Posts Tagged ‘Forgiveness’

Colossians 3:12-13

In Colossians 3:12-13 Paul gives us direction in how to act as one of God’s chosen. “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” God has chosen us as a Christian, and chosen us to be something special in His plan. That should be both a comfort and as a destiny to fulfill. God has a plan for us as Christ Followers, but with that comes some direction on how we ought live. Paul has given us clarity on things we should not do – sins we should avoid, and now gives us a list of things we should pursue.

Each one of the qualities mentioned in this passage express themselves in relationships. A significant measure of our Christian life is found simply in how we treat people and the quality of our relationships with them. Barclay explains further “It is most significant to note that every one of the graces listed has to do with personal relationships between man and man. There is no mention of virtues like efficiency or cleverness, not even of diligence or industry – not that these things are unimportant. But the great basic Christian virtues are those which govern human relationships.” Being a Christ Follower is all about how we love the people in our patch.

Paul then talks about the need for compansion which Clarke explains “The apostle would have them to feel the slightest touch of another’s misery; and, as their clothes are put over their body, so their tenderest feeling should be always within reach of the miserable.” Next comes kindness which Barclay tells us that it is “the virtue of the man whose neighbour’s good is as dear to him as his own”. Paul continues with humility which wasn’t really a normal virtue for the people of that day. But from humility will flow meekness and patience as well as all three focus on how we act toward others. We should not dominate, manipulate, or coerce for our own gain, even if we have the power and the ability.

Then Paul lays the hardest of all ways we are to live on us – we must forgive. Jesus taught us the pattern not only with those who persecuted and ultimately killed Him, but in how He forgave us as sinners who certainly did not deserve it. Guzik shares a list of ways God has generously forgiven us through the death of Christ that puts it all in perspective:

  • God holds back His anger a very long time when we sin against Him. He bears with us a long time, even when we sorely provoke Him.
  • God reaches out to bad people to bring forgiveness to them; the habit of man is to not reconcile if the offending person is a person of bad character.
  • God makes the first move towards us in forgiveness; the habit of man is to only be reconciled if the offending party craves forgiveness and makes the first move.
  • God forgives often knowing that we will sin again, sometimes in the exact same way. It is the habit of man to forgive only if the offending party solemnly promises to never do the wrong again.
  • God’s forgiveness is so complete and glorious that He grants adoption to those former offenders. In the habit of man, even when forgiveness is offered, he will not lift again the former offender to a place of high status and partnership.
  • God bore all the penalty for the wrong we did against Him. In the habit of man, when he is wronged, he will not forgive unless the offender agrees to bear all the penalty for the wrong done.
  • God keeps reaching out to man for reconciliation even when man refuses Him again and again. In the habit of man, one will not continue to offer reconciliation if it is rejected once.
  • God requires no probationary period to receive His forgiveness; in the habit of man, one will not restore an offender without a period of probation.
  • God’s forgiveness offers complete restoration and honor; in the habit of man, we feel we should be complimented when we merely tolerate those who sin against us.
  • Once having forgiven, God puts His trust in us and invites us back to work with Him as co-laborers. In the habit of man, one will not trust someone who has formerly wronged him.”

Colossians 2:13-14

In Colossians 2:13-14 Paul reminds us that we are dead because of our sin but Jesus did His work on the cross offering forgiveness to all who will receive that amazing gift of grace. “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” This is the place of every person before they are raised with Him through faith in the working of God as Paul described. We are dead. Before a person comes to new life in Jesus, he is not a sick man who needs a doctor; he is a dead person who needs a Savior.

Spurgeon explains that we are not only made alive, but made alive together with Him. “It is true that He gave us life from the dead? He gave us pardon of sin; He gave us imputed righteousness. These are all precious things, but you see we are not content with them; we have received Christ himself. The Son of God has been poured out into us, and we have received him, and appropriated him.” Before we have new life in Jesus, we are dead in our trespasses. A trespass is a specific kind of sin: overstepping a boundary. We are dead because we overstep God’s boundaries in our sin and rebellion.

We can’t make ourselves alive, but God can make us alive together with Jesus. We can never be made alive apart from Jesus. We are forgiven by God’s grace. When Paul writes about the record of our debt he has in mind a list of our crimes or moral debt before God, a debt that no imperfect person can completely pay. But it can be taken out of the way, by payment from a perfect man, Jesus Christ. That record which once condemned us is now taken out of the way, having been nailed to the cross. Bruce wrote “It might even be said that he took the document, ordinances and all, and nailed it to his cross as an act of triumphant defiance in the face of those blackmailing powers that were holding it over men and women in order to command their allegiance.”

Spurgeon paints a picture of our sin. “Each of the ten commandments has, as it were, united with the rest to draw up an indictment against us. The first commandment says, ‘He has broken me.’ The second cries, ‘He has broken me,’ — the third, ‘He has broken me;’ and the whole ten together have laid the same charge against each one of us; that is the handwriting of the law condemning every man of woman born while he remains in a state of nature.” Jesus did everything possible to make certain that the record of debt that was against us could no longer accuse us. Wright further explains “Paul, looking at the cross, saw there instead the titulus that expressed the charge against all Jesus’ people, the written code that stood over against them, disqualifying them from the life of the new age. And it was God, not Pilate, that put it there.”

Mark 11

Mark 11 has Jesus continuing to teach the Twelve and minister to the people.  He comes into Jerusalem in style, riding on a donkey with people preparing the way along His route with palm branches and much noise.  As “he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons”.  This has been going on for years, but Jesus isn’t about leaving the status quo alone.  He is about moving people toward obedience and God.

You can imagine how that went over with the establishment of religious leaders.  Not only was He challenging their methods and approach, He was messing with their money and how they created income.  So “the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching”.  The religious leaders could sense their control was slipping away, and they wanted no part of watching that erode.  So they begin to focus on removing the threat whom they deemed to be Jesus.

He teaches his disciples about the power of prayer as they were walking along the road.  He used a fig tree to get their attention.  Then He makes it crystal clear.  “Have  faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, Be taken up and thrown into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours”.  If you wonder what power is available through prayer – it’s limited only to the level of our faith.  Jesus gave us the keys to the kingdom when it comes to prayer.

But there is one more thing He teaches about prayer.  “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that  your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your trespasses”.  Prayer is a matter of the heart.  First it is about faith and believing that God is in control of all things and not only can but will do what He says.  But secondly, it is about relationship and making things right with others.  We have to be willing to forgive to truly set the power of prayer loose in our lives.  That’s often where people struggle.  They think hanging on to past wrongs puts them in a place of power over someone.  In face, it limits our prayer life and hurts us.  We need to forgive and set people free so we can receive that same forgiveness from the Father!

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