Sunday, 22 November 2015

Forgive Us Our Trespasses...~Ganeida

Those of you present will notice certain illustrations & comments are missing from these notes.  Please bear in mind they are only notes & you were blessed with  extra insights from the Holy Spirit. ~ Ganeida

Now we come to that section of the Amidah that deals with forgiveness.

I don’t actually feel qualified to speak on forgiveness ~ but that’s ok.  I pretty much figure no human is qualified to speak on forgiveness.  We know very little about forgiveness ~ both the offering of forgiveness & the receiving of forgiveness.  That it is asked of us is the extending of God’s grace into a fallen world because unforgiveness is easily exploited by satan.

So when the scriptures talk about forgiveness, what exactly are they saying?

There are 2 O.T words & 2 N.T words that are translated as Forgive. They are:

·      Hanan ~ to show mercy or favour, to be gracious

·      Kasa ~ to cover

·      Katallage ~ restoration to favour

·      Aphiemi ~ dismiss, to let go, to cancel

Forgiveness is not the same as restoration. In Hebrew that would be raphe ~ to heal.  It has a Greek equivalent in apokathistemi.  The other Greek word is katarizo, meaning to prepare, to put in order, to restore. I am not going to discuss a 3rd word which refers specifically to that time when Jesus will restore all things.

I postulate that Kasa ~ to cover ~ is a term that applies to believers whose sins are covered by the blood of Christ: Hebrews 9:22 There is no redemption without the shedding of blood.

When we ask forgiveness for our own sin it implies it is to be covered by the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
Now to forgive means 2 things in reality: to remit a debt & to pay for it.  The same word is used. This is what Jesus did on the cross; he remitted the debt of our sin & at the same time he paid for it.  Now his blood covers it.

So what does forgiveness mean for us?

The 1st thing I would point out is the need for the truth.  Confession of our own sin requires we be completely honest with God.  In forgiving others the first requirement is that we admit we have been sinned against.  We don’t like it.  It isn’t pleasant.  It doesn’t feel good. However we are not responsible for others actions.  We are responsible for our own. We are responsible for our response.

Eph 4:26 In your anger, do not sin.

Romans 12: 19~ 21 enjoins us to Defeat evil with good & Romans 12:18 commands us as far as possible to be at peace with everyone.

There is a meme going round FB that is pertinent to forgiveness. It says: You are free to choose; you are not free of the consequences of your choices.

We need to understand there are consequences to forgiveness & there are consequences to unforgiveness.  Forgiveness is never a whitewashing of an offence. It never denies that the offence has taken place. I will give you a few examples because Paul warned us to be as gentle as doves but as wise as serpents so in exercising forgiveness we also need to be wise. 

If a family member has molested you, you would be unwise to ever leave that person alone with your child. You must forgive but you are not required to provide fodder for this person’s perversion.

If someone has gossiped about you, you must forgive the offence but you would be unwise to ever again share a confidence with that person.

The door must be left open for full restoration but it is conditional.  You see this on the cross.  Jesus asked forgiveness for those who had put him there but that forgiveness did not remove the consequences of their actions. The thief who was restored repented.

1 John1:But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.  Note that little word *if*.  Our forgiveness is dependent on our confession, our agreement that we have committed an offence. And yes, it is there in the Greek!

We do others a disservice when we do not admit that an offence has taken place.  We effectively enable them to deny that they have sinned.

If your brother sins, rebuke him; if he repents forgive him (Luke 17:3).

Matthew 18:15~19 outlines the steps we are to take when it is another believer who has sinned against us. The whole idea is to get that person to confess their fault & be restored to fellowship.  If they will not listen to you, you engage the church but if they still won’t repent they are to be treated as a pagan or corrupt tax collector.  Believers are to be quick to confess & restore each other.

What does biblical forgiveness look like?

Like agape love, forgiveness is an act of the will.
  • The forgiving person does not attempt to take revenge upon those who have wronged him (Romans 12:17).
  • The forgiving person does not hate the offender; rather, in spite of the person’s evil, he loves (agape) him still. The forgiving person is kindly disposed and tender hearted toward his adversary (Ephesians 4:32).
  • The forgiving person is approachable; he leaves the door for reconciliation wide open and longs for the welfare of the transgressor. Matthew 5:44
  • The forgiving person is not merely passive in waiting for the offender to repent; he actively seeks the repentance of the one who wronged him (Matthew 18:15-17).
How then are we to respond?

Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart above all else,
    for it determines the course of your life.

2 Corinthians 10:5 and every arrogance that raises itself up against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey the Messiah.

Scripture always encourages believers to be active participants.  We are to be doers of the word.  We are to actively guard our hearts.  In other words we don’t nurse our grievances.  We don’t coddle them.  We don’t give them our time & allow them to take root in our hearts where they will grow until we reap a harvest of bitterness.  We take our thoughts captive.  We make them obey the ordinances of Christ.  We speak life, not death, into our circumstances.

In Matthew 5:23-24 Jesus tells us:

23 “So if you are presenting a sacrifice[a] at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.

Forgiveness is not an academic exercise.  It is a practical application to help us rub along together.  There is no point in praying if we have not also taken action. We are to do what we can but where the other person is unreceptive we are to let it go & leave it to God.  God is the one we talk to about it if it still bothers us.  It is not something to be gossiped about in an effort to win people to our side or viewpoint.  None of us are perfect because we all feel the need to dump sometimes but God wants us to dump on Him, not on each other.  We are not made to carry the burden; He is.

Part of guarding our heart could include  putting on the full armour of Christ & praying protective hedges around ourselves, though I believe this more properly belongs in the next section of the Amidah: And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil….  Pro~active planning is far more effective than attempting to rectify the damage once it’s done.  It keeps us from sinning & pre~prepares our response if we find ourselves in conflict with another.

When we come to this section of the Amidah we come to a point of self examination such as David cries in psalm 139:
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

We have praised God & put our petitions before him but now we come to that moment of truth wherein we examine ourselves to see if there is anything displeasing to the Lord residing in our hearts as well as considering our actions. And we give it to Jesus because it has already been dealt with on the cross.  It is absolutely imperative that we examine ourselves in the searing light of the Holy Spirit ~ not for God.  God knows already.  For ourselves!
This is also the place to pray for the larger concerns of the world: Paris, Syria, Nigeria ~ Boko Haram, Isis.  We must forgive these atrocities also, understanding that without the Light of the World these people have no real understanding of what they do & are incapable of being anything than what they are: the devil’s children.  We are to be wise but we are not to be dominated by our fear because Jesus was clear in saying that He has overcome the world.

We have spent a good deal of time one way or another considering the person & leading of the Holy Spirit this year.  His love & leading are imperative when it comes to forgiveness.  Only He knows the heart of another. Only He can guide us in the timing of when & how to offer forgiveness because there is a difference between forgiving  & offering Forgiveness. There is a difference between forgiveness & reconciliation to another. 
I’m not a big fan of liturgy.  Too often it has
simply become rote & without meaning but when done properly it becomes the prayer that Jesus prayed. The first people who nutted out the wording searched the scriptures & understood something about the nature of sin & forgiveness: Almighty and most merciful Father,

we have wandered and strayed from your ways

    like lost sheep.

We have followed too much the devices and desires

    of our own hearts.

We have offended against your holy laws.

We have left undone those things

    that we ought to have done;

and we have done those things

    that we ought not to have done;

and there is no health in us.

But you, O Lord, have mercy upon us sinners.

Spare those who confess their faults.

Restore those who are penitent,

according to your promises declared to mankind

    in Christ Jesus our Lord.

That pretty much covers it. If we harbour unforgiveness it ferments within us, even to the point of affecting our health ~ remember our Hebrew word for reconciliation? Our father is as careful to weed sin out of our words & thoughts as He is to weed it out of our actions.

In this, our broken world, forgiveness & reconciliation are sorely needed.  We must practise it because unto us has been given the ministry of reconciliation. 2Cor 5:11~21 It is by forgiving & being forgiven we understand how much Christ has done for us & only then can we display that grace to others.

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