Forgiven And Forgiving

October 7, 2015

Ephesians 4:30-32

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Back in April of 2013 I wrote a six-part series called Forgiven And Free.  This is from the first blog on April 3:

      One of the biggest hurdles Christians face is accepting God’s forgiveness.  It’s
      like they say, “Oh, I know God can forgive sins, but you don’t know what I’ve
      done!  How can I ever be forgiven for that really bad stuff in my life?”  And so
      they carry their sins around on their backs, weighed down and not able to live
      the life to which Jesus Christ has called them.

And so we explored several scriptures that show how completely God forgives our sins – even the most horrible things we could possibly do – when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior!

But the issue does not stop there. Paul tells us this in Ephesians 4:30 through 32:

      …do not grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you are sealed
      for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor,
      and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be
      kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as
      God in Christ also forgave you.

I subscribe to The Voice Of The Martyrs, a free publication.  This brief monthly magazine tells the stories of some of God’s people who live in areas of the world that are hostile to Christianity.  In the September issue I just read this morning, one pastor went back to a Hindu village to share the gospel, even though he was threatened on his first visit if he returned.  He was beaten nearly to death!  But he totally forgave his persecutor, and the man who beat him has since come to faith in Jesus!  Another young man and his wife were surrounded by militant Islamists who demanded him and his wife to recant their Christian faith and proclaim themselves Muslims.  When they refused to deny their Lord, the militants killed his wife, and hacked the husband’s arms with a machete, leaving him for dead!  He was given life-saving medical help, but lost his right arm.  His left arm is in a sling mending from serious wounds and bone breaks.  The persecutors had stolen his cell phone to spread a message of intimidation to those on his contact list.  But from his hospital room, he called his own phone and told his persecutors,I am a Christian.  I don’t bear grudges.  I don’t keep a record of wrongs.  I have already forgiven you.

Have you forgiven those who have wronged you?  …as much as God has forgiven you?  That’s what Paul is saying in Ephesians 4:32:  “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.  How much has God in Christ forgiven you?  …to the extent that He sees you as perfectly clean – as if you had never sinned at all! (See Isaiah 1:18; II Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 2:13; I John 1:7).  Why is this important?  Jesus – when He gave us ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ – warned us in Matthew 6:14 and 15:  “…if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  It is not that our forgiveness is dependent upon our forgiving others, but if we don’t forgive, it is an indication that we have never received Jesus Christ as our Savior – God’s provision for forgiveness for our own sins!

It can be a subtle issue for Christians.  Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch lady who was sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp for helping Jews escape Hitler’s purge.  Upon her release, she traveled the world with the message of God’s love and forgiveness.  In David C. Cook’s Bible Lesson Commentary 2011, 12, in the November 6th lesson, this is written:

      In Tramp For The Lord, Corrie ten Boom tells of a decision she made in her
      eighties to forgive individuals who had wronged her.  For years she had kept
      letters as evidence of their wrongdoing.  A friend pointed out her need to cor-
      rect the situation.

      Heeding this person’s advice, Corrie finally whispered, “Lord Jesus, who takes
      all my sins away, forgive me for preserving all these years the evidence against
      others!  Give me grace to burn these letters as a sweet-smelling sacrifice to
      Your glory.”  As Corrie burned the letters, a full sense of forgiveness came.

One of the best ways to expose subtle sins before God is to sincerely pray the last two verses of Psalm 139, verses 23 and 24 (KJV):  “Search me, O God, and know my heart. try me, and know my thoughts:  and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  God will honor such a petition, and will help you become a better Christian.  You will know you are Forgiven, And Forgiving others also!

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