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The Pardon of Prayer

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
March 10, 2021 7:00 am

The Pardon of Prayer

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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March 10, 2021 7:00 am

God's forgiveness is a gift one we literally can't live without. But in this lesson, Dr. Tony Evans will talk about the link between being forgiven and being forgiving. It’s a look at the importance of checking your attitude before you pray for God's pardon.

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Unforgiveness will block God's miracles in your life. Dr. Tony Evans says there's an important link between being forgiven and being forgiving. If you don't do unilateral forgiveness, you'll stay hostage to something that can never be fixed.

Celebrating 40 years of faithfulness, this is the alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, author, speaker, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and president of the Urban Alternative. God's forgiveness is a gift, but Dr. Evans says the grudges we hold toward others can prevent us from receiving it. Let's join him in Matthew chapter 6 as he takes a look at the prayer that leads to pardon. At this point in the Lord's Prayer, he says, Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. After talking about hollowing his name, submitting to his kingdom, and yielding to his will, and having gotten the provisions of God, he says, Now forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. So the question that we have to ask is, What does the word forgive mean?

Because a false definition will lead you to a false conclusion. First of all, let me make this inextricably clear. Forgiveness is first and foremost a decision. Let me say that again. Forgiveness is first and foremost a decision. You need to hear that one more time. Forgiveness is first and foremost a decision.

Now, why am I telling you that thrice? Because it is not first and foremost an emotion. Forgiveness is not first and foremost how you feel. While it does not ignore how you feel, it is not the definition of forgiveness. You decide to forgive or not forgive. Your emotions have to catch up with that decision. But if you define forgiveness as an emotion, then it will be determined by how you are emoting at a particular moment in time to determine whether you have forgiven. And since emotions are fluid and fluctuating all the time, you can be forgiving one moment, unforgiving the next moment, about the same issue, because it's tied to on what place on the Richter scale do your emotions happen to be at any given moment. So let's establish the fact that forgiveness at its foundation is a decision. What kind of decision is it? It is a decision to relieve a person from an obligation or a debt incurred by a sin or an infraction against you. When you decide to do that, regardless of where your emotions may be at a certain given time, you're operating on the biblical definition of forgiveness. In the prayer, it said, forgive us our debt.

Why? Because sin rings up a bill. The word debt is the word for incurring a bill. When you go to the store and buy something, you get a bill. There is a charge, a charge you are expected to pay for the bill that you incurred for the thing that you bought. When we sin against God, we incur a bill.

That bill must be paid. It either must be paid by you or somebody who pays the bill for you, but sin infractions against God incurs a bill. That's why he says, forgive us our debt because you incur a debt to God when you sin. So the first part of the prayer says, forgive us our debt or cancel our bill. The bill that I have accrued because I have disobeyed you, rebelled against you, sinned against you, I want you to clear my record, to push the delete button for my failure, to let me off of the hook.

Now, let me clarify. Forgiveness does not mean excusing, ignoring, justifying, or pretending that the thing didn't happen. It does not mean that I just dismiss reality and pretend what did happen didn't happen so I can feel better about what happened, because that's not being honest. In fact, you can't forgive unless you're willing to acknowledge the truth of what occurred. Forgiveness deals in the reality, not the dismissing of the reality, but it deals with having a debt paid for an infraction committed. Now, at this point, we need to clarify the kind of forgiveness we're talking about. There are two types of forgiveness when it comes to our relationship with God, because the first part of the prayer is, forgive us our debts because you're praying to God.

The first kind is legal forgiveness. The biblical word for legal forgiveness is justification. When the Bible says we are justified, God in heaven declares us legally not guilty for the infractions against him. But the reason he declares us legally not guilty when we get saved, when we accept Jesus Christ, is because God credits the righteousness of Christ to our account. Jesus on the cross paid your bill.

Jesus on the cross paid my bill, which allows God the Father to credit us as not guilty, not because we're not guilty, we are guilty, but because the debt that was incurred by being guilty was picked up by the death of Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, who paid the penalty for our sin. So that's legal forgiveness. That's an eternal issue settled when you come to Christ for salvation.

But that's not what he's talking about here. He's not talking about legal forgiveness because he's now dealing with your relationship with your Father, our Father who art in heaven. So you're already a child.

You're already a son or daughter of God. So he's dealing with another kind of forgiveness. He's dealing with relational forgiveness. Legal forgiveness is settled forever when you come to Christ. But relational forgiveness is conditional.

Legal forgiveness is, have I accepted Christ? Relational forgiveness is, am I in fellowship with my Father? When we sin against God, we break fellowship.

We are legally bound, but we're not intimately connected. So a lot of Christians live a long time out of fellowship with God because they are on their way to heaven, but they are refusing to deal with the mess in their lives and get forgiven for God's intimate fellowship with them on earth. So God not only wants to be the Savior who takes you to heaven, but the Father who fellowships with you on earth.

So this is a fellowship term. So forgiveness means that God cancels out the thing that's breaking up the intimacy that he wants to have with you. Now, how do you know when forgiveness has occurred? If it's not a feeling, then if you look into your feelings, forgiveness may be here today, but it may not be here tomorrow because I don't feel like forgiving you. But since forgiveness is a decision, you can always measure whether forgiveness has occurred because forgiveness occurs when no retaliation is being sought.

Let me say that again. Forgiveness occurs when you're not seeking to retaliate against the person who offended you. As long as you reach back into history to bring it up today, even though it has nothing to do with what's happening today, the only reason you're bringing it up is to cause pain today. Even though it happened yesterday, it means you have not forgiven yet because you're using it as a tool to bring pain because you haven't forgiven. Even though you may still feel it, it is the act of retaliation that demonstrates whether you've forgiven or not because you know whether you're retaliating or not, or using that thing from yesterday to bring about an act of judgment today. So forgiveness is the decision that I am not going to credit this to your account. I'm not going to put a charge on your bill. I'm not going to ring up the bill and say, you still owe me.

Let me say one other thing by way of introduction. What about forgiving and forgetting? Many people say, well, I'll forgive, but I won't forget. Well, actually, that's okay because God doesn't forget. He wouldn't be omniscient if he forgot.

Omniscient means God knows everything. So if he forgot something, that means he doesn't know it anymore, and that's not possible. What the Bible means by forgetting is not forgetting the information, it's forgetting the pain that was caused by the information. It's not forgetting that it happened.

It's no longer allowing what happened to have the impact now that it had when it happened. In other words, Joseph, when his brothers sinned against him, he says in Genesis 41 verse 51, he says these words, he says, God has helped me to forget what you did to me. But in chapter 50, he brings it up again. You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. So he never forgot what happened because he brings it up in 50, but he forgot the impact that it had on him.

So it didn't have the same impact. So even though you may remember when you see that person or see that situation, what happened five years ago, when you forgive, it no longer destroys your day, destroys your week, destroys your life, because you made a decision to forgive. One of the reasons it stays destructive is we've kept forgiveness as an emotion and not as a decision. Once you make it a decision and it's no longer an emotion, then emotions don't decide about whether forgiveness has occurred. The decision has made that for you. So forgiveness is the cancellation of a debt, whether or not you remember what happened or remember the details.

It is the cancellation of a debt for a sin and infraction that was committed against you. Dr. Evans will come back in a moment with more to say about the two different kinds of forgiveness and the different roles they play in helping us grow closer to God. Stay with us. There were times when I was overwhelmed with the burdens of life, when I didn't know that I could keep going, and yet God would bring someone or something to speak words of encouragement to me during difficult times. Of course, 2019 was one of those times when I lost my wife of over 49 years.

And how do you keep going during that season? One month after I'd lost my father. And yet God provided the strength that I needed to keep proclaiming His Word during those difficult days. And I'm very grateful that for 40 years, we've seen His kind hand of favor on this ministry.

The expansion and growth we've experienced here is nothing short of a miracle, and none of it would be possible without the faithful contributions of people like you. And that's why I want to let you know about a special package we put together as our way of saying thank you when you make a donation to keep this ministry going. It includes all six full-length messages from Tony's current series, Freedom Through Forgiveness, on both CD and digital download, bundled along with his companion book, 30 Days to Victory Through Forgiveness, a step-by-step month-long journey toward freedom from the wrongs done to you or by you.

Unforgiveness is like emotional cancer, but the principles in this message collection are the cure. And we'll send them to you as our thank-you gift when you make a contribution to help us keep Tony's teaching on this station. Visit us at, make your donation online, and let us send you a copy of the special two-resource package.

Now today is the last day to take advantage of this offer, so go online right away or give us a call at 1-800-800-3222. Our resource center is open 24-7, so there's always someone waiting to help you. Again, that's or call 1-800-800-3222.

Well, Dr. Evans, we'll come back with more of today's message right after this. Whether you're facing a decision or a dilemma, it's smart to ask, what would Jesus do? But first you have to know what Jesus did and what God has to say about the situations you face. Well, if building your biblical foundation is your goal, the help you need is as close as your computer or mobile device, thanks to the Tony Evans Training Center. It's packed with online courses covering core concepts of the faith and in-depth scripture studies you can work through any time you want at any pace you want. Along the way, you'll explore key teachings and learn how to apply them in real-world situations. There's lots of exclusive content from Tony to keep you interested and motivated, and an online forum where you can ask questions, get answers, and collaborate with other students. It's almost like having a seminary on your smartphone. Visit today and connect with the Tony Evans Training Center where you can explore the kingdom anytime, anywhere.

I want to first talk to you about two categories. First is unilateral forgiveness. Unilateral forgiveness is forgiveness that you grant even when the person hasn't asked for it. Why would you give unilateral forgiveness? Nobody said, I'm sorry, nobody's repented, and you forgive anyway. Unilateral forgiveness is given, one, because the issue is so small in other words it didn't matter. They did wrong but you don't care because it didn't hurt you that much and it's something you can forget so you don't even care if they say, I'm sorry, if they repent.

So that's unilateral because it's so small. Another reason you would do unilateral forgiveness is the person refuses to say, I'm sorry, refuses to confess, refuses to repent. They say, I ain't going to repent. No, no, I'm kind of glad I hurt you.

I'm glad I did it. So they're refusing. Another one is they can't repent because they've died. They hurt you when years ago they've since passed on so they can't make amends even if they wanted to. They can't because they're not here or maybe you don't even know where they are anymore.

So they moved away. They've gone somewhere so they can't repent. If you don't do unilateral forgiveness then you'll stay hostage to something that can never be fixed because they've died, they've gone or they are never going to say, I'm sorry. Utilateral forgiveness is to set you free. It's to forgive what happened even when the person is not sorry about what happened because you don't want to be held hostage by what happened.

So it sets you free. In Acts chapter 7, Stephen is being stoned to death. In Acts chapter 7 they've come out to destroy him in verses 54 to 60 and they're not repentant. They're not sorry. They're stoning them to death and in the middle being stoned to death he says, Father, forgive them. Don't hold this to their account but they are stoning you. But I'm not going to let their stones remove God's work in my life.

I'm not going to let their stones. And what did he see? He saw Jesus standing on the right-hand side of the Father. Many of us don't see Jesus because we won't do unilateral forgiveness. That's where you forgive when there is no apology.

They aren't sorry but you decide I'm going to not credit this to your account even though you're guilty. Transactional forgiveness is different. This is where a person repents of what they did to you. They come and they confess it first. I'm sorry for what I did. That's confession. Confession is I agree that I did you wrong. Repentance takes confession to the next step. Repentance is the decision to make it right. I want to turn from doing it and I want to make restitution. I want to make it right.

Whatever kind of right is possible to be made, I want to do it. The Bible calls that fruit of repentance. In other words, how do you know if a person's truly repented because their words don't mean anything?

They can say I'm sorry and not mean it. How do you know that the confession was real? You know the confession was real when there are visible acts of repentance, that is, trying to make it right at whatever level is possible to correct it. The reason for transactional forgiveness is because that opens the door for a restoration of the relationship. The relationship can now be restored because repentance has been requested and forgiveness has been granted, opening up the opportunity for reconciliation.

With transactional forgiveness, you forgive and the goal is to try to reconcile and you heal the breach that caused the problem. You and I witnessed transactional forgiveness in the Amber Guyger case. When you saw her justly condemned for the act of killing an innocent person, she was given a judgment of 10 years. But his relative on the stand asked the judge for permission to leave the stand and embrace her because on the stand, she confessed that she had done it and a judicial judgment for what she had done had been granted.

Ten years in jail. But because there was the statement of repentance and there is going to be fruit of action imposed on her certainly by the court, he asked for the opportunity to restore relationship. He got up off the bench, walked over, the judge granted her the opportunity, and they embraced themselves for an extended period of time saying, even though you hurt me by what you did, I forgive you and I'm willing to restore what can be restored.

It didn't cancel the sentence, but it opened up the opportunity for restoration. That's what transactional forgiveness does. It seeks to bring about healing due to the expression of repentance. In Mark chapter 11, Jesus is telling the story and he says, when you have faith in God, he says, you can move mountains. A mountain in the Bible is an unovercomeable situation. He says, you can say that this mountainous situation in your life be moved and it will be cast into the sea. If you don't forgive, you won't be able to get rid of your mountain, get rid of that addiction, heal that relationship, solve that emotional problem, because you're living in unforgiveness.

Unforgiveness will block God's miracles in your life. Dr. Tony Evans will come back in a moment to wrap up this message he calls The Pardon of Prayer, part of his current series, Freedom Through Forgiveness. Copies of this individual message are available. Just visit to get the details. Better yet, request this entire six-lesson collection when you make a contribution toward the Ministry of the Urban Alternative, and we'll send it to you along with the companion book I mentioned earlier, Thirty Days to Victory Through Forgiveness. Visit to get the details and make the arrangements, or call us day or night at 1-800-800-3222.

That's 1-800-800-3222. A student or employee can complete a first-rate project for their teacher or boss, but they're unlikely to receive credit if what they did was not the assigned task. Well, tomorrow, Dr. Evans shows how the failures we experience in life may be the result of working on the wrong assignment. Right now, though, he's back to close our time together today with this. So now is a sacred moment. If there's any area of forgiveness that you need to deal with, we're going to set you free right now. Any area of forgiveness, forgiving yourself, forgiving somebody else, and let me throw another one out here. Even if you're mad at God, if there's any area of forgiveness that you need to deal with, if you're a couple and you're this mountain of a relationship that won't budge because somebody hadn't forgiven somebody, I want you to write down very short, I need to forgive blank for, and just put in a short phrase what it's for. Nobody's going to see this but you, so don't worry about that. I need to forgive blank, whoever that person is, if it's yourself, whatever it is, for and whatever the thing is. It may be more than one thing but nobody's going to know about this, could you? I need to forgive blank for because we want to set you free and we want to get God back in the same room with you. So the prayers are being answered, mountains are being moved so that He can forgive you because you're now a forgiving person, in spite of how your emotions feel. I forgive blank for whatever it is. The alternative with Dr. Tony Evans is brought to you by the Urban Alternative and is celebrating 40 years of faithfulness thanks to the generous contributions of listeners like you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-17 05:22:25 / 2023-12-17 05:30:56 / 9

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