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The Importance of Forgiveness

October 5, 2011

ForgivenessI believe that being in a place of kingdom community with one another is a key calling of each person on this planet. We were made for relationship… we were created to relate to God, we were created to relate to each other and to feel good about ourselves.

And that is why we value being a part of a life group here in Kings… we value relationship with God, relationship with each other and growing/developing personal wholeness.

For the past couple of years I’ve been part of the Hearing God Voice Group – who have been meeting on a Saturday morning for breakfast, and to share what God has been revealing to each of us through the week.

What I would like to share this morning had it’s genesis from being in that group… and I would like to start by acknowledging the input, the care, the expression of Jesus, the openness and the laughter of the guys in this group.  If you’re not in relationship with a group of people that you can trust, support and love — get into one. It’s well worth it – you get to see the Kingdom of God come.

Late last year as a result of a number of different pressures in my life I was finding myself becoming critical and dissatisfied with my lot… I wanted things to be sorted out — I wanted them to be ‘Better’, but was getting more and more annoyed and frustrated.  Has anyone else ever felt that way? Yes?

Now…. Over the past few years God has started revealing himself to me in single sentence observations… just like a good friend would… saying something simple but deep and leaving its significance just hanging there…

And so one day while feeling this dissatisfaction I felt something like a spiritual tap on the the shoulder and a quiet, loving voice saying “I think you’re sitting in my chair”… and POW… I was pierced… he nailed me.

JudgeI had been sitting on God’s chair, I had been sitting on the judgement seat, and I had to get off it.  I was as grumpy and grim as this guy here…

This revelation shook me up…  I had been trying to do something that was solely the right of God himself… and it really humbled me.

I suspect we all have this tendency for becoming judges – if we look right at the start of the bible it was then when we ate of the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of good and evil – we learned to differentiate right from wrong…

We learned how to become little judges… sitting in Gods Chair.

But also through that sin we also saw a fracturing of our relationships in 3 ways –

our relationship with God was broken,  relationship with man was broken (with each other… conflict, blame shifting, accusation (“the woman you gave me” – we blamed God!) all started then and there) and we ourselves were broken emotionally… we ceased to feel ok about ourselves anymore… we were wounded.Broken

But that’s not the end of the story.  The rest of the bible describes Gods plan for restoration of relationship with his creation.

In the old testament we had the “Old covenant” (Old deal) with God – Justice & the Law: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. You slap me and I’ll slap you back… it was based on fairness.

There was a program on TV earlier this year that followed the Chief justices, the law lords, the highest court in the land.  One of the Justices explained that his role was to dispense ‘justice’ as defined by the law.

LawHis was not to question the law or even to ‘judge’ the law – not it’s ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness’ –  but to execute it to the letter of the law.

Here’s a question for you – Is the Law of God good? Is the Law of God perfect?

The Law of God is Good and Perfect….however the standard for living under the old covenant of Law and Justice was perfection.

Are there any perfect people here this morning?  Are there any of us here without sin?

No?

We all have sinned and have fallen short of the requirements of the law – we (under the old covenant) are already condemned. We cannot save ourselves.

Lamb

And it is under this system of law that Satan takes up his role as accuser… He can point out our personal sin, he can point out the sin in others,  he can hold us to account for our sin before God… he can call for our punishment.

However the atonement for Sin under the old covenant foretold a new covenant – a sinless perfect lamb dying for the sins of man.

This is the new covenant, the covenant of the new testament – a covenant of Grace.

When the son of God became perfected man in the person of Jesus, and as all the sins of mankind from the beginning of time to the end of time were heaped on his ruined body on the cross…all the punishment was taken and paid for, for all eternity, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

A couple of weeks ago Eddie Santoro painted a graphic picture of the sky turned dark as the sheer mass of sin came on Jesus from every corner of the Universe… all the sin under the law being put on Jesus… and dealt with completely.

Now the way is open so that once we repent, and receive the forgiveness of God we enter into this new covenant. Where the guilt of sin and death is dead and buried by the grace of God.

Heather reminded me of a picture that Iain McKenzie once shared…

Iain saw himself standing before God and there was a book before him and he knew that all the things he had done in his life, all the sins, all the flaws, all the stuff were in this book.  The father was reaching for the book and Iain knew and started to panic that when God saw what was in the book, he was going to be in trouble and excluded from Gods presence… Just then Jesus appeared and said to the Father “It’s ok, he’s with me”.

Jesus stands before the throne – before the judgment seat, and says on our behalf – it’s ok he’s with me/she’s with me/they are with me.

We can’t survive Gods justice… we are totally dependent on Gods mercy.

Jesus says you are with him – you are with him – we are with him… covered.

Do you see this?  Do you get this? Can we take a couple of minutes to let this sink in?

Place of Grace

Open Heaven

We didn’t deserve this – the law had already condemned us – this new covenant is a free gift of grace. God has shown us more than His mercy.

The law is good and perfect – but by the grace of God though the death and resurrection of his son – we are hidden in God in Christ Jesus… the requirements of the law have been met… the law has been completed in Christ Jesus.

Thats really good news – From a covenant where whatever was the very best we could do… we were going to be short of the mark… to a place where we can stand in a place of grace… in Christ Jesus.

So why, Oh why can we sometimes feel dissatisfied and irritable?

Have you seen some of the TV adverts for organizations like Injury Lawyers for you, or those that are about being miss-sold payment protection… these adverts tell us that we’ve been wronged and that we should have our rights.

But these adverts are really indicators of our human condition… we find ourselves feeling that we’ve been wronged and we want justice… we want the old covenant… so we climb up on the seat of judgment – just as I had found myself…

And so when I was feeling wronged and wanting justice I had moved from being in the place of grace – to the place of justice and the law… and had inadvertently given the accuser of men permission to accuse me again of my sins.

We simply can’t live in the place of judgment – fair and true – we need the mercy of God.

Jesus shows us different way… Nail

Luke 6:37 – Jesus tells us… “Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Do not judge – Do not condemn – Forgive…. that is the way of grace…

The story of the adulterous woman – Jesus asks “let him who is without sin cast the first stone”…then when everyone has gone he asks… “where are your accusers?”…  “Go and sin no more”…

When we choose to judge, when we condemn, when we fail to forgive… we step into the place of judgement… we step into the place of the law.. and into the realm of our accuser.

We’ve already established that we’re not perfect, we sin against God and each other daily… we don’t want to be in a place of justice and the law – we want/need his grace.

In Luke 12 before telling the Parable of the Rich Fool Jesus is challenged to become a judge…

13 Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”

14 Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?  21 “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

Jesus himself would not take the seat of judgement…

Jesus concern was for us to have a rich relationship with God… to be in the place of Grace.

He would NOT step out of the place of grace… he would not judge.

Turn with me to Matthew 18: from verse 21

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times? ”

Peter would have been pretty pleased with himself asking this question – under the old covenant his suggestion of forgiving 7 times was absurdly generous {sometimes we operate under a three strikes rule}… but…

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.

Peters jaw must have hit the floor with a clunk… This wouldn’t have made ANY sense and would have been a stunning reply… So Jesus started to tell a story…

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.

24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents  was brought to him.

10 thousand talents is around 340 metric tons of silver – we’re talking the equivalent of millions of pounds here.

25 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

Can we pause here a moment — Sin effects everyone, not just the sinner – but his wife, his children and everything — and our secret sins will be exposed as it says… Luke 12:2 The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. 3 Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear!

Folks – clean house, repent and confess your secret sins now…

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.

27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

The King must have shaken his head at the servants response – he knew that the debt couldn’t be repaid… but only by his mercy and grace the debt was cancelled.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.

The servant was within his rights under the old covenant to demand repayment of what he was owed.  BUT in doing this he stepped from a place of grace into a place a judgement, and punished his fellow servant…

31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.

33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’

34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.Jail

The servant had chosen a place of judgement for himself through his unforgiveness… and his accusers had fuel to condemn him.  And from that chosen place of judgement he was punished. He was handed over to the jailors for eternity to be tortured – for his debt could never be paid..  And it is here where we would like to stop reading… as we can see that the bad guy got his comeuppance… but there is one more verse.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Whoa…  that’s us our Heavenly Father is talking about..

When someone does something to us that causes us to grasp onto our rights, to angrily see justice done, to judge… we are handed over to be tortured…

The result of unforgiveness is not unresolved forgiveness – it is torture, imprisonment… it is separation from the grace of God.

When we say “I can’t forgive” we are heaping judgement on ourselves.

Unforgiveness will take you out of the place of grace.

[Testimony on forgiveness]

Can I ask you some questions….

Does forgiveness mean forgetting what happened?

No – we still have the memories, we can still have the hurt and pain… but by remaining in the place of grace we can receive comfort, we can be restored.

Does forgiveness mean tolerating sin?

No – the law of God is perfect, and Jesus came in perfect completion the law… sin is still sin and we are not to tolerate sin, we are to live lives worthy of our calling in Christ. Let God be the judge.

Can we truly forgive and still hold ‘judgement’ over someone?

No – if we don’t completely give up our demand for right, justice and fairness under the old covenant it’s like having a fishing hook caught in our faces… we’ll be guided in by the tension in the line and landed. When I’m fishing the fish that get away are those who come off the hook.  We need to resolve this type of bitterness, or it will flavor our lives and our relationships, and keep us from receiving healing and wholeness.

Who wants wholeness and healing – who wants to be complete? Then don’t hold judgements on people.

Matt 6 (end of the Lord Prayer)

12 and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.

To me these two verses refer to escaping from the old covenant into the new covenant were our accuser has no hold on us… and normally we stop here – but the next couple of verses reinforce the need for us to forgive…

14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Folks, this morning you have a choice…

the old covenant of – Judgement, conviction and punishment.

or the place of grace…

choose the place of grace… I beg you… choose the place of grace

but more, much, much more than I can express I want you to know that Jesus is reaching ouHandt to you offering to stand with you before the King of Kings, before God the Father, the righteous one, the almighty one, the perfect judge and to say – “It’s ok this one is with me”. … “It’s ok this one is with me”

This morning you may be carrying a hurt from something that has happened to you…

You may have someone come to mind that you feel you cannot forgive…

and God is inviting you into his grace… only forgive.

His desire is to restore relationship with us, to restore the relationships between us and for us to come to a place of peace.

We’re going to finish soon…

but before that can I ask you all to stand please… try to find a space where you can move.

This place of grace is something for us to choose to step into – and I would like us as a physical expression of our spiritual choice I am going to invite you to take a step forward as Abi and the band play.

This will be our prayer of faith… as we step forward we step into grace… You may want to take several steps… and if we all end up against the wall here that’s ok…. but first can we consider this?

Mark 11 (NIV) from verse 22 says…

22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Do you have any mountains to get rid of… yes… well lets step out in faith together… ok… the passage continues…

25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

So as the music plays… take a few moments of quiet to forgive those that come to mind to forgive… before taking your step.

This morning you may need to offer forgiveness for someone else… for their sin against  you… maybe it’s your dad, maybe your mom, a friend that let you down at school, a teacher who called you a failure, a boss…

You may need to forgive yourself… (have you ever said – I can’t forgive myself – you can and you must)

You may need to forgive God… God doesn’t sin, and as such doesn’t need forgiveness, but sometimes in our relationship we can get the wrong end of the stick and we can get hurt.  It’s good to be able to respond to God – our loving god in forgiveness and repentance… so if that’s you… forgive the one who loves you.

If you don’t know Jesus this morning, but something that was talked about spoke to you and would like to respond – well there are folks here who would love to talk with you and introduce you to him.

And when you’re ready – take that step.

Remain in that place of grace…

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