Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Forgiveness Part 4

How does Matthew 18, church discipline, fit into forgiveness?

Looking at Matthew 18 it is clear that the main purpose of this passage is to restore relationships; however, most of the time we think of this passage as being about church discipline. Each step of the way we are encouraged to help restore our brother. It should be a primary model for restoring relationships not just church discipline. Looking at this passage we see that only the last step is really about discipline and even at that, if we take that in context we are still to love the one put out of the church. To treat someone as a non-believer is to evangelize them and to help bring them to a saving knowledge of Christ. This shows us that not everyone is forgiven.
In Forgiveness part 2 we see that we are to forgive and that Christ is our example. We can also see that Christ doesn't forgive everyone; nor can we. So the question is -- who do we forgive and who do we not forgive?
We cannot, as sinful men, decide who we should forgive and who we shouldn't. So how do we apply this?
If we take a look at this passage it's clear that we are to go to the one who sins and confront the sin. Every step of the process is open to repentance. At anytime, the one who has sinned can repent and turn back to God. The NKJV and the NASB say that if your bother hears you -- you have gained your brother back. This clearly shows that it is more than just confession; it is repentance. The only way that we would know that he listened is if he shows genuine repentance. This passage fits clearly into how we have looked at forgiveness and is the perfect biblical model.Taking a step backwards and looking at the whole process shows us that the only thing that we are really doing, is looking for God's sovereign hand at work. Matthew 18 makes it clear that what happens on earth has heavenly consequences, what is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven and what is bound on earth is bound in heaven.

How does this happen?

When a man is confronted with his sin God has either given him ears to hear or He hasn’t. Matthew 13:10-17 makes it clear that God is the one doing the work and we are not. This means that true repentance and forgiveness is up to God and it is God who is sinned against. This whole process is a work of God front to back. The only thing that we can do is look to Him and Him alone!

In Psalm 51 David laments: it is Thee that I have sinned against and Thee ALONE.

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