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Scripture Reading: Psalm 103:8-14
What Forgiveness Looks Like
1. God’s forgiveness of our sins in Christ is the greatest act of love and grace you and I will ever experience, Psa 32:1-2; Rom 5:8-9.
a. God’s grace calls on sinners to obey in faith to be forgiven, Eph 2:8-9.
b. God ever has a ready heart to forgive; so must we, even as those who sin against us must repent to be forgiven by God, Col 3:13 (Lk 17:3).
2. The forgiveness of our sins by God in Christ is our compelling reason to forgive those who sin against us, Matt 6:12, 14-15.
3. True forgiveness is from the heart, Matt 18:35; Not pretense, not partial, not temporary, not probationary; it is unlimited (Lk 17:4).
I. UNDERSTANDING FORGIVENESS.
A. To Send Away, to Release, Matt 18:35.
1. aphiemi: “to send away…to let go…to keep no longer…release”
-Illus. sending away a spouse in divorce, 1 Cor 7:11.
2. Jesus had a forgiving heart (Lk 23:34) that forgave sinners who came to Him in faith for forgiveness (Mk 2:5).
3. We must commit ourselves to following His example.
II. WHAT FORGIVENESS LOOKS LIKE.
A. Forgiveness Acknowledges the Hurt Caused by Sin, Exo 34:6-7. (It does not ignore sin when it happens.)
1. But, forgiveness does not dwell on the hurt, 1 Cor 13:4, 6.
2. God is hurt by our sins against Him, cf. Gen 3:11; Mk 3:5; Eph 4:30.
3. Yet, forgiveness dwells on the remedy, Rom 5:8; Lk 17:3-4; Jas 5:19-20.
B. Forgiveness Releases the Offender of his Offense, Lk 23:34.
1. The heart of forgiveness is always ready to forgive; it does not need to be bribed, cajoled or manipulated into forgiving.
2. Forgiveness is eager to restore what has been damaged by sin, Matt 18:15; 5:23-26.
3. God will punish many for not forgiving, Matt 18:27-30, 34.
C. Forgiveness Relinquishes Resentment, Rom 12:19-21.
1. Forgiveness does not seek opportunity for vengeance.
2. Forgiveness does good to enemies, Exo 23:4-5 (Matt 5:43-45).
3. “Forgive it and meditate no revenge” (M. Henry), Prov 19:11.
4. cf. Joseph, Gen 50:16-21. Rather than resentment and retribution, he refreshed his brothers’ hearts with forgiveness.
5. Unwillingness to forgive causes bitterness of heart and resentment that produces a hard hearts that perpetuates a resistance against forgiving, Eph 4:31-32.
D. Forgiveness is an Act of Grace, Eph 1:7.
1. It is not deserved, it is not earned, yet it is freely offered, Isa 1:18-20.
2. Forgiveness does not rejoice in another person’s sins, Prov 24:17-18.
a. It does not say, “They are getting what they deserve”, because it knows we all deserve death for our own sins (Rom 6:23).
b. Forgiveness expresses compassion, knowing it also needs mercy, Matt 18:27; Lk 6:37-38.
1. The world does not know what forgiveness looks like. If it did, perhaps more would come to Jesus to be forgiven by Him, Matt 11:28-30.
2. Christians, who know God’s forgiveness, will forgive others from the depth of our hearts with the motives of mercy, with words of kindness and by actions of release toward those who sin against us.