er $i$led 8Wha$ is -a((ening:< we e4amined vario%s #a%ses of (roblems and $%rmoil $ha$ o##%r in (eo(les. lives) Were $hose diffi#%l$ies a res%l$ of rea(ing wha$ had been sown: Were $he' be#a%se of a fail%re $o a((ro(ria$e $he (rovisions of $he Cross: /r was ,od allowing %s $o be $es$ed $o b%ild o%r #hara#$er: The roo$ (roblem& $he ver' #en$er of $he s%b1e#$ we are s$%d'ing& is o%r fail%re $o forgive o$hers7 0e#a%se we have no$ forgiven some o$her (erson& we are living wi$h a ma1or (roblem) Knforgiveness ea$s awa' a$ all areas of o%r lives men$all'& emo$ionall'& and s(iri$%all'& and is of$en $he (rimar' reason for o%r being miserable) ?e$ me re(ea$ wha$ 5es%s said6 (or if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly (ather will also forgive you. *ut if you do not forgive men their sins, your (ather will not forgive your sins. (,atthew "!.4#. % * said in $he $hird #ha($er $ha$ $his s$a$emen$ b' 5es%s #o%ld no$ (ossibl' a((l' $o $he forgiveness $ha$ has $o do wi$h o%r e$ernal salva$ion& o$herwise salva$ion wo%ld be in some meas%re of wor"s and $he gra#e of ,od wo%ld be %ndermined) 5es%s was no$ s(ea"ing abo%$ salva$ion when -e made $ha$ de#lara$ion) /n one o##asion a (rominen$ b%sinessman s(o"e $o me abo%$ $he 2%es$ion of forgiveness and when * $old him abo%$ m' s$%dies on $he s%b1e#$ he said& 8For some $ime * have been ver' #on#erned abo%$ $he s$a$emen$ in $he ?ord.s Pra'er where i$ sa's& RForgive s o r debts! as we also have forgiven o r debtors$*< H3a$$hew 661 I) This man a$$ended a 197

$radi$ional #h%r#h where i$ was $he #%s$om for $he #ongrega$ion $o re(ea$ $he ?ord.s Pra'er $oge$her) -e #on$in%ed& 8For some $ime now * have been %nable $o sa' $hose words as * have be#ome so #on#erned abo%$ $he im(li#a$ions of as"ing ,od $o forgive me in (ro(or$ion $o how * forgive o$hers)< This man "new $ha$ his abili$' $o forgive o$hers did no$ ma$#h $he forgiveness $ha$ he needed from ,od& and so he was in #onf%sion) * was able $o $ell him $ha$ * did no$ believe $ha$ $he forgiveness referred $o had $o do wi$h o%r e$ernal salva$ion& b%$ wi$h o%r fellowshi( wi$h ,od and was& $herefore& s$ill a vi$al fa#$or for o%r inner (ea#e& emo$ional s$abili$'& and Chris$ian grow$h) *f we do no$ forgive ano$her (erson we do no$ lose o%r salva$ion& b%$ i$ affe#$s o%r rela$ionshi( wi$h ,od and in $%rn $his #an bring nega$ive res%l$s (h'si#all'& men$all'& and emo$ionall' in o%r own lives) 9nd i$ ha((ens7 &ow can we forgive when the hurts have been so deep and the wounds have done so much damage to our personality that we cannot put our knowledge into practice0 We m%s$ learn $o forgive or we will #ons$an$l' be a$ odds wi$h ,od and o%rselves) /%r #on$in%ing in$ima$e fellowshi( wi$h ,od and $he en1o'men$ of -is dail' (resen#e is endangered if we will no$ forgive o$hers) We ma' be saved& b%$ we will #er$ainl' no$ en1o' $he blessing& 1o'& heal$h& s$reng$h and 2%i#"ening of $he -ol' S(iri$& be#a%se we have 19@

bro%gh$ o%rselves %nder ,od.s 1%dgmen$al dealings b' viola$ing one of -is grea$ (rin#i(les) We m%s$ remember $ha$ forgiveness b' %s does no$ #ondone $he a#$ions or words of ano$her (erson) /ne of $he reasons wh' (eo(le are rel%#$an$ $o forgive is $ha$ $he' $hin" $ha$ b' forgiving $he' are endorsing a (erson.s a#$ion) This is no$ so7 Wha$ we are doing is leaving $he 1%dgmen$ and $he #onse2%en#es of $he o$her (erson.s a#$ions in $he hands of an all>seeing and all>"nowing ,od) We #an have #om(le$e #onfiden#e $ha$ when we forgive& ,od goes on dealing wi$h $he (roblem and i$ is now -is res(onsibili$'& no$ o%rs) There are man' hidden #a%ses and reasons wh' (eo(le offend agains$ o$hers) * have $ried $o loo" ob1e#$ivel' a$ differen$ si$%a$ions $ha$ have o##%rred in m' own e4(erien#e& b%$ $o "now $he hear$ of ano$her (erson is im(ossible) Ga#h of %s $a"es a #er$ain a#$ion be#a%se we $hin" we have a valid #a%se& and o$hers ma' no$ %nders$and wh' we have done i$) The hear$ of a man or a woman is "nown onl' $o ,od) We will generall' see even$s from o%r own (oin$ of view& so if * am involved in a si$%a$ion where * have been h%r$ or offended& * will have a na$%ral bias in m' own favor) The onl' sensible a#$ion $ha$ we #an $a"e is $o leave $he ma$$er $o ,od who "nows $he hear$ of $he o$her (erson and no$ 1%s$ $he o%$ward #ir#%ms$an#es $ha$ we see) 0' doing $his we "ee( o%rselves free from ,od.s 1%dgmen$& be#a%se we have gen%inel' forgiven $he one who has offended 199

%s) /%r fellowshi( wi$h ,od is "e($ in harmon' and $he ?ord $a"es #are of $he (roblem) We must learn to forgive or we will constantly be at odds with %od and ourselves.

9enefits to (eceive
There are (ra#$i#al s$e(s $ha$ we #an $a"e so $ha$ we will no$ be #a%gh$ in $he snare of %nforgiveness) * s%((ose $ha$ hardl' a wee" goes b' wi$ho%$ o%r being offended or h%r$ in some wa'& ei$her a$ wor"& a$ home& or in #h%r#h life) Bearl' all of %s are sensi$ive $o wha$ o$hers sa' or do) Some (re$end $o be indifferen$ $o h%r$f%l si$%a$ions b%$ of$en %ndernea$h& $he' are dee(l' wo%nded& b%$ are $oo (ro%d $o a#"nowledge i$) *$ is na$%ral $o be h%r$ or offended when we are wrongl' $rea$ed) Wha$ is %nna$%ral is no$ $o #are or $o $r' and ignore i$& and $ha$ #an res%l$ in a (erson be#oming #allo%sed and bi$$er) We have $o wor" hard a$ im(lemen$ing $he #lear (rin#i(les whi#h we find in $he 0ible& b%$ if we don.$ we will find o%rselves holding %nforgiveness and will s%ffer $he #onse2%en#es) ?e$ me give some defini$e s$e(s $ha$ we #an $a"e6 6emind 'o%rself of $he benefi$s 'o% will re#eive s(iri$%all'& men$all'& emo$ionall' and (h'si#all'& b' gen%inel' forgiving o$hers) This is $he firs$ s$e() We are no$ selfish in doing $his) Ta"e in$o a##o%n$ $he benefi#ial res%l$s if 'o% forgive& or $he harmf%l !!

res%l$s if 'o% do no$ forgive) The 8old self life< loves $o hold on $o i$s h%r$s7 We sa'& 8*.m no$ going $o le$ $ha$ (ass wi$ho%$ re$alia$ion) * won.$ forge$ $ha$ easil')< Tha$ is 8self< s(ea"ing) We are in a ba$$le agains$ o%r old na$%re and we m%s$ remind o%rselves of $he blessings $ha$ ,od gives when we a#$ and res(ond -is wa') *n 5ohn.s $hird le$$er he sa's6 Gear friend, I pray that you may en<oy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. (3 Aohn 0% Tha$ is ,od.s desire) Cemind 'o%rself $ha$ $he ?ord wan$s $he bes$ for 'o%) There are grea$ benefi$s $o be re#eived in ever' area of life if we will do wha$ ,od sa's and hones$l' forgive $hose who ma' have wronged %s) Knforgiveness will rob 'o% of $he bes$) Take into account the beneficial results if you forgive, or the harmful results if you do not forgive.

!1

Forgiveness (eceived
(e#e#ber $ha$ 'o% have been forgiven b' ,od) This is $he se#ond s$e() 9ll of %s were sinners wi$ho%$ ho(e and deserving of no$hing e4#e($ dea$h and e$ernal se(ara$ion from ,od) The ?ord in -is grea$ love sen$ 5es%s& allowing -im $o be des(ised& re1e#$ed& #r%#ified& and $a"ing $he sin of %s all) *n $his a#$ion ,od forgave %s in Chris$) Cemember $he forgiveness $ha$ 'o% have re#eived) Bo$ onl' wha$ we have re#eived b%$ wha$ we #on$in%e $o re#eive as we #onfess and re(en$ if $here is f%r$her fail%re) Co%ld an' of %s sa' $ha$ even in a shor$ (eriod of $ime we had no$ viola$ed ,od.s Word& -is wa'& or -is goal for o%r life: We ma' no$ have delibera$el' sinned& b%$ (erha(s in some %ng%arded momen$ we missed an o((or$%ni$' for good& 'e$ ,od forgave7 Eo% ma' have said& 8?ord *.m sorr'7 * didn.$ reall' mean $o do $ha$7 * was indifferen$7 * was la+'7 Please forgive me7< 9nd ,od forgave) *f we re#eive forgiveness on $his s#ale& i$ is a small $hing $o forgive o$hers even if $he' don.$ as" for forgiveness) Fee( $han"ing $he ?ord for -is willingness $o forgive) * have alwa's a((re#ia$ed ,od.s mer#') The mer#' of ,od has been an a$$rib%$e of -is na$%re whi#h has blessed and en#o%raged me) *n s(i$e of all o%r fail%re ,od is mer#if%l& and of #o%rse& mer#' leads $o forgiveness and forgiveness $o (ardon) We need $o have an a$$i$%de of $han"f%lness $o ,od $ha$& in s(i$e of o%r fail%re& !

wea"ness& or dis#o%ragemen$& -e has forgiven and res$ored %s $o fellowshi() *f we do $his we will find $ha$ i$ is ano$her (ra#$i#al wa' of hel(ing %s $o forgive o$hers) We will "ee( sensi$ive $o $he s%b1e#$ of forgiveness)

3n Inviolate 0rinciple
(ecogni;e $he inviola$e (rin#i(le of sowing and rea(ing) This is $he $hird s$e() We have alread' deal$ wi$h $his s%b1e#$ in de$ail& b%$ i$ is a $r%$h whi#h m%s$ #ons$an$l' be "e($ in mind) Gver' a#$ion of o%rs will bring for$h a defini$e res%l$) This is %n#hanging) *f we sow evil $hen sooner or la$er we will rea( evil) *f we sow $ha$ whi#h is good we will rea( (osi$ive benefi$s) The res%l$s #an var' a##ording $o how m%#h a$$en$ion we give $o $he seed we have sown) *n $he na$%ral& when a seed is sown i$ re2%ires wa$ering and $o be #ared for in order $o bring for$h a f%ll #ro() *f $he seed is sown and $hen negle#$ed and lef$ wi$ho%$ wa$er& i$ migh$ never germina$e) *n $he s(iri$%al realm we migh$ sow a seed and immedia$el' reali+e i$s nega$ive (ossibili$' and a#$ ins$an$l' $o des$ro' i$s (ower $o bring for$h a nega$ive harves$) This is done b' immedia$e re(en$an#e& #onfession& and& if a((li#able& res$i$%$ion) Oer' seldom& however& do (eo(le do $his& b%$ $he' ei$her allow $he seed $o lie and be wa$ered b' $he general #ir#%ms$an#es of life or $he' a#$ivel' assis$ $he develo(men$ b' #on$in%ing $heir nega$ive #o%rse of a#$ion) !3

6eep thanking %od for &is willingness to forgive. ?e$ me give a (ersonal e4(erien#e $ha$ ha((ened d%ring $he $ime $ha$ m' wife and * were selling one (ro(er$' and (%r#hasing ano$her) /ne of $he (eo(le who was in$eres$ed in b%'ing o%r (ro(er$' was a b%sinessman) -e #ame wi$h his wife $o ins(e#$ o%r home on several o##asions and me$i#%lo%sl' #he#"ed o%$ ever' as(e#$ of $he (remises) -e drove his #ar in$o $he garage $o ma"e s%re $ha$ i$ wo%ld fi$ #omfor$abl'& and finall' made an offer $ha$ was far below a fair mar"e$ val%e) Wi$ho%$ hesi$a$ion we $%rned down $he offer) The ne4$ da' $he agen$ handling $he $ransa#$ion $ele(honed and said& 8*.ve go$ ano$her b%'er $ha$ * am s%re will (%r#hase $he (ro(er$')< The (erson #ame and a##e($ed $he (ri#e $ha$ we had as"ed) ?a$er $he #on$ra#$ for $he sale was signed) Wi$hin $wo da's $he original man $ele(honed and said& 8-ave 'o% signed $he #on$ra#$:< * said& 8Ees)< -e re(lied& 8*.ll give 'o% L &!!! more if 'o%.ll ge$ $he b%'er $o #hange her mind)< * said& 8*$.s $oo la$e7< This man had wan$ed $o (%r#hase $he a(ar$men$ we owned in $his (ar$i#%lar high>rise blo#"& b%$ be#a%se of his hard bargaining he had los$ $he o((or$%ni$') ?a$er he (%r#hased an a(ar$men$ in $he blo#" b%$ one wi$ho%$ man' of $he advan$ages and e4$ras whi#h o%rs had& and he finall' (aid man' $ho%sands !4

of dollars more) -e sowed from a selfish s(iri$ and rea(ed a loss) * am no$ agains$ someone loo"ing for a good b%siness deal& b%$ $here is a differen#e be$ween being an as$%$e b%sinessman and see"ing $o de(rive someone of a fair $ransa#$ion) * %se $his ill%s$ra$ion be#a%se i$ made an im(a#$ on me a$ $he $ime and #learl' ill%s$ra$es $ha$ we will rea( wha$ we sow whe$her in b%siness& s(iri$%all'& in home life or in o$her (ersonal rela$ionshi(s) Ta"e $his (rin#i(le serio%sl') *$ ma' no$ ha((en immedia$el' and we ma' $hin" $ha$ we are ge$$ing awa' wi$h i$& b%$ we won.$ be#a%se 8$he birds will #ome home $o roos$)< *$ is a (rin#i(le of ,od.s Word& no$ a $heor') *$ is essen$ial $ha$ we forgive 2%i#"l') The longer we hold %nforgiveness $he harder i$ is $o le$ go) The more we $hin" abo%$ $he reasons for o%r h%r$ and dwell %(on i$& $he more o%r mind is #a($iva$ed b' $he s%((osed 1%s$i#e of o%r #ase) Then we $r' $o 1%s$if' o%r a$$i$%de and are #a%gh$ in $he web of %nforgiveness) We will reap what we sow whether in business, spiritually, in home life or in other personal relationships. We are s$range (eo(le7 We $hin" abo%$ a h%r$ and i$ seems $o ge$ bigger and bigger& and we begin $o $hin" of wha$ we #o%ld have said a$ $he $ime $he (roblem o##%rred) We $hin" of a shar( re$or$ $ha$ wo%ld have answered a #%$$ing word& or a wea"ness in an a##%sa$ion where a righ$ word from %s wo%ld have (roved $he (erson wrong) The more we $hin" !5

$his wa' $he larger $he h%r$ grows %n$il i$ has e4(anded o%$ of all (ro(or$ion) Some 'ears ago * read a s$or' en$i$led 8Wan$ $o 0orrow a 5a#".) *$ $old of a man who was driving his #ar on a #o%n$r' road a$ nigh$ and go$ a fla$ $ire) When he wen$ $o #hange $he wheel he dis#overed $ha$ he had lef$ $he 1a#" for $he #ar a$ home) There he was& s$randed on a lonel' road in $he dar"ness wi$h no o$her #ars (assing b'& wi$h a fla$ $ire and no 1a#" $o #hange $he wheel) -e wai$ed and wai$ed& b%$ no #ar #ame) *n $he dis$an#e he #o%ld see a ligh$ so he $ho%gh$ $o himself& 8Tha$ is a farm ho%se and $he (eo(le will (robabl' have a #ar) *.ll wal" $here and as" $o borrow a 1a#") So he se$ off) 9s he wal"ed& he began $o m%se wi$hin himself and said& 8Well& (erha(s $he' migh$ no$ have a 1a#" or migh$ no$ li"e being dis$%rbed a$ nigh$) The' will (robabl' sa' $o me& 8*f 'o% are s$%(id eno%gh $o leave home wi$ho%$ a 1a#"& 'o% #an (a' $o hire i$)< * will sa'& 8Pa' $o borrow a 1a#"7 * didn.$ delibera$el' ge$ a fla$ $ire7 Can.$ 'o% hel( a man in $ime of need:< The imagined #onversa$ion #on$in%ed) 8-e will (robabl' sa'& 8*$ will #os$ 'o% L ! if 'o% wan$ $o %se m' 1a#")< * will sa'& 8L ! 1%s$ $o le$ me have a loan of a 1a#"7< The man loo"ed %( and s%ddenl' $he ligh$s in $he ho%se wen$ o%$) -e $ho%gh$& Bow $he' are in bed7 *$ will (robabl' be worse7 Bow $he farmer won.$ wan$ $o ge$ o%$ of bed and will (robabl' sa'& 8*f * have $o ge$ o%$ of bed $o ge$ a 1a#" for 'o% i$ will #os$ 'o% !6

L4!)< The man angril' said $o himself& 8L4! 1%s$ $o borrow a 1a#"7< -e wal"ed aggressivel' $o $he fron$ door of $he ho%se m%mbling $o himself& 8L4! 1%s$ $o borrow a 1a#")< -e "no#"ed lo%dl' on $he door) 9n %(s$airs window o(ened and a man leaned o%$ and said& 8-ello& wha$ do 'o% wan$:< The s$randed $raveler& angr' and s$irred b' his own $ho%gh$s& loo"ed %( $o $he fa#e in $he window and sho%$ed& 8Eo% and 'o%r 1a#"& 'o% #an "ee( i$7< *sn.$ $ha$ $r%e of h%man na$%re: We b%ild %( a big #ase abo%$ wha$ migh$ ha((en& or we feel resen$f%l abo%$ a real h%r$ or $he words someone %sed and wha$ we sho%ld have said in re$%rn& and all $he $ime we are enlarging $he (roblem) *f we have a need $o forgive& le$ %s a#$ on i$ 2%i#"l') )t is essential that we forgive #uickly. The longer we hold unforgiveness the harder it is to let go. When m' older bro$her firs$ s$ar$ed wor" as a 1%nior in a #ar(e$ wareho%se& i$ was in $he da's when a #om(an' manager was a (erson $o be feared& and $his hardheaded manager said $o m' bro$her& 8* wan$ $o give 'o% some advi#e= #%l$iva$e a good memor')< Tha$ so%nded li"e wisdom& b%$ i$ was wha$ followed $ha$ was so signifi#an$) The manager said& 8*f 'o% don.$ have a good memor' 'o% migh$ forge$ someone agains$ whom 'o% have a gr%dge7< -ere was a man whose desire for a good memor' was $o ma"e s%re $ha$ he wo%ld #on$in%e $o hold !7

resen$men$ and ge$ even wi$h o$hers) Tha$ man died 'ears la$er miserable& lonel'& and largel' friendless) -ow $ragi#7 ?earn $o forgive 2%i#"l' be#a%se we will never bea$ $he (rin#i(le of rea(ing wha$ we sow)

Whose !ife and Whose Wor4?


6eali/e $ha$ 'o%r life does no$ belong $o 'o% b%$ $o ,od) This is $he fo%r$h s$e() Pa%l wro$e $his6 (or none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. (or this very reason, >hrist died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. (7omans .4!$#-% /%r life is no$ o%r own7 *s $ha$ s$a$emen$ a s(iri$%al #li#hN or $r%$h: 3os$ of $he reasons we have for holding %nforgiveness rela$e $o (ersonal h%r$s) Children have been h%r$ b' $heir (aren$s (erha(s $hro%gh s$ri#$ dis#i(line& la#" of love& negle#$& or even ab%se) Paren$s have been h%r$ b' $heir #hildren as a res%l$ of %n$han"f%lness and indifferen#e for all $he (rovisions and sa#rifi#es $ha$ have been made) Wives have been deser$ed b' $heir h%sbands and lef$ wi$ho%$ finan#ial s%((or$) -%sbands ma' have been be$ra'ed b' $heir wives) The lis$ is endless) Personal h%r$s are %s%all' $he #a%se of %nforgiveness) Pa%l.s le$$er $o $he Comans in#l%des $his s$a$emen$6 !@

(or we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. (7omans "!"% *n $he #on$e4$& $hese words refer $o sin& b%$ $he' #an e2%all' a((l' $o o%r (ersonal righ$s) We do no$ have (ersonal righ$s7 The 0ible ma"es #lear $ha$ if o%r life belongs $o Chris$& $hen we do no$ have an'$hing we #an #laim $o be o%r own) *f we were deserving of dea$h be#a%se of sin& $hen o%r life is de(enden$ en$irel' %(on Chris$) This $r%$h m%s$ be #ons$an$l' affirmed) The (roblem bo$h in $he #h%r#h and in o%r (ersonal lives is $ha$ we "now $hese words so i$ is eas' $o sa' $hem& b%$ (%$$ing $hem in$o a#$ion #an be a ma1or ba$$le) We m%s$ ge$ $o gri(s wi$h $his $r%$h if we are going $o win $he ba$$le $o gen%inel' forgive) 9#"nowledge $ha$ 'o% do feel h%r$& b%$ also a#"nowledge $hese $r%$hs& 8* am dead7 3' life is hidden wi$h Chris$ in ,od7 * live b%$ onl' be#a%se * live in -im and -e lives in me7< We do no$ have (ersonal righ$s) /%r lives belong $o Chris$) t is because of personal hurts that there is usually unforgiveness in the hearts of people. 6eassess $ha$ $he s(iri$%al wor" we are doing belongs $o ,od and no$ o%rselves) This is $he fif$h s$e() *f we are in some (osi$ion of leadershi(& $his is a (ar$i#%lar area of #hallenge) 3os$ Chris$ians find !9

$ha$ $he grea$es$ n%mber of h%r$s and disa((oin$> men$s $ha$ arise in life do no$ #ome from (eo(le in $heir se#%lar environmen$ b%$ from (eo(le in $he #h%r#h) * was a self>em(lo'ed b%sinessman for $wen$'>five 'ears& and al$ho%gh * s%ffered a #er$ain amo%n$ of o((osi$ion and %n1%s$ified #ri$i#ism in m' b%siness life * had $o end%re more ill>will& bi$$erness& dislo'al$'& and %n$r%$hf%lness wi$hin #h%r#h life) So of$en $he h%r$s we re#eive and $he (roblems we fa#e #ome from $hose we love and #are for ra$her $han from $he o%$sider) This does no$ onl' ha((en in leadershi(7 *$ is in an' $as" $ha$ we do) /$her (eo(le are %na((re#ia$ive of wha$ we have done) We ma' have labored in some $as"& given sa#rifi#ial servi#e& $a%gh$ S%nda' S#hool& led a 'o%$h gro%( or been involved in some o$her vol%n$ar' wor"& and nobod' e4(ressed a((re#ia$ion b%$ were $o $he #on$rar'& #ri$i#al) The $as" ma' have #os$ %s mone' and $ime& 'e$ all we re#eived was #ri$i#ism or la#" of $han"s) When we have e4(erien#es li"e $hese& $he #ondi$ions for %nforgiveness are (resen$) The las$ $wen$'>five 'ears have (rod%#ed some e4#i$ing s(iri$%al (rogress) There has been $he Charisma$i# Cenewal& $he in$rod%#$ion of #h%r#h grow$h seminars and (rin#i(les& and a re#ogni$ion of $he five>fold minis$r' gif$s $ha$ Chris$ has given for $he e2%i((ing of $he #h%r#h) 0%$ $he #%rren$ s(iri$%al s#ene is s$ill one of s%s(i#ion& mis%nders$anding& dislo'al$'& #ri$i#ism& e4aggera$ion& and some$imes hos$ili$') We sho%ld re1oi#e a$ $he good $hings $ha$ 1!

$he -ol' S(iri$ is doing& b%$ #ondi$ions wi$hin $he #h%r#h and among believers #ons$an$l' give rise $o $he need for forgiveness) .o often the hurts we receive and the problems we face come from those we love and care for rather than from the outsider. -ow #an we forgive when $he ver' wor" of ,od in whi#h we are involved is hindered and se$ ba#" b' $he selfish a#$ions of men and women: 9 #h%r#h bod' $ha$ ma' have $a"en 'ears $o b%ild is s%ddenl' s(li$ b' an asso#ia$e and we sa'& 8-ow #an we forgive someone who does $ha$:< The answer is 2%i$e sim(le al$ho%gh i$ ma' be hard $o (%$ in$o o(era$ion when we are (assing $hro%gh $he $ra%ma) The fa#$ is& i$ is no$ o%r wor"= i$ is $he ?ord.s wor") 9 #h%r#h does no$ belong $o a man or a woman or $he eldershi() The #h%r#h belongs $o 5es%s Chris$) 5es%s said& 8I will b ild my &h r&h< H3a$$hew 1661@I) ,od gives %s $he (rivilege of being #o>wor"ers wi$h Chris$& b%$ i$ is $he ?ord.s wor") We are no$ b%ilding a (ersonal "ingdom) We are wor"ers in $he Fingdom of ,od and we need $o remind o%rselves of $his) *$ is no$ a (ersonal minis$r' $ha$ is a$ s$a"e) We are servan$s of Chris$& and ,od has a righ$ $o $a"e %( a (erson and %se him or se$ him aside as -e desires) *$ is $he (reroga$ive of $he ?ord $o wor" wi$hin -is #h%r#h as -e wishes) /f$en i$ is diffi#%l$ $o #ome $o gri(s wi$h $his as we believe we have been #alled $o a $as" and we see o$hers bringing disr%($ion and h%r$ $o $he bod') The na$%ral 11

$enden#' is $o figh$ ba#" and $o deal wi$h $he $ro%blema"ers& b%$ we m%s$ "ee( reminding o%rselves $ha$ $he wor" belongs $o ,od and no$ $o %s) Tha$ does no$ mean $ha$ we s$and ba#" and allow Sa$an $o do wha$ever he wan$s) We m%s$ be on o%r g%ard& and be diligen$ and ferven$ in all we do) 0%$ when we have done all $ha$ we #an righ$eo%sl' do& we m%s$ $hen leave ,od $o do $he res$) ,od "nows how $o (%rge& refine& and b%ild& so $he momen$ we $hin" i$ is o%r wor" and $ha$ $he s%##ess of $he #h%r#h de(ends %(on %s and we are i$s (ro$e#$or& $hen we have a wrong (ers(e#$ive) *$ is ,od.s wor"7 When we reali+e $his& $hen $he weigh$ of $he h%r$s and b%rdens $ha$ give rise $o %nforgiveness and have #ome be#a%se of o%r desire $o (ro$e#$ a wor" will lif$ from %s)

Forgiveness Does 'ot *<cuse5


(eassure 'o%rself $ha$ forgiveness and (ardon are no$ $he same) This is $he si4$h s$e() * have s$ressed $his (revio%sl' b%$ * wan$ $o s%mmari+e i$ again) We do no$ have $he res(onsibili$' $o #om(le$e $he moral #'#le and see someone re#eive his 1%s$ (%nishmen$) ,od "nows all $he fa#$s wi$ho%$ dis$or$ion or bias) The re#ord of $he 0ible is #lear= ,od will deal wi$h ever' (roblem and do wha$ever is ne#essar' for #orre#$ion& so we #an leave $he 1%dgmen$ and #onse2%en#es $o -im) )t is the prerogative of the 5ord to work within &is church as &e wishes. 1

We have #onsidered si4 defini$e a$$i$%des $o ado($ and a#$ions $o $a"e in order $o gen%inel' forgive) These are #lear (rin#i(les) Si4 (osi$ive s$e(s we #an $a"e $o hel( %s $o forgive= affirma$ions $ha$ we #an ma"e ever' da'& if ne#essar'& $o over#ome $he (roblem of %nforgiveness) There is one o$her vi$al as(e#$ $ha$ we m%s$ re#ogni+e) 5es%s did no$ onl' sa'& 8Forgive one ano$her< H3a$$hew 6615I) -e also said& 8?ove one ano$her& even o%r enemies< H3a$$hew 59;;<$ This is ano$her "e' in hel(ing %s $o forgive someone who has le$ %s down& wronged and h%r$ %s& or even des(ised %s) Ees& 5es%s said we were $o love even o%r enemies7 Someone who has failed %s does no$ a%$oma$i#all' be#ome o%r enem'& b%$ we ma' find i$ im(ossible ini$iall' $o have $he same #om(le$e $r%s$ and #onfiden#e in a (erson who has le$ %s down as we did before $he (roblem arose) The ?ord does no$ e4(e#$ %s $o have $he same #onfiden#e7 9 (erson m%s$ be (roved again& and his in$egri$' and #redibili$' re>es$ablished) 3an' (eo(le have an ina##%ra$e %nders$anding of $r%s$) We (%$ o%r $r%s$ in a friend or even in a famil' member& and $ha$ (erson fails $he $r%s$ we (%$ in him) *$ is almos$ #er$ain $ha$ we will all fail some $r%s$ $ha$ is (%$ in %s) Someone #onfides in ano$her and as"s $ha$ $he informa$ion no$ be given $o an' one else) 9 $'(i#al #onversa$ion goes li"e $his& 8* have 1%s$ heard some #onfiden$ial news and if 'o% (romise no$ $o $ell an'one else& * will $ell 'o%)< 3os$ of %s are $oo #%rio%s $o de#line $he o((or$%ni$' $o hear some ho$ gossi( so we lis$en in$en$l') 13

We now have $he #hallenge $o "ee( $ha$ informa$ion (riva$e) *nforma$ion #an re(resen$ (ower& and $he onl' wa' we #an e4er#ise $ha$ (ower is $o (ass $he news $o ano$her (erson) /f #o%rse& we onl' do so af$er e4a#$ing from $hem $he (romise no$ $o $ell an'one else7 9nd so $he news s(reads and we have viola$ed $he original $r%s$ $ha$ was (la#ed in %s) ,od "nows how %nreliable all of %s #an be& and $he 0ible a#$%all' $ells %s no$ $o $r%s$ ano$her (erson HPsalm 14663I) This ma' so%nd s%r(rising as we are alwa's loo"ing for someone $o $r%s$& and we #om(lain bi$$erl' when someone fails %s) *$ is $r%e& however& $ha$ $he 0ible $ells %s $o $r%s$ onl' ,od b%$ $o love one ano$her) Tr%e love #om(ensa$es for $he wea"nesses $ha$ are inevi$able in men and women) While we do and m%s$ $r%s$ $he mo$ives of a loved> one we also "now $ha$ $he bes$ of his in$en$ions #an fail& b%$ $r%e love ma"es allowan#es for fail%re) 4 person must be proved again and his integrity and credibility re'established. We do need some meas%re of #onfiden#e in (eo(le& and i$ is a blessing $o have as o%r friends $hose who are %s%all' reliable and who will (ro$e#$ %s from $he a$$a#"s of o$hers) When someone has been in $his #a$egor' and has $hen failed 'o%& i$ ma' $a"e a li$$le $ime $o re>es$ablish $he same sense of #onfiden#e $ha$ 'o% (revio%sl' had& (ar$i#%larl' if $he fail%re has been re(ea$ed) 0%$ regardless of how of$en a (erson fails %s& we s$ill have $he grea$er res(onsibili$' of loving him $hro%gh 5es%s Chris$) 14

9s men$ioned earlier $here is a #ommon idea $ha$ be#a%se ,od is loving and forgiving& -e forge$s abo%$ fail%re) ,od never forge$s7 When $he 0ible s(ea"s abo%$ ,od forge$$ing& i$ is %sed in $he sense of -is no$ infli#$ing a (enal$' $ha$ o$herwise wo%ld be d%e) When $he 0ible sa's $ha$ ,od will no longer remember o%r sins and ini2%i$ies i$ does no$ mean $ha$ -e #anno$ re#all $hem an' more& b%$ $ha$ -e does no$ hold $hem agains$ %s) The average h%man being is in#a(able of forge$$ing a(ar$ from $he dimming of memor' wi$h $he (assage of $ime) 0%$ as ,od (roves %s af$er fail%re& so we m%s$ (rove (eo(le when $he' have failed %s& and a$ $he same $ime we have a #lear res(onsibili$' $o forgive $hem a##ording $o s#ri($%re H3a$$hew 1@6 1M I)

!oving and !i4ing


From wha$ we have alread' seen in $he s#ri($%re& i$ is obvio%s $ha$ we m%s$ be able $o bo$h love and forgive a (erson& even when we do no$ have $he same #om(le$e #onfiden#e in him) There is a differen#e be$ween loving and li"ing) When 5es%s said we are $o love o%r enemies& -e was s(ea"ing of an a$$i$%de higher $han li"ing& be#a%se who #an reall' li"e an enem': We #an love o%r enemies b%$ no$ ne#essaril' li"e $hem) ?i"ing a (erson de(ends on man' differen$ as(e#$s6 on $em(eramen$& (ersonali$'& and #ommon in$eres$s) 9ll of $hese fa#$ors have a bearing on whe$her we ini$iall' li"e someone) There are emo$ions $ha$ are involved in li"ing) ?i"ing #o%ld be defined as 8$he drawing $oge$her of (eo(le in an agreeable& en1o'able fellowshi(<) This is eas' when we are 15

dealing wi$h #o>o(era$ive famil' members or lo'al friends& b%$ no$ so eas' when we are fa#ed wi$h $hose who have h%r$ or wronged %s) We need $o be as (ra#$i#al as (ossible and no$ be sa$isfied wi$h mere s(iri$%al words) There is a 2%ali$' of love $ha$ is be'ond na$%ral or famil' love) The 0ible s(ea"s of aga(e love whi#h is $he divine love of ,od -imself and whi#h $he 0ible de#lares #omes from $he -ol' S(iri$6 )nd hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the /oly Spirit, whom he has given us. (7omans ! % Ba$%ral love #omes from emo$ion) There are (eo(le we love be#a%se of who $he' are) The' are $hose wi$h whom we harmoni+e and feel a "indred s(iri$ $ha$ is 1o'o%s and (leasan$& b%$ aga(e love #omes from $he will& no$ merel' from emo$ion) 9ga(e love means 8a de$ermina$ion of $he mind where we a#hieve an a$$i$%de of %n#on2%erable goodwill $owards $he one who ma' even have serio%sl' wronged %s<) 9no$her wa' of defining aga(e love is 8$he (ower $o love $hose we do no$ li"e and who do no$ li"e %s<) There is a difference between loving and liking. *$ is (ainf%l and s%r(rising for a (rea#her $o dis#over $ha$ $here are (eo(le who do no$ li"e his minis$r'7 * heard an in$erna$ional (rea#her sa' on one o##asion& 8*.ve had $o learn $ha$ $here are (eo(le who #anno$ abide m' minis$r'7< 3os$ of %s who (rea#h and 16

$ea#h li"e $o $hin" $ha$ ever'one will en1o' and a((re#ia$e wha$ we sa'& b%$ $ha$ is no$ so) We m%s$& however& "ee( an a$$i$%de of %n#on2%erable goodwill $owards $hose who do no$ li"e %s and who in $%rn we ma' no$ na$%rall' li"e) This is no$ being h'(o#ri$i#al) *$ is a gen%ine o(era$ion of a (rin#i(le of ,od) *f we $rea$ a (erson as if we do li"e him& $hen $his releases aga(e love) *$ $a"es an o(era$ion of bo$h $he will and of $he mind if we are $o $rea$ a (erson whom we do no$ li"e as if we reall' #ared for him) We migh$ sa'& 8-ow #an we do $ha$:< Well& we #an& and * wo%ld li"e $o ill%s$ra$e how i$ is (ossible& from a ver' vivid (ersonal e4(erien#e) 9s a 'o%ng self>em(lo'ed b%sinessman& * had moved m' offi#e from one lo#a$ion $o $he fif$h floor of a ra$her old b%ilding in $he #i$' where * $hen lived) *$ was a b%ilding $ha$ had an old>fashioned man%all'>o(era$ed lift$ *$ was fi$$ed wi$h an in$erior me$al folding ga$e and re2%ired $he servi#es of an o(era$or in $he b%s' wor"ing ho%rs) The b%ilding was owned b' a $rans(or$ #om(an') The' had $ransferred one of $he mos$ aggressive and ill> mannered drivers in $heir em(lo'men$ $o be $he lif$ o(era$or) This was be#a%se of his age and inabili$' $o handle heav' loads) *$ was a semi>re$iremen$ 1ob for $his man& and $he $enan$s in $he b%ilding were $o$all' de(enden$ on him for $he %se of $he eleva$or) -e arrived earl' in $he morning and lef$ af$er offi#e ho%rs) * moved in$o $he b%ilding ha((il' $hin"ing $ha$ * had a (leasan$ 17

new offi#e wi$h a view from $he fif$h floor& b%$ s%ddenl' * me$ $he im(a#$ of $his man7 *$ wo%ld be im(ossible $o reall' #onve' wha$ he was li"e7 -e never smiled) -e half lo%nged agains$ $he wall of $he lif$ and when he did s(ea"& his fa#e wo%ld s#owl& and he wo%ld gr%n$ o%$ some $erse #ommen$) * wo%ld gree$ him in $he morning and sa'& 8,ood morning)< There was onl' a gr%n$ for a re(l') 8*$.s a (leasan$ da')< 9no$her gr%n$7 When one (ressed $he #all b%$$on& a bell rang in $he lif$& and if $he o(era$or was on ano$her floor& he wo%ld $a"e his $ime abo%$ #oming) *n fa#$& he wo%ld of$en wal" along $he (assage before answering $he #all 1%s$ $o be diffi#%l$ and %n(leasan$) 0' $he $ime $he eleva$or arrived a$ $he a((ro(ria$e floor& $he in$ending (assenger wo%ld of$en be f%rio%s7 *f a #om(lain$ was made& his %n(leasan$ness in#reased) There was no$hing one #o%ld do& be#a%se somehow $he #om(an' who owned $he b%ilding was willing $o "ee( him em(lo'ed in s(i$e of his r%deness and la#" of effi#ien#') ;a' af$er da' * wo%ld go $o $he eleva$or& ring $he bell& wai$& wai$& and wai$ and finall' $he eleva$or wo%ld arrive) The door wo%ld be fl%ng o(en) 8-ow are 'o%:< * wo%ld sa'& and a gr%n$ wo%ld be $he onl' re(l') * had re#en$l' had a new e4(erien#e of $he -ol' S(iri$ in m' life and * had a dee( desire $o serve $he ?ord wi$h all m' hear$) The o(era$or #o%ld& however& ma"e life diffi#%l$& so * s%((ose $here was some self>(reserva$ion in m' a$$i$%de& be#a%se if one go$ on $he wrong side of $his man he wo%ld $a"e 1@

even longer $han normal $o #ome) * de$ermined $o "ee( %( a barrage of goodwill $oward him& and i$ m%s$ have been b' $he gra#e of ,od as * didn.$ %nders$and $he (rin#i(les $ha$ * am now sharing) * learn$ $o give him a warm gree$ing in s(i$e of his r%deness) -e wo%ld o(en $he lif$ door and his %nha((' fa#e wo%ld loo" o%$) 8,ood morning&< * wo%ld sa'& 8-ow are 'o%:< The familiar gr%n$ was $he onl' re(l') 8*$.s a (leasan$ da'& did 'o% have a good wee"end:< 9no$her gr%n$) * was de$ermined $o win7 *$ be#ame a game and a #hallenge da' af$er da' $o sa' some$hing #heerf%l and $o gree$ him wi$h goodwill) 3on$h af$er mon$h * "e($ a$ i$& and finall' he began $o res(ond wi$h a smile and (leasan$ word and * began $o see him as a h%r$& wo%nded& and #ri((led man on $he inside& no$ someone who was o%$ $o do ever'one a bad $%rn) This man did no$ "now wha$ i$ mean$ $o li"e (eo(le& b%$ when * #ame $o move o%$ of $ha$ b%ilding some 'ears la$er& * had a rela$ionshi( wi$h him $ha$ was warm and (leasan$& and * had even grown $o li"e him) -e was 1%s$ as %n(leasan$ wi$h some o$her (eo(le& b%$ * had won his res(e#$ b' %n#on2%erable goodwill) Some da's $he #hallenge was $oo m%#h $o fa#e& and in $he energ' of m' 'o%nger 'ears& * bo%nded %( $he five fligh$s of s$airs ra$her $han be #onfron$ed b' $ha$ %n(leasan$ man) *$ was no$ alwa's eas' $o be #heerf%l $o him& b%$ * finall' won) We #an a#$ $oward a (erson as if we do li"e him and $his releases divine love) 19

4nother definition of agape love is the power to love those we do not like and who do not like us. When 'o% have been h%r$ and need $o forgive someone& le$ me #hallenge 'o%= medi$a$e on $hese si4 (rin#i(les of how $o forgive) *f 'o% fail and re$ain %nforgiveness& 'o% will be $he one who will s%ffer) We "now $ha$ i$ is vi$al $o medi$a$e on $he Word of ,od& and i$ is im(or$an$ $o medi$a$e on $hese (rin#i(les whi#h are in harmon' wi$h wha$ $he 0ible sa's) ;ire#$ goodwill $oward $he (erson who has offended 'o%& and "ee( on doing i$7 ;on.$ sa'& 8Well& * $ried $o $rea$ him "indl' on#e and all * go$ ba#" was an i#' s$are) Tha$.s i$7 *.ve done m' (ar$) *$.s over $o him now7< Bo7 The ball is alwa's in o%r #o%r$) Fee( on e4er#ising goodwill and forgiving $hose who have offended 'o% if 'o% wan$ $he #on$in%ed blessing of $he ?ord in 'o%r own life) 5es%s said6< *ut I tell you! Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your (ather in heaven...(,atthew !44#4 % *f we are blessing and (ra'ing for (eo(le& $hen some$hing good is going $o ha((en wi$hin %s and also wi$hin $hem) 9ga(e love does no$ 1%s$ ha((en) We have $o a#$ in a (osi$ive wa' for divine love $o flow $hro%gh %s) When we obe' $he $r%$hs $ha$ have been se$ o%$& we will find i$ no$ onl' eas' $o forgive& b%$ also $o (%$ o%$ of o%r mind $hose $ho%gh$s $ha$ for 'ears have nega$ivel' #a($%red %s) There is grea$ (ower for !

good $o be se$ in mo$ion in o%r lives $hro%gh gen%ine forgiveness) There is grea$ (ower for harm if we do no$ forgive7 The ?iving 0ible gives $his e4#ellen$ (ara(hrase from Pa%l.s le$$er $o $he Colossian #h%r#h6 *e gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. 7emember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. ,ost of all, let love guide your life, for then the whole church will stay together in perfect harmony. Let the peace of heart which comes from >hrist be always present in your hearts and lives, for this is your responsibility and privilege as members of /is body, and always be thankful. 7emember what >hrist taught and let /is words enrich your lives and make you wise; teach them to each other and sing them out in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing to the Lord with thankful hearts. (>olossians 3!.3#."% We will find a new dimension of freedom when we learn $o forgive) We will se$ in mo$ion a flow of (ea#e& heal$h& 1o'& (ros(eri$'& and blessing) ,od wan$s %s $o en1o' -is favor and -is (resen#e) -e wan$s %s $o have $he ass%ran#e $ha$ even in hard $imes -e is $raining %s $o be ma$%re sons and da%gh$ers) The s#ri($%res are #lear #on#erning o%r need $o be forgiven b' ,od& and o%r res(onsibili$' $o forgive o$hers even if we are $he offended (ar$') We #anno$ es#a(e $his res(onsibili$' if we wan$ ,od.s (ea#e in o%r hear$s) When we hold %nforgiveness $oward o$hers i$ will inevi$abl' bring 1

(roblems in$o o%r lives) When we forgive o$hers i$ will bring release $o %s) While we hold %nfor> giveness we be#ome $he (risoner of $he (erson whom we will no$ forgive) *ll>will and bi$$erness #an rise in o%r minds and $he $ho%gh$ of $ha$ (erson and $he wrong $he' ma' have done $o %s #an be li"e a #an#er $ha$ s(reads i$s des$r%#$ive $en$a#les in$o o%r en$ire being) ,od has been mer#if%l $o %s& -e has forgiven %s& and (ardoned %s) ?e$ %s& in $%rn& be mer#if%l and forgiving in all of o%r dealings wi$h o$hers) There is great power for good to be set in motion in our lives through genuine forgiveness. There is great power for harm if we do not forgive!

!nforgiveness "rings pro"lems# Forgiveness "rings "lessing#