The sender was afraid to ask this question at her group, but was taking the chance to ask me simply because we didn’t know each other.
Elaine, I am so glad you took the chance to ask me, for I know exactly what you mean about being afraid to ask for fear of judgment. I doubt you will have any question that I have not already asked myself. The reason people are so quick to judge is simple fear. Yep, you heard me right, they are afraid because you are asking a question that scares them. I know this from personal experience. You know how touchy some people can be about their finances? It’s the same thing. If I’m afraid that I’m not worth very much because I’m not paid very much then I probably won’t want you to find out. Or if I don’t manage my money very well I will be reluctant to discuss how many credit cards I have and how much I owe. If you ask somebody this question about Matthew 6:14-15, there is only one reason they would judge you, and that is because deep down inside they are afraid that they might not be forgiven. Elaine, rest assured, it is the only reason. You scare them by asking them because they really don’t know, and they know that the answer they have learned is not a very good one. I say all this to encourage you, because you are not afraid to ask the questions! That is so cool. Okay then, here we go. The things Jesus said MUST be understood in terms of who He was talking to and the time in which He lived. This is not a cop-out, for the simple fact is that until the Son of God touched-down on planet earth there had been no man or woman who truly did the will of God. He came at a time when the religious leaders had refined their system by which they could do what they wanted to do and yet they APPEARED to the common people as if they were actually “serving the true God”. The words of Jesus came crashing down upon the pretense of righteousness created by these people. That is why they were always so offended by Him and were always trying to set Him up to make Him look wrong. It is why they finally killed Him. While the self-righteous were quoting the Law to Jesus, He would, in turn, take that same Law and present it back to them in its original context. Every time this exposed their trickery of making “loopholes” so they could get around whatever they wanted. He was not trying to be another Moses,
for the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ John 1:17
His very presence oozed the life of God. He never TRIED to be righteous … He WAS righteous. He was the light that caused the night creatures to scatter into the darkness. So, with those bits of background info let’s take a look at the verses you asked about:
For if you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. Matthew 6:14-15
Religion separates how people treat each other from how they treat God. In reality, how people treat each other IS how they are treating God. The religion of the day was a complex system by which the “righteous” (really, the SELF-righteous) were able to get “forgiven” by God even though they did NOT forgive each other (It’s really no different than today, but we have had to work around the things Jesus said so that it’s not as obvious). Jesus was blowing their cover by what He said. Now, He was not saying something untrue just to make a point. In fact, what He said is very true. For the old, corrupt, unforgiving nature of man is NOT forgiven … IT HAD TO BE PUT TO DEATH SO THAT SIN COULD BE DONE AWAY WITH. Through what He did He has separated me from my sin and He does not hold it against me … for He cannot. The fact is that WE, who have been separated from our sin CANNOT hold it against each other. We keep listening to the world and the world keeps seeking to convince us that we have not been separated from our sin … so we act as if they are right and we let our circumstances and our insane thoughts convince us that this is just the way it is. BUT IT IS NOT THE WAY IT IS. What Jesus said was as true as true could be. What He meant was just as simple: if they DID forgive men their trespasses, their Father WOULD forgive theirs. For if they DID forgive each other, that means they would have had the life of God within them. But they didn’t have it … and they didn’t forgive … and they weren’t forgiven. Everything Jesus did and said, agreed with the Law. But He never suggested that they just try harder, for there is no salvation in the Law. The things He said spun their heads around in circles forcing them to ask in desperation, “Who then can be saved?” The answer?
With men, it’s IMPOSSIBLE, but WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE. Matthew 10:27
If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has passed away, behold ALL THINGS HAVE BECOME NEW! 2 Corinthians 5:17
As far as “forgiving and forgetting” goes, it is found ONLY in the reality of who you REALLY are. You don’t forgive naturally, nor do you forget naturally. When you attempt to “perform” either one you are only setting yourself up for a “crash and burn” for it will come back to haunt you and to demand that you never forgave in the first place. Why do you think Paul DETERMINED to know nothing among the believers except CHRIST, AND HIM CRUCIFIED? (1 Cor 2:2). He didn’t TRY to forgive and forget … he knew that it was all part of the miraculous reality of being made new in Christ. Refuse to view any of this outside the reality of Christ, and what He has accomplished. You have already discovered this, but you will continue to discover that IN HIM SIN IS NOT AN ISSUE! If you have questions from this please ask away!! :) Okay? Love, Jim