January 8

Please check out this 11:36 clip on forgiveness at a level most of us would have a hard time conceiving of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHyxPHZ-j2I&list=PLo7z2FHx460U_2UqDK7Oyb_qKS9PggbIn&index=309

Christ came to seek and to save that which is lost (Luke 19:10). The Gospel message to you and me is that each sin we’ve ever committed (each and every sin no matter how big or small) violated Jesus, punished Him, nailed His hands and feet on the cross. Who do we think we are that we cannot forgive those who merely abuse our physical bodies or our minds, or put us to death? This is not to downplay the serious consequences we may have to face in this life of other peoples’ trespasses against us, but to put them into perspective: We are not special! We are not God! We are minor in the whole scheme of things compared to Jesus Christ Who was perfect, innocent, and violently punished for oursins!

Today’s focus is therefore on the Gospel because it is the Gospel that brings us a context for true forgiveness.

  • Peter 3:18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;

The primary purpose of the Gospel is right there—to bring us to God. We are the violators and He is the loving pursuer Who brings us to the Father and justifies us when we in no way deserve it.

When we come to Christ we are required to repent (turn away completely) from our sins no matter what those sins are. If you’re an upstanding citizen in your community, a beacon to those around you, popular and well-mannered, you are still a sinner needing repentance from pride, selfishness, the desire for self-deification, and so forth. If your life is one marked as vile, violent, perverse, and unscrupulous, you also are a sinner needing repentance.

Next, and here’s the kicker, you cannot call yourself a Christian if you do not follow and obey Christ. Jesus did not give you the option. You are not allowed to say a prayer and get a free ticket to Heaven and yet never become His disciple. He even says that you do not love Him if you will not obey Him. There are many marks of a follower of Christ, and one of them is seen in that video above wherein we forgive.

From here, a person who has internally embraced the Gospel, has repented and sets his course to follow Jesus, now experiences forgiveness of sins:

  • Matthew 26:27 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.
  • Luke 24:45-47 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sinswould be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
  • Acts 10:43 “Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”
  • Acts 13:38 “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sinsis proclaimed to you”
  • Acts 26:18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sinsand an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.
  • Colossians 1:13-14 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
  • Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

When a person has repented, followed Jesus and been forgiven of his sins, he is now a new creature because God’s Holy Spirit resides inside him and changes him from the inside out. Positive thinking, listening to motivational speeches, self-help therapy, hypnosis, meditation, and the like are “outside in” efforts to change one’s personality and thought processes. These will never create a new heart, will never create a heart of forgiveness. In fact, these are usually working from a fleshly, secular basis and have no place in a Christian’s life to begin with. Look at Colossians 3:1-17 and process how you and I can change from the inside out and become truly forgiving people:

  • 1If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. 5Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come, 7and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. 8But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, ands abusive speech from your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him 11a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. 12And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
  1. Notice the first statement above: “If then you have been raised up with Christ”. Life change only begins with Gospel change. From there we can be spiritually changed into gracious, forgiving people.
  2. Reading the above verses 1-4 in conjunction with Philippians 2:5-8, how important is your physical life? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    1. Do you consider yourself a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1)? ___________________________________________________
    2. Consider this: Christ calls us to die to ourselves (Matthew 10:39 & 16:25), and to give up the idea that we have any rights. This is a great foundation for forgiveness.
  3. Having been called to give up our former, sin-ridden lives, verses 5-11 gives us commands against sinful practices (i.e. as evidence we are truly saved and following Him). Which of these are problem areas for you?
    1. Immorality __________________________________________
    2. Impurity ____________________________________________
    3. Passion (physically impure sexual practices) ________________
    4. Evil Desire (mentally impure sexual thoughts) _______________
    5. Greed (i.e. covetousness) _______________________________
    6. Anger (deep bitterness) ________________________________
    7. Wrath (sudden outbursts of anger) _______________________
    8. Malice (desire and fulfilment of doing harm to others) ___________________________________________________
    9. Slander _____________________________________________
    10. Abusive Speech (obscene or derogatory talk to injure others) ___________________________________________________
    11. Lying to each other ____________________________________
  4. The idea above is that you are dead to idolatrous (self-worshipping) practices and that you take off (the term in the Greek refers to stripping off one’s clothes as if they’re dirty) the fellowship-breaking, unloving practices of hate, attacking, and destructive speech. Once you’ve put these away, Paul moves into positive practices that should be our testimony as blood bought, Spirit-filled, born-again believers. Read these now (verses 12-14) and write down some thoughts on how these should play out in your life and in the church as a whole:
    1. Compassion: _________________________________________
    2. Kindness (in the Greek the idea is that grace pervades your whole being): ___________________________________________________
    3. Humility (the opposite of self-love): ___________________________________________________
    4. Gentleness (the willingness to receive suffering rather than dish it out): _____________________________________________
    5. Patience: ____________________________________________
    6. Bearing with one another (this means to “endure, to hold out in spite of persecution, threats, injury, indifference, or complaints and not to retaliate”): ___________________________________________________
    7. Forgiving each other (stemming from the Greek word to be gracious): ___________________________________________
  1. Notice we are to forgive because Jesus forgave us!
    1. Love (these things above cannot be manufactured but are Spirit-generated from within through sacrificial agapē love): ___________________________________________________
  1. Lastly, verses 15-17 set our foundation. Notice the source of our proper, loving Christian conduct:
    1. The peace of Christ ruling in our hearts.
  1. This leads to unity in the body of Christ.
  2. This should lead to us being thankful.
    1. The word of Christ richly dwelling within us:
  1. This is why reading 30 chapters a week should be no problem—it’s food for the soul as we delve into God’s message to us which transforms our lives.
  2. Teaching and admonishing each other—if we are not growing then we are dying.
    1. Biblically-based, theologically accurate teaching should be on our lips as we proclaim psalms, hymns, and songs that direct others back to Jesus.
    1. And the theme of our lives should be Jesus as we proclaim our thanks to the Father through Him.

“You Don’t Love God If You Don’t Love Your Neighbor” by Rhonda Vincent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IR2rpVd5Lwo