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April 12, 2021 4:00 am
What Paul is saying is magnificent here.
I want to be like Christ. I want to take on the debt and the sin of own estimates so that he can be reconciled to you here you see him as the substitution for reconciliation. Much like never, always more like Christ. Then when we carry the debt so that forgiveness can take a friend who wrongs you, but what if a person need your forgiveness again and again, I commit the same offense over and over. Is there a limit on how forgiving you can be and should be keep that question in mind today on grace to you as John MacArthur shows you what the Bible says about mending broken relationships and what your view of forgiveness says about your relationship with God. John's current study is titled forgiveness, and now here's John with the lesson we returned to the letter of Paul to Philemon. The epistle to Philemon.
This brief epistle of 25 short verses one chapter is a living lesson on forgiveness. Three things are involved in forgiveness. First of all, reception reception. What I mean by that was the first element in forgiveness is just to open up your life and take the person back let them in your life. Verse 10 I appeal to you for my child whom I have begotten in my imprisonment on estimates who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me and I've sent it back to you in person that is sending my very heart whom I wish to keep with me that in your behalf. You might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel but without your consent. I didn't want to do anything that your goodness should not be as it were, by compulsion but of your own free will just take him back.
He says I'm just appealing to you, take him back and this should be done immediately because are three things that are not true about an estimates ready for them. He is repentant he is transformed and is proven faithful he is repentant he is transformed and he is proven faithful they unfold in those very simple verses.
He saying you need to take him back because he's ready to be taken back in. Forgiveness begins with reception personally close the gap across the rift keel the wounded little Nessim is back into your life. I appeal to users for my child like you Philemon. I led him to Christ. He's my son in the faith like Timothy like Titus, like others in the scene is very dramatic for their stands on estimates. This is a shock to Philemon because he's come back with to check us and he's come back with this incredible experience with the apostle Paul. Paul says taken back.
He has come in repentance you say where's the repentance. Verse 10 I appeal to you for my child whom I have begotten in my imprisonment on estimates.
It's it it's implied, how do you know he repented because he's there folks, he's there, he went back into the most dangerous thing.
He went back humble repented to face the man he had drawn the man who had the right of power over his life to exact punishment, he went back that's repentance. You don't have to say the word just have to do the deed member what John the Baptist said to the Pharisees and the scribes thesis wanted to show me the fruits of repentance not just talk about. Here's the fruit he went back very dangerous.
Could've cost him his life. But he did what was right. He says I appeal to you for this. One who stands before you, who I have begotten on the human instrument of his salvation by the grace of God. He is now my child became the Christ here in my imprisonment I'm sending him back.
Open your arms is repentant. Obviously, I wouldn't be there. He's humble. He seeks to have a restored relationship with dismay, whom he is wrong. That is the first element of forgiveness. The reception of the person back into one's life. Open up kill the hostility embraced the person second. Not only was he repentant but he had been transformed. Look at verse 11. He says you're not getting the same one back you lost who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me he's not the same guy. By the way, this is a play on words or Nessim us means useful was a common name for slaves probably started as a nickname.
They just nicknamed their slave useful and they probably had nickname some slaves useless as those two words in the Greek are very similar. So depending on how good they were. They nicknamed him useful or useless on estimates means useful. So Paul is a little play on words in verse 11, he says useful, formerly was useless but now is useful both to you and to me why God's changed and he's not the same man. He's different.
A radical change has taken place. He's going to serve you the way. Colossians 322 and 23.
The letter, he'll read a little later would say not with eye services men pleasers, but serving the Lord from the heart. He's coming back a different servant.
He's knocking to serve you, just watching to see if you're looking if you're looking he'll work he's going to serve you as if you were serving the Lord.
He's a transformed man and he is now useful is living up to his name to you and to me, I've seen his usefulness and you'll see it to is 1/3 element that indicates that he was worthy to be received into relationship and that is he was. Not only repentant and transformed what he was proven faithful verse 12 process. I sent him back to you in person that is sending my very heart. This guys proven I mean me sending them to you is very painful. I sent him back to check us because I knew it was right.
He had to be restored.
There had to be the reconciliation of the relationship he had to be received by you, it had to be made right but I just have to tell you I'm sent in the back and it's cutting out my heart, this guy can be loved.
The apostle Paul had an immense capacity 11 he did. Come to the point where he loved this man sending my heart. The word heart is actually bowels the lower part we feel that he was always referred to that is the seat of emotion and feeling and he says my feeling runs deep for this fugitive, this criminal Phrygian slave has become beloved to me. I've open my arms and I've taken him in and I'm telling you he is a great man to know and love and sending them to you on uncut, not my heart.
Choices taken back is repentant taken back is changed take him back.
He's worthy he's valuable. He's a wonderful friend. Open your heart for taken back. He says in verse 13, whom I wish to keep with me.
I want to keep.
And that's why thought could not. My heart ascended and listen to the subtle little note that in your behalf. You might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel was a mean by that. It's another way to affirm the gracious loving character of Philemon. He says all Philemon I'm sent in the back. It's cut, not my heart. I want to keep him so that he could minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel in your place. I know you would want to be here to minister. I know your heart of love II know you wish you could be here and I thought well I'll just keep on estimates and that will be just like having you here and heal minister to me where you're unable to do that. I know you would've wanted me to have some ministry and I know you would've done it yourself if you could have. So I thought well I'll just keep him here and he can minister to me in your stead because I know you'd love to do that but he says look verse 14 without your consent. I didn't want to do anything. I know you would've loved to leave them here to help me in my imprisonment. He rattles a change for the fourth time just to keep the part of Philemon tender.
I know I know you will want to say but I wouldn't do that without your consent that your goodness should not be as it were, by compulsion but of your own free will. I want you to be good because you didn't have a choice. I wanted you to be good because you had a choice I do want to do anything against your will. I do want to force the issue. I know you're wonderful guy and I know you wanted to serve me and you would've done it yourself and you probably would've given me on estimates to do it but I want to presume on your love and I want you to make the choice to be good on your own free will.
More than that. Paul wanted to see the transformation. The repentance and the valuable Nessim us beloved. This is where forgiveness starts. It starts in opening up my life and letting the person back in. It starts with forgetting the grudges and forgetting the offenses and just opening my life and letting them in and saying yes if your sorry I take you in. Yes, I can see that you're not the same person you were the did that yes you have value and I acknowledge it. The person that you forgive who's not repentant. You can never bring into this relationship and so forgiveness is very one-dimensional, but where there is repentance and change in value you take him back.
Now that leads to a second element, the first one is reception reception.
The second one is restoration. Restoration Paul suggests that not only should you open your arms are taken back because he is worth loving but you need to put them back in the service you need to put them back into function in ministry. Verse 15 this is fascinating for perhaps and here he appeals to the providence of God, perhaps, will Nessim us was for this reason parted from you for a while that you should have them back forever no longer as a slave more than a slave, a beloved brother was state pulses look, I'm not going to mitigate the guilt of all Nessim is obviously will Nessim us did was wrong, but I just want you to consider that maybe God had a purpose, and Paul says, perhaps because no man can see the secret providence of God at work, but don't you think Philemon that maybe God was using this evil to produce good. Remember Genesis 5020 you meant it for evil but God meant it for good.
Romans 828 all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to the his purpose Psalm 76. 10 God makes the wrath of man to praise him.
God can overturn overrule any evil. God is always triumphing over sin by his providential power in his providential grace he takes the infinite contingencies and decisions of all of humanity and uses them to accomplish his own purpose and so Paul says, don't you think perhaps that God had planned all along that when this man left you he would come back in another way departed from you for a while that you should have him back forever.
You lost a slave and you gained a brother you lost a slave you gained a brother, God allowed God overruled it a temporary separation to lead to an eternal relationship.
What will Nessim us did could have had irreparable damage in terms of the trust of Philemon, but he needed to see that God was working in this and God had led that man right. Paul got them converted and sent them right back in now verse 16 he says, no longer merely a slave doesn't mean he's not to be a slave. This is an Emancipation Proclamation. He's saying he's not a longer merely a slave. He is more than a slave. He comes back, a beloved brother so taken back yes to be a servant again yes to be a slave but not just that more than that. He said he's already been that verse 16, especially to me, but how much more to you both in the flesh that is a physical slave and in the Lord as a brother in Christ you get them on both counts. Paul is not abolishing slavery. He says he comes back as a servant. He comes back as a slave, but he's not just a slave you lost merely a slave you got back a more faithful slave who will operate to the glory of the Lord, and you got back a beloved brother in Christ, how much more will he be to you pulses that he was to meet to me. He was only in the Lord, a brother to you, he is in the flesh, a servant, and in the Lord, a brother you get his physical service, you get his spiritual service in the fullness, forgiveness means I open my heart, I take the person and relationally it means I take him in. In terms of restoration to service reception that's personal restoration to usefulness and service. Thirdly, the third component in a forgiving relationship is restitution.
Restitution there has been wrong done and that wrong needs to be dealt with. How will it be dealt with.
Obviously, when all Nessim is both of the place he defrauded Philemon. If the price of a good servant was 500 and area I he would have to go take 500 in area I which could be a normal common wage 500 days wages and by himself. Another sermon which means it cost him dearly.
Not only that, it seems apparent that went on estimates left he took some of the possessions and money of Philemon or the fund is fugitive life and so he is definitely defrauded him.
The Bible has very straightforward principles of restitution.
You can read about them.
For example, in Numbers chapter 5 verse six through eight. It tells about it was to be repaid and so there has to be restitution.
How is Paul going to deal with this on estimates has nothing like the prodigal son.
He wasted all his substance on riotous living. And then he didn't get a job. You just serve the apostle Paul, which is understandable because of his newfound faith in the longings of his heart to be around that godly man, he probably comes back with empty pockets. So how's he going to deal with restitution. Verse 17 and 18.
If then you regard me a partner, a coin, no non-eighth fellow partaker of spiritual life.
If you regard me a partner except him as you would me.
He says just in the way you treat me. I want all Nessim us to have my righteousness in your eyes, welcome him as you would welcome me, forgive him as you would forgive me hold an obligation against him as you would hold an obligation against me just taking back just the way you take me and then in verse 18 Paul adds that if he is wrong doing anyway or owes you anything charge that to my account. Restitution is always an essential component of forgiveness. It would've been right for Philemon to say you, you pay me back what it cost me to replace you a ticket out your wages, you will work overtime and you will restore back to me what you stole from me when you left that would be justice that would not be wrong, but neither is it wrong to be gracious. Neither is it wrong to say I know you were an ungodly sinful man and I understand that behavior suited that kind of nature now that you're a transformed person. I no longer hold you responsible for that which you did in your unredeemed status.
I graciously forgive you. That would've been a wonderful thing to do and certainly would have been a Christian high ground approach to the issue but just to take any pressure at all off Philemon to be forced into a gracious act of total forgiveness. Paul says whatever he owes you. I'll pay because he has no money obviously had nothing with which to pay. So Paul says it all to sit up all of any money must have little he was renting a house. He was dated and from time to time.
He had worked in the cumulative money so we could support the people around him bosses just to put on my bill and then over in verse 22. He says I'm coming to lodge with you. The assumption would be when I get there. Allah will settle his account. There needs to be restitution. Sometimes the restitution is to pay back if the person is able to do that, but sometimes the best kind of restitution is just sheer forgiveness and just the grace of God. In this case there is a marvelous component added because I want you to follow the thought here Paul is is playing a very, very familiar part in the life of Philemon and on estimates is a part. He knew well is the same part. The Jesus Christ plates and the relationship between the sinner and God. Philemon is like God. He has been violated.
He has been defrauded on estimates is like the sinner who ran from God, who defrauded God who wasted his life and if the sinner is to be reconciled to God.
Somebody must pay the price right. It was Christ. Paul knows that substitutionary death of Jesus Christ very well. He is preached at four years. What Paul is saying is magnificent here, Paul is saying I want to be like Christ.
I want to take on the debt and the sin of all Nessim us so that he can be reconciled to you.
Does this give you an insight into Paul. You remember what he said on several occasions, be followers of me as I am of Christ. Here you see him as the substitution for reconciliation much like Christ never are we more like God than when we forgive never are we more like Christ than when we carry the debt so that forgiveness can take place.
Paul is acting like Christ. He says I'll take the consequence of his sin. You just take him back.
A beautiful beautiful perspective. In this issue of restitution. It doesn't tell us what Philemon did. But I am quite confident that he forgave and that he charged nothing to the apostle Paul, how do we forgive reception open our arms take the person back personally into love second restoration take them back into useful service. Third, make sure that they have totally and completely had the debt settled if they can pay and it is just and their desire receive the pain. If they cannot offer forgiveness and maybe you at the same time can be the substitute for that reconciliation, even to yourself such as the character of forgiveness such as the forgiveness God asks us to give each other what's brown prayer father. We are so affected by this tremendous lesson and forgiveness. If there is anything Lord in my heart on the hearts of your people here that could be in any sense viewed as an unforgiving attitude toward anyone.
Please forgive us and remove it for we know that you forbid an unforgiving heart is as much as you forbid murder. We know that you though most sinned against. Forgive us and require that we forgive, the less sin. Who are the less holy. We also know Lord that a lack of forgiveness forfeits fellowship, communion with you and leaves our own sins, unforgiving lack of forgiveness robs us of the love of other Christians and brings us under chastening and then we know frighteningly that a lack of forgiveness takes the sword out of your hand and blasphemous Lee claims to be a better judge makes us unfit for worship causes us to fall victim to temptation, Lord, may we not be unforgiving but may we be like Paul who was forgiving like Christ and who sought that others should be the same and thus may we know your blessing and the joy that comes to obedient bully for our Savior's name. This is grace to you with John MacArthur. Thanks for being with us today.
John continued his study titled forgiveness along with teaching here on the radio. John also serves as Chancellor of the Masters University in seminary. John you've talked at length in this study about forgiveness between two people you've answered all my questions on that, but I'd like you to listen to a question that came in on our Q&A line. Here's a listener who has a question about a different aspect of forgiveness. So let me play the question and then you respond, Maria Bello, California.
I would make regarding how they say that you're able to forget I want without the present asking you for always told that your support it, even if they don't ask you for forgiveness.
I don't understand because even with G we have to. At one point that you forget your ship more light on that.
Thank you. Yeah that's a good question Maria that that's that's a good question. I would say this clearly, we have not asked Jesus to forgive every sin we committed right so we know he's forgiven our sins, but that blanket. Forgiveness does not require us to bring every sin to him. Most of our sins we don't even they passed by. Don't even think of that we don't remember them. So yes you come to Christ in you, ask him for the full forgiveness that he gives you and add salvation not listen Maria salvation he forgives all your sins all your sins from the past all your sins. The present all your sins in the future. You don't have to go back and list every single sin or it won't be forgiven no your sins have been forgiven. Not only that the full penalty for them has been paid of the cross. So I think you have to look at relationships in the same way you have a general attitude toward someone of love and forgiveness. That's that your heart holds toward them. So when they sin a sin against you.
There not required to come to you and specify that sin they live in the full forgiveness that your heart grants to them.
That's what it means to be a forgiving person. That's what it means not to hold a grudge and that's the attitude of the Lord. He forgave all our sins. The ones in the past that we never confessed the ones in the present that we forget to confess the ones in the future that we won't confess are all forgiven, because he holds us in his hands in a kind of forgiving grace that extends to everything and that's how you have to hold people your relationship to then is the love which comes with full forgiveness and you're not waiting for them to confess each sin.
Having said that, I want to say this when they sin against you.
And don't ever come and asked forgiveness and seek to make it right. It makes that relationship far less meaningful than it should be.
So there is a price to pay for not seeking that forgiveness. But they pay that price. You grant that forgiveness.
Nonetheless, thank you John for that encouragement of that helpful reminder and friend. If, like Maria, you have a question about Scripture or the church or how to apply a biblical truth, practically to your life. Let me encourage you to call our Q&A line and John might answer your question on future broadcast get in touch today.
The Q&A line number 661-295-6288. Again, you just leave us a message with your question, then you may hear John answer that question on an upcoming broadcast that number one more time. 661-295-6288. You'll also find that number on our website Jide TY.org and now turning the corner a bit. Let me remind you that grace to you is supported by listeners like you benefited from this verse by verse teaching when you make a donation to help us take Bible centered resources across the globe, bringing spiritual nourishment to families, full-time pastors, church elders, students and others from all walks of life.
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Now for John MacArthur on Phil Johnson encouraging you to be here at the same time tomorrow when John continues his series on forgiveness, with another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on grace to you