Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďFORGIVENESSĒ Part 4

Luke 5.21

 

Turn in your Bible to Luke 5.17. When you find that verse in Godís Word, please stand and read along silently while I read aloud:

 

17     And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.

18     And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him.

19     And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus.

20     And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.

21     And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?

22     But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?

23     Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?

24     But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.

25     And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.

26     And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.

 

May I make two preliminary comments before we turn to the topic I have been exploring for the last few weeks, which is this matter of forgiveness?

First, let me address this matter of the manís bed, in verse 18, which is also referred to as his couch, in verse 19. Lest you think men hoisting a bed frame and a big mattress were carrying about this palsied man, what is being referred to in our text is a very light straw mat.

More importantly, notice that the Lord Jesus Christ forgave the sins of the palsied man, and only healed him of his palsy to prove a point to the Pharisees. The point, of course, is an argument from greater to lesser. Anyone who can forgive sins can surely heal physical ailments. Therefore, to establish that He had power on earth to forgive sins, He healed the palsied man.

The forgiveness of sins is far more important than physical healing, and properly received our Lordís primary attention. Our Lordís priorities were unlike what we see so much of in Pentecostal circles today, where the emphasis is on physical healing, with scant attention paid to the forgiveness of sins.

Those things said, focus your attention on my text for this morning, which is the question asked by the Pharisees in Luke 5.21: ďWho can forgive sins, but God alone?Ē The question posed by the Pharisees is a legitimate one, even if it was asked with a defiant and rebellious spirit, and our Lord Jesus Christ is quick to answer it. However, owing to our relative lack of familiarity with the importance of forgiveness, I would like to use their question to pose several more basic questions that need to be addressed:

 

First, WHO CAN FORGIVE SINS?

 

There was no question in the minds of the Pharisees that God, the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, can forgive sins. However, when they overheard the Lord Jesus Christ forgive the sins of the palsied man they were infuriated, thinking Him guilty of blasphemy, since only God can forgive sins.

In one respect, then, the Pharisees were absolutely correct. Only God can forgive sins, and anyone presuming to forgive sins who is not God is, indeed, guilty of blasphemy, a capital offense worthy of death. However, in another respect they erred greatly, since they did not know God, and therefore did not know Jesus, Who is God. The Pharisees and doctors of the Law, you see, had God very neatly packaged into their own small box of finite and fallible understanding. Thus, they were blind to anything in scripture, and to anything they saw with their own eyes, which might suggest that God is not exactly as they imagined Him to be, or that His Son, Jesus Christ, could conceivably be God manifest in the flesh.

Oh, be careful, any of you who think you have circumscribed God to such a degree that there is no more to be learned of Him, no more to be seen. Who, then, can forgive sins? Only God can forgive sins, keeping in mind that Jesus, being God, can therefore forgive sins just as His heavenly Father forgives sins.

However, that raises the issue of Godís reason for forgiving sins, and the Lord Jesus Christís reason for wanting to forgive sins. Why would God even consider forgiving the sins of a sinner? Why would the Lord Jesus Christ suffer, bleed, and die for sinners? What is it about the Father, and what is it about His Son Jesus Christ that would prompt the forgiveness of some who have sinned against them? Is it not that God is good, and that He is merciful? It is not that the Lord Jesus Christ loves the unlovely to such a degree that He would lay down His life for sinners?

What kind of God must He therefore be, perfect in holiness, august in majesty, great in mercy, super abounding in grace? As well, what kind of savior must Jesus be, this lily of the valley, this bright and morning star, this fairest of ten thousand to my soul, this Lamb of God Who takes sins away? To be forgiven by God, to be forgiven by His Son Jesus Christ, what release for the soul, what cleansing of the conscience, what liberty for the spirit, as cannot be grasped nor comprehended by the unforgiven.

 

Next, WHY SEEK FORGIVENESS?

 

This is a question that did not need to be asked in Jesusí day, when the Jewish people were living under the tutelage of the Mosaic Law, and had been continuously for more than a thousand years. However, it is a question that needs to be asked repeatedly in our day. Why seek forgiveness?

By forgiveness, I am specifically referring to the forgiveness of sins. Why should you seek the forgiveness of your sins? The reason this question needs to be asked in our day is because there is such spiritual darkness concerning sin and its punishment these days.

God has established laws that express the moral government of His creation. To put it another way, He has set forth what is right and what is wrong. God has drawn a line in the dirt, so to speak, with anyone crossing over His line being guilty of breaking His laws and being sinful. ď. . . sin is the transgression of the law,Ē First John 3.4.

The reason to seek forgiveness of your sins is directly related to what will happen to you if your sins are not forgiven. Romans 6.23 tells us that the wages of sin is death. That is to say, there is a severe penalty for sins. Sins are serious spiritual crimes that are punishable by death.

James 2.10 reads, ďFor whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.Ē So, you see, no sinner can beg off with the claim that he is not as bad as other sinners are. Guilty of one sin means guilty of all sins. Break one law and you have broken Godís entire system of laws.

Why seek forgiveness of your sins? You want your sins forgiven so you will not be punished for your sins, since the punishment for your sins will be Hell and then the lake of fire. Do you want to die and go to Hell? Then your sins need to be forgiven. Do you want to spend eternity in the lake of fire? Then your sins need to be forgiven.

Ezekiel 18.4 and 18.20 declare, ďThe soul that sinneth, it shall die.Ē Again, Romans 6.23 reads, ďFor the wages of sin is death.Ē Finally, Revelation 21.8, which is a bit more pointed, reads, ďBut the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.Ē

Of course, you might think to yourself, ďMy problem is that I donít really feel bad about my sins.Ē However, I would ask you if that will stop you from seeking forgiveness. Must you feel bad to seek forgiveness? Alternatively, is the awareness that your unforgiven sins will bring down Godís wrath upon you be enough motivation to seek the forgiveness of your sins?

It is really very simple. Sins will be punished by God. If your sins are not forgiven, you will suffer Godís wrath when He punishes your sins. Therefore, to escape the wrath of God, your sins must be forgiven. That should be reason enough for anyone to seek the forgiveness of his sins.

 

Finally, WHAT IS THE BASIS FOR FORGIVENESS?

 

Though the Jews of Jesus Christís day were very clear in their understanding that sins needed to be forgiven, and that God can forgive sins, they were mistaken in more ways than just their blindness to Christís power to forgive sins. They were also profoundly ignorant of the basis of forgiveness.

Allow me to explain: Contrary to what most people think about forgiveness these days, there is no inherent conflict between justice and forgiveness. Most people think that forgiveness can only come at the expense of justice, but they are wrong. Real forgiveness can only exist alongside justice. Therefore, if you think forgiveness has to do with pretending a sin was never committed, or looking the other way as if the wrong deed was never done, you are mistaken.

Real forgiveness can only occur when sin is punished, when crime is justly dealt with. In other words, when a crime has been committed, the crime must always be appropriately punished. When a sin has been committed, Godís wrath must always be poured out for the punishment of that sin.

The basis of forgiveness, then, is Jesus Christís substitutionary sacrifice on the cross of Calvary, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. God can forgive your sins only on the basis of Jesus Christ being punished for your sins, because someone has to pay for your sins.

As well, Jesus Christ can forgive your sins only on the basis of His death for your sins, because someone has to pay for your sins. If Jesus did not pay for your sins on that cross two thousand years ago, then you have to pay for your own sins by dying and going to Hell.

 

When you keep Godís Law in mind, then everything is really quite simple. When Godís laws are broken Godís justice demands that the spiritual crimes perpetrated against Him be appropriately punished. Since God is infinitely holy and is august in His majesty, any sin committed against Him is infinitely criminal in its wickedness, demanding infinite punishment as the only righteous response that will satisfy Godís just nature. Because God is good, and gracious, and merciful, He is willing to forgive the sins of a sinner who turns from his sins to Christ, trusting Him for the forgiveness of his sins. However, His willingness to forgive me is based on Christ taking my sins upon Himself and suffering the punishment that was properly due my sins. Since my sins were punished on Calvaryís cross, both God and His Son Jesus Christ can forgive my sins without doing any violence to their holy and righteous nature. But if my sins are not born by Christ on the cross and, therefore, not punished when God poured out His wrath on His Own Son, then there is no forgiveness for my sins.

So, what does it boil down to? It boils down to Jesus Christ and His cross. Forgiveness is only granted to those sinners who embrace Jesus Christ, who turn from their sins to Him, who come to Him for forgiveness of all their sins.

Again, why so? Because someone has to pay for your sins. If you pay for your sins you will spend all eternity suffering the wrath of God. However, if Jesus pays for your sins, He did so on the cross of Calvary, and your sins can be forgiven through faith in His name.

The question that remains is this: What will you do with Jesus Christ? Will you come to Him for forgiveness, on the basis of His sacrifice on the cross for your sins? Or not? For without Him and His sacrifice, there is no forgiveness of sins.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org