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January 27, 2021 12:01 am
When God forgives us of our sin, He makes a commitment not to remember our transgressions against us. Why, then, do we sometimes hold onto offenses even after someone has repented? Today, R.C. Sproul discusses several of the difficulties surrounding the topic of forgiveness.
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You are in a posture of hostility and estrangement toward the living God and the only way you can be reconciled to that God is through coming to the mediator, who is Christ and repenting of your sin. God stands ready to reconcile with you no matter what you've done in your life. Those of us who are believers in Christ, the forgiveness we received points as to the way we should forgive others, but that's easier said than done.
What about abusers or repeat offenders.
We forgive them today on Renewing Your Mind doctors. He still shows us that we should follow God's model of forgiveness even when it's difficult 30 years ago when my daughter was just a little girl I was working on the staff of the church in Cincinnati and every year we had a special week of services that we call the annual preaching mission, and this was somewhat unusual for a Presbyterian Church that we would have heavy emphasis for one week on evangelism and the fact every year we even during this week would have all recalls in the church, which was also unheard of in such circles and we would bring in a visiting preacher and I had to participate and assist in the worship service on this particular evening and there was a children's program that went on simultaneously in a different part of the church and I took my little girl that evening and put her into the children's program and then I went over to the church office and prepared for the worship service. Well that night.
The church was packed a couple thousand people there and at the end of the sermon. I was standing at the front of the chancel and I looked out and I saw these people coming down the aisles to the front of the church and to my utter astonishment numbered among them was my little daughter and I thought oh no she's too young to be involved in this sort of thing because she can't possibly understand what this is all about, but nevertheless she came down she made her profession of faith and after the service I was driving her home and I said honey what made you want to come forward during that part of this worship service. She said that I don't know.
She said I just couldn't sit still.
I had to go up there. I just was like something was pulling me and drawing me and I just had to go Samoa how you feel Nazi sit on taxes. I feel so clean.
She said I feel just like a bran new baby and I thought maybe she does understand what it's all about.
Because the experience that she had even as a young girl was an experience of the forgiveness of God, and I related to that in my own daughter's life because my conversion experience was very similar.
My conversion to Christ came when I was alone in my room. I was on my knees in front of my bed and I begged God for his mercy, and I was overwhelmed with a sense of complete pardon and forgiveness and I wanted to go out of that room and run down the street and shouted, I felt like a crawl of her glass to tell anybody.
I could about the greatness of the mercy of God because what our salvation is about is forgiveness and the only answer that I know of to real guilt is real forgiveness. The only answer to all objective guilt is objective forgiveness. Now, just as we saw the confusion that may exist between subjective guilt feelings as distinguished from the object of reality of actual guilt. So we have the same kind of confusion between all objective forgiveness and feelings of forgiveness which are the subjective side of forgiveness and sometimes they are not always in agreement with each other. That is, sometimes we cannot be forgiven even though we feel forgiven or we can actually be forgiven and still not feel forgiven. My favorite illustration that is another woman again in the church of medication and she was all distressed and she was struggling with her guilt and she told me about what she had done and she said and doctors for your theologian and I need to find answer to what I can do with my problem. She said I'm guilty and she confessed her sins no less.
The flaccid or what if you done she said, well, I've I've asked God 10 times the forgive me of this sin and I'm still not forgiven. What can I do and she was looking for me to give her some profound theological insight that she couldn't get anywhere else and I said well what I think you need to do is to get on your knees and ask God to forgive you. She said, but I've already done that.
10 times is that I'm not asking you to ask God to forgive you for that sin that you've requested forgiveness work done.I want to get done in your knees and ask God to forgive you for your arrogance. What she said she's angry assisted arrogance. What arrogance she said I've been the model of humility. I have been on my face before God day and night pleading with him to forgive me for this and I said and how he ties redundancy sit 10 times less than what is it that God says does not God say that if you confess your sins he is faithful and just to forgive you your sins and to cleanse you of all unrighteousness. It does God say that the DS is a did you confess your sin, yes soup and I don't feel forgiven. I said that's the problem. I said you only have to confess your sin once to God. If you are honest and sincere in your confession God promises absolutely the forgive you and the cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Why am asking to go back on your knees is for refusing to believe the promise of God when he has given you his commitment and his word to forgive you.
I'm asking you to ask God to forgive you for having your sense of forgiveness rest upon your feelings rather than upon the integrity of his work.
Don't you see that you've cast a shadow on God's integrity based on your feelings. I hope that you will experience the joy of the feeling of forgiveness but the actual state of forgiveness really has nothing to do with how you feel about it. Just like before the law of God, you're either guilty or you're not guilty. So in terms of the presence of God. You are either forgiven or you're not forgiven, and so we need to cut through the confusion and come to an understanding of what real and authentic forgiveness looks like.
Now I don't usually depend upon clever devices of alliteration to outline or structure my speeches or my messages. Some people are very good at that. I don't normally practice it but today I'm going to depart from my normal procedure and give the 5R's of forgiveness.
The five are you part of the 3Rs reading, writing and arithmetic, to give you the 5R's that had to do with forgiveness.
I'll mention them all at once first and then we'll look at them seriatim. First of all, the first are is repentance.
The second are is remission.
The third are is restitution, and the fourth are is reconciliation and the fifth are is restoration five hours repentance remission restitution reconciliation and restoration. These are all intimate parts or aspects of actual forgiveness.
I said to the woman again. The college student I said the only cure for real guilt is real forgiveness and the necessary requirement for real forgiveness is real repentance. There is no forgiveness before God without repentance. God does put a condition upon his forgiveness and that is that we repent. Now there's a host of confusion about this not only with respect to our vertical relationship to God, but also with respect to our relationship with other people. Somehow the idea has permeated the Christian community that it is always the Christian's duty and every life situation to grant forgiveness to those who sin against us unilaterally and immediately whether the people repent of their sins or not that we are simply not allowed to withhold forgiveness from people I don't know where people get that from the New Testament, except that our Lord on certain occasions and did unilaterally pray for the forgiveness of his enemies without their repenting and before their repenting even on the cross he said father forgive them for they know not what they do now.
We are certainly to emulate Christ in terms of our gracious attitude toward those who have violated us and we must always stand ready to forgive at the drop of a hat, but the whole system of church discipline in the New Testament and the judgment at the gates of Israel in the Old Testament has to do with seeking redress before the councils of the church for those who have violated us and who have not repented and there are those occasions where we can withhold our beneficence towards people if they have sinned against us and have not repented, just as God will not just unilaterally forgive everybody unless they repent now the other side of that is that if somebody does violate us and that person repents. If we refuse to forgive them. Then we he piles of coal upon our own heads. It is our absolute duty to forgive those who repent of their sins against us with the severe warnings that Jesus give. If we refuse to forgive those who sin against us. When they repent, how can we expect God to forgive us. We live by forgiveness and we should be manifesting a spirit of forgiveness.
In response to the grace and tenderness of God.
But what does repentance mean repentance means a godly sorrow for having broken the law of God, having violated the relationship with God having violated our relationships with each other.
That is a true sorrow and a sorrow that carries with it a desire and a resolve to turn away from that sin is not simply enough to acknowledge that I'm guilty but I have to say in my guilt. Not only am I guilty, but I'm sorry and oh God please help me not to do that again.
But obviously we are told by Jesus that if your brother sins against you 7×70 and repent 7×70.
What are you supposed to do. You're supposed to forgive 70×7. That may be that you begin the wonder of the genuineness and sincerity of the persons repentance when they continue to commit the same sin, but that's the nature of sin. And that's the nature of sinners. All of us have been guilty in our lives of committing the same sin more than once, but when God forgives us in real forgiveness doesn't keep track as we will see in a moment. Repentance the word in the New Testament is the word retinoid, which literally means a changing of the mind that is not just an intellectual conclusion that is different from a former conclusion.
But suddenly, I begin to see my sin for what it really is and where before I was not bothered by a tour.
I rationalized it. Now I change my mind and I am ready to acknowledge the reality of my guilt and to turn from my rationalizing and my attempts to deny the reality of my guilt. Now when that condition is met when true repentance which involves an acknowledgment of your guilt and a sorrow for your guilt and a result of turn away from your guilt that is followed by the remission of sins. Now we turn to the book of Isaiah.
In the first chapter and verse 18 we read these words, now, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as here in the poetic expression of the prophet we get the struct contrast between blood, redness and pure whiteness for with forgiveness and the remission of sin, comes the cleansing of the soul by the pardon of God with this David say purge me with hyssop, and I will be clean, wash me and I will be as snow and this is the promise of God, the term remission means to send away the word mission means to send Maceo we have missiles we have missives we have missions we have missionaries all are involved in some kind of sending activity.
What were talking about with the remission of sins is God's sending our sins away from us where he says as far as the east is from the west, so far. Do I remove your transgressions from Isaiah in the temple when the seraph came with the tongs of the altar took that hot: Cayman put it on the mouth of the prophet. The angel said to Isaiah, behold, your iniquity is forgiven and your sins have been taken away.
They have been removed from us.
That's what happens and in the place of that burden of guilt comes the cleansing of God, of the soul. That which I say, which was scarlet.
Now, as white as snow. That which was crimson now becomes as will we have a popular expression here about forgiving and forgetting and the idea is that God forgets our sins.
When he pronounces us forgiven. He forgets our sins that we can have a very serious misunderstanding of that. It's not as though when we ask God to forgive us and he remits our sins and removes them from us and sends them away that all of a sudden he has a memory lapse and the great God of heaven who is omniscient suddenly can no longer remember that we ever sinned against. That's not what happens.
It's not that God forgets literally the information of the reality of my sin. But the point of the Scripture here is that God remembers our sins against us know more in a few moments ago I talked about repeated forgiving to repeated offenses and this is the other thing that we need to understand when we forgive people what we mean by that when somebody comes up to me and says I'm sorry I did this and this and I violated you and I say that's okay, forget it.
I forgive you. What does that mean we can be very cheap when we say that it's okay don't worry about there is no 70×7. Really, because once I forgive you of a transgression. If you do it again. It's as if it were the first time because I live giving my forgiveness the first time I have made a commitment not to remember that transgression against you again. Not that I forget it.
I know it happened.
But when the second time comes around. I can't say that's too it's one because it's a new relationship and that's what we need to learn in the discipline of heart granting forgiveness to other people when we say that we forgive people are yea needs to be a and are in a needs to be night. The ministry of the gospel is called in the New Testament the ministry of reconciliation and the chief person whom we are reconciled is God himself, and that vertical model of reconciliation is to mirror and reflect the way we are supposed to seek reconciliation on the horizontal level with human relationships.
I know that every person has broken relationships had broken relationship, broken relationships, obtain me deeply. Some I can think of times in my life where I've had broken relations with people that were wonderfully and marvelously restored.
I also can remember times of having broken relations with people were never restored and probably never will be restored and that's a failure it's it's in there something seriously wrong. Sometimes you can do everything you know how to seek reconciliation and never achieve it can't be found can be done but we are to seek reconciliation now reconciliation. The one necessary requirement for reconciliation is estrangement. People who aren't estranged don't need to be reconciled. So the prior condition that requires reconciliation is estrangement and that's when the problems we have in our culture with God. People really believe that there estranged from God. People really believe that their enmity of God.
But if you have sinned against God, and never repented before God, you are God's enemy. You are in a posture of hostility and estrangement toward the living God and the only way you can be reconciled to that God is through coming to the mediator, who is Christ and repenting of your sin. God stands ready to reconcile with you no matter what you've done in your life, but he will not be reconciled with you without repentance. The good news is when you repent.
He reconciles he enters into a whole new relationship with you and in an earthly level. When that happens when relations have been broken and then they are brought together again. It's a magnificent magnificent thing. That's why we have the fifth or which is restoration. That's the benefit of forgiveness. That's the benefit of repentance. David can say restored to me the joy of my isolation and the restoration of a child of God to God is the subject of which the Angels dance. Remember, the prodigal son and of the great story of the restoration of that young man with his father in a very real sense. That's our story in terms of our relationship with God. But it's not only our relationship with God.
We can have the restoration of marriages of friendships of other relationships in our community because of the power of forgiveness effect with the whole gospel is all about. Ultimately, this cosmic restoration. The new heaven and new earth brought about the work of one who came to reconcile all things to himself.
That's why forgiveness is reality is subjective character is very hard. Restoration what a beautiful word broken relationships on every level can be restored through repentance and forgiveness brings to mind a great hymn of praise, my soul, the King of heaven to his feet.
Your tribute bring Ransom healed, restored, forgiven, evermore his praises sing your listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Wednesday by Billy Webb and thank you for being with us today.
We just heard a lesson from Dr. RC Sproul series dealing with difficult problems in six lessons. RC points is too practical and biblical solutions to understanding God's will, making sense of suffering in dealing with anxiety and anger. We like to send you the DVD simply contact us today with a donation of any amount at 800-435-4343. You can also give your gift securely email@example.com have you downloaded Wegener's free app to your phone or tablet. Whether you're at home or on the go trustworthy.
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