Tuesday, April 24, 2007

You may be surprised. Biblical forgiveness is absolutely foreign to our culture. What you may think of when you think of "forgiving" someone or someone asking you for "forgiveness" may be vastly different than the biblical concept of forgiveness. I would like to attempt to explain it simply this morning.

In so doing, I need help from my brother, Lou Priolo, who wrote a very fine work that I just finished entitled, The Complete Husband. This was a fabulous work. I recommend it to every single man out there. You can buy it on Amazon for $15 and it is definitely worth the read.

He notes that according to the Bible, when you forgive:

1. You are promising not to bring up the offense again to the forgiven person in the future
2. You are promising not to speak to others about the offense
3. You are promising not to dwell on the offense yourself

Think about it. When we often forgive, we are often quick to say "I forgive you." But often what we really mean is, "OK fine, just don't do it again!" Yet the Scripture makes clear that we never keep a record of wrongs (1 Cor 13:5). We must always be quick to forgive and quick to forget the offenses and NOT hold it against the person. I promise you, if we put these three promises of biblical forgiveness to action in our lives, it will RADICALLY change our relationships - for the better!

Along these same lines, Priolo goes on to quote Jay Adams in saying:

"Obviously, when God forgives us, he does not simply sit in the heavens and emote. So forgiveness is NOT a feeling. If it were, we would never know that we have been forgiven. No, when God forgives, he goes on record. He says so. He declares, “I will not remember your sins” (Isa 43:25; Jer 31:34). Isn’t that wonderful! When He forgives, God lets us know that He will no longer hold our sins against us. If forgiveness were merely an emotional experience, we would not know that we were forgiven. But praise God, we do, because forgiveness is a process at the end of which God declares that the matter of sin has been dealt with once for all. Now what is the declaration? What does God do when he goes on record saying that our sins are forgiven? God makes a promise. Forgiveness is NOT a feeling; forgiveness is a promise" (Priolo, Complete Husband, 108).

I will conclude with a lengthy parable from Matthew 18, but it illustrates the point wonderfully:

Matthew 18:21-35 21 Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" 22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 "For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a certain king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 "And when he had begun to settle them, there was brought to him one who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 "But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26 "The slave therefore falling down, prostrated himself before him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will repay you everything.' 27 "And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. 28 "But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, 'Pay back what you owe.' 29 "So his fellow slave fell down and began to entreat him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you.' 30 "He was unwilling however, but went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31 "So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32 "Then summoning him, his lord said to him, 'You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me. 33 'Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you?' 34 "And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 "So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart."


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