Forgiveness_a Vital Step Towards Fullness
FORGIVENESS:A VITAL STEP TOWARD FULLNESS
Jeremiah 34; Ezekiel 47; Mark 11:25-26; Matthew 18:21-22 Psalm 32:1-5
The atmosphere surrounding the Body of Christ where forgiveness reigns is fairly dancing with love, joy, anticipation, hope…yea, one might even term such an atmosphere…REVIVAL.
Additionally, I believe an atmosphere of forgiveness can change the course not only of an individual, but also of a family and even a city, country or the world. I think one of the reasons we do not see the vitality of the fullness of Christ in our world is precisely because of UNFORGIVENESS.
ILLUSTRATION- Sir Walter Scott – famous for putting his coat over a muddy puddle in the road so a lady could walk to the sidewalk, had a difficult time with unforgiveness and ‘turning the other cheek’. But Jesus’ words from the sermon on the mount took on real meaning to him one day when he threw a rock at a stray dog to chase it away—HIS THROW-STRAIGHT AND STRONG-DOG’S LEG BROKEN. Dog ran to him and licked his hand. Scott said the dog preached a more convicting sermon than most preachers he heard. He said he had not found human beings so ready to forgive their enemies.
Unfortunately, there are a great number of Christians claiming a high level of FULLNESS OF CHRIST AND HIS SPIRIT, who seem to know little about forgiveness and because of that the pipes of the kingdom of God are clogged with gunk and filth.
ILLUSTRATION – Most of us have experienced clogged pipes in our homes. Fail to be careful what we put down them or fail to use something to keep them cleaned out. This happened to me about 4 years ago and I had to call a plumber. He tried several things to get the job done. Finally, he went to the basement where two pipes came together and there was a plug. He opened the plug and the most awful ‘junk’ shot out about 6-8 feet…
That is similar to what happens in us, the Church and our world. We let unforgiveness pile up and mix together until our lives are filled with toxic waste. Sometimes we let it build up till we need to call a plumber and sometimes the damage is so great that the bill is great enough to cause cardiac arrest.
If only, we would forgive, the flow of Christ would change our lives, families, and cities. I have made some observations from the scripture concerning the FULLNESS OF CHRST AND FORGIVENESS AND HAVE FOUND THAT FORGIVENESS IS A VITAL STEP TOWARD THE FULLNESS OF CHRST.
I. FORGIVENESS IS THE POWER OF FULLNESS – Ezekiel 47:1-5
ILLUSTRATION - Corrie Ten Boom shares this true story in her book, The Hiding Place:
It was a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there -- the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie's pain-blanched face.
He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. "How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein," 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. And 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 into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
And so I discovered that 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.
A. Power of a New Life, New Hope and New Joy – TALK much about it.
SHORT on living it. We pray our prayers, come forward in churches
seek experiences and quick fixes but still the resurrection power of X
eludes us. Why? UNFORGIVENESS.
1. EZEKIEL 47:1-5 – shows Temple finished and vision from the
prophet=FLOWS OUT from throne-ankle, knee, waist, swim.
Turns Dead sea into fishing port, trees.
2. Jesus canceled our sin from the cross – “Father forgive them”
Those words raised the dead
APPLY – Consider your life for a moment. Consider what a
great debt has been canceled in your life and yet you harbor
ill-Remember the times when you have extended forgiveness…
THIS IS NEW LIFE, NEW HOPE, NEW JOY.
B. Power to forgive our enemies – Even as Corrie Ten Boom
1. Stephen – forgave=Saul of Tarsus=Paul
2. Esau-forgave-ran and embraced one he swore to kill- If we
repent, God can melt our hard hearts.
3. Joseph-brothers=wept so Egypt heard and house of Pharoah.
He even said to brothers – Don’t be grieved with yourselves.
God wants His Spirit to FLOW UNIMPEDED THROUGH US.
II. FORGIVENESS FREES FROM THE BONDAGE PREVENTING FULLNESS-Jeremiah 34:1-12; Deut. 15:1-18
Explain passage background –
A. The battle for the fullness of Christ is first a spiritual battle.
1. Nebuchadnezzar and all armies of earth fought against
Jerusalem. APPLY – YOU, FAMILY, CITY. Is your city
overrun? Your life?
B. Transcends the ledger sheet mentality
C. Covenants with God
D. God’s plan of release of brother/slaves caused a change in the attitude
of evil. APPLY - Our willingness to let our brothers ‘go’ can move
the heart of the king. KING OF BABYLON LEFT. Forgiveness
There is a bondage over some of us…many of God’s people living frustrated Christian lives because under the bondage of disobedience. We refuse to let it go.
III. FORGIVENESS INSURES OUR OWN DELIVERANCE – Mark 11:25-26
A. God cannot be manipulated – Once the pressure was off Israel enslaved their brothers again. APPLY – How many of us make
deals with God and once He ‘comes through’ we fall back to old
ILLUSTRATION- In 1843 E.A. Poe wrote the short story TELL- TALE HEART. Explain
APPLY – Many of us try to make deals with God. We gloss over
our sins, try to hide them. We shove them down in our conscience
until one day we hear a beating of an old enemy. One we thought
gone. Alas it only hid.
B. Let us not return to our prisons when God has thrown open the
doors of the iron gate. Esau will fall weeping. Joseph‘s brothers. will feast in Egypt, Paul will preach the gospel. Why? Because
Jacob bows, Joseph forgives, Stephen says, Lay not this sin…
The power is present among us to set one another free from the indebtedness. We must free our brother or sister so we can be free. In imprisoning them in our hearts we imprison ourselves, families, cities. What would it be like in this Church next week, if you forgave someone a debt? What it be like in your family in a month, if…Church, if…City, if…? WHERE THERE IS A DECREASE OF LOVE THERE IS AN INCREASE OF DEMONIC ACTIVITY. The course of our lives has been headed a certain direction. We want the course to change. If that is to occur, then we must intentionally do something…We must forgive. We want Christ to have his fullness in the Church. He cannot as long as we have ours. My heart cannot be full of Christ when it is full of me. My family cannot be full of Christ when there are so many seeking to be the one in control. Our city cannot be full of Christ when there are wars among the races, Church, politics, etc. FORGIVENESS IS THE VITALITY OF THE CHRISTIAN…CHURCH…CITY…WORLD.