God won't forgive us if we don't forgive others?

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

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Hi Jim, Just wanted to thank you for all that you give to us out here. God has certainly used you and Adam to allow me to see new insight into who I am in Christ and who Christ is in me, as well as some great insight into how my thinking has been shaped by the world and “religion”. So grateful that God has used you two to give me new ways of looking at “old” thoughts and ways that I have been taught in “religious christianity”. A friend and I were discussing this post about forgiveness, and just wanted to run some things by you and get your thoughts. Guess what got us to talking was where you said that the old corrupted nature of man is not forgiven and that it had to be put to death. Now we know that our old man was put to death and that God has made us brand new creations that have our life in Christ, but didn’t Christ’s death on the cross bring forgiveness for all men not just the ones who are God’s children? We thought that Christ’s death paid the penalty for all sin and satisfied the wrath of God that was on us, that all men are forgiven, but not all are saved, one is only saved when Christ’s work is received within them and God seals us with the Holy Spirit. I thought that forgiveness just made the way possible for anyone to be saved. I think I understand your explanation of Matt.6:14-15, are you saying that because we forgive wrongs done to us, that means that we are children of God and that we are forgiven by God? But weren’t we able to forgive others before we were saved? What is the difference in before and after salvation? Sitting here thinking about this I think Father may have given some thoughts about this. Before salvation we knew we were supposed to forgive and we gave it our best shot, but after salvation, since our life is Christ, what did he do but ask Father to forgive those who did unspeakable things to him. This is where we are now, looking to Father to forgive the sins of those who would come against us. Before we had no where to go but to ourselves, now thanks be to God we have no where else to go but to Him. Thanks again for listening and my friend Julie and I will be looking forward to hearing from you. Charlotte

Hello my dear Charlotte!

Thanks for writing and for asking your excellent questions.

Guess what got us to talking was where you said that the old corrupted nature of man is not forgiven and that it had to be put to death. Now we know that our old man was put to death and that God has made us brand new creations that have our life in Christ, but didn't Christ's death on the cross bring forgiveness for all men not just the ones who are God's children? We thought that Christ's death paid the penalty for all sin and satisfied the wrath of God that was on us, that all men are forgiven, but not all are saved, one is only saved when Christ's work is received within them and God seals us with the Holy Spirit. I thought that forgiveness just made the way possible for anyone to be saved.

I'm not an advocate of viewing life, death, God, or the world in a technical manner, for I'll be honest in saying that the attempt to do so confuses me just like it does for most. I've come to see all things according to Christ, and it silences my otherwise scattered thoughts on the matter. After all, my logical insights are no better than anyone else's. Rather than viewing forgiveness as found in the realm of the nature dominated by Law and sin, I've come to see it in terms of life and death, for it is found by God having put everyone to death. And he holds nothing against the dead, for all is indeed forgiven. And then, from out of that deadness, he has raised us up.

In the realm and mind of the flesh, and this is the way I suspect we keep trying to view it, there is no forgiveness. I was raised trying to fit God into the way my world perceived Him, and even after having had my eyes opened, I still tried to fit Him in for a long time. I know others have come up with teachings that seem to help in some ways, but in them I mostly see attempts to make it make sense. I only see clearly when I see the simple reality of Christ and him crucified ... new life risen from the dead. Letting the dead bury the dead is where I leave all those attempts to understand the technical details of how everything must line up. :)

I think I understand your explanation of Matt.6:14-15, are you saying that because we forgive wrongs done to us, that means that we are children of God and that we are forgiven by God? But weren't we able to forgive others before we were saved? What is the difference in before and after salvation? Sitting here thinking about this I think Father may have given some thoughts about this. Before salvation we knew we were supposed to forgive and we gave it our best shot, but after salvation, since our life is Christ, what did he do but ask Father to forgive those who did unspeakable things to him. This is where we are now, looking to Father to forgive the sins of those who would come against us. Before we had no where to go but to ourselves, now thanks be to God we have no where else to go but to Him.

Yes, we gave it our best shot. It's not that our best shot wasn't good enough, instead it's closer to the truth to realize that our attempts at forgiveness were on another plane altogether. We still can't forgive according to the natural mind, even though we keep trying. Forgiveness is found in the realm of God, which is our inheritance in Him. We can only forgive because we have his life within us. Just as the father has revealed to you, we had no where to go but to ourselves ... and that's an empty container. Yes, thanks to God that we have no where else to go but to HIM!

Jim :)

I love the way you respond to people by relating to their concerns. “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.” Epic - georgi

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