Perfect Forgiveness – Love Offered Even After Denial

Perfect Forgiveness Even After Denial

What does perfect forgiveness look like? Did you ever experience perfect forgiveness? Read John 21:1-19

Have you ever had a friend, perhaps in jr high or high school who denied knowing or being friends with you? There were many times I was the convenient friend with the newest gadgets and toys. As soon as my friends were confronted with whether they knew me or not, they usually denied it and saved face with the popular crowd.

Peter Denied Christ But Perfect Love Offered Forgiveness

Peter had followed Christ during His ministry, but when it mattered most, Peter was afraid of death, so he lied and denied knowing Jesus.

When Christ was resurrected, he visited his disciples, completing their “training” for His ministry. On the third occasion, he found Peter and two others fishing. When John realized it was Jesus, he told Peter who it was. When Peter heard this, he jumped in the water and swam to shore to get to his Lord.

How much joy to see a friend that a boat is too slow to take you to them!

In Luke 22:54-62, Peter was tested by Jesus who asked him three times if he loved Jesus. Peter twice answered yes, and on the third time he asked Jesus to search Peter’s heart for the answer.

Jesus forgave Peter even though he failed Jesus. His repentance was enough to transform Peter. Jesus even gave him the responsibility of feeding and caring for his sheep (followers).

Peter went on to lead the disciples in founding the church. In fact, some Catholics call him the first pope.

Forgiveness Through Confession and Redemption

Have you ever denied Christ with your words or deeds? Would Jesus be proud of your actions, or disappointed? Verbally confess your love for him and live it with your daily actions like prayer, ministry, and fellowship and Jesus will reveal Himself in your life.

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Angry God or Jonathan Edwards’ Justification?

When Jonathan Edwards delivered his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, he moved the church, but failed to deliver God’s complete message.

We know that Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” but what does that mean for us. Many cling to John 3:16’s promise of salvation but the verse directly following has been what makes my heart leap.

John 3:17-18 says “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

Condemnation or Salvation?

For some, this verse is indicting and offensive. It outright condemns those who do not accept Jesus as their savior. For those who have, it reveals God’s forgiving nature.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 says “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

Have You Accepted Christ?

Reconcile to God by accepting Jesus and asking forgiveness. His love is so much greater than your sins. I can’t promise you no more problems, but I can offer that God will never leave you or forsake you.

Wealth isn’t promised, but I can tell you that God will change your definition of wealth. You may not have a better life on earth. But the paradise that awaits us is far greater than the death that we deserve.

Emotional Walls That Guard and Block the Heart and Emasculation

Emotional Walls That Guard My Heart

For years I have had emotional walls guarding my heart. No one could penetrate them, no one but God. Some emotional walls can be bad. Emotional walls of racism, sexism, spirit of vengeance, or anger are not pleasing to God. Other walls can protect us.

Rebuilding Fallen Walls

In Nehemiah 1, the author grieves for the people of Jerusalem whose walls fell. He confessed his sins and the sins of his father, then asked God to reclaim his people. In Nehemiah 2, God tasks him with rebuilding the walls so that Jerusalem may be safe again.

Society has torn down many emotional walls in my life that should not have been. Becoming desensitized to violence, I have justified my anger and spirit of vengeance. My anger is beyond justification, especially while driving. I need to rebuild the walls God intends to guard my heart against sin.

Emotions or Emasculation?

Many men my age and older learned that emotion was a feminine attribute. We need to remove that long held belief from our society if we are to rebuild healthy walls. Showing compassion or affection does not emasculate men.

Plenty of men in the Bible showed emotion. No one would have called men like David, Solomon, Peter, or Jesus himself sissies, wimps, or any other slur used to emasculate men.

In Matthew 26:75, Peter is overcome with emotion after realizing that he denied Jesus three times. He went outside and wept. Jesus himself showed an overflow of emotion in the shortest Bible verse, John 11:35, “Jesus wept.”

Tear Them Down or Build Them Up

Do you have any walls you need to tear down to let God in? Are there any you need to rebuild? Turn your fear and worry over to God and do not be afraid to let your emotion show.

Step 4: Forgiveness

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

This 4th step is where many Christians disconnect from God. While it is true that if you confess your sin, you are forgiven (see 1 John 1:9 above), Jesus adds a stipulation.

“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” – Mark 11:25

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;” – Luke 6:37

You see forgiveness must have confession of the Christian’s sin, and their forgiveness of those that have wronged them.

When I am faced with a person I do not want to forgive, I think of what Jesus said on the cross.

“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And they cast lots to divide his garments.” – Luke 23:24

Jesus forgave the very people who wrongfully sentenced him to death!

If he can forgive them, then I can forgive anyone, even Satan. It does not mean I will follow them, because quite often I will not, but I can forgive them for the decisions they have made which caused harm to me.

Perhaps I should explain the Satan bit there, it was meant as illustration, and a practice. Withholding of Forgiveness is one of those self-harming sins. When a person withholds forgiveness, it hardens their heart. Eventually the anger builds to hatred. The hatred then begins to manifest itself first toward the target, then to others they care about, and finally to the non-forgiver’s friends and family. By the time it has run its course, many lives are negatively impacted and the non-forgiver has ruined their relationships, often over a petty and senseless argument.

So to forgive Satan is to cut ties with him, severing all animosity so that I may be free to speak of God’s love instead of Satan’s hatred and anger toward God and His creation.

I urge you to follow all of step 4, first forgiving others, then accepting Gods forgiveness. Remember when you forgive others, they are human as well and may not accept your forgiveness, but the Bible does not command that they receive your forgiveness for you to be forgiven, just that you offer your forgiveness.

Poison

Read Colossians 3:1-17

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” ― Nelson Mandela

When we hold grudges, we think we are hurting the target of the grudge. In reality, we only hurt ourselves. If the target has no clue about the grudge, you are the only one worrying about it. If they do know, eventually they will forget about it, and you will be the only one worrying about it.

Holding a grudge keeps you from sharing God’s word, learning about God’s word, and experiencing God’s love.

We have been ransomed for the price of Jesus’ life, but even more important, we were ransomed for Jesus’ sinless nature. He sacrificed himself and his sinless nature to save us. He became sin so we may obtain life.

I implore you if you are holding a grudge, justified or not, let it go. Each of us has a finite number of days on Earth, and when it is done, we don’t get to come back. You may not have another day to forgive.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:13

One last word, we as Christians are called to correct the sin of other Christians. It is not a judgement on the sinner, but on the sin. It is always to be done in love, and never in a way which will harm the sinner.

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach AND ADMONISH one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”- Colossians 3:16

Forgiving Myself

Read 1 John

Our toughest critic is ourselves. If God is slow to anger and quick to forgive, why can we not be as well?

I find forgiving those who have wronged me easy. I rarely hold grudges, but when I make mistakes, I can begrudge myself for eternity.

When I do, I poison myself the same way I would if I were unable to forgive another person.

If I can confess my sin, He is faithful to forgive. I must be faithful to forgive myself and others in the same way.

I am no better than any other sinner out there, but the flip side of that coin is that I am no worse.

It is necessary to forgive, and it would be a sin not to.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

“It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve

It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word…

Forgiveness” – Matthew West

Sin

Read Matthew 12:30-32

Sin. It’s an archery term meaning to miss the mark. Jesus set the mark for us all to hit, but we are not Jesus, and even the best of us sin (Romans 3:23).

So what are we to do? Sin brings death (Romans 6:23). Are we doomed to death?

The gift of God is eternal life (Romans 6:23). So we’re okay, right? God gave us all a gift and we can now live eternally, right?

Well, we do have to believe that Jesus was The Way, The Truth, and The Life (John 14:6).

Previously, I have stated that all sin is the same, now I tell you any sin can be forgiven, almost.

“And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” – Matthew 12:31

That’s it, you cannot disparage The Holy Spirit. Anything besides that can be forgiven. Yes, that means Heaven will have murderers, sex offenders, and thieves. It will also have nuns, priests, and saints. Anyone who has entered into The Body of Christ.

Would you really want it any other way? People complain all the time that the justice system is unfair. Either it is too lenient, or too strict. God’s justice is completely fair and the punishment has already been paid! You will be convicted of your sin, but if Jesus is your counselor, you get to walk scot free!

Freedom, not from tyranny or persecution, but freedom from the eternal consequences of sin.

Forgiveness

Read Hebrews 8:1-13

When I was participating in Evangelism Explosion back in college, we traveled in groups around the small college town going door to door ministering to people. We would simply ask them if they were saved from eternal damnation and how they knew.

Sometimes people who were lost would tell us they did not follow Jesus because they were too far gone. They were unlovable.

I could not understand. I did not believe anyone could be so far removed that Jesus couldn’t save them. Then I experienced hardships of my own.

I was married and my daughter was already a toddler when my secret sin was exposed. I despised it. I hated that I had searched for it and every time I did, I hated myself for doing it.

I blamed God for not taking this sin from my life. I blamed Him for not protecting me. Eventually, we stopped going to church for other reasons (although part of my reasoning was this). I quit praying. I ran so far from God. I honestly did not want anything to do with Him.

I lived for about 5 years this way. I would confess God with my mouth, but despise him in my heart. I hated everything about Christianity. Then God started finding ways to have us send my daughter to churches.

It was every third Wednesday, or ever other Wednesday here or there. Soon, she was begging us to visit those churches on Sunday. We visited one or two, but I felt like I was being judged even though the people in those congregations knew nothing of my secret obsessions.

I withdrew again, resolved that church was not for me. My daughter could go, but I was out. She started visiting a church with a good friend on Wednesdays and that resulted in more pleas to visit on Sunday.

We did, and I was instantly transformed. What I didn’t know was that my feelings of uselessness and despair were self imposed. God had not abandoned me, I had abandoned God. He spoke to me in that steel building. He showed me believers who were broken and formed to tools, the very hands and feet of Christ themselves. The whole body welcomed us in.

I surrendered. I soon started going to a small group at the pastor’s house and was asked to help with media to cover when needed. I had never been one to volunteer for things at church having watched my dad be run ragged doing this. I was compelled to say yes though, and I have come to be in charge of it now.

I’m saying all of this not for congratulations, but to demonstrate that when we think God hasn’t forgiven us or that He has abandoned us, we are wrong. We have abandoned God and we refuse to forgive ourselves.

Let go of anger, fear, and abandonment issues. Seek God, and you will find a freedom like you’ve never experienced.

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” – Hebrews 8:12