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Prayer series #10: Forgive Us As We Forgive

Before we look at the request for forgiveness found in the Lord's Prayer, we need to understand some basic facts about forgiveness and salvation. When we trust Christ as Saviour we are forgiven from all our sins and through God's act of justification Christ's righteousness is imputed to us. Romans 3:14-26. God can rightfully forgive us our sins because Christ has paid the penalty for our sins through His death on the cross. II Peter 1:9 When we pray the Lord's Prayer we need not ask forgiveness for our sins of the past which God has already forgiven. Those sins are blotted from His memory and it would be well for us to forget our past forgiven and forgotten sins. Isaiah 44:22 Jeremiah 31:34

It is true that our sins were all in the future when Christ paid for them and all those who trust Christ stand justified and forgiven. Yet the fact that all Christians continue to sin is clearly taught in I John 1:6-10 and Romans 7:12-25. Those sins need to continually be confessed to God so that we may be forgiven and cleansed.

A Most Dangerous Request
We've come in Luke 11:4 to what can be one of the most dangerous requests Christians ever pray. Many Christians hold resentment and unforgiveness towards others. What audacity it takes to ask God to forgive us our sins when we refuse to forgive those who have offended and hurt us! What audacity it takes to ask God for daily bread and yet refuse to deal with our unforgiving spirit! If we have unforgiving hearts, what good is the bread and the other material blessings of life?

Daily bread and forgiveness
As we look to God daily for the supply of all our material needs, so we need to come to Him daily confessing our sins and finding His forgiveness. Daily we need to forgive others who offend us. That starts with forgiving our spouse or our children or our parents who offend us. Remember that God will not hear our prayers when we refuse to confess our sins to Him. "Behold the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, that He will not hear." Isaiah 59:1-2 "Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have witholden good things from you." Jeremiah 5:25 "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." Psalm 66:18

Our understanding High Priest
Thank God that we have a great high priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, who has taken care of our sins through His death on the cross. Because He experienced what it was to be human, He fully understands us. Because He is God in human flesh, He has experienced the temptations of Satan and has come out spotless without sin. Therefore, we can come boldly before His throne of grace and find grace to help in our times of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

A common sin of Christians
The sin of refusing to forgive others not only hinders our prayer life; it hinders the progress of sanctification in our lives as Christians. It is the only sin mentioned in the Lord's Prayer.

Refusing to forgive others has all sorts of serious consequences. Not only does God not hear us, but when we go to church, it keeps us from receiving anything from the message or from our own personal Bible study. It hinders us from God's blessing on our lives. It makes us absolutely miserable and unhappy whether we are alone or around other Christians.

An Ugly Sin
Unconfessed sins lead to bitterness and hatred. It spills out through our eyes, and leaves a scowl on our face. A beautiful Christian is turned into an ugly person. Whereas, Christ beautifies the meek with salvation, bitterness and hatred make ugly those who were once beautiful. All the expensive spas and beauty treatments cannot cover up and hide the ugliness of bitterness. All the positive books and lectures can't remove a bitter spirit. Bitterness and hated drain us emotionally and physically and can destroy our health. To hold a grudge is one of the most foolish things to which we can cling. This sin fills us with stress and stress leads to our immune system being weakened and compromised. When that happens, anything and everything bad can happen to us physically. We can't enjoy food. We can't sleep at night. We toss and turn in misery. We become slaves to the people we hate. Our hatred holds us in their grip.

The cure for unforgiveness and bitterness
There is no cure but confession and asking God's forgiveness for this ugly sin and then going in humility and brokenness to the person for whom we are holding a grudge and asking his forgiveness. Whether he forgives you or not becomes his problem. If you have done what you can to make things right, God asks nothing further from you, but to keep praying for him and loving him.

The story of two debtors
When teaching forgiveness to His disciples, Jesus told the story recorded in Matthew 18:21-35 of two debtors. One debtor owed the king what in our currency would be millions of dollars, a debt he could never possibly pay in his lifetime. The king to whom He owned the debt graciously forgave him, stamping his debt PAID IN FULL! Later this same man, freed from his oppressive debt found someone who owed him a small debt, equivalent to about $10.00. He grabbed the debtor by the throat and demanded him to pay up instantly or he would have him thrown into the debtor's prison until he had paid his debt. Later the king learned of how his forgiven debtor had treated the man who owed the small debt. He was furious and delivered the unforgiving man to the tormentors until his huge debt was paid in full, which, of course, was humanly impossible.

Can you or I honestly ask God to forgive us our sins in the same way we have forgiven those who have hurt or offended us?

April 19, 2006 Posted by | Prayer Series | Comments Off on Prayer series #10: Forgive Us As We Forgive