Living Like Christ: Forgiveness

Matthew 18:21-35

Sarah loves wheat – wheat bread, wheat rolls,
wheat muffins – she can’t get enough wheat. The
only problem is that she’s quite allergic to it.
Whenever she eats it, she breaks out in a rash. But
does that ever stop her? Nope. She’s a real gluten
for punishment.

Today we are going to be discussing forgiveness.
Our current series is titled Living Like Christ.
The purpose is for us to examine our lives and model
them after our perfect example, Jesus Christ.

The first thing we are going to do is examine a few
Let’s take a look at the world’s definition of forgiveness.

Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious,
deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or
vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed
you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your
forgiveness. … Forgiveness does not mean forgetting,
nor does it mean condoning or excusing offenses.

Now let’s see the word forgiveness in the Bible.

The Hebrew has two words which are translated as

Nasa – to take away sin
Salach – to pardon, when this verb is used God is always
the subject. He is the only one who can truly pardon our
While we are defining words, let’s define sin.
Sin literally means to miss the mark.
It’s an archery concept. Imagine shooting an arrow at the
bullseye of one of those round targets.
The goal is to get it right in the center.

Last week we talked about holiness and how God desires
us to be holy as He is holy.
That’s the target, the bullseye is our holiness.
When we aren’t holy we are sinning.
It may seem harsh, but it’s the standard and it’s what
God expects and desires from us.

Before we get too far, let’s talk about the consequences
of sin.

Sin results in death

The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death.
If left unforgiven, sin always results in death. It’s not
always immediate, but it is always certain.

Sin separates us from God.

When God created man and woman He used to walk with
them in the garden in the cool of the day. After they took
and ate of the forbidden fruit, God cast them out of the
garden and from His presence.
What does the Bible say about forgiveness?
Psalm 86:5 “For You, Lord, are good, and ready to
forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who
call upon You.”

Psalm 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

When God forgives us of our sin, He removes the
punishment of death, hell and His eternal wrath from us.
God’s forgiveness restores us back to a right relationship
with Him.
And that is only accomplished through the death and
resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Matthew 18:21-35

Jesus gives Peter a lesson on forgiveness here and Peter
is blown away when he hears Jesus tell him he should
forgive his brother seventy times seven.

Here we see the Magnitude of Forgiveness
Forgiveness is not a one and done situation.
Jesus’ point is that we have to keep on forgiving those
who sin against us.

Although He gives Peter an exact number the point isn’t
to count until someone sins against you 490 times. The
point is forgiveness is an ongoing situation.
Think of it this way.
Every day you sin, and every day God forgives you.
He never reaches a point where He says,
“well, that’s it, I’m not forgiving you any longer.
I’m done with you!”

And aren’t you thankful for that?
God’s forgiveness is vast and unending.
What Jesus was teaching Peter was to be persistent at

Next we see the Mercy of Forgiveness
The first man owed such a huge sum of money, ten
thousand talents, but when he pleaded with his master,
he was shown mercy.
He had every right to throw him into prison or to sell him
to someone else. But he showed mercy.
Mercy is when we are spared a punishment we deserve.
Mercy is not for the innocent.

We are just like the men who owed their master money.
Our sin condemns us. We are guilty, children of wrath.
But when we call out to God instead of giving us what we
deserve, He gives us mercy!!!
He forgives our sin.

Finally, we see the Mystery of Forgiveness
Look at v. 32 “Then summoning him, his lord said to him,
‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because
you pleaded with me.’”
God doesn’t force forgiveness on anyone.
He simply offers it and waits for us to ask for it, then He
freely and generously lavishes it on us.

I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful
and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse
us from all unrighteousness.”

Remember, this sermon series is called Living Like Christ.
Now, let’s look at how Jesus modeled out forgiveness.

Luke 23 describes the arrest and crucifixion of Christ.
In v.34 Jesus prays, “Father, forgive them; for they do
not know what they are doing.”

They were crucifying Him for speaking the truth.
And He forgave them even as He was hanging on the

Later in that same chapter the doctor, Luke describes
the two thieves that hung on either side of Christ, one
was mocking Him, the other recognized his sin and
repented, asking Jesus to remember him when He came
to His kingdom. Right there Jesus assured him he would
be with Him in paradise that same day!

Forgiveness lived out.

You may be thinking, that’s just too difficult to do.
That was Jesus and Jesus is God in flesh.
How could anyone live up to that expectation?

Let me give you one more example from the Bible.
Acts 7 describes Stephen, one of the first deacons, being
persecuted for his faith.
Stephen, as he was being stoned, asked God not to hold
their sin against them. The very ones that were killing
him, he was praying for forgiveness for!!

How could anyone do that?
Two words, the Holy Spirit.
Acts 6 describes Stephen as a man full of faith and of the
Holy Spirit. Chapter 7 says he was full of the Holy Spirit
and that God opened the heavens and allowed him to see
the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of
Like Stephen, we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us.

The only way we are going to be able to forgive those
who sin against us is through the Holy Spirit.
We can’t do it in the flesh. The flesh gets angry and
seeks after revenge. We have to trust the Scripture that
assures us that vengeance is the Lord’s. It’s not our job
to get back at those who wrong us. It’s our job to love
them, pray for them and forgive them.


Forgive one another

This is not optional.
Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another,
tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in
Christ also has forgiven you.”

We have been forgiven so much by God and it cost Him
so much. He gave His only Son so that we might be able
to be reconciled to Him.

Everyone here has been wronged by someone.
You have a choice, you can harbor the hurt, the pain and
the bitterness, or you can let it go and forgive them.

The Bible is clear that we are to forgive because we have
been forgiven by God.

If you need additional convincing, turn over to
Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive others for their
transgressions, your heavenly Father will also
forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then
your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

Talk about conviction, right?

If we just take a second to consider just how horrible our
sin is and how much it cost Jesus, how could we withhold
forgiveness to anyone on earth who has wronged us.
There is nothing they could have done as bad as what we
did to Jesus!!