Matthew 18:35 – “So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” NASB
It is more than a little needful for everyone to read Matthew 18:21-35 for the full context and understanding of what we are going to discuss. We only listed the last verse for the sake of space but urge everyone to read the entire paragraph.
It is vital that believers learn the ‘schemes’ of the devil to enable us to defeat him and set free those who have been held captive by his deception. Part of that process is learning more about Forgiveness and the lack thereof. This is an area in which, I have witnessed satanic strongholds developed in lives. The devil operates in this area legally as a result of our failure to forgive or understand what true forgiveness involves.
Jesus identified how important Forgiveness is in numerous passages. In Matthew 6:12 we are told that we are forgiven (as) we forgive. In verse 14 we are informed that (if) we forgive others, the Father will forgive us. In Matthew 18:21 we discover the unlimited requirement to forgive. In verse 35 we realize that the forgiveness being given us is directly connected to our forgiving others. In Mark 11:25 we realize that Forgiving others is the key to God’s forgiveness and our prayers being answered. In Luke 6:37 we can apply this rule and principle of Life – We Reap What We Sow.
The Law of Retribution flows to its inevitable conclusion UNLESS forgiveness is effected in the heart as we read in James 1:13-15. The matter of anger is an example. Anger is a stimulus. It engenders a response and each response becomes a stimulus to the other parties. Each response demands a response that becomes a stimulus that produces a response that stimulates another response. It is a vicious cycle. Arguments incite fights. Group hassles become riots. National tensions become wars. Those truths are incorporated in the words of James 4:1-2. I suggest that this is the Law of Stimulus and Response; Sowing and Reaping; Retribution. That’s how powerful Forgiveness or failing to Forgive is in our lives and in our world.
Let me nip something in the bud at the outset. Will Power and suppressing responses only delays the inevitable, they do not correct the problem. The Cross is the only real answer. Our problem is that something has blinded our minds and obscured the Cross creating a situation in which we are ‘held captive, bound, bent’ for destruction UNLESS there is divine help. It does involve our wills, but it is not simply a matter of Will Power.
Have you considered the reality that we would not have a problem with Forgiveness if it were not for the Problem of Sin? Too often, we excuse and justify our sin saying: “I’m only human. I’m not perfect.” That is the truth, but it can never be a justification for sin. God will never accept that flimsy attempt to justify ourselves. He wants the heart and will accept nothing less.
God’s standard and the plan are for us to be transformed and become new creations with new hearts so that we do not sin. Before someone argues, “But we do sin and we can’t help it.” I suggest that taking that view is to guarantee that we will never become what God says we are and can be. With God, all things are possible including our sanctification.
It is wonderful that Jesus always meets us where we are not where we think we are supposed to be in order to receive His mercy. He takes us where we are and elevates us to a higher place spiritually. It is a process. In Luke 6:40 we read, “A student is not above his teacher, but when he is trained, he becomes just like his teacher.” Also, in 1 John 4:17 we are reminded that “As He is, so are we in this world.” Not in the world to come but NOW!
I suggest that we become what we behold and what we worship. If you want to study that reality mediated on Psalms 115-135. We should never make excuses and accept sin as an inescapable prospect in our daily lives. When we do, we place a roadblock in the path of repentance. We must focus on the Root Cause and receive the promise of Jude 24, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling” and the encouragement of 1 John 2:6, “…He who abides in Him ought to walk as He walks.”
My interest is for us to be FREE! The Truth will enable us to enter into true freedom in Christ and that is my objective. Therefore, in the next few devotionals, we will focus on Forgiveness and hope that we can mine sufficient truth to bring us to a new level of liberty and freedom in Christ.
God bless you and we will continue this in the next meeting! Have a fantastic day!