14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Consider this. You commit a sin and take it to the Lord. “Father, forgive me for I have sinned.”
God rejects your request. “NO. I won’t forgive you.”
You’re dumbfounded and protest. “But Lord, your word says You are faithful to forgive.”
And God responds, “That’s true. I am faithful to forgive. So go forgive that person you have refused to forgive and come back to me and I will forgive you.”
“Who is it, Lord? Who have I failed to forgive?”
“Oh. Him. How could I ever forgive him?”
As Christians, we often assume that God will forgive our sins. A simple blanket confession is all it takes and instant forgiveness. But Jesus warned us that there is something that can hinder God’s forgiveness. Jesus said, “… if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Jesus makes no distinctions on a particular class or degree of sin that is exempt from our requirement to forgive others. In fact, He places forgiveness ahead of worship in our spiritual priorities.
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24
Notice too that the emphasis in Matthew 5 is on those who have something against us. God wants us to strive for reconciliation in all of our relationships. That means forgiving others who have sinned against us and seeking forgiveness from those we have offended.
Of all the things God expects of us, the command to forgive may well be the hardest. The cruelty and horrendous acts of others hurt us deeply.
You don’t have to look far to find someone who has been treated miserably. The one who grew up in an abusive household, seeing her mother beaten or having been abused herself. The parent whose child was killed by a drunk driver. And it goes on and on. Unthinkable crimes and hurtful actions that leave behind a lifetime of pain.
But just like everything else God expects of us, He equips us and empowers us to follow His commands. The Apostle Paul said, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13) Paul acknowledged that there were many things God expected of him that he could not do without God’s help. If you will commit to forgiving that person who has severely wronged you, God will help you honor that commitment. Trust Him for the fortitude to forgive.
Jesus is the perfect model for forgiveness. From the cross, as His murderers mocked and ridiculed Him, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
Consider all the sins you have committed in your lifetime. Yet, God forgave you. In Colossians 3:13, Paul writes, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
God’s forgiveness is essential in our lives. Without it we are out of fellowship with Him and hinder His work, deny ourselves answers to prayer, and block the flow of His blessings. It’s like locking the door and refusing to let God in.
God wants to forgive your daily sins and keep you clean for His purposes and for the good work He wants to do in you and for you. Why deny yourself from those amazing blessings by refusing to forgive?
Is there someone you need to forgive now? Don’t put it off. Make a commitment to forgive and ask the Lord to give you the strength to make it happen.
For more on this topic, check out this article: The Extent of the Lord’s Forgiveness
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 2 (April – June) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I did a little research to see if anybody has ever done a study on how many sins there are in the Bible. I also was curious to see if all the sins in the Bible have been compiled in a list. If such a study or list exists, I couldn’t find it. But I do know this. Although I can’t tell you how many sins there are or even what they all are I know when I have committed a sin…and so do you.
Long ago the Catholic Church compiled a list of 7 Deadly Sins. The list has actually been revised over the years. I find it difficult to believe that God has changed His mind on what belongs on the list so I would have to conclude that those who compiled the original must have heard God wrong. For the record the more recent version includes wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.
The Apostle Paul assembled a lengthy list of iniquities in Galatians 5:19-21.
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
Notice Paul began his list by saying that “the acts of the sinful nature are obvious.” To put that in modern slang Paul said, in regard to what goes on the sin list, “Duh!!” He then ended his list with “and the like.” In other words it wasn’t an exhaustive sin list, and you really did not need to have the list to know what constitutes sin. Sin is “obvious.”
He also included some items on his sin list that may often be overlooked. Yes… jealousy, envy, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and discord made the list. Could it be that we have a tendency to pick and choose those sins that apply to others and gloss over those that hit a little too close to home?
In the Old Testament there is a well-known passage in Proverbs 6:16-24 that lists seven things offensive to God.
There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
Back to a point that I made earlier. We don’t really need an exhaustive concordance of sins to know we have sinned against God. In fact, before you received Christ the Holy Spirit worked within your heart to convict you of sin and unrighteousness, which brought you to the conclusion you were a sinner and could not save yourself. Then, after you received Christ as your Lord and Savior, you were given an onboard behavioral monitor, the indwelling Holy Spirit.
As a Christian your conscience is guided by the Spirit. When you sin you set off the internal spiritual sensitivity alarm indicating that something is not right between you and God. The closer you walk with God the higher your sensitivity to God’s behavioral expectations.
The opposite is also true. The further you get from God the less your sensitivity to that which is offensive to Him. You know that you have sinned, but the alarm is not as great as for that person who is living in the Spirit.
In today’s focus text we read Paul’s sobering words in Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin is death.” You don’t need the list of sins to know you have committed at least one sin in your life. Previously, in Romans 3:23 Paul wrote: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” In other words, all of us have sinned and it only takes one sin to earn “the wages” for that transgression…which is “death.” What makes this death so severe is that the recipient experiences eternal separation from God.
The good news about sin is that it doesn’t have to lead to death. Paul continues: “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” When you gave your life to Christ you ceased to be a slave to sin. Now, righteousness matters. Pleasing God matters. That doesn’t mean you are perfect or can attain perfection while on this earth (perfection comes later in heaven)…but it does mean that you have a different agenda for the way you desire to conduct your life.
So, on which side of Romans 6:23 do you live? The side that says “For the wages of sin is death” or the other that declares “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord?”
If you are in group one then my challenge to you is to acknowledge that you are a sinner, repent of your sins, and then accept God’s gift of eternal life by putting your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. And…if you are in the second group and already a recipient of God’s gift, I challenge you to listen to the voice of the Spirit that resides within you. Is there sin present in your life? If so, then confess it, accept God’s forgiveness, and seek to “sin no more.”
Outside my home there is a little box with a power meter. Once a month a representative from the power company comes by, checks my meter, and then the power company sends me a bill. Figuratively God has a sin meter. In fact, I’ll be happy to show you my sin meter bill. Every month it remains the same even though there are months when my usage is up. The bill is always marked, “Paid in full by the blood of Christ.”
For more on this topic, check out this article: Freedom From a Guilty Conscience
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 1 (January – March) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.
12 But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Vetting means to conduct a thorough examination of someone’s background, behavior, and performance to determine his or her worthiness and suitability for a job. It is extreme scrutiny leaving no stone unturned.
In our focus text, David conducts the highest form of vetting by involving God. “Who can discern their own errors?”
God sees us as no one else. Nothing is hidden. He knows our innermost thoughts, secrets, and failures. He even knows our hidden faults; sins we have failed to recognize in ourselves.
There are two categories for sin: omission and commission.
Sins of commission are deliberate and willful acts of disobedience.
Sins of commission are easily understood. David addresses them in verse 13 as willful sins. Nothing hidden there. Deliberate violations of God’s commands.
Our community has a social media website, like Facebook. Most of the posts are complaints about neighbors who speed or drive recklessly on our streets. But there are also concerns about unkempt lawns, the color of mulch, fading stain on shutters and doors, and boats parked in the driveway. All are covered by city ordinances or Homeowners Association bylaws.
Sins of omission are knowing the right thing to do, but refusing to do it.
Some neighbors believe they own their homes which gives them the right to do whatever they please. If they want to park on the lawn or the street, or paint their houses hot pink, they have the right to do so. That would be an illustration of sins of omission. They know the right thing to do, but refuse to do it.
James explains sins of omission this way: “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” (James 4:17)
Back to the speeders. In a spiritual sense, their conduct would be considered sins of commission. Willful acts of disobedience.
The difference between sins of commission and omission is action and failure to take action.
Yes, I know. When you think about it there’s little difference. The difference comes down to action and failure to act. Burning down a neighbor’s house is a willful act – commission. Think of it as committing a crime by willfully breaking the law. Not helping your neighbor whose house has burned is a sin of omission. You didn’t do the right thing you knew to do.
So, what do you think? Which of the two types of sins are you most likely to commit?
I suspect there’s more omission going on than commission. We do pretty well on the big 10 (Commandments) but falter on the numerous Biblical directives on thinking godly thoughts, responding to the needs of others, or treating our fellow man with love, respect, and kindness.
That’s why I love David’s prayer in Psalm 19. He covers all the bases. Sins of the will and sins of neglect. “May they not rule over me.” He acknowledges he can’t do it on his own. Only by the help of the Lord can he keep sin out of his life.
The good news is that the Lord forgives sins of commission and omission.
I thank God every day for forgiving my sins. What a precious gift He has given us. But we shouldn’t take His grace and mercy for granted. Out of gratitude we should desire to live unblemished lives in the righteousness, godliness, and holiness the Lord deserves. Like David, may we be “blameless and innocent of great transgression.”
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14
For more on this topic, check out this article: The Extent of the Lord’s Forgiveness
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 4 (October – December) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.