Relevant: The Rewards of Praying Part 5
Two Kinds of Freedom

Sermon Summary

This message is the fifth on the Model Prayer, or what is more commonly known as The Lord's Prayer. It concentrates on the words Jesus taught us to pray "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. In these nine words Jesus speaks volumes. He tells us that we all have a sin debt and need to find the freedom of forgiveness. He then instructs us to find freedom in forgiving our debtors. Many people spend their lives trying to collect debts and make people pay for wrongs committed. There is great freedom in putting that responsibility in God's hands. There are great rewards to be discovered when we pray for forgiveness and for the strength to give forgiveness!

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. Have you ever owed someone a significant amount of money and they told you not to worry about paying it back? If so describe how that felt. If not, describe what you think that would feel like.

2. When Jesus told us to pray the words, "forgive us our debts," He was not talking about money, He was talking about our sin debt. Before we can pray this part of the prayer with sincerity we must first admit we owe a debt! We must then acknowledge just how big it is and that we don't have the resources to pay the debt. Why are these steps so important when seeking the freedom that comes from being forgiven?

Psa 32:1  Of David. A maskil. Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Psa 32:2  Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.
Psa 32:3  When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
Psa 32:4  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah
Psa 32:5  Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"-- and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah

1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

3. If we are unwilling to admit our sin, acknowledge we don't have the power on our own to fix the problem, and ask God to pardon us, we will end up spiritually bankrupt. In this scenario, what are the implications for the individual and the society?

Rom 1:21  For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Rom 1:22  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools
Rom 1:23  and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
Rom 1:24  Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.
Rom 1:25  They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen.

Ezek 18:30  "Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall.
Ezek 18:31  Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel?
Ezek 18:32  For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!

4. Some people live their lives collecting debts from people who have hurt them in the past. This ends up consuming their thoughts, time, energy, and any joy in living they might otherwise have. Discuss the freedom that can be found in giving forgiveness.

Col 3:12  Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Col 3:13  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Col 3:14  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Col 3:15  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Full Sermon Notes
 
"You came for criminals and every pharisee
You came for hypocrites, even one like me
You carried sin and shame the guilt of every man
The weight of all I've done nailed into Your hands"
David Crowder

The rewards of praying are possible because of the sacrifice Jesus was willing to make on your behalf! When Jesus carried the cross, He was caring the burden of your sin, my sin, your shame, my shame and your guilt and my guilt! When He was nailed to that tree, He was paying for our freedom! Today we will talk about two kinds of freedom that are rewards of praying like Jesus said to pray! Let's pray and ask God to teach us and that we would not only hear, but follow His teaching.

"Sweet Lord Jesus, how can I say thank You enough for what You did for me? I could never do or say enough to show my gratitude! And while I know that it's not my doing that saves me, it's Your doing, I want to do all I can to live for You and to show others the difference You've made in my life! And the two kinds of freedom we're going to talk about today Lord are only possible through You! Our world would drastically change for the better if people better understood and practiced what we're going to learn today. It is with this in mind that I ask You to fill me with Your Holy Spirit, anoint my words, and hide me behind Your cross so that others will see You, hear You, accept You, and begin too follow You!! For it is only in You that we gain access to the two freedoms of which we will study! I love You and thank You for hearing this prayer. In Jesus Name I pray and believe. Amen!"

Okay, we've been looking at our Lord's Sermon on the Mount and just how relevant it is to our modern day lives. For the past few weeks we've been looking at our Lord's Model Prayer which has become known as The Lord's Prayer. Let's start from the beginning of that prayer and read down to the words we will explore today. Matthew 6:9 and following. Jesus said…

Matthew 6:9-12 “This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Wow, that last verse. That one verse could be a four or five week series of sermons. It's not that these words of Jesus are complicated, they're not, they are just so deep and rich with meaning. I'm going to try to help us walk away from today's message with some of that depth. Remember I said there were two kinds of freedom in our main verse for today. The first is...

The Freedom of
Finding Forgiveness

Matthew 6:12a Forgive us our debts...

What does it take to find the freedom of forgiveness? There are several steps and the first one may seem like an obvious one, a no-brainer, a well-duh, but I must tell you it's one of the hardest steps.

Admission

Forgive us our debts! Before a person is able to sincerely pray that they have to admit they are in debt. The debt Jesus is talking about here is our sin debt: the fact that we have all messed up in some way and fallen short of God's original plans for our lives. The writer of the book of Romans put it this way in Romans 3:10 and 3:23...

Romans 3:10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

You might be tempted to say, "But I'm just as good as the next person, in fact, maybe even better because I've not done any of the big sins, you know the big ones, I mean I've never murdered anyone! I'm sorry to break this to you, but the most common word used for sin in the New Testament is the word harmartia, which means to miss the target, to miss the mark! So it's not just about the big sins you do, but it's also about what you didn't do that you should have or could have done. I don't believe there's anyone in this room who would claim they've always been and done their very best in their relationship with God or their spouse, or their children, or their parents, or their co-workers, or those they don't get along with.

So we must all admit and confess that we have missed the mark of God's plans and designs for our lives. Even if you are really good in comparison with others, if you compare your self with Jesus your imperfections will become obvious. Don't fret, I'm gonna give you some good news in just a minute. Hold on! Now I also know there are some here that might say, "Pastor Larry, I'm in big trouble, I've broken some of the big ones! I know I'm not good and there's probably not any hope for me even if I admit and come clean with what I've done." Actually, you're on the right track. You've already taken the next step in finding freedom in forgiveness…Acknowledgement

Acknowledgement

We have to admit we're sinners and then acknowledge that our sin debt is bad, it must be paid, and that we don't have the ability or the means to pay the debt! Why is this so important? John, wrote these words in 1 John 1:8-10...

1 John 1:8-10 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

And what happens if His Word has no place in our lives? Spiritually bankruptcy! Spiritual bankruptcy is worse than any financial bankruptcy could ever be. In fact, Paul described it in Romans 1:21-25...

Romans 1:21-25 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him,  
but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools
and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than
the Creator—who is forever praised.  Amen.

We need to pray for our nation because we are seeing some very clear signs of spiritual bankruptcy. And not only that, there are real signs that our religious freedom, which our veterans have bravely fought for down through the years, may be lost if our leaders continue to embrace the radical social agendas that are being forced upon us. It could become illegal for me to preach this book in the not so distant future! To preach it's truths would be seen as hate speech. But let me tell you, there's nothing hateful about warning the wicked of the consequences of sin. In fact it is one of the most loving things a person could do, especially if done in the Spirit of Christ! When God warned people of sin, it was because of His love for them.

Listen to these words of the Prophet Ezekiel..

Ezekiel 18:23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD.  
Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?

And then down in verses 30-32...

Ezekiel 18:30-32 “Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD.  
Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall.
Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel?
For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!

And this leads to the last step in finding freedom in forgiveness...

Ask

This is an Old Testament and a New Testament concept! It is a vital for both societies and individuals! Listen to the call of God to the Israelites...

2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,
then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Asking for forgiveness must include the action of repentance. If we humble ourselves by admitting and acknowledging our sin and then pray and ask for forgiveness, we must then seek His face and turn from our wicked ways. In other words, we must no longer look to sin and the pleasures of this world for our purpose or our pleasure. We must allow God to give us a new purpose and new pleasures.

In fact, Jesus said basically the same thing when He first started His ministry...

Mark 1:14-15 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.
“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”

And Paul, in the book of Romans, the same book in which he described spiritual bankruptcy, described what could be done to avoid it. In this passage Paul is speaking to the individual need to ask for forgiveness. Romans 10:9-13…

Romans 10:9-13 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile —the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,
for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

And why is it possible for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord to be saved? John gives us a beautiful answer to this question in 1 John 4:9-11...

1 John 4:9-11 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

How powerful, how beautiful, how amazing, how inspiring is that? Jesus told us to ask to be forgiven of our debt because He knew He was going to pay our debt in full!! Every spiritual penny of our debt. And God didn't do that for us because we were so good and so deserving: In fact we weren't even loving God, but He loved us first and most and best, and did something about it! He simply ask for us to admit our sin debt, acknowledge we can't pay it, and ask Him to help us! Asking Him to forgive us involves our willingness to repent and turn away from sin and to God! And when we do, we find freedom from the penalty of sin and God begins giving us freedom from the power of sin. We begin living a new life and others will begin to experience the change in us. How?

John said...

1 John 4:11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

And this takes us back to our Lord's Model prayer and the second freedom we find in what He told us to pray...

Matthew 6:12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

The Freedom of
Giving Forgiveness

Matthew 6:12b ...as we also have forgiven our debtors.

There is amazing freedom in finding forgiveness for your sins, but there is an equally amazing freedom to be found in giving forgiveness! Some of the most difficult times in my life have been when I struggled to let something go that someone else had done to me. It's not easy to forgive someone who has hurt you, but you must understand this truth. I spoke on this several weeks ago. Jesus makes it clear that those who are recipients of a great and undeserved grace and love of God must in turn be willing to give the same grace and love of God to others. In fact, Jesus says something very difficult at the end of the model prayer...

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Now why would Jesus say this? The first thing you need to understand is the literal reading of Jesus' words when He said, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive us our debtors." Are you ready for this?

Matthew 6:12 Forgive us our sins, in proportion as we forgive those who have sinned against us. (Barclay)

So if you pray that part of the prayer literally, and you aren't willing to forgive someone else, then you are literally asking God not to forgive you. Here's the deal, forgiving someone is never about saying it's okay what they did, or that it didn't really matter, or that it didn't really hurt you! If someone hurt you, abused you, lied about you, stole from you, or in any way sinned against you, it was wrong!

Forgiving them doesn't make what they did right or excuse them from their behavior. Forgiveness in the Greek means "letting go" or giving a "pardon."
To forgive is to no longer personally require payment of a sin debt. Don't waste your life collecting debts! If laws were broken it may mean that we allow society to hold them accountable, or place it in God's hands.

We don't have the power to forget, but God can give us the power to forego the demand for retribution. Some people think if they just let something go, especially a grievous offense, then the other person wins and has the power. The truth is the opposite. When you let a past offense go, it no longer controls you! It no longer hijacks your thoughts, your time, your energy! It doesn't mean the pain of the offense automatically goes away, but you can begin the healing process! It allows you to move forward with your life rather than living in the past. But you might say, as I mentioned in the message several weeks ago...

"But this person really hurt me! How can I even begin to let that go?" Start by remembering how it felt when you lived in a world without forgiveness, mercy, peace, hope, and love. Remember what it was like to live in a world filled with anger, hate, and despair. A world where revenge was the goal. A world where you went to bed thinking about negative things and got up thinking about negative things. When I remember back to my days before Jesus, it does several things. It makes me grateful I left my old life behind and now have a new life in Jesus! It makes me sad there are still people living in that mess and I want them to find what I found!

And remember, I'm not telling you to remain in a situation where an unrepentant person is still abusing or hurting you. That's not forgiveness. God will give you wisdom to know if that's the case and He will guide you in what to do. But remember, the prayer should always be that the other person repents and finds Jesus. Don't seek their demise, seek their salvation!

Here's another reason Jesus said what He said about our forgiveness being tied with our willingness to forgive: A person who is seeking revenge or is unwilling to forgive others will not humble themselves to seek God's forgiveness! And unless we admit we're also sinners, and acknowledge our inability to pay our debt and ask for forgiveness then we will remain unforgiven.

Freedom is found in being forgiven, but also is found in giving forgiveness!
Corrie Ten Boom was imprisoned in concentration camps during WWII. After the war she would travel and speak of how God helped her survive the awful things she saw and experienced. One evening she spoke in Munich Germany. An S.S. prison guard was there. She tells what happened.

"He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. 'How grateful I am for your message…,' He said. 'To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!' His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side. Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him. I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. So again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness. As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself."

1 John 2:1-6 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one
who speaks to the Father in our defense —Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.
The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him:
Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

Let's pray!