Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďON BEING AN APPEALING CHRISTIANĒ Part 9

 

I would like to turn the tables this evening by altering the scenario from one in which you have sinned and find yourself in a position of either appealing to someone in a position of authority over you or seeking by means of an appeal the forgiveness of someone you have sinned against, to the place of being someone who has been wronged, someone who has been sinned against.

Consider the case of someone sinning against you. Imagine a serious sin, an embarrassing sin, a terribly hurtful sin, a premeditated betrayal, a brutal transgression. What should you do,

 

When someone has sinned against you?

 

It is a bit different when the tables are turned, is it not? From being in great need of anotherís forgiveness, you now find yourself in the place of either granting or denying forgiveness to someone else.

I remember being in this type situation when I was a senior in high school. Our graduating class went to the resort where I had worked for two years as the head lifeguard, renting the entire pool one night for the exclusive use of our school, my classmates. One fellow showed up drunk, and before long passed out in the pool. I rescued him and took him into the bathhouse to make sure he was okay, as well as to make sure he was not arrested. When his father showed up and went ballistic, he immediately took out his anger on me instead of his son and humiliated me in front of the entire school by accusing me of being responsible for his sonís drunken stupor. I was not only humiliated, but I was also infuriated that this guy had jumped to that conclusion. Later, when he approached me in front of my friends and extended his hand and asked forgiveness, I was still so mad that I told him to get lost. I refused to give him what only I could give him, forgiveness. How terribly wrong I was that night, and the wrongness of my unwillingness to forgive is something I will remember for the rest of my life.

Some years later, I was forgiven. Imagine that. Guilty of far more serious sins than that father was who erroneously accused me before asking my forgiveness; I found forgiveness for my many sins when Jesus saved me. Now, because of my own sins being graciously and undeservedly forgiven, I find myself in a far different situation than I was that night as a graduating high school senior. I find myself forgiven by God, with that wonderful forgiveness that the Savior has wrought affecting my own response to those who sin against me.

Will you consider several passages with me that bear directly upon a Christianís willingness to consider and then to grant forgiveness?

We remember what the Lord Jesus Christ said about those who have ought against you, those you have sinned against. Matthew 5.23-24 shows us that we cannot worship God until we have first reconciled with those we have sinned against. However, what about those who have sinned against you? What about those you have ought against? Turn to Matthew 6.9-15, where we find the Lord Jesus Christís pattern for prayer, as well as some comments about our willingness to forgive at the close of that prayer:

 

9      After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10     Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

11     Give us this day our daily bread.

12     And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13     And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

14     For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

15     But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

 

In other words, our prayer life to God is predicated on our willingness to forgive others as much as we are willing to receive the forgiveness of God for our sins.

Notice, also, how the Lord Jesus Christ expands on this when speaking to His disciples on the subject of faith, in Mark 11.22-26:

 

22     And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

23     For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

24     Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

25     And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

26     But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

 

The message here is much the same as with the Lordís pattern for our praying, except that in this passage we see that our Lord connects our willingness to forgive not only with our prayer life, but with our faith in God, as well. The suggestion is made here that those who will not forgive those who have sinned against them are without faith in God.

There is much to think about here. However, additional thought is required when you factor in Luke 5.20 and 21, where Jesus said to someone, ďMan, thy sins are forgiven thee,Ē and our Lordís enemies reacted with these words: ďWho is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?Ē Of course, the Lord Jesus Christ was setting His enemies up by next healing a man sick of the palsy. However, the issue I want you to think about is this: The Lord Jesus Christ actually encourages His own to forgive sins, while we know that forgiving sins is really something only God can do. By what right do we forgive sins, when only God really has the right to forgive sins? By this right: Our Lord Jesus Christ has the authority to delegate others to do what He has the authority to do, and He has delegated to His own the privilege, the responsibility, the right, and the duty to forgive those who have sinned against us, just as He forgives those who have sinned against Him.

However, you are not supposed to walk about and forgive everyone of everything, willy-nilly. Forgiveness is proper in its place when two ingredients exist, faith, and repentance. If you have faith, even if you do not have much faith, and if the person who sinned against you displays repentance, then forgiveness is appropriate. Read Luke 17.3-6 with me:

 

3      Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

4      And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.

5      And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.

6      And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.

 

Notice, from this passage, that it is entirely proper for you to rebuke a brother who has sinned against you, and for you to forgive a brother who repents. If you have even a little amount of faith, you will forgive someone as many times as he sins against you, so long as he seeks your forgiveness with repentance. If he is not your brother in Christ, or if he does not repent of his sin against you, then you are not obligated before God to forgive him.

Finally, consider what Paul wrote to the Ephesians and to the Colossians from his Roman imprisonment about this serious issue of forgiveness. Read Ephesians 4.32 and Colossians 3.13 with me:

 

ďAnd be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christís sake hath forgiven you.Ē

 

ďForbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.Ē

 

Notice that in each verse the Apostle Paul appeals to his readersí willingness to forgive to be proportionate to Christís forgiveness of them. The same applies to you and to me. Our willingness to forgive sins committed against us, admitting the necessity of genuine and heartfelt repentance, is based not on the seriousness of the sin against us, but is based upon the forgiveness we have received from the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Do you know anyone who claims to be a Christian, yet that person is known for holding grudges, for never allowing a slight to pass without getting even, and perhaps even brags about never forgetting or forgiving an offense?

When I arrived at my first pastorate I found myself dealing with a woman who openly bragged about being so ferocious in her retaliations against those who crossed her, and so vindictive toward those she was angry with, that I was astonished. Then I observed the fear displayed toward her by her husband and her two sons, and I quickly realized that she meant every word she said on the subject.

My friends, Christians are not only people who seek forgiveness when we sin against others. We are also a forgiving people. However, we must be mindful that three crucial ingredients are vital to being a forgiving person:

First, you must be genuinely converted. Nothing that we have examined this evening has application to the lost. Only those forgiven can truly forgive. Has someone sinned against you so grievously that you refuse to forgive him, even after he has sought your forgiveness with heartfelt repentance? Then I must tell you that you are lost and that you need Christís forgiveness before you will be in a position to grant forgiveness.

Second, we have seen the place of faith in all this. Our Lord pointed out that forgiveness is related to faith in God. This is understandable, since forgiving someone who has sinned against you requires a bit of courage to place yourself in the vulnerable position of being sinned against again. However, if your safety is in Godís hands, if you trust God, you will forgive and thereby demonstrate your confidence in Godís ability to look after you.

Finally, there must be repentance on the part of the person who sins against you. What is repentance? It is godly sorrow for the sin that has been committed and an alteration in oneís life direction to repair the damage done by the sin and the desire to restore not only the relationship that previously existed, but also to so improve the situation that things are made better than they were before the sin was ever committed.

Hey! Arenít you glad you are a Christian? Is it not thrilling to know the joy and utter delight of sins forgiven? And is it not grand to be of such a nature that we both can and desire to forgive others when they sin against us?



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