Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The Word of God P46 (05-24-21)
We are children of God, but children have to grow. And as long as we are on this earth, we continually have a need for our mind to be renewed, because we have sin-indwelling flesh. That is what keeps us dependent on God, and Jesus said He has overcome the world, and that same Spirit that overcame the world is now living in you, for that reason. So God tells us to not be afraid, and to be of good cheer, for He has overcome the world.
So how do children grow. That is the importance of the word of God in our lives, relying on the Spirit to teach you truth to change you. His word is living and active, changing the attitudes of our heart. It takes time for our hearts to change sometimes. Have you ever been angry at someone, or a spouse did something that caused a rift in your marriage, or you yourself are holding onto bitterness? We have all experienced various things like that. What is the instruction from God to us? Yes, we are to go to our brother, and forgive as the Lord has forgiven you. But if your heart has not been changed, then you are like a person put back under a law, with the attitude “I have to because God’word says so.” But is your attitude one of, “I want to be reconciled” to my brother, to my spouse, or to whoever it might be. If so, then in order to do that, you have to forgive whatever grievances there are against you.
Of course, it is good to keep this in perspective, for we also must realize that as far as it depends on you, make peace with everyone. There are two parties involved. I can do whatever the Lord leads me to do to make peace, but the other party may not want to have peace. You should let him go in such matters, particularly in matters where safety of a child or other people are involved. But God’s way is that people reconciled first to Him and then to one another. At other times, it is just not the right timing. We must learn to wait on the Lord, allowing time for God to work in whatever hearts need to be worked on so reconciliation can occur.
God took the initiative out of love for us, for us to be reconciled to Himself. By coming to earth, taking on human flesh, He died on a cross to take away the cause of our separation from God, which is our sin that caused our death. He did this while we were still sinners. Now, the appeal to all men, since there is nothing in the way now to be reconciled to God, is for us to be reconciled. The work of reconciliation has already been done by God for us. Do you want to come to God to receive what He came to give, His very life to be placed in you, so you may communicate with the living God? That is a choice every man has, to be born again. Will you be born again today?
Now that you are born again, and you are at odds with a brother, then the appeal of God to you is this. Forgive one another even as I have forgiven you. Be reconciled with your brother. Love one another even as I have loved you. You were in a pitiful condition and with sin-indwelling flesh on this side, on earth, you are still pitiful with respect to God’s ideal for you, which will only happen when you are absent from the body and present with the Lord. Realizing how God is compassionate, kind, and patient with you, then you put on that same attitude of heart and extend that to your brother. In other words, clothe yourself with Christ Jesus. Allow the Holy Spirit, the life of Christ Jesus, to live His life in you and through you. Again, the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. God is love, and love is the fruit of the Spirit. We love because He first loved us.
Character produces hope. What kind of hope? First of all, I am going to get through the storm. Secondly, if I go through this again, I will get through the storm. I just have this hope built up in me that nothing can separate me from God. Therefore, I do not have to fear tomorrow or be anxious about tomorrow because I know my captain is with me. Why does this hope not disappoint us? Here is the “because”.
because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
If God loved you and me so much that he poured out all of His love into our hearts through His Holy Spirit, then why should we not be able to trust Him in the trials and tribulations that come our way in life?
Another disgusting thought that sometimes hits is when we have an enemy, and to realize God loves them as much as He loves you. It is a disgusting thought yet a true one. As we discussed previously, about dealing with a critical spirit toward others, I do not know about you, but probably a critical spirit is something that God reminds me of constantly. It is very difficult to be in Christian work and not have a critical spirit to what you see going on. But again, what is going on is not what causes my nature. It just reveals it.
If I did not have a critical nature or a critical spirit, within me, circumstances could not get it out of me. In other words, you cannot stir up beans in a pot unless beans are in there. So when that spirit comes out of criticism, what it is revealing is where I am walking at this particular time in life and in the midst of this particular circumstance. Am I walking in the flesh, giving into the desires of the flesh, that are always in contrast to the desires of the Spirit, or am I walking dependent upon the desires of the Spirit, to love my brother in the midst of whatever is taking place? It reveals to me where I am walking.
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
We have a tendency to resist that because we rationalize that, as we always rationalize everything. That is precisely why God said you cannot eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You do not have the ability to determine that. You will rationalize your own actions and justify them at any cost. So we rationalize those attitudes we have toward others around the fact that they deserve that. They need to be chomped on. On the other hand, you look at that and say, “What good does that critical spirit do for them and what good does it do for you? Normally, if you had a critical spirit toward somebody, it says to go to them and straighten it out. That is good advice.
15 “If your brother or sister sins against you, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[Deuteronomy 19:15]
If you have ought against a brother, go to them and straighten it out. If you do not go to them and straighten it out, then you will have a critical spirit toward them. Not only are you going to be angered by what they have done to you, but if you do not go to them and straighten it out, you will go through all kinds of vain imaginations of what they are continually doing to you. For that is the way Satan works.
10 The thief [Satan] comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
So instead of thinking upon those things, because as we think, we feel, and as we think and feel, we will do. Instead of that, we are told in scripture to do this.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
There is something we talked about earlier on that if I am going to think upon things that are true and noble and right and pure and lovely and admirable and praiseworthy, there is not anybody that I know of that I can think about those things, including myself. I surely cannot be thinking about me, for I am not true and noble and right and pure and lovely and admirable and praiseworthy. As much as I hate to say that, I cannot even think that about you. That is just factual. There is only one person, if I am going to think of those things, that comes to my mind with those characteristics. Who do you think about when you think about someone who is totally truth, totally noble, totally right every time, never been wrong, totally pure, totally lovely, absolutely admirable, absolutely excellent, and I tell you, worthy of praise, who would you think of? Jesus is the only one I could think of.
What is he saying here? If you are going to think about those things, get your eyes on Jesus. Sounds familiar? Turn your eyes upon Jesus. If you are thinking about Jesus in regard to those things, that Jesus who is pure and praiseworthy and wonderful and right, is the one that also loves that person who has harmed you. There is no way to keep thinking about those things in that manner without ultimately where that bitterness and that strife begins lessening. There is no way for that not to occur.
That brings us to the meat of our lesson today, as we come to this subject of forgiving one another. Again, we are going to forgive one another in direct proportion to the way in which we think God forgives us. In the Old Covenant, which Jesus amplified while he was here on earth, explaining the stringency of the law, in the Old Testament, the Jews had the law but they did not know what it meant. They thought it was exterior. Therefore, they camped on the exterior. Then they built laws as fences around the ten to keep them from disobeying those laws on the exterior, on the outside. That is precisely why Jesus said to the Pharisees that they are a whitewashed sepulchre. In other words, you got yourself all cleaned up on the outside, but you are dirty on the inside. Why did he say that? In order to show that the purpose of the law was not to clean up your outside, but to show you the absolute destitution of your inside. You may be able to clean yourself up to a degree on the outside, but God is looking on the heart. When you realize that God is looking at the heart, you realize that there is none righteous, no not one.
26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one; [Psalms 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Eccles. 7:20]
So Jesus, when he was here on earth, he came to amplify the law. In the Old Testament, the law was proclaimed. When Jesus came, he came to explain what was proclaimed. He then not only explained the stringency of the law, he proclaimed the introduction to grace. Then you see ultimately in the Pauline writings how Paul explained grace. Jesus proclaimed it. Paul explained it. The Old Testament law proclaimed the law. Jesus explained the law.
1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.
24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.
6 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.
We are dealing with this area of forgiveness. We talked about the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Under the Old Covenant and under the Old Testament and under law, which Jesus came to explain, in his explanation of what it was, in order to get the attention and understanding, in many instances, of what he said was devastating to the hearer because they had had hundreds of years believing that what they were doing was making them righteous in the sight of God. A man could sit here for example and say, “I have never committed adultery. I am just as faithful as can be, so I am righteous in the sight of God.” Jesus comes along and asks, “Have you ever lusted in your heart?” “What does that have to do with anything?” It has everything to do with it. From God’s vantage point, it is the same as adultery. If you can think it, you can do it. That began to bury people. What I mean is it began to allow people to see that I do not have any hope. The bible put it another way. It silenced every mouth before God.
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[Exodus 20:14] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.
A person can say “I never murdered anyone.” Today you hear that. It is very prevalent in people’s minds. “Are you going to heaven?” “I never hurt anyone. I never killed anyone. I never committed adultery. I have just been a real good person.” It sounds good. There is something in the human mind that would say that ought to qualify. But God sees our hearts. The bible tells us that our hearts are wicked and deceitful above all things and who can know them.
9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
So Christ being here on earth, he served a phenomenal purpose. Through his life, he showed man what perfect righteousness is like, not only on the outside but on the inside. In so doing, he silenced the mouth of any man in ever obtaining the righteousness of God in and of himself. In showing the entire world, not through their outward action, but through their heart, that all have sinned. Any man should be able to realize that. When you realize that God looks upon your heart, that all have sinned, all have fallen short of the glory of God, there is none righteous, no not one.
If that is the case, then from God’s vantage point, if man is ever going to be made acceptable in the sight of God, then forgiveness had to take place and God chose to do that. Not only did he choose to do that as God, to forgive me, but he then turned around, and said to me, “Bob, on the level of the soul, that is spiritual forgiveness, but there is a human need to be forgiven by one another.” There is a human need to forgive one another. Just like there is a human need to give. It is more blessed to give than to receive. Until you do that you will not know that. There is something consistent with being human, whereby forgiving one another, sharing with one another, giving to one another, does something inside of us that is healthy and good and productive.
13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
So God forgave us all of it, all of our sins. In the Old Testament and in the Old Covenant, it is as we quote the Lord’s prayer. Was that the New Covenant? No. The New Covenant did not go into effect until the cross. Jesus spent his physical life showing men what true righteousness was and in so doing showing them their own unrighteousness because he was heading to a cross to forgive that unrighteousness and to cleanse man from all unrighteousness. But if man does not see his condition, why would he ever need to turn to Christ? So, he said, under the law, which I am teaching the meaning of the law, if you ask God to forgive you under an Old Covenant, you are saying, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive one another.”
There is a condition to that. “In the same way Lord that I am so forgiving, you forgive.” That is saying, in essence, that is what the law does. “Look at my performance. See how good I am, so I can expect it from you.” It goes ahead and amplifies that.
15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
That is so simple and it also buries us. It puts God’s forgiveness based on my forgiveness. “If you obey this, I will do this.”
The New Covenant is the opposite. “I have done this, so why don’t you do this.” A totally different mindset. So as a child of God looking at the cross that divided all of human history, you see the Lord Jesus Christ crying out from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
He did not say, “Father, forgive them for they forgive one another.” or “Father, forgive them for they have been neat people.” or “Father, forgive them for they have repented.” It is, “Father, forgive them.”, and nothing else about what they do. How come? They do not know what they are doing.
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
Is that not strange, Paul’s statements in Romans 7, saying “I do not understand what I do.” Isn’t it strange how hesitant we were to admit to that. But I will tell you through my life I just have to say some things, I just do not understand why I do that. Why did you do that? I do not know. That is what he is saying. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
My role is this. Am I going to believe that. First of all, the Father listened to the Son, and acknowledged what He requested. “I died for their sins. I have taken the punishment for their sin. So Father, forgive them.” That is what propitiation is all about. They know not what they do.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Now, you did not make yourself holy and dearly loved and you did not make yourself holy and you did not make yourself chosen. God did that. Because of that fact that, however, that you are now a child of the living God, it says to clothe yourself with compassion. In other words, put it on. It is there. What compassion? The compassion of Christ, to be able to have the same compassion as Christ. He saw people as pitiful and He had compassion on them. I need to see myself as pitiful and have compassion on me. I need to see you as pitiful and have compassion.
When you stop to think of the condition man is in, where I am a child of God, but I am housed in a body with indwelling sin in it, that is a pitiful condition from our vantage point. From God’s vantage point, it is the thing that keeps us dependent on Him. But it is not the ideal circumstance. It is not ultimately what God has for us. But while we are here on earth, this is the reality of this.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
So Jesus says, “But do not fear for I have overcome that world.” But we have to realize there is something indwelling our bodies that is indwelling sin that does not want us to have compassion on people, but to be critical of people. But He says, “Close yourself with My compassion, with my kindness, with My humility, My gentleness and My patience.” You look back and say, “Was God compassionate to me?” Yes. “Has God been kind to me?” Sure has. “What about His humility?” Absolutely. He is absolutely God and did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped, but he humbled Himself and came to this earth and took upon Himself my humanity and went to a cross to die for me. I would say that is humble. Was God gentle with us? Absolutely. Was he patient with you? Yes. That is a part of love. So if that is how God treats you, then bear with each other and forgive whatever grievance you may have against someone. Then forgive one another. How? As the Lord forgave you.
1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!
How did the Lord forgive us? Did He wait for us to come to Him and beg, as we think that is what He does? No. Did He take the initiative? Yes. Did He forgive because of anything we did? No. He forgave in spite of everything we did. There is a total difference in the two. How are we to forgive? The same way. In other words, it should be at our initiative, and in your heart, to be able to forgive whatever grievance you may have against another person and forgive exactly and precisely as the Lord forgave you. How did the Lord forgive you? Perfectly.
We have a lot of this type of thing that goes on. “I forgave that person but I do not ever want to see him again.” Then we have not forgiven him. That is Christian jargon and lip service. What precedes true forgiveness is a desire for reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:19
19 God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s sins against them.
So the desire to be reconciled preceded the act of forgiveness, which is involved in reconciliation.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
The love preceded the giving. Always, true forgiveness comes out of a true heart to be reconciled. When my heart is, “I want to be reconciled to my brother.” In order for that to occur, I am going to have to forgive my brother. I need to forget it, in other words. Put whatever grievance there is behind me. Why? Because I want to be friends. I cannot be friends with all of this garbage standing between us. I want to be friends with all my heart. So in order to be friends, I need the garbage to go. The desire for reconciliation always precedes forgiveness.
It would be like a situation in marriage where a husband or wife does something that is totally contrary to what should have been done in marriage. There are two people and they decide they love one another. After a while they say, “I want to be reconciled. I would rather be friends than I would be bitter.” So because I want to keep my marriage together, because I want to continue to be friends, because I want to be reconciled to my mate, I am going to have to forgive in order to do that. I would rather be reconciled than to hang on to my bitterness.
As we pick up on this idea of forgiveness, there are so many times in our life, and it happens continually where people get at odds with one another. We have a dislike for one another. We think that somebody has done something that is contrary to what they think they should do. We have all kinds of laws, even though we think we have been freed in grace, we still have a lot of laws of performance that we demand people to live up to. What Jesus is trying to get to and through our heads is that with all of this, there should be a permanent desire that is in the heart of a born again Christian, for continual ongoing uninterrupted reconciliation with your brother. There should never be in our hearts anything that says I do not want to be reconciled to my brother.
When we are open to God, then He will build that into our own life. One of the things I believe that takes place, and this is where I think the confusion takes place, is that because we know that ultimately what I need to do is to go and reconcile with my brother. I want to do that. Then you read where it says to go do that. So you step ahead of God, and before your heart has really been changed, with a deep personal conviction that I want to be friends, that I want to be reconciled, we act and go before we should go.
Let God, folks, have the time that is necessary to clear out all the garbage before you go. So that when you do go to your brother to straighten that out, all of that garbage is out of you. What is the importance of that? The importance of it is in the realization that this problem that you have gone through is not all him or her. It is you. You are the one with bitterness. You are the one with anger. You are the one with resentment. If we can sit back and with quiet resolve, and play the martyr’s role as well, many times, and sit back quietly and say, “Oh well. I am not going to say anything. I am the suffering servant here. That slob really messed me up, but I will silently suffer for Jesus.” That is as much hypocrisy and a lie as the person raging angry at somebody. Both of those are not of God.
The issue is, “Do I desire to be reconciled to my brother?” That is the whole issue. Whether that is from God or not is not even up for grabs. He very definitely said, as a child of God, to be reconciled to one another. That is not up for grabs as to whether we should be reconciled. The issue is, “Do I want to?” If I do not want to, then there is nothing I can do to make me want to, except to say to God to help me want to want to. “I do not want to, but would you please help me to want to want to?” God answers that as well.
We go too soon because we have been taught, if you go, then everything will clear up. So you go to your brother, but in your heart, you are still mad as a hornet. “I am sorry. I want to be reconciled.” So you have a temporary,flimsy meeting of the minds. And you go away saying, “He did not buy that and neither did I. He is bitter as he was before. I can tell by looking at his face. He just came to me and probably has an angle.” So we have to wait on God.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Wait on the Lord. Wait on the Lord to do what? Clear up problems? No, that is not what God wants to clear up. He wants to clear up you.