Saturday, April 2, 2022

Forgive Us Our Debts

Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

As we will see today, there are two versions of what is known as “The Lord’s Prayer,” one found in Matthew, and the other found in Luke. Because they are not identical, these two passages give us an outline for prayer: praise and acknowledgement of the Father; the ideal of His perfect will being accomplished; laying out our petitions for our needs; and finally following Jesus’ example of grace and mercy: His towards us, and ours towards each other. The two passages have obvious similarities, and both lay out the same pattern for our prayers to the Lord God.

In Luke 11:1 the Apostles had asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, not what to pray. Our prayers should include all the elements that the Lord Jesus taught them. If you want to find a prayer that the Lord actually prayed, look to John 17 where Lord Jesus prays for the Apostles and Disciples and for US! That’s right, Jesus prayed for us, who believe on Him because of the testimony of those who learned from His teachings, and His example.

Love is the main theme of the Gospels, but in these passages is also another theme derived from love, and that’s His example of forgiving (in grace and in mercy). This directive to forgive others is self-effacing. Thinking others are higher than self is mindset of humility. The shoes they walk in are not ours, and ours are not theirs. Cutting others some slack is appropriate at all times if we are to walk with Jesus. His entire life on earth was lived in consideration for others. He didn’t even make a reputation for Himself; we who have been touched by Him have spread the word and given Him a reputation for which He alone is worthy.

And so that we don’t just become doormats in the world, the scriptures also call for accountability for our choices and behaviors, whether we are believers or not. God will judge all by His own single set of balances. Even “Lady Justice” is blindfolded, but carries a sword. There are consequences for violating others. But has she been peaking under the blindfold?

From this comes racism, ethnic preferences, jealousies, an evil eye, envy, and sin. Guard your hearts in all these things. Be loving, forgiving, merciful, and accountable.
“...Wars and rumors of wars... nations against nations... kingdoms against kingdoms... all these are the beginning of sorrows.” - Matthew 24:6-8

Today's Audio Message:
Matthew 6:8-15 - "Forgive Us Our Debts"


When Christ gave us the Lord’s Prayer, he gave us our pattern and primer for prayer. We begin with the Lord’s name, kingdom, and will. Then we bring our petitions to the Lord and that of others. We ask for our daily bread. Though God is our King, he is also our Father. He cares for both our physical and spiritual needs. In the fifth petition, we ask for our Father’s forgiveness. In the final petition, we ask for spiritual protection—deliverance from temptation and the evil one.

In today’s study, we’ll consider the fifth petition—a petition for forgiveness and the importance of forgiving others; Joseph's example in Genesis 37-51; wars and rumors of wars; and prophecy being played out before our eyes - Daniel 7.

When Christ calls for believers to pray for forgiveness of their debts, he is referring to their sins. In the parallel version of the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11:4, the word “sin” is used instead.

We have been called to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Nobody has ever perfectly obeyed these two commands, which essentially summarize all other commands (Matthew 22:37-40). We have put ourselves and our needs before others. We have put our entertainment, education, jobs, and friendships before God. We have fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23).

While all of our sins are forgiven “positionally” the moment we receive Christ as Savior. This means that this forgiveness guarantees our salvation and promise of an eternal home in heaven. When we stand before God after death, God will not deny us entrance into heaven because of our sins. But the fact that Christ adds this petition to his ideal prayer means that we will always struggle with sin until we die or Christ returns, whichever happens first. When we sin, we offend God and grieve His Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). While God has ultimately forgiven us of the sins we commit, sin still affects our relationship with Him. Sin will result in a blocking or hindrance in our relationship with God, and stunt our spiritual growth.

We must confess our sins—the moment we recognize that we have sinned, and we are promised in 1 John 1:9, “That if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.” 

The scripture in James 4:1-4 tells us, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?"

People want what they want and when they want it, and when they do it causes them to fight and quarrel. Their inability to get what they want drives them to war with one another. Today’s world is a picture of this. What people want, they take.  We've seen plenty of examples of this: from individuals looting in the streets, to countries ignoring international law and national boundaries as we see playing out between Russia and the Ukraine. The nations of the world are out to further their own agenda to get what they want by any means possible.

While it is no surprise that we witness these things in the world, what’s worse is when Christian’s behave like this. Instead of seeing sin as we should, our views often conform to that of our secular culture (Romans 12:2). We make excuses for our sin, or we try and justify our sin. 

James says that there is a better way. We simply ask God to supply our needs according to His will and His purpose. Scripture tells us that the main reason we do not have what we want is because we don’t come to Him and ask. A good review of Matthew chapter 5 will clarify what we as believers ought to be: meek and humble, merciful and pure. As we approach God in prayer, we come to him in the spirit of meekness.

All of the worlds problems are a result of refusing God and exalting man and his sinful desires.

Matthew 6:12, 14-15 - “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors…For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

As in all other areas of life, Jesus is our perfect example of how to handle wrongs that others commit against us (1 Peter 2:21-24). What should our attitude be toward those who do wrong to us? Forgiveness!

Our relationships with others should mirror our relationship with God. In order for God to forgive us, we must forgive others.

A good example of this is found in the book of Genesis chapters 37-51. It is the story of Joseph. in chapters 37 through 51 in the book of Genesis.

Joseph, the “prince among his brothers.” His life, the history of his conflict with his brothers, their plot to get rid of him, his captivity, his troubled life, and the subsequent victory God brought about through his trials are well documented in the book of Genesis. Through all his trials, Joseph never forgot the faith of his father, always stood his ground and emerged more than a conqueror.  His troubles didn’t define him. He didn’t use them as an excuse for bitterness and defeat. Joseph reminds us that all of our strength comes from God alone. The ability to bear up under the weight of heavy burdens and not sink under them, comes from God. He is our help, and our provider.  Joseph understood God’s plan and purpose in all that he suffered, and in the end forgives his brothers for their sins against him. What Satan meant for evil, God means for good.

Just as God has bestowed his mercy and grace upon us, Joseph shows mercy and grace to his brothers. They are forgiven. They are provided for. Joseph understood the forgiveness of God, and his brothers came to know the same.

In Matthew 24, Jesus describes what are the signs of His second coming:  deception, wars, rumors of wars, nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom, famines, pestilences, weather related disasters.  More than 2,000 years later we see these things coming to pass. As this sinful world continues to forget God, reject Christ, and seek its own ways, the prophecies of Daniel 7 unfold.

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