“Forgive Us Our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors…for if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, you Father will not forgive your sins” Matthew 6, 12,14-15
In this section Jesus exhorts us to come to the Father to ask forgiveness for our Debts. In Jewish culture it was recognised that whenever an offence was committed a debt was owed to the offended one. It was also recognised that God was a God who cancelled debts, as in the year for cancelling debts that occurred every seven years.(Deuteronomy 15) In verse 12, then, Jesus is exhorting us to ask God to forgive the debt that we owe him as a result of our sin.
We will look at the need for forgiveness under three headings:
1. Eternal Forgiveness
As a result of our sin, we owe God a debt that we are totally unable to pay. The heart of the gospel is that this debt was paid by Jesus. Ephesians 1 v. 7: “In Him we have redemption through his blood the forgiveness of sins”. By accepting Christ therefore, and being born again, the forgiveness of God is applied to our lives for everything we have done to offend him, past present and future.
Having received eternal forgiveness, we still fall every day. What we need forgiveness for now is not our salvation (which is already secure) but forgiveness which restores the relationship with our Father. I John 1 v 9 shows the opportunity that we have to come to God every day to restore friendship and relationship with Him. Psalm 51 is a wonderful example of how David, despite horrendous sin, was able to have friendship with God restored and renewed as he came to God asking for forgiveness.
A major blockage to enjoying God’s forgiveness exists when we fail to forgive others. All of us have know what it is to be hurt by others (and to hurt others ourselves). We forgive others because:
- God commands us to (Colossians 3 v.13)
- It is the only logical response to God’s forgiveness of us
- It is wholly in our interest to do so (Mathew 18 v 21-35)
Forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel – don’t miss out on experiencing God’s forgiveness in all its fullness.
Questions for Discussion
- How is possible for a just God to forgive us when we have failed him so consistently?
- What happens when a Christian has unconfessed sin in his life?
- How do we forgive those who have hurt us?
- What are the consequences of NOT forgiving?
- Is there anyone that you need to forgive right now?