Forgiveness versus Root of Bitterness


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The Power of Forgiveness Versus The Curse of A Root of Bitterness

Study Aired June 22, 2014

Those of you who are on the body e-mail list received a prayer request concerning the safety of our brother George Mwaboli, who lives in Kenya.

Here is an excerpt from that e-mail:

“I want to ask you to keep our brother in Kenya, George Mwaboli, his wife, Judith and their two children, and his elder son Julius in your prayers as there has been yet another terrorist attack in Kenya, this time in Mombasa, where our brother works as a member of the armed forces. The problem causing these terror attacks that are happening in Kenya seems to be Muslim extremists but as I have learnt, there is such a web of lies in this world and it really does not matter what the reasons are, it boils down to a hatred of the One True God and those who attempt to follow Christ.”

I have emboldened part of that last sentence because it is so true, and because it exemplifies the true cause of all wars and all acts of terror that ever have, or ever will be, committed by one human against another. There is just one thing that is more hated than the hatred of a Jew or a Christian against a Muslim, or the hatred of a Muslim against Jews and Christians, and that is a person within any of those three communities who espouses the doctrine of Christ that we are to ‘love our enemies”. As was so rightly states: “…it all boils down to a hatred of the one true God and those who attempt to follow Christ”.

We could follow the history of the conflict between Christian Kenya and Muslim Somalia all the way back to Cain and Abel, and it would still come down to: “…it all boils down to a hatred of the one true God and those who attempt to follow Christ”.

Thank God for the hope we are given in that account of the first murder ever committed on earth:

Gen 4:6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
Gen 4:7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
Gen 4:8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

It is not adding to the Word of God to declare that, from this account, it is clear that Cain did not “do well” and that “sin [did] lay at the door” for Cain. Yet we are assured right here at the very beginning of history “You [Cain] shall rule over him [sin]” that mankind will receive forgiveness. In other words, God has already forgiven mankind all the heinous sins he will ever commit, and that forgiveness was granted and guaranteed before the first murder was ever committed.

But forgiveness is a Godly attribute, and it is not a characteristic of the natural “marred… vessel of clay” that God has made us all to first be.

Jer 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

We are not told what Cain “talked with Abel” about. All we are told is that God approved of Abel’s offering, “but unto Cain and to his offering He had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.”

Gen 4:3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.
Gen 4:4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
Gen 4:5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

Next we are told that God asked Cain why he was so upset, and He reminded Cain that all he needed was to “do well” and he would “be accepted” of God, and “if you do not well, sin lies at the door”. “And unto you shall be his desire” is a very misleading translation, which completely hides the meaning of what God is actually telling Cain and all of us. The Hebrew word translated as ‘unto’ is the word ‘el’ and in the very next verse it is properly translated as “against”. “Cain rose up against his brother Abel and slew him”. Cain was bitter against His brother, and that bitterness was not pleasing to God, and it was not good for Cain. The phrase “unto thee shall be his desire” might lead one to believe that God was pronouncing a blessing on Eve as it is also mistranslated in the previous chapter where God is telling Eve what will be the fruit of her disobedience:

Gen 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to [Hebrew – ‘el’, against] thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

God has just told Eve that because she disobeyed His commandment against eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that she will “in sorrow bring forth children”. Does Christ then tell Eve that part of her punishment will be to desire to please her husband? No, that would be blessing her for her disobedience. Rather it should read “…your desire shall be against your husband”. Then, just as with Cain in the next chapter, it is followed by the merciful promise that in the end her husband will rule over her rebellious spirit against him. That is the same thing God said to Cain concerning sin in Cain’s life: “Against thee shall be his desire”. That is the very function of the law of sin that the “one lawgiver” has placed within the flesh of all men of all time. (Rom 7:17-23; Jas 4:12)

The pronouns “his” and “him” are used to personify the spirit of the adversary which is just naturally within every person ever born by virtue of being made a marred vessel of clay. (Jer 18:4)

Joh 8:44 Ye [That is you and me first and foremost] are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Cain had not done well in obedience to God. He was the cause for God’s refusal to accept his offering. Abel on the other hand had “done well in being obedient to God. But Cain was bitter against his brother because his brother was obedient, and Cain considered Abel’s “do[ing] well” to be the reason why his offering was not accepted. Abel’s obedience provoked Cain’s condemnation of his innocent brother’s obedience, and in doing so it demonstrated Cain’s inability to forgive his brother of what he perceived to be his brother’s fault.

Cain’s inability to forgive his brother brought the curse of God’s wrath upon Cain, and that curse is upon all of Cain’s spiritual children to this very day.

Joh 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Cain did not believe what God told him. He preferred to blame his brother for what was really his own problem, and that is what we all do when we blame anyone else for our problems which are all given to us by God, and not by those who God uses to give us our problems and our trials.

It was the same with Joseph and his brothers. Joseph was faithful to his father whereas his brother’s in a sense did not “do well” and sin was laying at their door as it was at Cain’s. This is what we are told:

Gen 37:2 These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.
Gen 37:3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.
Gen 37:4 And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.

Why did Cain hate Abel? Had Abel done anything against his brother Cain? No yet he could not speak peaceably to Abel. Instead:

Gen 4:8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

So the actions of Joseph’s brothers against him were equally unwarranted. Joseph, like Abel, chose to be faithful to his father over the sinful ways of his brothers’ “evil report”. Jacob accepted Joseph’s offering of obedience over the disobedience of his other sons:

Gen 37:4 And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.

Joseph’s brothers had the exact same motivation that possessed Cain. They put their rejection by God at the feet of their brother, and they hated him. They were bitter toward their brother because of their own sin against God.

An unforgiving and bitter spirit will not be tolerated by a loving heavenly Father. He makes it abundantly clear that even evil and wicked men are actually the work of His own hand which has constructed these clay vessels in a marred condition and of a sinful, corruptible composition, so that the sins any of us commit are not our own sins any more than our good works are our own works.

Look at what Joseph tells his brother’s concerning their evil which they committed against him. He tells the the same thing twice in chapter 45, and then he repeats this Truth in chapter 50:

Gen 45:4 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.
Gen 45:5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.
Gen 45:6 For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.
Gen 45:7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
Gen 45:8 So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

Joseph’s brothers were not given ears to hear the words “it was not you that sent me here, but God”. All they heard were the twice repeated words “whom you sold into Egypt… you sold me here”. The same is true to this very day. Until God gives us eyes to see and ears to hear none of us can see this same simple truth as it is repeated in the New Testament:

Rom 7:17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
Rom 7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Rom 7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
Rom 7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
Rom 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
Rom 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Rom 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Until this very day we cannot see the words “it is no more I that do it”, and instead all we can see is “sin that dwells in me”. The false doctrine is “free moral agency” is far more acceptable to our carnal minded “sin within me” flesh, then are the truthful words “it is no more I that do it”.

As long as we continue to blame our brother Abel, and our brother Joseph, for the depth of our own sins, we will never see the depth of the “sin that is in my members” and we will be incapable of forgiving those who are indebted to us and who trespass against us, as our Lord instructed us we must:

Mat 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Mat 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Mat 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.
Mat 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Mat 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Mat 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
Mat 6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

So…

Who is your worst enemy in this world?

What is our Lord’s answer?

Mat 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
Mat 6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

That is just how powerful and how expedient is this matter of forgiving of the sins of others. Our very life depends upon God forgiving us of our sins, and God’s forgiveness of our sins hinges upon our own forgiveness of the debts of others against us. God will not forgive us if we have not forgiven those who He has used to try us.

What does all of this tell us about who is our own worst enemy in this whole wide world? This is what all men of all time must come to understand about themselves:

1Ti 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Until we come to see ourselves as the chief of sinners, we will find it difficult to forgive our brothers for their sins. Until we see ourselves as the man who deserves to die for his own sins, we will still be as Cain and Joseph’s brothers who blamed all their problems upon those whose sins were far less than their own.

One more such example of how we always place the penalty of our own sins upon those whose sins are so much less than our own is King David, who was furious that anyone in his kingdom would treat another of his subjects as he himself had treated his own subject, Uriah.

That story happened to King David, and it is written for our admonition, and it is central to understanding that the power of forgiving others of their sins hinges upon each of us seeing ourselves as the ‘chief of sinners’. Let’s review how King David is used of God to show us how we all, like self-righteous Cain and like Joseph’s self-righteous brothers, hate and despise our own sins when we see those sins in others whose debts should be seen as much less than our own. Here is how God teaches us this lesson through the fiery humiliation of King David over King David’s adultery with Bathsheba, and then his murder of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah to cover up his adultery:

2Sa 12:1 And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor.
2Sa 12:2 The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds:
2Sa 12:3 But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.
2Sa 12:4 And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.
2Sa 12:5 And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die:
2Sa 12:6 And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.
2Sa 12:7 And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;
2Sa 12:8 And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.
2Sa 12:9 Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.
2Sa 12:10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.

King David made Uriah bear the penalty for his own wretched sins, just as Cain did to Abel and just as Joseph’s brothers did to him. And what is God’s summation and assessment of what we all do when we do such an unforgiving and ungodly thing? Here it is again: “… you have despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His sight.

As I quoted at the beginning of this study of the attacks of the Muslims of Somalia against the Christians of Kenya:

“…It really does not matter what the reasons are, it boils down to a hatred of the One True God and those who attempt to follow Christ.”

The reason why the nations of this world hate each other is because they are not capable of seeing themselves as “sinners of whom I am chief”, and they are all placing the penalty of their own grievous sins upon those who they ought to be viewing as less guilty than themselves. Truly such a concept is utter foolishness to those who “despise the commandment of the Lord” to love their enemies.

Here is the only way we can possibly forgive our enemies or anyone who we think of as being in our debt:

Php 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Personal humility is basic to being able to forgive others their sins. We must acknowledge that we too, are sinners, and that from our own perspective our own sins are worse than others and “other[s] are better than [we are]”. Christ drives this point home in His instructions in for dealing with sin and leaven within His body in Matthew 18.

Matthew 18 is the most powerful admonition against thinking of ourselves as better than others, and this admonition is from our Lord Himself. It is here that we are told how we are to keep the leaven of the Pharisees from spreading within the body of Christ, and it is here that it is so powerfully demonstrated that our own forgiveness from God, hinges upon us first forgiving those who have trespassed against us.

Mat 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
Mat 18:16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
Mat 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Verse 15 gives us the goal of confronting a brother who trespasses against us in either doctrine or deed. The goal is to “win thy brother”. We will make no progress towards winning our brother if we go around behind his back and gossip to everyone in the body of Christ about the sins or false teachings of our brother. We are commanded to “go and tell him his fault between you and him alone”. We will bring a curse upon ourselves if we fail to follow that commandment. Gossip cannot be tolerated within the body of Christ. This is why:

Pro 11:13 A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.

Pro 17:9 He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.

Pro 18:8 The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.

Pro 20:19 He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.

Pro 26:22 The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.

“He that covers a transgression seeks love” toward his brother. A talebearer on the other hand has not forgiven the subject of his gossip, and soon enough everyone will know to “meddle not with him…” because while he will flatter you to your face, but he will spread gossip about you too, behind your back, and he will “separate [you from your] very friends” because he has not forgiven you or whoever is the object of his gossip.

But keeping the matter “between you and him alone” in no way means we are to tolerate sin or false doctrine or gossip within our fellowship. Far from it. We are never expected to simply let a brother who trespasses in deed, or transgresses against the doctrine of Christ, to continue to spread the leaven of the Pharisees within the Lord’s flock. We are to deal with such brothers in this way:

2Jn 1:8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.
2Jn 1:9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
2Jn 1:10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
2Jn 1:11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

If we obey our Lord’s instructions here, we will remain united in the spirit and truth of the Word of God and we will “lose not the things which we have wrought”. If on the other hand, we fear men and fail to live by these words, we will soon reap the fruit of that spirit which fears men more than it fears God.

If a brother or a sister comes to us complaining about another brother or sister, then the first words out of our mouths should be to instruct that brother of sister to “go to him between you and him alone”. We must all be very careful not to be sucked into a rebellious spirit of gossip which will divide us and rob us of the peace and unity that belongs to all who are in Christ and who fear to ignore and disobey His commandments.

Continuing with Christ’s instructions in Matthew 18, we are told this incredible truth:

Mat 18:18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Mat 18:19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

The literal translations catch the meaning of the Greek much better than the King James Version. We are not at liberty to establish doctrine contrary to the Word of God. “In My name” means ‘according to My doctrine’. It certainly does not impart powers to any man to decide what is and what is not the doctrine of Christ. When we take it upon ourselves to ignore the doctrine of Christ, as we saw in 2Jo 1:8-11, Christ in not “in [our] midst”.

Here is a much better translation of these three verses:

Mat 18:18 Verily I say to you, Whatever things ye may bind upon the earth shall be having been bound in the heavens, and whatever things ye may loose on the earth shall be having been loosed in the heavens.
Mat 18:19 Again, I say to you, that, if two of you may agree on the earth concerning anything, whatever they may ask–it shall be done to them from my Father who is in the heavens,
Mat 18:20 for where there are two or three gathered together–to my name, there am I in the midst of them. (YLT)

The “two or three” of verse 20 are the same “one or two more” we are commanded to take with us to “establish [that] every word” spoken is according to “that which has been written”. We are solemnly commanded that we are to never to “think above that which is written”.

1Co 4:6 And these things, brethren, I did transfer to myself and to Apollos because of you, that in us ye may learn not to think above that which hath been written, that ye may not be puffed up one for one against the other,

It is “that which has been written” here in Matthew 18 concerning forgiving our brother or our sister that is so vital to our own forgiveness of our own sins by our heavenly Father.

Peter has no comment about Christ’s statement that what he binds on earth shall be having been bound in heaven and what he looses on earth shall be having been loosed in heaven. Peter’s question is recorded for our edification and for our exhortation. Here is what Peter now wants to know:

Mat 18:21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Mat 18:22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

Applying the principle of “the sum of thy word” (Psa 119:160), we read this in the gospel of Luke:

Luk 17:3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
Luk 17:4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.

Between these two gospels we have now learned that God expects both repentance and forgiveness. The offender must repent, and the offended brother must forgive his wayward brother “seven times in a day” if that brother “turns again… saying, I repent”. Seven times in a day does not allow enough time for seeing the required “fruits meet for repentance” which are also expected of the offending party. We must accept the sum of God’s word concerning repentance as well as forgiveness, and we are commanded to repent with Godly sorrow, and to bring forth fruits meet for repentance:

Mat 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

2Co 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
2Co 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
2Co 7:11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

But the forgiveness comes first: “You shall forgive Him” is what we are commanded, and lest there be any doubt just how important it is for each of us to first forgive our brother, even before he has time to bring forth fruits meet for repentance, Christ gives us this parable:

Mat 18:23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
Mat 18:24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
Mat 18:25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
Mat 18:26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
Mat 18:27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
Mat 18:28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
Mat 18:29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
Mat 18:30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
Mat 18:31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
Mat 18:32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
Mat 18:33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
Mat 18:34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
Mat 18:35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

“The kingdom of heaven is likened unto” this parable. Now we have been granted to understand that “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luk 17:20-21). That means that the lesson of this parable is within us. It is we who are being addressed with this parable Christ is giving us in answer to Peter’s question “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?”

In this parable we first have a servant who owes his lord “ten thousand talents”. The commentaries do not agree on how much ten thousand talents is in today’s dollars or pounds, but they all agree that it is an unimaginable amount of money that could never be repaid in a lifetime. This servant is desperate, of course, and begs for mercy, promising in his desperation to repay an non-repayable sum. His Lord, following our instructions to forgive a repentant brother even before there are any fruits of repentance, completely forgives this incredible debt and sets his servant at liberty. This same servant then goes to a fellow servant, who owes him “a hundred pence”, an amount that is absolutely nothing compared to what the first servant was forgiven. Nevertheless the first servant demands immediate payment. The second servant does the same thing the first servant did and begs for mercy, offering to pay it all back. But the first servant does not show to his fellow servant the mercy that was shown to him. Instead he puts the second servant in prison until the debt is paid.

When we are granted to see that we are that first servant, and we see and understand that the non-repayable debt is to be understood as ourselves being guilty of the blood of our own Savior, then we will have no problem forgiving our fellow servants. But the lesson for all of us is that we do not just naturally see any of this, and what we do just naturally do is to hold the sins of our fellow servants against them, and demand that their sins be exposed and that they be humiliated and be forced to pay every penny, and that they face immediate justice for the way they have treated us, even though their sins should pale in our minds compared to our own sins which we are told we should see as making us “chief… of… sinners”.

1Ti 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I [Mike Vinson] am chief.

We have a log, a beam, in our own eye which we cannot see, but focus on the mote in our brother’s eye.

You and I have not only been forgiven an impossible, non-payable debt, but we have also been given to understand that neither our good deeds nor our sins are really ours, and the same is true of our fellow servants (Gen 45:4-8 and Rom 7:17- 25). Knowing the truth of those verses of scripture should help us to realize that we have absolutely no reason to hold the sins of our fellow man against him.

Lest we miss the impact that the need for forgiveness is to have upon us, this parable ends with these words of warning, which are designed to cause us to fear to ignore the fruits of not forgiving our fellow servants, and to see their sins as infinitely less than our own:

Mat 18:32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
Mat 18:33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
Mat 18:34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
Mat 18:35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

There is so much which could to be discussed in these four verses, but it should be clear that God expects us to fear to ignore this warning against failing to see ourselves as the first servant, ourselves guilty of the blood of Christ, and against failing to see our fellow servants sins against us as nothing by comparison to the sins we have committed against our Lord.

Yes, the Lord is working all things after the counsel of His own will, and it is his will to “deliver [us] to the tormentors, till [we] pay all that [is] due Him… if [we] from [our] hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses”.

May God grant us all to see that our own forgiveness of the death of our Lord by our heavenly Father is designed by that same Father to hinge upon us first forgiving all who have sinned against us, and that if we do not first “from the heart” forgive all who have ever sinned against us, then our heavenly Father will not forgive us of the death of His Son, but will instead “deliver [us] to the tormentors till [we] should pay what [is] due Him”. God’s “tormentors” have never yet found anyone who was even a challenge against their ability to bring us to repentance from the heart. It is simply not granted or given to many in this age.

Christ had already made this message clear in Mat 6:

Mat 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Mat 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Mat 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
Mat 6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

The message of Matthew 18 simply adds more force to the necessity that we forgive those who have trespassed against us, and it shows us that we are the person who has been forgiven by our Lord of a debt we could never pay. It also adds the fact that we will be tormented by the tormentors if we do not from the heart forgive those who trespass against us. This is the worst case scenario, and even in the worst case the torment is only “till he should pay all that was due unto him.” It is not for all eternity but “till he should pay all that was due Him”.

I will close with the words of the apostle Paul to the Thessalonians:

2Th 1:4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
2Th 1:5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:
2Th 1:6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;
2Th 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
2Th 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: [including Mat 6:12-15, and Mat 18:15-35]
2Th 1:9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
2Th 1:10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

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