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Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209
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clear.gif - 808 Bytes Someone has hurt me very much. He has asked for forgiveness, but as far as I have been able to see things, even though I have forgiven him, it still does very little about the repercussions of what has been going on for the past couple years. God forgives us, but he doesn't make everything come up roses afterward.
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I am glad to hear that you have forgiven this individual, but you say that it doesn't change what has happened. It may not have changed what has happened, but it must change how we DEAL with what has happened, or else it isn't forgiveness. You use Christ as the example, and you pick well. How does Christ forgive, seeing as how He is the example given in the Scriptures (Col 3:13)? Let's look at that whole section.

Colossians 3:1-2 tells us that if we are saved, we need to be more concerned with Heavenly matters than earthly ones. Verses 3-4 tell us why: because we are dead to sin, and we have begun a new life in Christ; and because Christ is coming again. Verses 5-9 tell us that there are some things in this life we ought not to be doing as believers. Verse 10 tells us to put on the new man and be Christlike; allowing Him to be "all in all".

Verse 12 says "Therefore". Because of everything we have just mentioned, there is something that Christians ought to be (or do). In verse 12 they are to put on the characteristics of 1) mercy (not giving someone what they deserve), 2) kindness (doing something for someone that they don't necessarily deserve), 3) humbleness, 4) meekness, and 5) longsuffering (a word which means just what it says). Verse 13 says that we need to forbear (put up with), and forgive "if any man have a quarrel against any". That seems to be pretty inclusive. Then verse 13 uses Christ as the example of forgiveness. Actually, He is a pretty good example of forbearance, too. He puts up with a lot of junk from me!

How did Christ forgive? Psalm 103:12 says that He has removed our sins as far as "the East ( a point that one can never reach) is from the West (another point in the opposite direction which can never be reached)". Jeremiah 31:34 and Hebrews 8:12 state that He will remember our sins "no more". Psalm 85:2 states that our sins are covered. Ezekiel 33:24-16 teach that when the wicked repent, none of their sins shall be mentioned unto them. Micah 7:19 states that He casts our sins "into the depths of the sea". Isaiah 38:17 says that He casts our sins behind his back. This is how God forgave me: completely, totally, and He never throws it back in my face what a wretch I was.

Colossians 3:14 tells me that I must act in a loving way, and the context certainly indicates that those who have quarreled with me, or hurt me, are to receive this love as well. This will help me move on to perfectness (maturity). In verse 15 I am to allow God's peace to rule in my life, which will happen when I have submitted myself to Him, and be thankful for the situation in which I find myself. In verse 16 I am to function according to the Scriptures, which are to indwell me to the extent that that I am continually praising the Lord. Lastly, in verse 17, I am to thank God again, and be sure that everything that I am doing is being done for His glory, and thus is in accordance with His will and His Word. In verses 18-22 he discusses four groups who are to practice submission: wives, husbands, children, and servants. In verse 23 he reminds us that what we are doing is "to the Lord", and in verses 24-25 he shows that God will reward us for behaving in a proper way in these areas, but that God will judge those who choose to not obey Biblical principles.

Matthew 18:15-20 deals with the area of church discipline. Of course, the goal of that discipline is reconcilliation. In verse 21, Peter asks Christ how many time he has to forgive someone. Christ tells him "seventy times seven" and then illustrates this principle with a parable in verses 23-35. You know the story: a servant owed his king a huge debt that he could never pay. He asked the king for mercy, and he receives forgiveness. Upon leaving, he encounters a fellow servant who owes him a small sum, almost nothing when compared to the great debt he owed the king. He demands payment, and when the fellow servant begs for mercy, he refuses to grant it, but has him thrown into prison. When the king learns of this, he punishes the first servant greatly, and the closing verse states "so likely shall my Heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses".

Here is the picture: I had a sin debt that I could never repay, but Christ forgave it. No matter what someone does to me, it can never compare to what I did to Christ, for he is Holy God, and I am just a sinful man. He is the King, and I am just a servant. Therefore, if He can forgive me, I can forgive others.

Luke 17:3-4 states: "Take heed to yourselves: if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass agains thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee saying 'I repent', forgive him."

Dr. Jay Adams, who is certainly not God, but is a a well-respected Christian counsellor who has written many books on Biblical counselling and counselling under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, has defined Biblical forgiveness this way: "Forgiveness means that I won't bring this matter up to you any more; I will not bring it up to anyone else any more; and I will not bring it up to myself any more".

Certainly there are times when a person's sin has lasting results. However, I do not see a Biblical injunction that says that an individual can not ever be restored if he has committed the offences that this person has. If you truly forgive him, then your actions will need to prove that.

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Dr Mark Montgomery
Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209

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