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April 7, 2021 4:00 am
Not for a Christian.
The failure to forgive is unthinkable. We have been told as explicitly as we could possibly be told that if anybody offends us we are to forgive them 70×7 or that is an endless number of times and that the reason we are to forgive them, is because our father in heaven has forgiven or not, and will continue to forgive us as we are faithful to forgive others made out to be more complex than it really is. The issue is forgiveness. And that's also the title of John's current study. It's one that can help you see what a forgiving person looks like. This study also lays out the expectations God puts on you to restore relationships and broken down, and walks you through the process of restoration. Now you're going to find these important truths about forgiveness by heading down one of the shorter hallways of Scripture, is the book of Philemon just 25 verses in all so here's John MacArthur continuing his practical study titled forgiveness. I draw your attention back to the wonderful little book of Philemon turn in your Bible if you will, to Philemon. Let me read you.
Verses four through seven, as the setting for our message.
I thank my God always making mention of you in my prayers because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you, for Christ's sake, for I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you brother.
We live obviously in a society that knows little about forgiveness. We live in a society that cares little about forgiveness.
In fact, I I would think that one of the major contributors. If not the major contributor to the destruction of relationships in our culture is the absence of forgiveness. Our culture pushes us to be unforgiving.
It celebrates and exalts people who are not willing to forgive. We make heroes out of the dirty Harry's in the Rambo's who murder people out of vengeance. As a result of the sinfulness the wickedness and the lack of any kind of Christian social restraint in our culture, we have a society filled with bitterness filled with vengeance filled with anger filled with hate filled with hostility toward others.
We live in a retaliating, vengeful, hostile, angry culture that wants to make everybody else. The perpetrator of a crime against us and us.
Frankly, responsible for nothing except vengeance.
Certainly ours is the most hostile, the most angry. The most unforgiving, most vengeful culture that I have ever experienced in my brief lifetime. Not for a Christian. The failure to forgive is unthinkable. I don't care what the issue is I don't care what the offense is a failure to forgive is a blatant open act of disobedience. We have been told as explicitly as we could possibly be told that if anybody offends us we are to forgive them. How many times 70×7 or that is an endless number of times and that the reason we are to forgive them, is because our father in heaven has forgiven us and will continue to forgive us as we are faithful to forgive others to look at this issue from the negative side for a moment. If we buy into this culture, a culture that says you don't have to forgive you have a right to your pound of flesh you can sue anybody and everybody for anything and everything you want to blame somebody else for your responsibility and make sure they pay painfully for what they've done to you. If we buy into that mentality. Here's what it'll produce. I'll give you just for things that will happen in the life of a Christian. Number one, it will imprison you in your past, a failure to forgive will imprison you in your past. As long as you fail to forgive an offender, an offense committed against you. You are shackled to the past. Unforgiveness keeps that pain alive. Unforgiveness keeps that sore open unforgiveness never lets that wound to heal. On the other hand, forgiveness opens the door lets the prisoner out forgiveness set you free from your past.
As soon as you forgive it. It's gone, your free if you insist on remembering the offense and never forgiving.
It then you allow the person to go on offending you the rest of your life and it's your fault, not theirs. Secondly, unforgiveness. Not only makes you a prisoner to your own past, but unforgiveness produces bitterness.
It produces bitterness. The cumulative effect of remembering without forgiveness some offense done against you, no matter how brief the time along the time is that you become a bigger person. The longer you remember the offense. The more data you accumulate on it, the more recited memory you have for it, the more it occupies your thinking and the more it occupies your thinking.
The more it basically shapes your person. Bitterness is not just a sin. It is an infection and it will infect your whole life and bitterness can be directly traced to the failure to forgive.
Forgiveness, on the other hand, dispels bitterness and replaces it with love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control. Why would anybody want to live in the prison of their past. Why would anybody want to live with accumulated bitterness that makes them violate every relationship is 1/3 thing that unforgiveness does.
Unforgiveness gives Satan an open door. Unforgiveness throws the welcome mat out invites the demons in where you have unresolved anger where you have unresolved bitterness where you have an unforgiving spirit. You have given place to the devil. Ephesians 426 and 27 says in your anger do not sin.
Do not let the sun go down while you're still angry and do not give the devil a foothold. The point is if you go to bed at night and you haven't fully forgiven so that your anger is gone you will gives Satan a foothold in second Corinthians chapter 2, there is a very direct statement made by the apostle Paul in chapter 2 verse 10 he says I forgive. I forgiven verse 11 in order that no advantage be taken out of us by Satan. For we are not ignorant of his schemes the devil moves in to an unforgiving heart to an unforgiving life is no exaggeration to say listen carefully. It is no exaggeration to say that most most of the ground that Satan gains in our lives is due to unforgiveness. We are not ignorant of his scheme to move in on an unforgiving attitude and destroy relationships, and frankly you can evict all the demonic trespassers by an act of forgiveness.
Why would anybody want to be in prison to their past. Why would anybody want to have the disease of bitterness to skew and discolor their life and why would anybody want to throw the door open and put out the welcome mat for demons forcefully unforgiveness hinders your fellowship with God.
Unforgiveness hinders your fellowship with God. Jesus said if you forgive men when they sin against you. Your heavenly Father will also forgive you if you do not forgive men their sins, your father will not forgive your sins and the ongoing relationship with God. If we don't forgive others. He doesn't forgive us. So if I'm not right with you then.
I'm not right with him. Why would I sentence myself to being anything less than in the place of maximum blessing from God. Right. What kind of foolishness is that how idiotic can I be do I find some value in having God angry with me. Is there some virtue in cutting off the purity and the joy of my fellowship with God. You see the idiocy don't you of an unforgiving attitude, it makes you a prisoner of your past. It gives you the all pervasive disease of bitterness.
It opens the door for demons and it alienates you from the full rich fellowship that God desires to have with you. There is plenty of good reason then to be a forgiving person.
If you refuse to forgive others, you forfeit fellowship with God, you open yourself to satanic involvement, you pollute your life and steal its joy and you make yourself a victim of your own past, this matter of forgiveness because of its significance and importance. Then is dealt with at great length in Scripture this matter of forgiveness is very important and it's right at the very crux of your spiritual health and mine not because it is so essential.
The Holy Spirit has devoted one entire book of the Bible to forgiveness. Not a very long book, but one book the book of Philemon here in this little book of just 25 versus is the spiritual duty to forgive emphasized not in principle form not in parable form not in word picture form, but in a personal true story. Now, as the letter unfolds, it becomes apparent that Paul is asking Philemon to forgive a man who is repentant on estimates has done his part. He is repentant he is coming back as it were, hat in hand, asking for forgiveness. God has done the right work in his heart and now it is the turn of Philemon versus 4 to 7. Give the spiritual character of one who forgives versus 8 to 18 the spiritual action of one who forgives versus 19 to 25. The spiritual motivation of one who forgives so we learn a lot about a forgive her. Here we learn how to be a forgive her. We learn the principles of forgiveness and that is the intention of the Holy Spirit in writing this wonderful letter. If you read verses 4 to 7. You're not going to necessarily see Paul identify 123456 the principles of a forgiving person but you going to see them come out and what he says they're not what we say explicit, but they are implicit there implied here very very clearly in this section, Paul refers to Philemon in very very glowing terms.
He commends him from verse four through seven on his Christian character and as he does that he is describing the kind of man who will be a forgive her.
This is the spiritual character of a man who will be a forgive or so in effect, he saying Philemon. I know you're the kind of man that I can trust to forgive bonus.
He's really setting him up by reminding him of his own character minutes part of wisdom is that the deal out praise whenever and wherever it is possible for praise itself becomes a nourishing food for virtue.
You understand that praise itself. Legitimate praise becomes a nourishing food for virtue and a strong antidote against sin. If someone comes to you and says I want to tell you I look at your life and I just thank God that you're a godly virtuous holy Christian believe me, that's food that nurtures virtue and at the same time. That's an antidote against sin is as if you know people see you that way and believe you're that way that accelerates your desire for virtue and your desire to stay away from vice.
So Paul speaks of the great virtue of the character of Philemon as the foundation for his appeal to forgive. I know you have the kind of character that will forgive know what kind of character is this what we see it in verses four through seven here, as Paul gives this wonderful warm kind of exposure to the character of Philemon. We see the kind of person who forgives. I said so many good things about them you have to ask the question, how do you know all this one, they were acquainted personally.
They knew each other fact in verse one. He calls Philemon our beloved Arriaga pathos our loved one, and our sooner Gus, our fellow worker, so they work together. They loved each other. Paul had led Philemon to Christ. He knew about the man. Furthermore, the church at Colossae met in his house so a lot of Christians knew about it. One of those Christians was the leader of the church at Colossae.
A man by the name of a path for us and it pathos.
According to verse 23, of Philemon was with Paul in Rome. So whatever Paul knew about them. It pathos could've enhanced because it pathos was the leader of the church, and Philemon's house and then there was on estimates the runaway slave. He must've affirmed all of this.
He didn't run away because Philemon was a bad man, an evil master of hard driving, forceful kind of taskmaster, not at all. Everybody would've affirmed the character of the man and so Paul had good knowledge of the man's virtue now as we look at these verses.
Verses four and following were going to see the kind of person who forgives what kind of person has the capacity to forgive muscle get verse four and start their I thank my God always making mention of you in my prayers. Not will just comment on that. Very briefly he says, in effect what he saying is, every time I pray about you. It is with thanksgiving. That's what he saying always in my making mention of you in my prayers.
I thank my God, that would be another way to frame it up.
Always when you come up in my prayers. I express my thanks always I don't have anything other to say to God, then thank you for Philemon. I don't know any negatives about you, everything I've ever heard about you and everything I've ever experienced with you is good.
Furthermore, verse five because I hear literally. I continue to hear the word keeps coming to me Philemon about you that makes me pray for you and in my prayers. I just say thank Paul is saying that I pray and in my prayers. You come up, and every time you come up. I thank God for you because every time I hear something. It's positive, what a wonderful statement.
All the news about you. Philemon is good.
There's nothing in this letter to correct Philemon there's nothing in this letter to suggest that he was out of line is nothing to suggest that he had an error in his theology, but some wasn't right in his home, some wasn't right in his marriage. I mean everything just was as it should be in this man's life choices everything I know about you makes me say thanks to God for you and what did you hear and what did he know about him several things number one.
He had a concern for the Lord hit a concern for the Lord. Please note, the first thing is in verse five he says because I hear follow me know of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus. That's the phrase I want you to grab first. The first thing I hear about you is that you have a true faith in the Lord Jesus, you have a concern for the Lord. I know I can come to you Philemon and ask you to forgive because you are concerned about the Lord, you have a true saving faith your genuine real Christian, and therefore you have the ability to forgive. You have been forgiven so you can forgive by the way that verbs you have present tense. You continue to have an ongoing continuous nature of concern for the Lord, you have continuing trust for the Lord Jesus, you have unwavering faith. You are a faithful true genuine believer. He says Philemon you walk by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. You exhibit trust in him and everything you seek his will. I know you can forgive. You see, we are those for whom much has been forgiven and we can forgive much.
We are those you remember, of whom Paul wrote in Ephesians 432 in Colossians 313 that we are to forgive one another because God for Christ's sake has forgiven us. We are those, like the parable of Matthew 18 who have been forgiven in unpayable debt and should go out and forgive others. Philemon you have a real faith.
You're a true believer. You can forgive and what is really saying here is that the first characteristic of a forgive or is he is a Christian is a concern for the Lord. The contrast for that is back in Romans three, just very briefly. I call your attention to Romans 310 hear the apostle Paul describes a non-Christian, an unbeliever in verse 10 he says here's the basic description of the nature of the character the disposition of an unbeliever. There is none righteous, not even one, there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God. All have turned aside, together they have become useless.
There is none who does good. There is not even one. So the first thing he says about unbeliever is there just not good there. Bad, wicked, sinful unrighteous can't do anything good.
Even there. Good is bad.
Good because even what they do. That may be humanly good is motivated by their own pride, not the glory of God. So it's bad.
Good. So I have told you in the past. Unbelievers can only do bad, bad, or bad. Good is all bad. Then in verse 13 he talks about relationships, their throat is an open grave. In other words, when they when they open their mouth outcomes filth and stanchion rottenness their tongues that used to deceive the their lips are filled with the poison of asps.
Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood others. A description of unregenerate people open their mouth, and outcomes.
Filth on their term deception on their lips moving from the inside to the out on their lips. The poison of a snake out of their mouth, cursing and bitterness and you give them a chance if they catch you, they'll kill you. There is no forgiveness there. That's the bitterness and the vengeance and the anger and they hate and the hostility of unregenerate people. They are driven by hate. They are driven by bitterness, they'll curse you out of their bitterness still kill you if they get a chance. On the other hand, those who have been reconciled to God.
Those who, as Paul says Philemon have faith toward the Lord Jesus are prepared to forgive and only those doesn't surprise me that our society is so litigious that we sue each other doesn't surprise me that people kill each other doesn't surprise me that if you: sit front of somebody on the freeway. They'll pull alongside of you and make obscene gestures at you. If not, shoot you. It doesn't surprise me that the hostility and anger of our culture is what it is because that's in the human heart, and we have moved so far away from any kind of of Christian aura of Christian social restraint that that now is tolerated more than tolerated, advocated that's because that's the way unbelievers should be expected to act as a surprising sometimes what does surprise me is when somebody pulls up beside me and does that and then speeds on buying a notice of fish sticker on the back bumper. I figure it's a Christian carbon not a Christian driver.
Those who were reconciled to the Lord Jesus Christ. However, forgive because we have the capacity to forgive this world is ripped to shreds everywhere from marriages to nations because people can't forgive, only Christians can really forgive from the heart. As Jesus said it only Christians can really forgive from the heart.
So a forgiving person is a concern for the Lord is very concerned for the Lord. He loves the Lord wants to honor the Lord is desirous of that which expresses his faith in the Lord because his faith is real, he has a capacity to forgive is a new nature is a new creation indwelling spirit gives them that ability. This is grace to you with John MacArthur.
Thanks for being with us. John is Chancellor of the Masters University in seminary today. He showed you the core attitude of a forgiving person a desire to honor the Lord and you'll see five more characteristics of a true forgive her tomorrow when John continues his study titled forgiveness. But John, here's a point of trivia. The sermon we heard today you preached in 1991 that was 30 years ago, but it sounds as if you could appreciate yesterday. Especially when you made the point that we live in a society you said filled with bitterness filled with vengeance filled with anger and hostility towards others. So with that said, the need to put forgiveness into practice probably has never been more dire than it is today. That was a problem 30 years ago and I'd say it's 10 times the problem today. At least hello yeah it's it's exponential.
The bitterness that rancor, the anger, the hostility that hatred I mutely look at the politicians look at the political world Washington. Those people can't even function because the hate is so palpable you look at the people and the political parties that the hate is so vicious. You have really II think when a new level of hate expressed in there. We went to that last summer burning buildings and smashing into things and just terrifying expressions of hate and bitterness and anger and all that seeps into the church said to say but that seeps into the church when you when you have a culture that justifies that that loosens up the bolts even in the Christian community and people feel that they can get away with those kinds of things because they are more acceptable in where forgiveness disappears from the church. All relationships break down. Forgiveness is at the very heart of all relationships. We produced a booklet called answering the hard questions about forgiveness and there are some tough questions about forgiveness like what's the difference between true repentance and a mirror apology or should you confess to someone your sinful thoughts about him or her when he may not know or how should you handle forgiving someone when they keep offending you or should you forgive when they don't ask for forgiveness. A lot of those questions fact we cover a dozen questions in this booklet called answering the hard questions about forgiveness is the good news would like to send you a free copy. I'm telling you, I wrote about a large book called the freedom and power of forgiveness grade is so freeing. It is so empowering to forgive. But here's a start on that answering the hard questions about forgiveness booklet that is free to anyone who calls emails comes to the website. It's available you can order one today.
Perhaps you know someone is having a hard time forgiving others put this booklet in their hands and help them know the relief that forgiveness brings ask for answering the hard questions about forgiveness. When you contact us today just call our toll-free number 855 grace or go to our website, TTY.org and request your free copy of answering the hard questions about forgiveness. This booklet gives clear direction for doing the right thing.
The biblical when you're wrong and when you're the one who's committed the offense again answering the hard questions about forgiveness is our gift to you. Just call 855 grace or go to GT Y.and remember there are thousands of free Bible study tools email@example.com.
You can read blog articles from John and the staff. You can work your way through the MacArthur daily Bible you could download more than 3500 of John's sermons in MP3 or transcript format for free access all of those resources and request your free copy of answering the hard questions about forgiveness TTY.org now on behalf of John MacArthur. I'm Phil Johnson saying thanks for remembering to pray for this ministry and let me remind you that you can watch grace to you television this Sunday. Check your local listings for channeling times and then be here tomorrow for another half hour unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on grace to