18 Aug 2019

How Shall I Forgive? [Matthew 18:21-35]


C. S. Lewis once said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. ” God's will is for us to forgive our enemies. He wants us to put away all wrath and malice and bitterness. And it is for our good too. Someone said that resentment is like drinking poison hoping the other person dies. Unforgiveness puts us into a prison of suffering. It is a heavy burden for the soul. Unforgiveness is like blood-sucking leeches of your spiritual life. But how can I forgive? It's so hard! The secret is in the gospel- how God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. You see, the gospel is not a message that cries out, "pay God for your sins!" The gospel is the glorious news, "Jesus paid it all!" And just as we have received this stunning love that we are fully forgiven of all our sins, we are now to bend this love and forgiveness outwards towards our enemies. Therefore, we must learn to linger at the cross, and soak in the soothing bath of God's love in order that the leeches of unforgiveness can fall off our souls. Check out this sermon to find out more, that you may live in the freedom God desires for you!


Sermon Transcript

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We come to Matthew, chapter 18 and verses 21 to 35 and this is in the series on the “Upside Down Kingdom.” You know, sometimes when you drive, you go uphill, it's difficult, sometimes you go downhill, it's easy. Last week, we went up hill, we looked at the subject on church discipline. It's a technical sermon, it's quite tough for a lot of people, so we went uphill. Today, we're going to go downhill, in a sense that this is relatively straightforward and easy. Hard to do, but I think easy to understand. So we are going downhill and in a sense by looking at this subject of forgiveness.

Matthew 18, verse 21 to 35, really revolves around this subject of vengeance or forgiveness, something we all can identify with. A couple quarrels quite a lot - The husband and the wife. But one day when they were not quarrelling, the husband asked his wife, “Dear, how is it possible that after we quarrel each time, you are able to stay so calm and collected the next day? You don't seem to be angry with me anymore. You don't seem to be upset. How is it that you can remain so collected when I am so upset and I want to shout at you?” The wife says, “Easy! I just clean the toilet.” “What?” “Yes, I just clean the toilet.” “But how is cleaning the toilet able to keep you calm?” “Well, I clean the toilet using your toothbrush.”

Getting even is a natural instinct, isn't it? You see that in little children. I have two boys and I see revenge all the time. He took my book. Poop [to depict beating someone up] … He took my toy. Poop… Oh, that is so common! And that's so instinctive in human nature. And even when we grow up, things don't change. You still want to take revenge when someone slanders you; when someone back bites you; when someone despises you. The natural instinct is to give an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. We want that person who has so hurt us to pay for the hurt that we suffer. It's funny when it's in kids, it's funny when things are trivial, but it's not so funny anymore when things get out of hand.

I read about a man, a 36 year old man in China. He has a daughter in primary school and unfortunately, do not know why but she was injured by her fellow schoolmates in the eye and it was very painful. So she told her dad and her dad immediately took a fruit knife, marched into the primary school, into the washroom to look for that 10 year old boy. And moments later that 10 year old boy was lying in a puddle of blood. He was quickly brought to the hospital via the ambulance but he was found to be unsaveable, passing away after three hours.

When the police arrived they just saw this man sitting at the bathroom, beside with this cigarette in his hand. “Man in China stabs daughter's classmate to death for injuring her eye.” Now this is not an eye for an eye, this is a life for an eye. Revenge can be very, very devastating!

So maybe today you are someone struggling with vengeance. You're struggling with bitterness. You're struggling with unforgiveness. And the question is - How can you and I ever let that go? How can you and I find freedom from this bitterness that is eating us up? How can you and I truly forgive? I want you to know that forgiveness is not the same as forgetting. People always say, “Forgive, forget. Forgive, forget.” Actually, they're quite different! You, you can in a sense, never ever forget something, right? I mean, if it's significant for you, you will remember it.

But forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgiveness is a voluntary; intentional choice to release someone from a debt they have to pay to you. You see when someone offends you, when someone despises you, when someone slanders you, you feel like there is a debt they have to pay. It's an emotional debt and you hold that person to that debt until he pays. Forgiveness, however, is that voluntary intentional choice to say, “I release you from the debt. I'm not going to make you pay. I'm not going to make you suffer. I'm contented to absorb that injury.”

Forgiveness is not easy! Maybe as I talked about vengeance, forgiveness, offenses right now, you would think about someone. In your head, there's a picture, picture of your boss, picture of your colleague, picture of a brother or a sister in Christ in church, picture of your husband or wife who has just cheated on you or maybe a picture of your mother in law. Somehow that always makes people laugh, I do not know why. But you have a picture of someone who you cannot forgive, or you find it very difficult to forgive. And in a way it's eating you up.

How can I forgive? Now that's the question we're going to look at in Matthew, chapter 18. How shall I forgive? How often shall I forgive? To what extent do I go in forgiving? And how can I ever get to do what God wants me to do? This is a natural question to ask, especially if you have been following us in Matthew 18. Jesus had been talking about offenses and He says, “It is unavoidable that in this world you will have offenses.” There will be people who will offend you; stumble you; disturb you; hurt you. It is inevitable! But you are not only to not take revenge, you are to go to him and to help him out of sin. We learned that last week, you are to restore him from sin.

So it is very natural, therefore for Peter to then ask, “How often shall I do this? It's very hard, but Lord, how often will my brother sin against me and I forgive him?” [Matthew 18:21] What's the extent? What's the limit? Surely there must be a limit! Surely there must be a kind of a ceiling to these things because I can't just go on! So how many times shall I forgive him?

And then Peter suggested a number. Now let me ask you, “What do you think is the market rate for forgiveness?” How many times should you forgive your brother who snatched your toy? How many times shall you forgive your colleague who back stabbed you? How many times shall you forgive your husband who cheated? How many times can you forgive your brother or sister in Christ? How many times? What's the market rate?

Three. Why three ah? It's a good guess! Three times! To forgive one time is already very difficult. Can you imagine forgiving three times? Well, that's the market rate in those days apparently. Now, the Bible doesn't tell us that was the limit they had. But according to rabbinical teachings, the Jewish rabbi, for example, they would have a number but Peter suggested seven times. I want you to know, seven times is really way above market rate. The market rate is three times.

For example, Rabbi Jose Ben Hanina, he says, “He who begs forgiveness from his neighbour must not do so more than three times.” At least have some sense to know, you expect people to forgive three times and don't ask him for the 4th. There's a limit to people's forgiveness! That's what the rabbi here says. And another Rabbi says, “If a man commits an offence once, forgive him; if he commits an offense a 2nd time, they forgive him; if he commits an offense a 3rd time, they forgive him. The 4th time, they do not forgive.” So your market rate quite “zhun” [accurate in Hokkien dialect] ah, according to the Jewish teachings then.

Now, some people say that this three times may be sort of derived from the Bible. Now, I don't think it is, but they allude to verses like Amos 1:3 that says, “Thus says the Lord: For three transgressions of Damascus and for four, I will not revoke the punishment.” So it is applied to different cities, in Amos 1, verse 3, verse 6, verse 9, verse 11, verse 13. So there's this hint of three times, so people say, “Market rate – Three times.” So when Peter said, “Seven times,” [Matthew 18:21] he is already beating the market. He's already doing more than double.

I think Peter must have thought, “Ah, my Saviour, my Master, His standard, very high one!” “Whatever the rabbi's say, His standard is higher. So if they say three times, He will be higher. I remember Him saying, “Except your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no wise enter the kingdom of heaven.” So let me double it and add one more and give it a perfect number, Seven. I think my Saviour will be very happy with my answer. He will give me a pat on my back. Maybe He will say to me, “You are blessed, Simon Bar Jonah, for flesh and blood have not revealed unto you but My Father which is in heaven.”” So he's longing for maybe that reply - I don't know.

But the answer from Jesus must have shocked him! He must be absolutely stunned when Jesus said, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” [Matthew 18:21] Now, I want you to know this is not 77 but it's 70 times 7. It is … your maths. Thank you very much. Singaporeans’ maths usually quite good. Now is Jesus saying, “Keep track of how many times person A offends you, so that when he hits 491, you are qualified to pour out your righteous wrath on him? Is that what Jesus is teaching?” Obviously not!

He's saying to Peter, “You thought it's 7 but let me tell you it's not 7, it's 70 times 7.” 7 is the number of completion. He's saying, “This is not the deal! It's 70 times of 7.” Almost saying that, “This is way more than what you had expected.” Now, it's a figure of speech, we understand that. For example, I say, “Oh, I've been to that shopping mall a 1000 times!” Hey come on! You're not going to ask me, “Ay Jason, do you actually keep track of number of times you've been there? “Thousand, really?” “No.” I say. “No, it's a… it's a man of speech.” I'm saying, “I've been there so many times, I don't even keep track.”

“Oh, I'll do a million things for you!” Is it really I'll do a million? No, I'm just willing to do anything. That's my point! So when Jesus says, “Forgive 70 times 7 times.” He's not saying, “Count it; measure it; record it.” He's saying, “Forgive limitlessly. Way more than you thought is sufficient, keep on forgiving.”

Now, that is absolutely mind boggling! Now, if you're talking about this in, in just theory, it will be easy. “Alright, good concept! I will forgive. I know the standard.” But if you really have someone that you're at odds with right now - Your boss, your colleagues, your husband, like I said. To do this repeatedly over and over and over and over and over and over and over, you get sick of me saying, “Over,” right? But to do that endlessly, “Wow, Lord! How do I do this? How can I? How can I? I can’t! I don't have the power to do this!”

And admittedly all of us would say, “It's just impossible!” Knowing precisely that will be our struggle, Jesus now gives an illustration. So he gave, or Peter came with an assumption, 7 is enough. Peter was then told the expectation – No! 70 7, which means endlessly. To help him understand how, Jesus now gives an illustration. Jesus is a master teacher. Not everything is didactically given, some things are given in beautiful stories that we may remember for life.

So the illustration takes us to a scene between a king and a servant. In Matthew 18, the servant is said to owe the king a lot of money. You say, “How much is a lot?” Jesus gave an amount. it's 10,000 talents. It's not $10,000. To Singaporeans, you say, “That might be payable!” But this is 10,000 talents. How much is a talent? A talent is worth 15 to 20 ‘dash’ of work? Average worker is worth 15 to 20 ‘dash’ of work.

What is the dash? Minutes? 15 to 20 minutes? 15 to 20 hours? 15 to 20 … Wah, you so fast, Shalom! Let me finish aah. Minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries. MCQ, which one is your answer? You see lah! You spoiled the fun! Okay, you are right! It is absolutely right! It's 15 to 20 years of work. That is crazy!

So assuming you live to 70, 80 years old, you are able to work for what .. 60 years. You work for 60 years, your whole life. And you don't eat, you don't … you don't buy clothes, you don't spend money on anything else. After 60 years, you would earn for yourself how many talents? 60 talents. Each talent is worth … Eh, wah lau! Don't make me do the math xia [Hokkien slang]. Each talent is worth 15 to 20 years of work, so after 60 years you earn 3 to 4 talents. That means after working your whole life, and you give all that money to the king, you are still owing him 9996 or 97 talents. Good luck to you!

Basically, this man is owing the king an astronomical figure which he will never ever really be able to pay off. He's stuck! He's in deep trouble! So the king calls for reckoning, “You owe me 10,000 talents.” And now this message, “Oh, have mercy on me! Don't sell me away. Don't sell my wife. Don't sell my family. Have patience with me and I will pay you everything.” Now, when a man is desperate, he will say anything, right? “Oh, just give me time! I'll pay you everything.” That's exactly what he says, not knowing, not realizing that, in a sense, he will never be able to pay this off. So he begs for mercy, what else can he ask for?

And what's stunning in this story is that the king did something amazing! We will never have figured that out, we would never do this in our life in a sense. I mean, if someone owes me $1, I'll say, “Forget it! It's fine!” But this is 10,000 talents - 200,000 years of wages. The king said to him … now, if the king said, “You go to jail.” That will be just. No problem. I mean, no one could blame the king, he actually owed that money. That if the king says, “I'm going to give you some time to try to pay this off.” That would be grace! That would be mercy! But the king did not say any of these things. The king instead said to the man, “I forgive you. I release you from your debt.”

In other words, it's not take time to pay but don't need to pay. I mean, can you imagine! I suppose most of you here would have some loans - Car loans, house loans. What if one day, UOB writes to you and say, “Guys, I'm feeling generous. You don't need to pay your loans anymore!” “Hey, that's the best day of my life!” you say. “All my loans are cleared!” Yeah, absolutely! Now, that is crazy, but that's exactly what's happening. The king is saying to the man, “All your 10,000 talents worth of debt – CLEARED! You don't have to pay. Not a single cent.”

A story is told of a lawyer, he came to Christ. He read the Bible, he learned about forgiveness, and then he began to write 17 letters to 17 people who owes him money, who owes his firm money, registered letters. And when the letters were sent out, they were all not received but returned. Registered mail. It got back to the lawyer. What happened? Well, apparently all 17 of them thought that when a lawyer sent the letter, it was that the lawyer was chasing them for payment and not realizing that the lawyer is actually saying, “I'm going to free you all from the debt.”

In a sense, that's the Bible! Many people are afraid of reading the Bible. Many people do not want to read the Bible because they think that the Bible is God saying to you, “You've got to pay!” They think that the Bible is - Obey the 10 commandments, pay back for your sins. They think that the Bible is saying, “Come to church. Be stuck in a boring sermon. Pay back for your sins.” They think that coming to church or reading the Bible is - Give money. Pay back for your sins. They think that the Bible is a, is about a debt collector coming to you – Pay. Pay. Pay. Pay.

But actually the Bible is not a book that tells you to pay because you can never pay. You realize that? Every religion tells you, “You can pay,” because they don't understand, they don't see the enormity of our debt before God. But only the Bible, God's Word says, “This is not a book that tells you to pay, this is a book that tells you, God's Son, Jesus Christ has paid it all.” This is a book that tells you, “I want to set you free from your sin debt. Come, come back to Me. Turn from your sin and believe in My Son. He is the way, the truth and the life.” And Jesus on the cross, cross, didn't He say, “It is finished,” which means the debt is fully paid for.

So this story then does not become so ridiculous after all because it's real. It's real! There is a king who would forgive His people of all their debt, of all their sins. And may I say, “What we sinned against God is more than 10,000 talents worth of debt. It's perhaps 10,000 times 10,000 times 10,000 talents worth of sin debt. And he's willing to clear it all, if you today will repent and believe in Jesus, His Son.”

So that's amazing! Jesus is telling Peter, of what God will do through Him as he looks forward to the crucifixion on the cross. Now, I think this man should be the happiest man alive. This story, I mean, if you're forgiven of 10,000 talents, hey, I think you better throw a party, you better celebrate, you better tell people, “Oh, I'm, I'm so amazed at the grace and the wonderful generosity of my king!” But instead of that, this man did something terrible. The only thing recorded, the first thing recorded was that he went to look for his colleague.

Why do you look for his colleague? Because his colleague owes him money. How much does this colleague owe him? Never read your Bible. Owes him hundred denarii. What is denarii? How much is that? One denarius is one “what” of work? One day’s worth of work. So 100 denarii is a third of a year. Long far cry from 10,000 talents, right? So this man owes the servant 100 day’s worth of wages. This man having been just forgiven of his enormous debt, intentionally and fiercely hounds and hunts down this colleague.

And the Bible says, “He chokes him, he strangles him.” It, it shows that ferocity with which he comes to this colleague. He was ruthless, merciless! And when this man says, “Oh, have patience with me and I will pay you.” Almost the same words as what the servant had first said to the king. This servant, however, would have none of it. He will not give any patience, he will not give any mercy but throws him immediately into prison that he may suffer for his debt.

And so the rest of the king's people saw what was happened and was reasonably grieved. They said, “How can this be? This man has just been forgiven a ginormous amount and now he's so harsh to our fellow colleague.” And they reported it to the king, the king summoned the servant and asked of what has happened and immediately then sent him to suffer as well in jail.

Now, this is a straightforward, like I said, this is a downhill kind of a journey. It's easy, it's about forgiveness. But I want to remind you a few things. From this parable, we see that it is a very dangerous thing for us as Christians to say, “I'll never forgive him.” Because this statement is like a prison sentence to you. When you say, “I will never forgive him,” you're saying to yourself, “Cast me into prison.” Because that's what it is, the king will ensure you are sent there.

I want to ask you, “Do you know where this is?” My two sons enjoyed being in prison for a while. Do you know where this is? In Singapore. Not Alcatraz. Queenstown. No, I didn't bring them to Queenstown. MGS… aw, I thought, I thought MGS got ah! I mean, I didn't know the principal so fierce, can throw the students into the prison. Okay, it's National Gallery Singapore – NGS. That's right. Now, if you have not been to prison, go there once, have a taste of it. My, my two sons seem to be very comfortable in prison. But the reality is prison is no fun, isn't it?

“I'll never forgive him” is a statement that puts you behind bars. It's a statement that causes you to suffer. Now, it's not that God hates you. It's not that God will cast you into hell. But God will make sure you are chastised, that you may learn, that you may see that it is not right, it is not good, it's not healthy that you should be unforgiving towards others. So it's like a prison sentence to one and I've seen many people in church, struggle and suffer in unforgiveness.

It's very strange, you thought that when you are bearing a grudge, showing that bitterness, it makes the other person have to pay. The reality is that you are the one in prison having to pay. And so perhaps today you are struggling with joylessness. You have searched up and down and you're wondering, you're wondering what's wrong with my life? How come I do not have the joy of God? I'm not having the intimacy, I'm not having answered prayers. I don't have the spring in my step. I'm stressed, I'm anxious. I, I've blood pressure problems. I've, I've ulcers. I'm just struggling in life. Why? Maybe one of the reasons, I'm not saying it's always this, but maybe one of the reasons is because you have given yourself a death, not death, prison sentence, when you say, “I'll never forgive him.”

Now, we say that unforgiveness is like a kind of a poison you drink for yourself. Nelson Mandela says, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” How foolish! And that's what unforgiveness is. “I will never forgive you so that you feel bad for the rest of your life!” Actually, the person that feels bad for the rest of his life is you.

A teacher wanted to teach his students about forgiveness and the need of it. So he told his class of little children of Sunday school children, “I want you to get a gunny sack, you know, those kind of a bags. And I want you to bring a pen along, a carving knife along, I'll bring lots of a equipment for you, don't worry.” So the next week they gathered, brought their bags and the teacher brought for them a whole basket full of potatoes. And said to them, “I want you to write and to carve on the potatoes, the names of those who have offended you before, those you find hard to forgive.”

And so the little children took all the potatoes, wrote their names - Tom, Jane, Mary and so on. And he says, “Take all that potatoes and, and put it into your bag.” They put it in, everyone has a sizable amount, they have a lot of enemies in the playground and so on. And the teacher says, “I want you for this whole two weeks to carry this bag around, wherever you go. When you go to school, when you go to playgrounds, when you go home. I want you to carry this bag everywhere you go.”

Now after a while, the students began to realize how cumbersome this is. How heavy, how “leche” [Hokkien dialect] this is! How it weighs them down. But what's worse is after a week or so, the potato started to rot, decompose. Some of them became a kind of a smelly slime and they are still to carry this bag all around. See, the teacher has made his point clear! If you want to bear grudges, you want to carry in your head, your mind the people who have offended you and you say to yourself, “I'll never forgive him,” you are carrying a burden around your life, a smelly slime around in your life.

That's the point of this parable, isn't it? You don't forgive, you will suffer for it. And maybe that's the reason why you're struggling in life. How do you get rid of this problem? It's one thing to be warned, but wherein is the power to forgive? I think this parable teaches us the secret to forgiveness. Let me just say from CS Lewis, he mentioned, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

There are people who have owed you a 100 denarii worth of sins, you want them to pay back, but the only way you can forgive that inexcusable person is when you first realize how you are forgiven amazingly by God in the Gospel. This is the whole point of this parable, “Lord, how often shall I forgive?” “How can I forgive 70 times 7 times?” “Well, begin where I begin, began by realizing that you, like that servant, owe the king 10,000 talents worth of sin and I wiped it all out for you.” He's looking ahead to His crucifixion on the cross. And it's only when you realize that God has forgiven you so much, it begins with this divine forgiveness that you can then extend forgiveness to others.

I like to when counselling married couples to refer to this simple statement I make, especially to non-Christian couples, when they have quarrels and the marriage is really bad. And the husband cannot forgive the wife, the wife cannot forgive the husband. I generally have this simple statement. You can use it for your own counselling experiences. I will say to the wife who finds it hard to forgive the husband, “I totally understand why it is almost impossible for you to forgive him after what he's done. I don't blame you for that because I believe the only way you can ever forgive him is when you have first tasted of a greater forgiveness in your life. Would you want to find out and learn about this greater forgiveness?”

And that's why I share with them the wonderful forgiveness of Jesus Christ in the Gospel. I absolutely believe that we may think, forgiveness is a great idea, but we have no power to forgive, until we know of God's forgiveness for us as unworthy sinners. So Alexander Pope, he says, “To err is human, to forgive divine.” It’ natural to err but it takes divine grace to forgive. It is God-like to forgive and only God can give us the power to forgive. This is exactly what Paul was saying to the Ephesians 4:31-32, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”

Sounds easy, but very hard to do! Especially now, if your mind is your mother in law, your boss, your teacher, your, your brother, your church member, it's so difficult to do. But that's what we have to do! Let all of that be taken away from you. Not only that, “Serve them, be kind to one another, be tender hearted, forgiving one another.” How … how is this ever possible! Oh, Paul says right at the end the secret here, “As God in Christ forgive you.”

This is not a command in vacuum. This is a command in beautiful Gospel context - Just as God has forgiven you. Just as God has caused you to rise from spiritual death to spiritual life. Just as God has placed you at the right hand of the throne of God, as you are so amazingly forgiven, forgive. And be kind, because that's what it means to be a Christian. To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable in others because God has forgiven the inexcusable in me.

Some of you say to me, “I've worked very hard at forgiveness. I've tried to cut it off. I've tried to lay that aside.” But I tell you, “Your try and your cutting off is powerless if it is not linked to the Gospel. If it is not tied to the love of God because it's just self-deterministic will.” Will power is not good enough! There is no power in us, all power belongs to God. Only the power of the Holy Spirit can fill our hearts with real lasting forgiveness.

That's why Spurgeon would say, “Go to Calvary …” that's where Jesus was crucified. “Go to Calvary to learn how you may be forgiven…” Like I said, “The Bible is not a book that tells you, “Pay. Pay. Pay.” The Bible is a book that says, “Paid in full. Paid in full. Paid in full.” Jesus God's Son has gone to Calvary to die for your sins that your sins are paid in full. Go there and learn what real forgiveness is. Forgiveness that is undeserved; unearned but freely given, when one repents and believes in Jesus. Go there and learn real forgiveness. But then don't just go there and walk away, but “… Linger there, stay there and ponder and learn how to forgive.”

A traveller was in Burma and as he crossed the river, leeches in the waters came up to his whole body and he was infested with blood sucking leeches. And we know that if that is allowed to carry on, he may just die like that. So in his natural instinct, he began to grab hold of the leeches, pull them out and throw them off. But the natives shouted to him, “Don't do that! Don't do that!” You say, “Why?” “Because if you forcefully pull them, some parts of the leeches may remain in your flesh and it may cause poison and toxins to rise. Don't do that.” “What should I do?” “Come,” they say.

So they brought him to this tub that they have made, they poured in some water, they threw in some herbs, some grass, some leaves, some flowers and told him, “Come, lie in there.” And so as he lowered himself into the tub, as he lay there, as he just lies there, let all that water soak and cause him to be submerged. Amazingly, one by one, the blood sucking leeches begin to gently fall off his flesh.

You see, we want to deal with unforgiveness forcefully. We want to pull these leeches out of our lives. But I tell you the only way is when one soaks in a tub of Gospel love, when one comes to see that Jesus is so much for us. God has forgiven us so much that our lives will be filled with that love that these leeches of unforgiveness can finally fall off.

I say to your friends, “Your homework today is to go back and to linger there at the cross. To stay there, to soak in the bath, to relish in the amazing love of God. Preach to yourself the Gospel. Remind yourself of what Jesus has done.” Each time we gather for lord's supper, let there be a reminder of God's love. Each time we gather to worship, as we sing, as we hear God's Word, let us be refreshed in our soul about the love of Jesus. Oh, then you find that perhaps one day, the blood sucking leeches of unforgiveness will finally, finally fall off!

My friends, today it's time for you to drop that bag of slimy; smelly potatoes. It's time for you today to let those leeches fall off. It's time for you to be healed and to be set free from this prison of unforgiveness. It's time to stop drinking poison to your soul. I long to see your life healed. I long to see your family healed. I long to see the church revived as sin is purged with the love of Christ in His Gospel.

Let's bow for a word of prayer together. Forgiveness is extremely costly and that's why it's so hard to forgive. But this morning we learn - Jesus paid it all. It is extremely costly for Jesus to die. But it is what it takes, that you may be forgiven of your 10,000 times 10,000 talents worth of sin. My friends, this morning, let the love of Jesus in the Gospel fill your heart with love.

Let us pray, like what Paul prayed for the Ephesians in chapter three, “That we may comprehend the height, the depth, the length, the breadth of the love of God for us in Christ Jesus.” Let God enable you to forgive. Great that you want to forgive, but will power won't cut it. It's the Spirit's power. It's the power that flows from the cross. It's the power of the Gospel. Maybe there's someone right here who is absolutely struggling with bitterness. You know exactly who we are talking or I'm talking about. You know who it is that has been a poison in your soul. Oh, would you ask God today to give you grace?

I say to all our friends, maybe some of you are church attendees, with us for a long while. Let me tell you the good news of the Bible. It really is stunning! It is fully paid. I mean, the Gospel is so amazing! It's not to tell you to pay, to pay, to pay. Don't come to church to pay. God doesn't want you to pay because God has paid it all in Jesus Christ.

Don't cheapen the work of Jesus Christ by thinking you can do anything close to what he has done. But humble yourself like a beggar. Be poor in spirit, realize that you are just a spiritual pauper and cry out for mercy to this good and gracious king. Repent of your sin, believe in Him and see your life change because of the love of Jesus. I pray that would be true for every one sitting right here, you will be saved, you would come to this amazing forgiveness of God.

Father, thank you this morning we hear your words, we know the power of the cross to forgive. May many hearts be open today, to repent of sin and believe in Jesus. And I pray for my brothers and sisters that you will fill their lives with your divine love that they will be released from the bars of prison. The vials of poison will be removed from your lives, the bags of slimy potatoes will be removed and the leeches that sucks our life away will fall off. May we experience that true freedom you want us to be in and bless Your people. Bless this church, we pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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