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Forgiven and Forgiving (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
August 18, 2020 4:00 am

Forgiven and Forgiving (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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August 18, 2020 4:00 am

When we’ve been deeply wounded, our natural inclination is to seek revenge. But believers should respond differently! Since we’ve been forgiven, we’re called to similarly forgive others too. Hear more when you listen to Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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When someone wrongs us, it's natural to want to seek vengeance. But as followers of Jesus, we should not be looking to our natural response. We should be seeking a supernatural response. God has forgiven us. And now we're empowered to forgive others. That's our subject today on Truth for Life, as Alistair Begg continues a message called Forgiven and Forgiving.

When you and I are tempted to harbor sin, then there is no surprise that we would fail to enjoy all of the blessing that God intends for us by means of cleansing and forgiveness.

The Westminster divines, when they gave us the Westminster confession, didn't simply recognize their need to confess the doctrines of the faith, but also they recognized the need to confess the sins of their own lives as an essential part of daily repentance. In other words, once they wrote the doctrinal statement and they said a life of daily repentance or the Christian life is one of continual repentance, then a group of Church of Scotland ministers reading that which had come out of Westminster said to one another, Well, the Christian life is a life of continual repentance. Then surely we ought to write down and meditate upon those things whereby we sin against God on a routine basis.

I don't know about you. I don't know what it is that you come to God with on a routine basis. But I would be surprised if some of us have even had it occur to us that some of these things. Would provide the very necessity for continually praying this petition in the Lord's Prayer.

I can't go through all of them. But let me just give you a flavor of the kind of things that they wrote down in the 17th century that confronted them with the need for continual repentance.

And ignorance of God and the lack of nearness to him.

Exceeding great selfishness in all that we do. The fact that we are glad to find excuses for the neglect of our duties. The fact that we neglect the reading of scripture in the secret place. The fact of our refined hypocrisy whereby we desire to appear what indeed we are not.

The fact that we are ready or to search out and send your faults in others, then to see or to deal with faults and ourselves.

Our foolish jesting, our way of time with useless conversation. The existence of bitterness rather than zeal. Too much I of our own credit and applause being pleased with it when we get it.

And unsatisfied when we don't.

Forgive us our sins.

We recognize that in the letter of John in that first letter, he is concerned that those of us who follow after Christ may not sin.

He says, I write to you that you may not sin, but if you do sin, then he says, We have an advocate with the father. We have one who is the propitiation for our sins. We have one who pleads our case in the presence of the father so that when the father recognizes that we sin, Jesus pleads our defense and says, I died for that sin.

Father, do not hold it to his account.

And for that reason, it's imperative that we keep short accounts with God. Now the risk of undue repetition. Let me state this principle once again, because I want to go on from here to the second part of the petition.

Forgiveness as we live our Christian lives is not ours until we seek it with repentance.

Do you remember when you came to Christ? When you turn from your sin, your repentance was clear and it was deliberate.

If then our Christian lives are to be journeys of continual repentance, then our repentance needs to be equally clear and equally deliberate. Our sins after we are converted are not forgiven until we repent of them.

He has made for us once and for all an atoning sacrifice for sin in Jesus. He has declared that the penalty is no longer held against us. But as we walk through the journey of our days and as the clouds of disintegrated fellowship descend upon us, he awaits. Father.

Forgive me, Father. I'm sorry, Father. I shouldn't have said that. I shouldn't have thought that. And it is in that encounter, in the keeping of short accounts, that all of that blessing and enjoyment is experienced. I say to you again that the Christian life is to be one of continual repentance daily turning from sin to God. And by means of that, repentance becomes both a principle and a habit.

Not that it medics are pardon?

But it prepares the way for.

Christ, if you like, in a very simple illustration, has paid for us and he has left the ticket for as it will call and as we pick it up and pass it, and then all of the benefits that he has provided by means of his payment become ours and that so on a daily basis.

Well, that's as much as I can do with this for now, and you're probably glad of that. But we must proceed to the second half of the request. Forgive us, our sins. Are your sins forgiven this morning? Have you come to Christ? Is it a volume two in your life where you've finally faced up to this and you came and you turned away from everything that you knew to be wrong and separating you from God and the Lord Jesus became your savior and your friend, or she may enter into all of the benefit of that sitting just where you are as you cry out from your heart to God.

Now, once this has taken place, what we discover is that the forgiven person is to be the forgiving person. The forgiven person is to be the forgiving person.

Now, it is not, as we've said, that we caused God to forgive us as a result of being forgiven. Some people read this the completely wrong way around. Forgive us our sins as we also forgive everyone who sins against us. In other words. We've been doing it, so hopefully you will do it as well. God, the Bible makes it perfectly clear that forgiveness springs from the grace of God and not from any human merit, and certainly not as a result of our going out and endeavoring to try and be gracious and forgiving to everyone else. It is not, then that our forgiveness of others earns the right to be forgiven, rather, as John Stark puts it so helpfully.

It is rather that God forgives only the penitent and one of the chief evidences of true penitence is a forgiving spirit.

One of the chief evidences of someone who has truly repented of their sins is a forgiving spirit.

So in other words, when I continually harbor enmity and bitterness in my heart and hold grudges, not only do I disintegrate my own life, not only do I jeopardize relationships with others around me, but frankly loved ones. I call in question as to whether I've ever discovered the nature of true forgiveness at all.

For the forgiven person. Is the forgiving pass.

That is beware, as we've seen in these studies, and look of telling everybody that we are the forgiving person because we completed some formulaic pattern that some individual gave us and said, if you do this, this, this and this euro forgiven person, now, if anyone ever asked you if you're a forgiven person, you simply remind yourself that you did this, this, this and this.

What did Jesus say? He says, take a look at yourself and see if you are a forgiving person. And if you are not a forgiving person, you better examine whether you've understood the nature of genuine forgiveness.

Forgive us our sins, but we also forgive those who sin against us.

Now, when I consider the enormity of my offense against God. Then the injuries that others inflict upon me will actually appear relatively insignificant by comparison. And that's why last time we read from Matthew 18, to which I encourage you to turn for just a moment and the story of the unmerciful servant. And you remember the question that gave rise to the telling of this story was uttered by Peter, and you wanted to know how many times he had to forgive his brother. You ever felt that way? Jesus, how many times do I have to keep forgiving my wife? She is totally driving me nuts.

You never felt that way. You're a liar.

How long do I have to go on forgiving this person in my office who keeps doing the same thing again and again? Again? How about 70 times or seven times or what would be a good number? Jesus, could you just give me a number? Because I want to put it into my into my. My little thing there, that little daytime hour. And I just want to check it off. And I'm keenly looking forward to when I reach the limit because I'd be very glad to give them a punch on the nose just as directly as possible.

So Jesus as well. How about seventy seven times?

Actually, what he's doing is he's saying, how about a number that you'll never, ever reach? And then he tells the story of the Kingdom of heaven being like a king who wanted to settle accounts, remember? And one man owed him the equivalent, the equivalent of ten million dollars. He owed him a sum that it was clearly impossible for him to pay. Even in the totality of his lifetime. Despite the fact he made a prostate protestation in verse 26 that if the man, the king was patient, that the servant would pay everything back.

I'll pay everything back.

What a hopeless task that is. That's what happens to us when we discover that we are indebted to God as a result of our sin. And then all of a sudden we determine we're going to pay everything back. And some of you are here this morning, and that's why you're here, because you're endeavoring to pay everything back.

And one of the ways you've been taught to pay everything back is by coming to church and you're able to reduce so much of the debt by attendance at church.

You come again and you can reduce it by a little more. And if you get very regular about it, then you'll be able to whittle the debt away in no time at all and find that by your own merit and your own creative righteousness, suddenly you won't have a problem at all. Let me tell you, you will never claim that mountain. Martin Luther tried it and it brought him to despair, into bondage, into great bitterness. It was only when he discovered that every mountain he could crime was by grace alone, that the burden fell from his back. But when we are confronted by our sin, beware of the people who tell us. Well, yes, that's exactly what you need to do.

Just do your best and see if you can whittle the dead away. That is the soul of every false religion.

The fact of the matter is the debt is so vast that if the man tried all of his life, he would never be able to repay it. And the only hope he had was that would you discovered that the servant master took pity on him, cancel the debt and let him go. Now, you would think that this man, having been relieved of a debt of 10 million dollars to use a figure.

Would be so outrageously excited about this.

That whatever money he had, he'd be happy just to give it away to people in the street. Whatever he had now, he would be glad to share with others. Therefore, isn't it an amazing little story?

When he went out, he found one of his fellow servants, someone who was in a similar position to himself. This guy owed him 20 dollars. And jumping on him, he began to choke the life out of him, saying, you pay me back what you owe me.

The fellow servant fell to his knees, prayed the same prayer that the previous chap had prayed. Oh, please be patient with me and I'll pay you back. But he refused and he had the man thrown into prison until he could repay the debt.

Now, the whole point of the sort of story is this.

The unreasonableness of the servant in view of the disparity between the size of the debts involved. An unpayable amount represented by, let's say, ten million dollars compared to a payable amount represented by twenty dollars. Now, what does Jesus say? He's saying this. It is inconceivable that we.

Who have been forgiving such a vast debt. Should ever feel.

To forgive the debt that we encounter as a result of what others have done to us, confronting us with the question, will I, having been forgiven so much, refused to forgive another, so little.

I mean, can I really say I know the forgiveness of God? The eradication of the vastness of my offense and then drive in my car. Day after day, smoldering at some trivial offense against me as a result of a word that was spoken or an invitation that was not received or a rejoinder that was passed or whatever it might be. Can I truly say I understand the enormity of forgiveness? If I then refused to forgive the trivial offenses against me. Now, that is not to say that every offense is trivial, but it is to say that in comparison to the vastness of our condition before God, every offense is trivial.

One of the major hindrances, I might even be prepared to say, the major hindrance to blessing in our churches, in our families and in our personal relationships is the absence of the practice of forgiveness. If you and I neglect the exercise of forgiveness. We will very soon lose our enjoyment of God's part. And I urge your loved ones, if you keep a record of since either physically written down or mentally stored in one of those some files of the computer of your brain.

Then I say to you, on the authority of the word of God, I beseech you, brethren, by the renewing of your mind that you present your lives as a living sacrifice to God. Give up those things.

Refused to replay the video.

Do not take those old pictures back out and go through them all over again. Surely if he is forgiven, given the vastness of our offense against him, we may then walk in harmony with those who have offended us.

Indeed, the Bible makes it perfectly clear we saw this in the 37 verse of of Luke Chapter six, and with this I draw to a close.

That our daily experience of forgiveness. Our daily experience of forgiveness is directly related to our willingness to forgive others. That's 37 of Luke, six do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned.

Then he turns around, makes it a positive statement. Forgive and you will be forgiven.

In other words, the way in which we forgive is the way in which we will be forgiven. There is an exact correspondence between our own experience of God's forgiveness and how we are called to forgive others. Ephesians chapter four, verse 30, to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other. Then it's not a full stop. Thankfully, there's not a full stop. It may just appear to be a form of moralism. You know, do your best. No, be kind and compassionate one another, forgiving each other. How or in what way or by what power. Just as in Christ. God forgive you. How am I to forgive you? The way God in Christ has forgiven me. How is he forgiven me? Totally.

Unreservedly, unremittingly. Forget fully, he has forgiven me.

Now, if you want to be kind and compassionate to one another, it is impossible, says Paul, without a genuine expression of forgiveness.

For a heart that harbors wrongs will not be a kind and compassionate heart.

Someone has put it in this way. Not a particularly good poem, forgive our sins as we forgive you taught us, Lord, to pray. But you alone can us grace to live the words we say.

How can your pardon reach and bless the unforgiving heart that broods on wrong and will not let all bitterness depart? In blazing light, your cross reveals the truth. We dimly knew how small the debts men owe to us, how great our debt to you, Lord, cleanse the depths within our souls and build resentment, cease, then reconciled to God and man.

Our lives will spread your peace.

So let's be very clear as I conclude it is in our forgiveness of other people's sins against us that we reveal the fact that we have discovered forgiveness.

In Christ.

Now, that simply serves as the foundation. That is, if you like, the principle. Now, what are the Bible says that do not merely hear the word, but put it into practice? Dwight L. Moody said those who say they will forgive but never forget. Simply bury the hatchet, but leave the handle out for immediate use. And that's where some of us are.

With every place we go through our lives, there are handle sticking out, ready to be picked up and to hammer at somebody just at a moment's notice, things that we said were forgiven and obliterated and will not be raised again. Back out and whack with a handle or what? With a blade.

The UN forgiving spirit is the number one killer of spiritual life. You want to be spiritually useless. Let me tell you what to do. Refuse to forgive others and you will be as spiritually ineffective so fast it'll make your head spin. There is only one remedy for our past, and it is forgiveness.

There is only one ground for our confidence in the future. And it is in the promises of God. And there is only one basis for enjoyment in the presence, and that is in our trusting obedience.

You're listening to Truth for Life and a message from Alistair Begg titled Forgiven and Forgiving. Alister, we'll close today with prayer in just a minute. But first, I want to tell you about a book we're featuring today written by Alistair's friend and spiritual big brother, Sinclair Ferguson. It's titled Maturity in the Apostle Paul's letter to the Colossians, he describes the goal of his ministry as presenting everyone mature in Christ. Yet such an emphasis on spiritual maturity is surprisingly rare in many churches. And as a result, it's increasingly less of a priority for many believers. What exactly does it mean to be spiritually mature? How do we get there? Sinclair draws from his extensive knowledge of scripture to give us a biblical roadmap for measuring our faith, helping us avoid the dangers of temptation and other pitfalls. He provides practical guidance for daily growth, reminding us to rely on the Lord alone for hope and wisdom. Learn how to make sure you're on the right track as you grow, as you request your copy of Maturity by Sinclair Ferguson. It comes with our thanks. When you donate to support the teaching, you hear on this program a Truth for Life. We believe everyone should have access to clear, relevant Bible teaching and quality Bible study materials. That's why all of Alistair's teaching is available free of charge. Why we offer c.D, DVD and USPS at just our cost to produce without any markup. It's also why we strive to make Alistair's teaching as widely accessible as possible through listening channels like Amazon's Alexa or Google Home. And The Truth for Life mobile app. You'll find many of Allaster sermons have transcripts available for those of you who enjoy reading along or taking notes. We're always looking for more ways to make these messages accessible to more people. We can only do that when listeners like you stepped forward to help cover the cost. When you donate today. Be sure to request your copy of the book Maturity. Simply visit Truth for Life Dawgs Slash, Donate or give us a call at eight eight eight five eight eight seven eight eight four. If you'd prefer to mail your donation along with your request for the book, our address is Truth for Life. Post Office Box thirty nine eight thousand. Cleveland, Ohio four four one three nine. Now, here's Alister Duclos today with a final prayer.

Now, oh, God.

You know, our hearts and you have heard all of my words, Grant, that the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts may be acceptable in your sight. Bring us or God we pray to a genuine experience of repentance and faith and the blessing of forgiveness. And Grant, that may become apparent that we are forgiven because we are the forgiving ones. And may grace and mercy and peace from the father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be the abiding portion of each one today and forever more.


I'm Bob Lapine. Hope you can join us tomorrow as we continue Oncor 2020. We'll hear another of the most popular messages from this past year. A study in the book of Ruth titled God of the Ordinary. The Bible Teaching of Allaster Begg is furnished by Truth for Life.

Learning is for Living.

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