“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”
MAY 10, 2023
Justin Holcomb: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
This is Key Life. We are here to let you know that because of what Jesus has done, God will never be angry at you again. Justin Holcomb has been teaching us all this week. Justin is an Episcopal priest, an author, and he teaches at Reformed Theological Seminary.
Justin Holcomb: Thank you Matthew. My name is Justin Holcomb. And this week we are talking about anger. We spent the first two teachings looking at Ephesians 4 on anger. And now we are turning our attention to the topic of forgiveness. Both anger and forgiveness are significantly misunderstood within Christian discourse on these topics. Anger is usually seen as just a sin, and we explored that. And anger is always seen as sin, and forgiveness is usually a command, got to forgive now, forgive quickly. We’re going to explore a more robust understanding of forgiveness. We are commanded to forgive, but as we want to avoid simplistic notions of forgiveness, and that’s what we’re going to be doing for these next two days. Our passage is Ephesians 4:32 through 5:2.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God and Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant sacrifice and offering to God.
That is the Word of the Lord. We have seen that anger can be good and right. We’ve explored that. We also saw that God uses anger for a redemptive plan, which is for the triumph of grace. And for for grace to triumph and healing to be enacted. This doesn’t mean we stop being angry at evil, but it does mean that we are to take seriously The Lord’s Prayer.
Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors.
Forgiveness means not taking vengeance into our own hands toward those who have sinned against us or are loved ones. Godly anger allows the offense to be seen as an issue between the offender and God, the person who sinned against you and God. When someone sins against you, they are also sinning against God. And vengeance belongs to God and he will judge and repay as he sees fit. Forgiveness means more than not being vengeful, it also means loving your enemy. And anyone who sins against you acts like your enemy. In Luke 6, Jesus says.
But I say to you, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
To forgive is to love despite being sinned against. As Christians, we anchor forgiveness and love, God’s love toward us, and then our love toward others. We see this reflected in Ephesians 4:32 through 5:2, which calls us to extend forgiveness and love to others because that is what we receive from God. Forgiveness, in receiving forgiveness from God through Christ is essential to understanding forgiveness because God forgave you for your sins. You are now free to forgive others. Jesus received God’s anger and punishment, so those guilty of cosmic treason would be forgiven. The gospel is what tells us that God forgives and changes angry people into loving and forgiving people who are characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Grace is the miracle that causes change. It creates loving people who are empowered by the Spirit to do good in this world of hostility and evil. As sinners who have received mercy instead of wrath, we have the otherwise inexplicable capability simultaneously to hate wrong and to give love to those who do wrong. It is a miracle for a sinner to forgive another sinner, but this miracle is based on a prior miracle of God freely offering his Son to bear the wrath deserved by those who are guilty, all of us. This is why we can call love and forgiveness the works of God. Love is a work of God on the human soul that compels one to give oneself to another, regardless of the cost, so that the other might love God more deeply. Forgiveness is the work of God’s love and a human soul that compels one to give oneself to another, despite being sinned against, so that the other might love God more deeply. What God did for us becomes the power to change, and what he did is he forgave us. He declared us righteous and he makes us new, that opens up a relationship of love and a future of hope. Tenderheartedness flows from a heart overwhelmed by being loved undeservedly, and being secured eternally. The God who commands us to be tenderhearted wants you and wants us to know what he did for us while we were enemies. You are no longer enslaved to your past. When we forgive another their sins, we echo the forgiveness granted by a just and loving God who forgave our sins. Christ took upon himself God’s fierce anger, which should have been poured out on each of us. As a result of Christ’s sacrifice, for those who believe God’s anger is satisfied. As a result, we rest in God’s grace, enjoying his blessings, free from the violence of the curse of our law breaking. God’s one way love toward us, amidst our sin, undermines our bitterness, and can prompt forgiveness for those that have sinned against us. In repenting of your own sins, including the trespass of sinful anger, mercy and grace will flow into your life making you merciful to others, even those who like you, don’t deserve it. Thomas Watson tells us.
A pardoned soul is a monument of mercy.
May that be so for each of us.
A pardoned soul is a monument of mercy.
If you found the mercy of Jesus, overflowing towards you for spectacular and fatal sins like cosmic treason, is only natural for mercy to overflow towards others for their lesser but still painful sins against you. The more deeply you get to the heart of your participation in sin, the more you will understand with joy the mercy God has for you. In the Psalms, those who cry out to God for justice are aware of their own guilt, that they are participants in the problem of evil, not just victims. For example, Psalm 69:5 says.
O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
See, crying out to God because of sin done to you will remind you that you are also guilty of your own sin toward God, but you’ve received forgiveness. And receiving forgiveness for cosmic treason will undermine your bitterness for those who have sinned against you and can fuel and prompt your forgiveness of them. Mercy works to soften our hearts. Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute and we also were called to pray for their wellbeing. Mercy changes us to do persistent, straightforward acts of unmerited kindness. The command to forgive as you’ve been forgiven is repeated throughout the entire New Testament. Christian forgiveness demands that we take the initiative to forgive even before the evil doer has repented. Forgiveness from God frees us from the condemnation of our sins, which compel us to forgive others as we have been forgiven. Forgiveness is not contingent on the sinner repenting of their sins toward us. Our forgiveness for others is unconditional, even for unrepentant sinners. Biblical forgiveness first involves a condemnation, accusation, or blame of some wrongdoing, and secondly, it involves giving the gift of not counting the wrong, done by the wrong door against them. Therefore, when one receives forgiveness, they are first admitting the guilt of the blame, and second receiving the gift of it no longer counting against them. So, in the case of an unrepentant sinner unwilling to accept the blame in the first place, the blame and condemnation remains on them. Forgiveness has been concretely granted, but rejected. Because forgiveness has as a necessary starting point, the condemnation of some evil. That condemnation remains upon the unrepentant sinner, even while the forgiver walks away having granted forgiveness. The good news for you is you do not need to wait for someone to repent and acknowledge their sin. It does, that’s required for reconciliation to take place. But whether or not that person is alive, they ever acknowledge what they have done in their harm towards you. You have the freedom to forgive them in the way God has forgiven you. And it is always based on the forgiveness that you have received. We have committed cosmic treason against our Lord. And the great news is that it’s from that experience of forgiveness that we draw as we forgive others who have committed treason against us. Now to him, who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us. To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Thank you Justin Holcomb. All this week Justin has been helping us unlearn some wrong ideas we’ve had about the role of anger in our lives. Our texts today were Ephesians 4:26 through 31, Luke 6, Ephesians 4:32 through 5:2, and Psalm 69:5. Such an interesting and important topic and we still have one more day of teaching on this tomorrow, so make sure you join us then. Hey, have you been to keylife.org lately? Lot of great stuff waiting for you there. Check out Keylife.org/biblereading where you can hear Steve reading entire books of the Bible. In fact, we have now gone live with the entire Gospel of John. Also, check out Keylife.org/simply sermons that’s our latest podcast. And it features digitally remastered full length sermons from Steve, no commercials, no interruptions. What a great way to spend your daily commute, right? Oh, and if you’re looking for a new read, be sure to stop by Keylife.org/store. And of course, all of these features are still free, thanks to the generous support of listeners like you. If you’d like to donate, just call 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. If you’d like to send your donation by mail, go to Keylife.org/contact to find our addresses for the U.S. and Canada. Or e-mail [email protected]. You could charge a gift on your credit card. You could include a gift in your envelope. And of course now you can give safely and securely just by texting Key Life to 28950. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.