Sometimes sermons take on a life of their own. My outline for this past week’s sermon is below. However, if you hear the sermon you will find that at times I deviated from the outline.
Christ Church of Morgantown
7th Sunday of Trinity
July 31st, 2011
Sermon: The Lord’s Prayer: Forgive Us Our Trespasses
Matthew 6:12, 14-15
When things are familiar to us we tend to take them for granted. When I was growing up my father loved to do things with us. He would play soccer with us in the yard. He would play football with us. He worked construction. One day a concrete truck got the wrong instructions. So here you have a concrete truck half full with no place to the put the concrete. So my dad bought the concrete cheap and poured us a concrete pad to play basketball on. I think it was twelve by twelve. Anyway, my dad loved to do things like that. Every time a friend would come over and spend the night or play with us they would always comment about how great my dad was. They would say how neat it was that he would play with us. They would tell me how great my dad was. Of course, I rarely thought this. I thought every father played football and basketball with his boys. I took it for granted what my dad did for us. We do this often with familiar things. We see them so frequently we become dull to how amazing they are.
So it is with the our subject his morning. The Kingdom we needed teaching on. The holiness of God we needed teaching on. Our daily bread we needed teaching on. But the forgiveness of sins, I have that one down pastor. I don’t need a sermon on that.
We sin daily.
Q82: Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
A82: No mere man since the fall is able in this life perfectly to keep the commandments of God, but doth daily break them in thought, word, and deed.
Note here the underlying assumption is that we sin and will continue to sin. It won’t be the same sins, but this portion of the prayer argues against the notion of perfection. We carry sin in our hearts until our death. Perfection is not an option.
What we tend to say is, “We don’t sin like those people.” We look at the sins of others and think we are pretty good people. But the standard is not other people. The standard is God. The standard is not my neighbor.
There are two different types of sin that our fathers talked about, sins of commission and sins of omission. Sins of commission are doing those things which we ought not to do. For example, lusting, stealing, getting angry at my children or spouse, and disobeying my parents. We usually think about sin in this category.
But when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was he didn’t tell us what not to do, but rather what to do. Love the Lord your God… We sin when we do not love with all our heart. We sin when could have helped our wife, but chose not to. We sin when we could have honored our parents, but chose not to. We sin when we could have glorified God in the work place, but instead shrunk back.
There are two areas we sin, internally and externally. Again we tend to think externally only, that which people see. But sin begins in the heart. Why do we do what we do? Here is the great question. Jesus is teaching us in this large section (Matthew 6:1-18) that we can pray, fast, and give alms and be sinning. How? Our hearts are fixed upon the world.
Love the Word
God’s Word does many things for us. It can comfort when we are downcast. It can encourage us when we have done well. It can show God and his mercy. It tells us the story of God and his Messiah sent to redeem fallen man. But the Bible also shows us our sin. It exposes us to God and his character and his law. Do you read the Bible for information or for transformation? Do you read the Bible so you can see what others are doing or to shape your own life? How often does your Scripture reading
God Grants Forgiveness
Here is where we have to decide if we are going to bored with the same old story or rejoice in the same old story. It should amaze us every time we confess our sins that we are forgiven. Every time we come and plead the blood of Christ is should cause us to wonder. What good reason does he have? Why should he forgive us? What can we give him that he should take away our sins?
His forgiveness is continual. We get so tired of forgiving others, don’t we? Our children come back with the same sin and ask forgiveness again. But God doesn’t. His forgiveness is continual. Matthew 18:21-22
His forgiveness is complete. I John 1:8-9. He does not partially forgive. It may be worthwhile to ask here, what is forgiveness.
His forgiveness is unconditional. That means all we have to do is ask. I remember this movie “The Mission” where Robert DeNiro plays a soldier who is converted to Christianity and decided to join a monastery in South America. The head priest decides to make DeNiro show is allegiance by hauling a cross up a mountain. It is a thought provoking movie and worth your time. However, the point I want to make is that we don’t need to haul a cross up a mountain. God does not forgive because of what we do. We don’t get in because do this or do that. We get in because God draws us and we request forgiveness.
Love the Cross-Sometimes I get tired of people who talk about the cross and nothing else. Why? Because that is not what the Bible does. The Bible talks about a lot of things. It talks about sheep and goats, parenting, wisdom and chariot wheels with eyes. But if someone rarely talks about the cross, if Jesus’ death is an afterthought then their theology is warped. Something has gone awry in their thinking. The cross must be something we glory in. Why? Because at the cross our sins were forgiven.
We Should Forgive Others Daily
We should expect to be sinned against.
Does this mean we must forget the sins of others? Does God forgive and forget? If this is the criteria then we cannot forgive because it is hard to forget. But that is not the point. God does not forget. Forgiveness is not holding someone’s sins against them anymore.
Does this mean we earn forgiveness?
Why can this not be true? Jesus seems to be saying here that God will forgive us, if we forgive others.
Our debt is too large. Your sins are so numerous that you could spend thousands of years seeking to earn your way in and still not atone. Your sins are not just many they are against God.
If we do that undermines the entire Gospel. Why because the Gospel is the forgiveness of our sins?
Alas and Did My Savior Bleed- But drops of grief can ne’er repay the debt of love I owe
Forgiveness is free, not earned. Paul makes this explicit throughout his epistles, Romans and Galatians. Romans 6:23 is a great example. Ephesians 1:7 is another example. Titus 3 is another example.
We can never forgive exactly as God forgives. If what Jesus is saying is that you must forgive just like God does then we are hopeless.
So what does this mean? Christ is telling us here that one of the clearest proofs of our own salvation is our willingness to forgive others. He is telling us that if we want to know whether we are saved or not, whether we understand our salvation or not we must look at how we forgive others.
WLC Q105: What do we pray for in the fifth petition?
A105: In the fifth petition, which is, And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, we pray, That God, for Christ’s sake, would freely pardon all our sins; which we are able to be rather encouraged to ask, because by his grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.
HC Q: 126. Which is the fifth petition?
A: “And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”; that is, be pleased for the sake of Christ’s blood, not to impute to us poor sinners, our transgressions, nor that depravity, which always cleaves to us; even as we feel this evidence of thy grace in us, that it is our firm resolution from the heart to forgive our neighbor.