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Transcript of a teaching by Ruth Cortright
Originally presented at the 1998 Higher Ground Youth Camp
17 minute Real Audio of this teaching: Forgiveness
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   Ok, everybody take your Bibles and please go to Ephesians chapter 2.  Ok, all of us here when we got born again, when we believed that Jesus Christ is Lord and that God raised him from the dead, we were born again and we got saved.  But I want to take a minute and I want to show us where we were before we got that.  So, take a look at Ephesians chapter 2 . . . and in verse 1:

   And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
   Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

   Now that doesn't sound too good.  I mean, it says we were dead in trespasses and sins; and the spirit, what was working in us was the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.  That's where we were before we got born again.  Verse 3:

   Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

   God says that we were the children of wrath. And verse 4:

   But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
   Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

   Obviously, we didn't deserve this.   But, because God is rich in mercy and had a great love for us, He allowed us to be made alive with Christ and saved by grace.  Please turn to Isaiah 53 . . . I want to take a look at how we got saved; how we got what we got.  Isaiah chapter 53 . . . and in verse 5:

   But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

   I want to take a minute and tell you about a couple of words in this verse.  But he, Jesus Christ, was wounded for our transgressionsThe word transgressions deals with external sins.  He was bruised for our iniquitiesIniquities deals with internal sins.  The chastisement of our peace was upon him.  The word peace deals with our mental, with our mind. And with his stripes we are healed.  And healed is our physical bodies. So, if you notice, Jesus Christ died, and every single sin that we possibly had was covered: external, internal, mental, and physical.  Any sin that we had was covered and forgiven with what he did.  And we didn't deserve this, and he did it for us, and it was done all by grace.  Take a look at Matthew chapter 5 . . . and in verse 44:

   But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

   God's Word says that when someone is cruel to us, or someone makes themselves our enemy, we need to love them.  Says that when people curse us, when they say bad things to us and talk about us and that kind of thing, we're suppose to bless them.  Says do good to them that hate you.  If someone hates you, you need to be kind to them and be loving to them.  And pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.  We need to get in the habit of, when someone does something bad to us, we don't strike back, but we pray for that person so that they can change.

   I want to show you an example.  Um, probably the best example we can go to is something about Jesus Christ because we need to be like him.  So take a look at Luke chapter 23 . . . and start in verse 33:

   And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.

verse 34:

   Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. . .

   Jesus Christ went through the most horrible beating and torture and humiliation that any . . more than any human being has ever gone through; and we know that he was beaten so severely that he was not recognizable as a human.  And he did all this for us.  But what was on his mind when he was hanging on the tree?  He said, "Father forgive them; for they know not what they do."  All he was thinking about was forgiveness for the people that were doing this to him and love for them.  He didn't, He wasn't mad at them for what they were doing; he didn't need to do that.  And he prayed to God.  He said, Forgive them Father; for they know not what they do.  So lets take a look at Colossians chapter 3. . . and in verse 13:

   Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

   We saw what Jesus Christ went through for us.  And, so this says if any man has a quarrel with you, forgive them as Jesus Christ forgave us. . . Take a look at first Peter chapter 2. . . Hebrews, James, Peter; first Peter chapter 2 . . . and in verse 21:

   For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

  The Word says that we need to follow in Jesus Christ's steps.  We saw that he forgave other people.  They didn't deserve this forgiveness, but he forgave them anyway.  And we need to follow in his steps.  Verse 22:

   Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
   Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

   Jesus Christ knew that the judgment was God's: that God is the righteous judge, and it was not his place to do it.  All he needed to do was forgive and to love.  So, we know that we need to walk in the steps of Christ and that we need to forgive as he forgave.  But have you ever been in a situation where, you know someone and they just lie to you constantly; and all the time you'll forgive them every time, and then they'll lie to you again, and then you forgive them again, and then they lie to you again . . . Do you ever get to the point where you begin saying, . . you know, "Is this enough?"  You know, "How many times should I forgive this person?"  And, well, we're going to go to a record where Peter asked Jesus Christ the same thing.  Turn to Matthew chapter 18 . . . and in verse 21:

   Then came Peter to him [to Jesus Christ], and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  till seven times?
and verse 22:

   Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

   Does anyone know what seventy times seven is? 490. Ok, Does that mean, Uh, you forgive up until 490 times and then at 491 no more? No.  Ok, God's trying to make a point here.  He's trying to say, not seventy times will you forgive somebody, but seventy times seven.  He's trying to stress that you just need to just keep forgiving.  And in verse 23:

   Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
   And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
   But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
   The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
   Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

   The servant apologized to his master and said just be patient and I'll pay you back the debt.  Please don't, please don't, you know, sell me and sell my wife and sell everything, just please, give me time and let me repay you.  And his master was just so moved by that, that he forgave him the debt.  He forgave him a debt of ten thousand talents that he owed him.  And look at verse 28:

   But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
   And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
   And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.

   He, the fellowservant, asked him the same thing.  He said the same thing that he had said to his master.  He said, please be patient with me and I will pay you all.  But the servant would not forgive his fellowservant.  Look at verse 31:

   So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
   Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
   Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
   And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

   He didn't come out well in the end, obviously, because he did not follow the example set by the master and forgive his fellow servant.  And look at the difference between how much debt there was owed.  He owed his master ten thousand talents and his fellowservant owed him a hundred pence.  Verse 35:

   So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

   So, God is saying that we definitely need to forgive each other.  And He's also saying that forgiveness comes from our hearts.  It has to be in our hearts to forgive someone.  Ok, Well, We got forgiveness of sins when we got born again. Right?  So what happens when we sin now?  Well, lets take a look.  Go to Matthew chapter 6 . . . and in verse 14:

   For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
   But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

   Ok, turn to first John chapter 1. . . and in verse 8:

   If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
   If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

   The Word of God says that we need to forgive people just as Jesus Christ forgave.  If we don't do that, we are sinning in our hearts against God because we are not doing His Word.  And so when we do that, we still, we're still born again, we still have holy spirit.  And that's not going to change.  But we can break that fellowship that we have with God.  We can get out of fellowship with Him when we sin.  And so we need to, tell God, you know, I did this, and I'm sorry, and I shouldn't have done it.  And God, and it says that, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Now, is it worth it?  Is it worth forfeiting your fellowship with God to hold a grudge against someone for what they've done to you?  Is that worth your fellowship with God?  No.  It's not.  But it's a hard thing to do.  Because, I mean, its a matter of your heart: forgiving someone.  And its a hard thing to do by yourself.  So, what we need to do is find out how we can do that.  So lets take a look at Psalm 73 . . . 73 and in verse 26:

   My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

   We need to recognize that God is our strength and when we can't do it ourselves, we need to look to God to help us through it.  Turn to Psalm 51 . . . and in verse 10:

   Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

   We need to, when we feel ourselves holding a grudge against someone, or when we feel that we don't want to forgive someone for anything, we need to go to God and say help me with this.  Help me to get my heart set where it needs to be and forgive this person. So . . .

   Heavenly Father, I just want to thank you for forgiving us for all of our sins.  I want to thank you for giving your son so that we could be saved by grace when we didn't deserve it, Father. And I just want to thank you for the great love that you have that you did that for us.  And I just want to lift to you the hearts of each and every person here, Father, and just ask you to guide them, and help them, and strengthen their hearts.  To keep their hearts clear and sharp on the Word and do your will, Father.  Just strengthen us and help us to do this.  In the name of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

May, 1999
Michael Cortright