Matthew 6 Part 2

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Matthew 6:9–15 ESV
Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Last week we spoke about the warnings; doing to be seen or serving in order to gain. Again this goes into the motive, or the heart of the one in whom is serving - is it to meet the needs or is it to be seen and recognized? We find Christ instead instructing to not the the left hand know what the right is doing - that our giving be done in secret. It is much better to give in secret and be rewarded by God that to receive an earthly praise and that be the end of it. Doing to be seen or recognized is NOT pleasing to God.
This does not mean it is wrong to recognize contributions and service, but to not seek or desire that as a way of puffing oneself up.
The heart of prayer should also be examined. Are we praying long, flowing, flowery oratory masterpieces with the hopes someone would see us and brag on our ability? Christ calls them hypocrites - desiring to be seen and heard by others. But the heart of prayer should be a closed communication with the Lord. “Go into your room and shut the door”. Honestly, this should be a time where we have an honest and confessional conversation with our Lord. This should be when we get quiet and desire to hear from Him. We should be pouring our heart out, and listening for a response. Not praying empty phrases, or repetitive words, or a memorized prayer with the desire to be heard and praised by others.
This is where we start this week - how we should pray. We hear these verses called the Lord’s Prayer or the Model Prayer; not for the words that were spoken, but to be used as a pattern of how we should model our prayer life with God.
The Lord’s prayer is verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit and therefore perfectly worded. It is a revelation of how we should pray because it mirrors God’s will for His people. It cannot be stressed too much that Jesus Himself is the formulator of it—every single word—and if you want to know at least once that you prayed in God’s will, the Lord’s Prayer is for you.
Matthew 6:9 ESV
9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
This prayer is designed for believers. “Our Father in heaven” means He must be our Father!
There is the surrender of the believer to God and to God’s family.
When a person genuinely says “Father,” he is surrendering to God. He is …
• denying humanism, self-sufficiency, and all other gods.
• surrendering himself to the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.
• acknowledging the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ to be his own Father.
When a person prays “our Father,” a person is surrendering his independency and accepting God’s family. He is assuming his responsibility in the family of God.
There is the surrender of the believer to heaven, the spiritual world or dimension of being. The believer surrenders and sets his mind and heart upon the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. His whole being is surrendered and committed to seeking the things of the spiritual world. (See outline and notes—Ep. 1:3.)
There is the surrender of the believer to the holy name of God. The believer just bows in total and abject poverty, in nothingness before the holy name of God. He is swallowed up in the knowledge of the “hallowedness,” the sovereignty and majesty of God’s being. God is all and man is nothing! He is totally dependent upon God.
Note: when a person reaches this point of surrender, then he is ready to present his needs to God. He is ever so conscious that only God can meet his needs.
God—Father: God is addressed as “Our Father.” Father denotes a family relationship and shows three things.
1. It shows that “God [who is] … in heaven” is the believer’s Father. Thus, a relationship with the unseen heavenly world and the seen earthly world is established. God represents the unseen world and the believer represents the seen world. In the believer, a whole new being is created (a new creature) and a whole new world is recognized and established: a world of the spirit and the physical, of the unseen and the seen, of heaven and earth (2 Co. 5:17; Ep. 4:23–24; Col. 4:10. Especially see notes—Ep. 2:11–18; pt.4—2:14–15; 4:17.)
2. The word Father establishes a relationship between a believer and all other believers. All believers belong to the same family; they all have common interests, cares, and responsibilities within the family.
3. The word Father pinpoints God as the believer’s source. God, as Father, is the Person who loves and provides and cares for the believer’s needs, even as an earthly father looks after his child (Mt. 6:25–34, esp. 33; Lu. 11:11–13; Ps. 103:13; Mal. 3:17; see He. 2:18; 4:15–16).
Heaven: the word is plural in the Greek, heavens. The New Testament speaks of at least three heavens:
⇒ the atmosphere surrounding the earth (see Mt. 6:26, “the fowls [birds] of the air”).
⇒ the outer space of heavenly bodies (see Mt. 24:29; Re. 6:13).
⇒ the place above and beyond the physical dimension of being where God’s presence is fully manifested. In modern language “the above and beyond” is another dimension of being entirely; it is the spiritual world, another dimension of being. It is a spiritual world where God’s presence is fully manifested and where Christ and His followers live awaiting the glorious day of redemption. That glorious day of redemption is the day when God shall take the imperfect heavens and earth (the physical dimension) and transform them into the new heavens and earth (the spiritual and eternal dimension). (See note—2 Pe. 3:8–10, esp. 3:11–14 for more discussion.)
In Heaven” is the second point to be prayed. The believer is to pray after this manner:
⇒ Father, thank you for heaven: the hope, the anticipation of heaven.…
⇒ Thank you that you are in heaven.…
⇒ Thank you for your promise that we shall be where you are.… (Jn. 17:24).
The believer must direct his prayers to heaven. God’s throne is in heaven (Ps. 103:19), and it is before the throne of God that Christ is appearing as the Advocate or Mediator for the believer.
The heavens reveal the power and glory of God. Space shows His handiwork (Ps. 19:1; 150:1). When connected together, the words Our Father and the words in heaven put two great things together: the love of God and the power of God. God through love has become our Father, and God in heaven has shown His glorious power which is at the disposal of His child. The believer’s Father has the power to do anything, even to hang the world in space (Ep. 3:20; Ps. 121:1–8).
The believer’s true citizenship is in heaven (Ph. 3:20). God is there; the Lord Jesus is also there (He. 8:1; see Ps. 103:19). Therefore, the longing of the mature believer’s heart is to be in heaven where His Father and His Lord are. He directs his attention, prayers, energy, and life toward heaven.
Hallowed be (hagiastheto): to be counted holy; to be treated holy; to be counted and treated as different. The prayer is for men to count and treat the Name of God differently, to set His Name apart from all other names (see note—1 Pe. 1:15–16).
“Hallowed be thy name” is the third point to be prayed.
God’s Name is holy, righteous, pure. It is above, before, and over all names. Therefore, the believer’s prayer is for God’s Name to be adored and honored by all men.
God has done everything; He has made the world and given life to it. Man owes his very life to God. Therefore, the first thing man should do is praise God.
The first purpose of man is to glorify God by his life: “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Pe. 1:15–16). Life includes speech; therefore, man should be praising God’s holiness by word as well as by life. In fact, since the primary purpose of man is to be holy, then it follows that the first words spoken to God should be praising His holiness. All prayer should be centered around praising God for who He is—in all His holiness and fullness. His Name is hallowed, different, set apart form all other names. And thank God that His Name is set apart, for imagine what life would be if His Name should be no more than a man’s name.
God’s glory is the very reason Christ came to earth (Jn. 17:1–26, esp. vs. 1, 4–6, 22–26). God says He shall be exalted in the earth even among the heathen (Ps. 46:10; see Ps. 2:1–5, esp. vs. 4–5). How much man needs to fix his mind upon the holiness and glory of God’s Name.
Men praise and honor each other among themselves. Men glorify men, even make idols of them (see note—Mt. 6:2). Some are more loyal to the names of the famous (athletes, stars, politicians) than they are to the Name of God. They are more disturbed when the name of their idol is spoken of disrespectfully than they are when the name of God is cursed. How differently Scripture presents God’s Name: “Hallowed be thy name.” God says that the man who curses His Name is to be judged severely (Ex. 20:7).
Matthew 6:10–13 ESV
10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
aPrayer: the believer is to request and plea for several things (see Deeper Studies # 5–9—Mt. 6:10, 6:11; 6:12; 6:13).
(6:10) Kingdom of God: see Deeper Study # 3—Mt. 19:23–24.
Thought 1. “Thy kingdom come” is the first request to be prayed. The believer is to pray after this manner:
⇒ Father, let your kingdom come right here on this earth. Let Christ rule and reign in the hearts and the lives of all. Send Him, His kingdom, His sovereignty right now. God, I pray, even so come Lord Jesus, come …
Thought 2. The Kingdom of God is to be the focus of the believer’s requests, the very first thing for which he asks. There are three reasons for this.
(1) It is the very message that Jesus Christ and the early apostles preached and taught and prayed (Mt. 3:2; 4:17; 5:3, 10, 19–20).
(2) It is the very thing for which God longs. He longs for the day when He will rule and reign in the hearts of all men, perfectly—the day when all men will willingly submit and serve Him—the day when all thoughts, all words, all behavior will be exactly what they should be.
(3) It is the very substance of the believer’s life, or at least it should be. The believer should be living and loving and having his being for God and God alone. His whole focus and attention, energy and effort should be centered on the rule and reign of God on earth.
Thought 3. “Thy kingdom come” is future. It is a request for something that is not now existing on earth. It is a request for the rule and reign of God and of His kingdom. The believer is to pray thy kingdom come.
Thought 4. God’s kingdom is available. God’s kingdom is desperately needed on earth right now. So much just eats and gnaws away at man—so much rebellion, wickedness, evil, enmity, bitterness, hatred, murder, injustice, deprivation, and hunger. God’s rule and reign are needed now. The believer needs to see the urgency to pray and to pray consistently “Thy kingdom come,” and to live as if God’s kingdom had already come.
(6:10) God, Will of: “Thy will be done” says three critical things to God.
1. That we will work to please God in all we do. We will do our part to see that God’s will is done on earth.
2. That God can do with us as He pleases. No matter what He chooses for us, we put ourselves at His disposal, for His use—even if it requires the sacrifice of all we are and have.
3. That we will not be displeased with what God does. We may not understand; it may not make sense; there may be question after question; but we know that God’s will is best, and He will work all things out for good.
Thought 1. “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” is the second request to be prayed. The believer is to pray after this manner:
⇒ Father, your will be done: your will and your will alone. There is no will but your will. Let it be done right here on earth.…
Thought 2. There are four wills that struggle for man’s obedience.
(1) Man’s own will (Ro. 12:1–2; see Ro. 7:15f; Ga. 5:17).
(2) Other men’s wills (1 Pe. 4:2).
(3) Satan’s will (Jn. 8:44).
(4) God’s will (Ep. 5:15–17, esp. vs. 17; Ph. 2:13; 1 Jn. 2:17).
Thought 3. Note three significant lessons.
(1) Many call God King, but they do not honor Him as a King. They do not do His will. Their profession is false, and tragically it creates an image of a false and meaningless King to the world.
(2) We must know God’s will if God’s will is to be done. This requires study: “Study to show thyself approved unto God” (2 Ti. 2:15). The only way God’s will can be done is for us to study His Word and ask for the wisdom and strength to apply it to our lives (2 Ti. 3:16).
(3) We are to ask for God’s will to be done on earth. The earth is the place where God’s will is so desperately needed. It is the place …
• where there is so much sin and corruption
• where there is so much suffering and pain
• where there is so much struggling and death
• where the believer faces his trials
(4) “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” The believer is praying for heaven (heaven’s rule) to come to earth. He is making a commitment to make earth more like heaven.
• By yielding himself “to God, as those that are alive from the dead.…” (Ro. 6:13).
• By going and teaching “all nations … teaching them all things whatsoever I [Christ] have commanded you” (Mt. 28:19–20).
(6:11) Bread: bread is the basic necessity of life, the symbol of all that is necessary for survival and for a full life. There is much meaning in this simple request.
1. “Give usour bread.” The words our and us overcome selfishness and show concern for others. Any person who goes to bed hungry should be of concern to the believer.
2. “This day.” This eliminates worry and anxiety about tomorrow and the distant future. It also teaches and helps us to trust God day by day. “The just shall live by faith.…” day by day.
3. “Our daily bread.” Every believer has a portion of daily bread which is his. He does not ask for someone else’s bread but for his own. He seeks and works for his own bread; he does not think of stealing or of eating from another man’s table (2 Th. 3:10).
4. “Give us … bread.” We ask for the necessities, not the desserts of this world.
5. “Give us … bread.” The believer confesses his inadequacy and dependency upon God. He is dependent upon God even for the basics of life.
6. “Give … this day our daily bread.” This teaches the believer to come to God daily in prayer and trust Him to meet his needs.
Thought 1. “Give us this day our daily bread” is the third request to be prayed. The believer should pray after this manner:
⇒ Father give us our bread this day, spiritually as well as physically. Feed our souls and our bodies.
⇒ Make this a glorious day in You. And, O God, the world is starving for You, and many are starving from hunger.…
Thought 2. God cares for man and his welfare.
(1) He cares for man’s physical well-being (Mt. 6:11; Mt. 6:25–34).
(2) He cares for man’s mental and emotional well-being.
Thought 3. God cares for the human body. Several things show this.
(1) He said to ask for the necessities of life, daily (Mt. 6:11).
(2) He sent His only Son into the world in a human body.
(3) He raised up Christ in His body, a resurrected body.
(4) He promises to give a new resurrected body to the believer. The believer will dwell in the resurrected body forever.
(5) He has chosen the believer’s body to be “the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Co. 6:19–20).
Thought 4. This simple request is a great lesson for both the rich and the poor.
(1) The rich man feels self-sufficient, as though what he possesses came from his own hands. Therefore, he thinks, “Who is the Lord?”
(2) The poor man has nothing and is often forced to steal. Thus, he raises his fist in anger and curses God for his state of life.
The believer is to trust God for the necessities of life and praise God for what he receives. He has learned, “In whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Ph. 4:11; see 4:12–13).
(6:12) Forgiveness, Spiritual: the word debts (opheilema) means dues, duties, that which is owed, that which is legally due. In relation to sin, it means a failure to pay one’s debts, one’s dues; a failure to do one’s duty; to keep one’s responsibilities.
God has given man certain responsibilities, certain things to do and not to do. Every man has failed at some point to do what he should. Certainly no man would ever claim he has fulfilled his duty perfectly—without any failure, without any shortcoming. Sin is universal. Everyone fails in his duty at some point to some degree. Everyone needs to pray “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
This prayer is asking God to do three things.
1. To forgive the debt of sin. One has failed God in his duty; therefore, he needs God to forgive his debt.
2. To forgive the debt of guilt or punishment. One who has failed to pay his debts is guilty; therefore, he is to pay the consequences; he is to be punished. This is the reason he must pray “Father, forgive my debts.…”
3. To forgive his debts just as he has forgiven his debtors. This is asking God to forgive one exactly as he forgives others. If one forgives, God forgives. If one does not forgive, God does not forgive. Therefore, any person who holds anything against another person is not forgiven his sins, no matter what he may think or has been told by another person. (See Mt. 6:14–15).
Thought 1. “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” is the fourth request to be prayed. The believer should pray after this manner.
(1) Father, forgive me—have mercy upon me, the sinner, the nothing. O’ God, You are all—have mercy.…
(2) Father, forgive others—all others. I hold nothing within. O’ God, if there is anything within my heart against anyone, help me to forgive.…
Thought 2. In seeking forgiveness we have a duty both to God and to man.
(1) Our duty to God is to ask forgiveness when we fail to do His will.
(2) Our duty to man is to forgive his sins against us.
If we wish to be forgiven ourselves, both duties have to be performed. We must forgive those who sin against us (Mt. 6:12), and we must ask forgiveness for our sins (1 Jn. 1:9).
Thought 3. There are those who do us much evil. In this world, many say and do all manner of evil against us. Bad news and evil purposes run wild, and it is not always outside the church, nor outside the family. Sometimes terrible evil is committed by word and act both within the church and within a person’s family (Ep. 4:30–32; see Mt. 10:21; Mk. 13:12–13). Christ says we must not react nor be harsh toward those who sin severely against us, but we must forgive. We must forgive if we wish to be forgiven.
⇒ Some smite us (Mt. 5:39).
⇒ Some despitefully use us (Mt. 5:44).
⇒ Some hate us (Mt. 5:44).
⇒ Some compel us against our will (Mt. 5:41).
⇒ Some sue us (Mt. 5:40).
⇒ Some curse us (Mt. 5:44)
⇒ Some persecute us (Mt. 5:44)
⇒ Some spread rumors about us (Mt. 5:11).
Thought 4. There are four things a believer must do when sinned against.
(1) The believer must understand (Pr. 11:12; 15:21; 17:27–28; see Ep. 1:8). There is always a reason why a person sins against a believer. Too often we forget this.
(a) A person may be mistreated by someone who is close to him. He may be withdrawn from, neglected, and ignored. Therefore, he may react against a believer, and the reaction may range from self-pity to bitterness and hostility.
(b) A person may be tired, aggravated, and worried. Therefore, he may become too direct or cutting or harsh toward the believer.
(c) A person may be of a shy nature or sense inferiority; therefore, he may act unfriendly and unconcerned toward the believer.
(d) A person may have rumor and gossip and wild imaginations shared with him, especially by a person who has been hurt; he may be lied to and misinformed. Therefore, he may act suspicious and have nothing to do with the believer.
(e) A person may have a great need for attention and for emotional support. Therefore, the person may imagine, exaggerate, blame, or accuse a believer in order to rally the support of friends and to gain the attention needed.
(2) The believer must forbear (Ep. 4:2; Col. 3:13).
(3) The believer must forgive (Ep. 4:31–32).
(4) The believer must forget, that is, not harbor the wrong done to him (Ph. 3:13; see 2 Co. 10:5).
Thought 5. Note four additional lessons that need to be noted.
(1) An unforgiving spirit causes pain and hurt and tragedy—both to oneself and others. It can ruin lives, especially the lives of those closest and dearest to oneself.
(2) We can curse ourselves by praying the Lord’s prayer. We are in trouble when praying the Lord’s prayer if we are angry and do not forgive those who sin against us: “Father … forgive us … as we forgive our debtors.” We pronounce the very same judgment upon ourselves that we hold for others.
(3) Forgiveness is conditional. The reason is simply explained. We have sinned against God, and others have sinned against us. If we want God to forgive us, we must forgive those who have sinned against us. How can we expect God to forgive us if we do not forgive those who have sinned against us? We can expect no better treatment than we give.
(4) Forgiving others is evidence that God has forgiven our sins.
(6:13) Temptation—Deliverance: God does not lead a man to sin; He tempts no man (Js. 1:13). What Christ is saying is two things.
1. Pray—pray that God will keep you from the awful pull of temptation. The believer is to have a sense of his personal weakness against temptation.
2. Pray—pray that God will deliver you from evil. The Greek says “from the evil one,” that is, Satan. The request is for God to rescue, preserve, and guard us. He, the evil one, is so deceptive and powerful; he is as powerful as a roaring lion (1 Pe. 5:8).
The plea and the cry is for God to deliver us from (1) temptation and (2) from the evil one. (See Ro. 8:31; 1 Jn. 4:4; see 1 Co. 10:13. Also see outlines—Js. 4:7–10; see note 1 and Deeper Study # 1—Lu. 4:1–2.)
Thought 1. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” is the fifth request to be prayed. The believer should pray “after this manner”:
⇒ “Father, lead us not into temptation. Temptation comes so often; its pull is so strong. We get in the way so much. We seek our own way and react at every turn. O’ God do not leave us to ourselves.…
⇒ “And, dear Father, deliver us from the evil one. He is the master of deceit and paints such a beautiful picture. If you leave us to ourselves, we will fall. And, O’ God, he is capable of being ‘a roaring lion’ seeking to devour us. Deliver us—rescue us—preserve us—guard us.…”
Thought 2. Once we have been forgiven our sins (v. 12), we must ask God to keep us from sinning again. Two things are essential to keep us from sin: (1) deliverance from temptation (see Deeper Study # 1—Lu. 4:1–2) and (2) deliverance from the evil one (see Deeper Study # 1—Re. 12:9).
Thought 3. This request is a necessity for every believer. Why? There are two reasons.
(1) All believers are tempted and tempted often, not by strange things, but by things that are common to all. Temptations do come and will come to all—the same temptations (1 Co. 10:13.)
(2) No believer stands above falling:
Thought 4. Temptation is to be prayed against for two reasons.
(1) Because sin causes God great hurt and pain (Ps. 15:4).
(2) Because sin causes great trouble, guilt, and grief for both oneself and others (Lu. 19:41–44; see Mt. 23:37; Lu. 13:34).
Thought 5. The believer must have help in overcoming the evil one. The evil one attacks (1) by deception (2 Co. 11:3, 14–15; Re. 12:9) and (2) by direct assault, seeking to devour (1 Pe. 5:8).
Thought 6. In dealing with the evil one, the believer needs to remember two things.
1) “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4).
2) “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Ro. 8:31; see Ro. 8:31–39).
3 (6:13) Doxology—The kingdom and the power and the glory: there is praise and commitment. These words are not in the best and oldest manuscripts of the Greek. Many scholars believe the doxology was added at a later date to be used in public worship. However, there is a similar doxology by David (1 Chr. 29:11). The point of the doxology is to stress that everything belongs to God.
a. He is the Source of the kingdom and the power and the glory.
b. He is the Possessor of the kingdom and the power and the glory.
c. He is the Recipient of the kingdom and the power and the glory.
The believer belongs to the kingdom and the power and the glory of God.
1. The believer belongs to God’s kingdom: God has accepted the believer into the Kingdom of God and promises to transport him into the kingdom and its glory either at death or at the Lord’s return.
2. The believer belongs to God’s power: God has delivered him from sin and death and continues to deliver him daily.
3. The believer belongs to God’s glory: God has done all for the believer that “in the ages to come He [God] might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ep. 2:7).
Thought 1. “Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” is the third major point to pray.
(1) Father, yours is the kingdom, the right to rule and reign.…
(2) Yours is the power, the only power that can really rule and govern.…
(3) Yours is the glory. O’ God, all glory belongs to you.…
Thought 2. Note three significant points.
(1) “Thine is the kingdom” says two things.
(a) The right to rule and reign throughout the universe is God’s. The only perfect and eternal government is God’s. The only government that possesses utopia, the very best of all, and that lasts forever is God’s.
(b) The right to rule and reign belongs to no one else but God. Only God’s government can bring utopia: love, joy, peace, and the very best of life.
(2) “Thine is the power” says two things.
(a) God alone has the power to create and sustain perfect government. He alone has the power to support and bring perfect government to man and his earth.
(b) God alone has the power to change men so that they can escape death and live forever within a perfect government. He alone has the power to stir men to live in love, joy, and peace and to serve completely and unselfishly so that all may have the very best.
(3) “Thine is the glory” says that God alone deserves all the honor and praise and glory. For what? For all. He is all in all.
Thought 3. The one subject that is to dominate prayer is praising God. The fact that the Lord’s prayer begins with praise (surrender, v. 9) and ends with praise (v. 13b) shows this.
⇒ God does not need praise. He has the praise of multitudes of angels, but He deserves our praise.
⇒ God created us with the ability to praise Him. He must want our praise.
⇒ A genuine believer is always praising God’s Name before all.
(6:13) Amen: so be it; it is and shall be so. When spoken by God, Amen means it is and shall be so, unequivocally. When spoken by man it is a petition meaning, Let it be. Here, in the Lord’s Prayer, the word Amen is a word of commitment. When a man prays the Lord’s prayer and closes by saying Amen (let it be), he is committing himself to do his part for the things which have been prayed.
Matthew 6:14–15 ESV
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Introduction—Forgiveness: note the first word, “for.” This connects these verses to the Lord’s Prayer. Immediately after closing the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus explained why He had said that forgiveness is conditional (Mt. 6:12). This was a necessary explanation for two reasons.
1. The very idea that a person must forgive others in order for God to forgive him was totally new. It was a shocking concept, an eye-opener. It had to be explained.
2. The very idea of forgiveness is just what it says: it is forgiving. God knows that He cannot forgive an unforgiving heart. His nature of love and justice will not permit Him to indulge in sin and give license to the passions of a man’s unforgiving spirit. He can forgive only where the mercy and tenderness of forgiveness are found. Therefore, Christ had to teach the basic principle of prayer—forgiveness (Mt. 18:21–35; Mk. 11:25–26; Lu. 6:37; 17:3–4; Ep. 4:32). (See Deeper Study # 4—Mt. 26:28.)
1. The promise: forgive others and be forgiven (v. 14).
2. The warning: refuse to forgive others and be unforgiven (v. 15).
(6:14–15) Forgiveness: there are several prerequisites to forgiveness. For a man to be forgiven, he must do several things.
1. He must confess his sins (1 Jn. 1:9; see 1 Jn. 1:8–10).
2. He must have faith in God: a belief that God will actually forgive (He. 11:6).
3. He must repent (turn away from and forsake his sins) and turn to God in a renewed commitment (see note—Acts 3:19; note 7 and Deeper Study # 1—17:29–30; note—Lu. 17:3–4).
4. He must forgive those who have wronged him (Mt. 6:14–15). Hard feelings or anger against a person is sin. It is evidence that a person has not truly turned from his sins and that he is not really sincere in seeking forgiveness.
(6:14–15) Forgiveness: there are four different attitudes toward forgiveness.
1. The attitude of the agnostic or doubter. God may be; He may not be. Therefore forgiveness from God is immaterial. It does not matter. All that matters is for men to forgive each other and relate properly. Forgiveness from an invisible, personal God is a far-fetched idea.
2. The attitude of the guilt- or conscience-stricken person. This is a person who knows little, if anything, about a personal God, yet he is deeply conscious of guilt and the need for forgiveness. He prays for forgiveness over and over, but he never comes to know forgiveness.
3. The attitude of the social religionist. This is a person who is sometimes mentally aware of the need for forgiveness; therefore, he makes an occasional confession. He feels forgiven, arises and goes about his affairs with no more thought about the matter. The problem with this is that it is a false forgiveness, a mental forgiveness. The person views God as a patsy-grandfather who allows a person to live like he wishes as long as he occasionally confesses. He ignores and denies the righteousness and justice of a loving God.
4. The attitude of the mature believer. This is a believer who truly knows his own sinful self and his great need for God’s forgiveness. Therefore, he lives in a spirit of confession and repentance, by which he comes to know God’s forgiveness and the assurance of it (see note—Ro. 8:2–4).
1 (6:14) Forgiveness of Others: there is the promise to forgive and thereby to be forgiven. The word trespass (paraptoma) means to stumble; to fall; to slip; to blunder; to deviate from righteousness and truth. Note three things.
a. Christ takes for granted that we know that we need forgiveness. This is seen in His words, “your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” We are sinners; we have transgressed God’s law and we need forgiveness. Even the most mature among us fails to keep God’s law perfectly. We all stumble, fall, blunder, and slip; and we do it much too often.
1) We are seldom doing to the fullest degree what we should do. We come short.
2) We are always crossing over from the path we should be following. We deviate over into the forbidden area. Thus, we desperately need forgiveness. God promises that He will forgive our trespasses if we will do one simple thing: forgive men their trespasses.
b. The greatest thing in all the world is to be forgiven our sins: to be absolved and released from all guilt and condemnation, to be accepted and restored by God and assured of seeing Christ face to face. Forgiveness of sins means that we are freed: set at liberty in this life to live abundantly, and set at liberty in the next life to live eternally in perfection.
c. The only way we can be forgiven our sins is to forgive others their trespasses. Christ makes the promise: “Forgive men their trespasses [and] your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Forgiving men their trespasses means several very practical things.
⇒ We are not judgmental or critical.
⇒ We do not become bitter or hostile.
⇒ We do not plan to take revenge.
⇒ We do not hold hard feelings against another person.
⇒ We do not talk about, gossip, or join in rumor; on the contrary, we correct the rumor.
⇒ We do not rejoice in trouble and trials that fall upon another person.
⇒ We love and pray for the person.
Thought 1. Note two facts.
(1) Bad feelings against another person is sin. It is holding sin within our heart. Forgiving a person who has done us evil is proof that we wish to have a clean heart. We really wish God to forgive us.
(2) Forgiving men their trespasses does not refer only to the trespasses against us, but all trespasses.
“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt. 5:7).
“And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trepasses” (Mk. 11:25).
“And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us” (Lu. 11:4).
“And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him” (Lu. 17:4).
“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Col. 3:13).
2 (6:15) Forgiveness of Others: there is the warning—refuse to forgive and be unforgiven. The believer who prays for forgiveness and holds feelings against another person is hypocritical. He is asking God to do something he himself is unwilling to do. He is asking God to forgive his trespasses when he himself is unwilling to forgive the trespasses of others. Bad feelings against a person are clear proof that a person is not right with God.
a. Bad feelings show that a person does not know the true nature of man nor of God. He does not know the true exalted perfection of God nor the real depth of man’s sinful nature—how far short he is of perfect righteousness.
b. Bad feelings show that a person walks and lives in self-righteousness (that is, that he thinks that he is acceptable to God by deeds of righteousness). He feels better than others, and judges himself able to talk about and look askance at the sins of others.
c. Bad feelings show that a person has not taken the steps he must take in order to be forgiven his own sins (see Deeper Study # 1, 2—Mt. 6:14–15).
d. Bad feelings show that a person is living by the standards of society and not by God’s Word. God’s Word is clear: “there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Ro. 3:12; see Mt. 19:17). Therefore, we are to help and love one another, to care for and restore one another when we stumble, slip, fall, blunder, and deviate.
“There is none righteous, no, not one” (Ro. 3:10; see Ro. 3:9–19).
“All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Ro. 3:23).
“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor [yelling, loud talk, loud threats], and evil speaking [talking about, rumor, gossip] be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ep. 4:31–32).
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one anothers’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself” (Ga. 6:1–3).
Christ is explicitly clear in His warning about forgiving others.
“Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven” (Lu. 6:36–37).
The warning is severe when the opposite statement is seen: Judge, and you will be judged; condemn, and you will be condemned; be unforgiving, and you will be unforgiven (see Lu. 6:36–37).
Thought 1. Note three significant lessons in this point.
(1) The man who holds bad feelings against others has not looked at himself and his own sins. He does not know himself, not his real self, not the inner selfishness and motives that plague the depravity of man.
(2) Feelings against others cause inward disturbance. They eat away at a person’s mind and emotions to varying degrees. Deep feelings against others can cause deep emotional and mental problems as well as serious physical problems.
(3) Three things are necessary for God to hear our prayer for forgiveness of sins. (1) Lifting up holy hands, (2) being without wrath, and (3) not doubting.
“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1 Ti. 2:8).
Thought 2. The answer to inner peace is Christ Jesus. The answer to peace with others is also Christ. “He is our peace”—the only possible peace between two persons (see outline and notes—Ep. 2:14–18. Review the Scriptures below verse by verse in light of the following facts.)
(1) He can make both one (Ep. 2:14).
(2) He can break down the wall between both (Ep. 2:14).
(3) He can abolish the enmity—in His own flesh (Ep. 2:15).
(4) He can make the two into one new man (Ep. 2:15).
(5) He can reconcile both to God—in one body—by the cross (Ep. 2:15).
(6) He can give peace to both and bring peace between both (Ep. 2:17).
(7) He can give both access to God the Father (Ep. 2:18).
Leadership Ministries Worldwide. The Gospel according to Matthew: Chapters 1:1–16:12. Vol. 1. Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 2004. Print. The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible.
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