ARE YOU PLAYING THE HYPOCRITE PART EIGHT
There is a story of two sisters who lived together in a very small one level apartment. And one day the sisters had a disagreement over theology; and it was so bad they said they would never speak to each other ever again. Both sisters were so proud, so they continued to live together despite their disagreement towards each other.
How did they pull this off?
They didn’t want to look bad in the community or smear their Father’s great name, so they both, without words, decided to but a line down the middle of the apartment to show their boundaries. And for many years they continued to never speak to one another. Can you imagine how uncomfortable it was for their friends and family when they visited to see two grow women behaving like spoiled little girls?
I share this story because this feud continued on for many years; possible sitting in a church pew reciting this prayer that Jesus taught the disciples and the people seating on that hill. See! The confession of sin ought to be a regular part of both our private and corporate prayers.
How could one of these sisters recite this
prayer and still harbor unforgiveness in
their own hearts?
To understand what Jesus is saying here in this petition we have to understand its parallel with the previous petition. To cry out to God for our “daily bread” is to acknowledge that our temporal wants are supplied by the grace and kindness of a holy God. To ask these petitions is to acknowledge that we have no right in asking because of our fallen state as sons and daughters of Adam.
Our sin has caused us to forfeit any and all
blessings that God would supply.
Whether it would be our daily bread or for the forgiveness of our omissions of sin. We deserve to be cursed and face the full wrath of God; but through Christ we have a bridge that leads us to ask for these petitions. As Paul said, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ by grace you have been saved and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Eph 2:1-7.
To pray and seek God for our daily living is to rest in the providence of God from day to day. What Jesus is teaching here is that ….He is a giving God, and this giving God is also a forgiving God. This petition is in parallel with the previous one because we acknowledge we have no right to ask for His forgiveness, since we are the rebellious ones.
6. When You Are Praying Realize You Have No Right, But God Still Calls Us To Repentance Through The Gospel. (v12)
Jesus says ask Him and seek Him for our daily living and forgiveness of our sins against a holy God. This portion of the petition as two very important parts! 1. Seeking Him to forgive us of our sin, our short-comings, our rebellion and fallen state. 2. Seeking Him to give us a forgiving spirit as we seek to forgive others as Father forgave us through the gospel. This is a request for personal forgiveness and a request for a forgiving spirit.
Let’s start with “Forgive us of our sin”
1. Seeking Him To Forgive Us Of Our Sin, Our Short-Comings, Our Rebellion And Fallen State. (V12a)
The New Testament treats our sin in three primary ways.
1. Our Sin Is Debt.
A debt is an obligation that
person owes to another.
To have a debt during this time period brought about suffering, and incarceration for those who could not pay it back. By being incarcerated this put pressure on the family to find a way to pay the debt back. For the people listening this would have had great significance, because to have a debt was a matter of life or death. The debt, Jesus is speaking of is not refereeing to money owing, but a debt that is owed to the sovereign God of the Universe for our sin. The Bible uses a metaphor of “debt” to describe us as sinners who cannot possibly pay our debts. This prayer is a gospel prayer because our debt hangs in the balance and we cannot pay it back.
To owe God is to say “We have failed to give Him the obedience
He rightfully deserves.”
But here is the hope! A beautiful demonstration of His grace and forgiveness is demonstrated in the story of two people who owed different amounts. And Jesus answering said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he answered, "Say it, Teacher. “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, (About 70 dollars) and the other fifty (about 7 dollars). When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?" Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt." And he said to him, "You have judged rightly." Luke 7:41-43. Whether the debt is… $7, $70, $10 thousand dollars or $4 million dollars; we all owe a debt that none of us can payback. We all have fallen short of His standard and it’s virtually impossible for us to repay our debt.
That is the point of this parable, God’s
unlimited supply to forgive sinners.
God who is full of grace and full of mercy displays clemency towards the sinner to forgive us of our debt. The level of your sin doesn’t determine the amount of grace we receive. We don’t get take a mulligan when something goes completely south. As R C Sproul said “We hear it said that everyone is entitled to one mistake, but the only thing we are entitled to is everlasting punishment in hell.” When the debt comes due! Many on that day will lacking, because they are storing up God’ wrath on the day of judgment. Rom 2:5. For those who understand and hate their sin, they seek God through genuine repentance for the forgiveness of their sin. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace,” Eph 1:7
2. Our Sin Is A Crime
The New City Catechism for kids asks What is sin? The answer is “Sin is rejecting or ignoring God in the world He created, not being or doing what He requires in His law.”
We are all guilty and before
the Great Judge.
We have all committed cosmic treason against a holy God, and the crime committed by us is that we are “law breakers” The prophet Jeremiah criticized the people of Israel for becoming so hard of hearts. There law breaking meant nothing to them…they had no concern for what they were doing before a holy God. They were becoming a people who had no problem or shame when it came to sin. The guilt of sin was hardened over by a seared conscience. “If a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man's wife, will he return to her? Would not that land be greatly polluted? You have played the whore with many lovers; and would you return to me? declares the LORD. Lift up your eyes to the bare heights, and see! Where have you not been ravished? By the waysides you have sat awaiting lovers like an Arab in the wilderness. You have polluted the land with your vile whoredom. Therefore the showers have been withheld, and the spring rain has not come; yet you have the forehead of a whore; you refuse to be ashamed.” Jeremiah 3:1-3. A people unconcerned, non-repented of sin, or blush because of it. Israel considered their idolatry and sacrifice to pagan gods to be of little consequence. Many of them probably told themselves that they were not forsaking the LORD, only adding the worship of these other gods.
But God said “You have polluted the land” (v2) They have become the harlot and the crime is conformity to sin and a transgression of the law of God.
God will judge each person by the law
and not by their feelings.
The only hope we have is His grace and mercy. The whole of Christianity is about forgiveness. A Christian person is a forgiven person who goes to tell others about a God who forgives. As one theologian said “I have no righteousness in myself, so when I proclaim the gospel, I am just one beggar telling other beggars where they can find food.” As Paul said “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Rom 7:24
3. Our Sin Is Hostility
It’s an act of separation which leaves us in a position that needs serious reconciliation. That’s the beauty of this prayer because it’s seeking a holy God to restore what we broke due to our sin. When one is hostile to another person, he makes himself an enemy of that person. A clear picture of our hostility begins in the heart. What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” James 4:1-4
This is why we need to seek reconciliation with a holy God every day for our sinful desires and rebellion on a daily basis. The bible calls it “unconditional surrender” which means getting on our knees and seeking God “to forgive us of our debt”. Its saying “God I can’t fight you and I do not want to be estranged to you no longer. I want to be able to love you and not be hostile towards or against You. That’s why this prayer is a gospel prayer ….because we seek to be closer to Him and to hate our sin, as He hates sin.
If we understand God’s love, we
realize that He is love.
Motivated by that love, we love to please Him and have fellowship with Him. We love and desire to know His Word and show love to others around us.
2. Seeking Him For A Forgiving Spirit As We Seek To Forgive Others As The Father Forgave Us Through The Gospel. (v12b)
Like the story of the two sisters who would not forgive. We need to seek God to give us a forgiving spirit, because we are all prone not to forgive others.
Why would we ask God to give us the
ability to forgive others?
The simple answer is that it demonstrates our complete dependence upon His unlimited supply of grace and mercy that He gives us. And! Because if God forgave us the exact way we forgive others, we all would perish. A correct picture and warning for the child of God is found in the parable of the unforgiving servant. First Peter has a question for Jesus and then Jesus responds with a story to bring the point home that we are to forgive others as God has for given us. We read in Matthew’s gospel “Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times? “Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, 'Pay what you owe.' So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you? And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart." Matt 18:21-35
What is Jesus saying? You forgive, you get forgiveness. You don’t forgive, you don’t get forgiveness. See, forgiveness is an act of the will….it’s a chose you must make. You can chose to do what is right or you can chose to do what is wrong. But be prepared for the consequences that follow when you chose not to.
R C Sproul said “We tend to be far more ungenerous in forgiving others than God is in forgiving us. If God were to be as reluctant to forgive as we are in forgiving those who sin against us, we would be in serious trouble. As Christians we are to forgive. We are called likewise called to be forgiving people.”
We need to pray this petition because we are prone not to. It’s easy to seek Him to forgive us, but can we do the same in return towards others? As Charles Swindoll said “Live long enough, and you will understand the difficulty of offering forgiveness when you have been wronged. It does not come easy, yet as believers, we have to recognize that our ability and willingness to offer it are the result of Christ’s saving work on the cross. Because of that fact, forgiveness serves as a determining factor in who we say we are and how we hope to live our lives. When we do not forgive, bitterness takes root in our hearts and chokes the vitality out of us.”
Listen to Paul as I close “..... do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Eph 4:30-32
Can you pray this prayer with sincerity
The unsaved, the hypocrite, the mask wearing fool… can’t. But! The child of God who rests in the unlimited supply of grace and mercy through the gospel…. can. Though it might be tough at times, you will, because the Scriptures speak directly to the heart of the child of God about your forgiveness. This is the heart that seeks this prayer; because this petition is a gospel prayer.
“Jesus came to pay a debt He did not owe,
because we owed a debt we could not pay.”