“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)
As the verse from Matthew 6 indicates, forgiveness has to do with being in debt. When someone has treated another person badly or wrongly, this hurts their relationship and brings the wrongdoer into a position of debt to the wronged party. He needs to compensate for the hurt or loss the other person has suffered — for example financially or emotionally.
Forgiving the wrongdoer means giving up any claim to be compensated, letting go of any negative emotions towards this person, and restoring the relationship whenever possible.
Jesus gives a wonderful example of forgiveness in a story about a father and a son. The son has hurt his father deeply by claiming the part of the father’s property that he is supposed to receive someday, leaving for another country and wasting the money there. The father has lost hope of ever seeing his son again. But when the son ends up in big trouble, he realizes what he has done and returns home. The father does not turn him away but welcomes him with hugs, kisses, and a festive meal (Luke 15:20; 15:22-23). He forgives his son wholeheartedly.
Have you ever been in a position where you needed forgiveness? Did the other person forgive you?
What is Forgiveness?
We can't earn forgiveness
June 19, 2022
“Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom
of heaven” (Matthew 5:20)
Our situation as humans is pretty desperate, since being in debt to God leads to eternal death. If we want to escape this judgment, we need to get right with God again.
We can’t “buy” forgiveness with money or sacrifices or anything else. The whole earth belongs to God already; He does not need anything from us.
We can’t compensate for our sins by leading extra righteous lives. Not even the religious elite in Jesus’
day could reach this goal, as today’s verse from Matthew 5 makes clear. By human standards, they were
blameless. But Jesus compares them to “whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27).
The prophet Isaiah says that even our good deeds are not pure (Isaiah 64:6). We are only making things
worse by continually falling short of God’s standards. This is confirmed by the apostle Paul in his letter to
the Romans, where he says that no human being will be justified by works of the law. The law just shows
us how sinful we actually are.
The sobering conclusion is that we can’t get right with God ourselves. We need a solution “from
Review these scriptures & scroll to the "How is forgiveness possible?"devotional for the answer.
(Romans 3:20; Isaiah 64:6; Matthew 5:17-22)
How is forgiveness possible?
June 26, 2022
“This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew
Since God is righteous, He won’t simply condone our offense and “forget about it”. The only way to
restore the relationship between man and God is to get our debt out of the way. But as we saw last
week, no human, not even the most respected religious expert, is able to do so.
The Lord is aware of our inability to get right with Him again. But He does not want any of us to perish,
and therefore He offers a solution: Himself. God the Son was ready to take the burden of sin and guilt
upon Himself and to pay the ransom by dying in our place. He poured out His blood for many for the
forgiveness of sins, as He explained to His disciples. We just need to believe in Him to be forgiven and to
have our relationship with God restored!
Jesus’ sacrifice was the only possible and ultimate solution to the problem of human sin. “Without the
shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins”, the book of Hebrews says, and only a perfect sacrifice
would suffice. Therefore, God the Son became man to shed His own blood for sinners.
Do you accept Jesus’ offer of forgiveness?
If you have decided to have a relationship with Christ or renew your relationship with Christ, please
contact any of our staff or call the church office. The angels rejoice!!
(Matthew 26:26-29; Isaiah 53:4-6; Hebrews 9:11-28)
Why would God want to forgive me?
July 3, 2022
“By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us” (1 John 3:16)
Last week, we learned that Jesus poured out His own blood for the forgiveness of sins. Why would He do that? Why would He humble Himself to become human, endure suffering, and even be crucified?
The answer is: because He loves us. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. The Son so loved the world that He laid down His life for us.
In John 15:12-13, Jesus says: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends"
But Jesus’ own love goes even further. For as we read in Romans 5:8, He died for us while we were still hostile to Him. We were His enemies, not His friends! There is nothing in us that makes us worthy of forgiveness. Besides His endless divine love for humans, there is no logical explanation why God would take so much effort to save sinners. He is like this father in the parable, who longs for his son — not because the son has behaved so well or because he needs his son for practical reasons, but because the father loves his child.
Do you feel loved by God?
(1 John 3:16, John 3:16; John 15:12-13; Romans 5:1-1)
Have I sinned too badly to be forgiven?
July 10, 2022
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9)
Every sin is so bad that it deserves to be punished. No single sin is so bad that it can’t be forgiven.
We as humans tend to distinguish between sins that are very bad and sins that are not too bad. This
distinction makes sense in society, where punishment should be in proportion to the harm done. But for
God, even the tiniest transgression leaves us guilty. He demands us to be perfectly holy as He is perfectly
holy, and we all fall short there. Any sin we commit is serious enough to deserve eternal separation from
At the same time, even the biggest sin will be forgiven if we confess it. Jesus’ blood has the power to cleanse us from anything we did wrong. The apostle Paul lists his own sins as an example:
“Formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy…” (1 Timothy 1:13)
The Bible provides more examples of people who did things we might consider unforgivable, but when they
wholeheartedly repented, the Lord forgave them.
Never think you have sinned too badly to be forgiven. Confess your sins to the Lord and ask for His
(1 John 1:7-9; Ecclesiastes 7:20; 1 Timothy 1:12-17)
Do you rejoice when others receive God's forgiveness?
July 17, 2022
“It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is
found.” (Luke 15:32)
Remember the parable we read a few weeks back, about the father and his lost son? Let’s read this parable again, but this time focus on the attitude of a third person involved.
When the father had welcomed his lost son in and organized a party, the older brother noticed what was going on. He did not join the party, however, but “became angry and refused to go in”. He despised his brother deeply and denounced the father’s unconditional love for this boy. To his opinion, such a sinner was not worthy of a warm welcome — especially since the older son himself had always served his father blamelessly!
We already concluded that the father in this parable is God Himself. The lost son is a sinner who repents and comes back to his heavenly Father. So, who is this older brother? It is a fellow human who begrudges the repentant sinner the Father’s grace — and by doing so, excludes himself from the party.
In Jesus’ day, it was the religious elite who played the role of the grudging brother.
Are any such feelings in your heart as well? Are there people you deem unworthy of God’s forgiveness?
(Luke 15:1-7, Luke 15:11-32)
Should I ask others to forgive me?
July 24, 2022
“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)
Sin is primarily a problem between God and man. But if we have wronged a fellow human, we need to
get right with this person as well, if at all possible.
The story about Zacchaeus is a good example here. He was a chief tax collector who was very rich and
known as “a sinner”. But this man came to faith in Jesus and was saved. This led to a radical change in his life. He said:
“The half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I
restore it fourfold” (Luke 19:8).
Once Zacchaeus’ relationship with God was restored, he realized that he had wronged his fellow citizens — probably by demanding too much tax. He wanted to set things straight. In Matthew 5, Jesus says that we can’t worship God if we are consciously living in discord with a “brother”, meaning some person we know, not necessarily a family member. We need to be reconciled first and then come back to offer our gift to the Lord. This reconciliation will always involve a heartfelt apology, and if possible the restoration of what we have done wrong, as in the case of Zacchaeus.
Is there anybody who “has something against you” that you need to apologize for?
(Matthew 5:23-26; Luke 19:1-10; Romans 12:17-18)
Should I forgive others when they have wronged me?
July 31, 2022
“If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if
you do not forgive others their sins, neither will your Father forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
When Jesus teaches His disciples to pray for forgiveness, He adds the verses quoted above. We cannot receive forgiveness for ourselves while refusing to forgive others.
To illustrate this, Jesus tells a parable about a servant who owes the king a huge sum of money. His master forgives him of this debt. On his way home, the man meets a fellow servant who owes him a small amount of money. The fellow-servant pleads for patience since he can’t pay his debt right now. But the first servant, who has been forgiven so much himself, refuses to have mercy and puts the other man in prison until he pays the debt. When the king hears about this, he is indignant about the servant’s attitude and blames him,
“Should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” (Matthew 18:33).
This is a warning example for us. If we have received undeserved forgiveness from God, we should also have mercy on other people who have wronged us and ask us to forgive them. For if we are not ready to forgive others, how would we dare to ask God to forgive us?
Is there anybody you need to forgive?
(Matthew 18:21-35; Matthew 6:7-15; John 20:23; Colossians 3:13)
How can I forgive myself?
August 7, 2022
“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil
conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22)
Maybe something has happened in your life that you are extremely sorry about, but can’t put right anymore, because the harm done simply can’t be undone. Maybe you caused a fatal car accident because you were scrolling on your phone. Maybe you deeply regret having had an abortion. Or maybe you hurt somebody deeply and did reconcile with this person, but you still feel guilty about what happened. These feelings can go very deep. How can you ever forgive yourself?!? The answer may be surprising. You can’t forgive yourself, since you are not in the position to decide whether you are still guilty. But God is! If you have confessed your sin to God, you have already been forgiven. So, if you are still struggling with feelings of guilt after having repented and after doing whatever you could to make up with the people involved, you are not fully accepting God’s verdict of forgiveness. By still holding an offense against yourself, you are actually disagreeing with God... “Forgiving yourself” is easier said than done. But let the truth from Hebrews 10:22 sink in, and let your heart be sprinkled clean from an evil conscience!
Rejoice in God’s forgiveness and praise Him for His grace!
(Psalm 51; Hebrews 10:19-23)