Matthew 6:12, 14-15
Pastor John Sloan
Introduction: The unwavering witness of Scripture is that forgiveness from God—the pardon for sin—is a free gift, not a reward for anything we do or don’t do. It’s not based on our goodness, church attendance, offerings, rule keeping, baptism, or anything else. The good news of the gospel is that we are saved not by our works but by Christ’s work. Our righteousness—we could even say, our forgiving of others—merits us nothing. But there is a connection between our willingness to forgive and the forgiveness we receive from God.
Questions for Discussion & Discovery
1. What is meant by the word “trespasses” in verse 14? Why are our trespasses against God particularly offensive?
2. For those in Christ, what was our condition when God loved us (see four descriptors in Romans 5:6-10)? How does that reality compel us to love others who seem unlovable?
3. “When I forgive others, I earn the right to be forgiven by God.” Is that a true statement? Why or why not?
4. What are some of the physical and spiritual consequences of clinging to bitterness and resentment? What are a few of the benefits of releasing that anger to God and trusting him to bring about justice?
5. Is there someone in your life that you’ve refused to forgive? How will you ready your heart to extend forgiveness?
1. Read Matthew 6:12.
2. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV
3. 01. When God commands us to forgive, it’s almost always linked to the forgiveness we have received in Christ.
4. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32
5. “Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you.” – Colossians 3:13
“The apostolic model of parenesis (exhortation) in the New Testament grounds believers’ obligations in the gospel itself, showing how the indicatives describing Christ’s saving work precede and entail the imperatives that define our believing response to his mercy.” – Dennis Johnson
7. “The Apostles do not make the mistake that’s often made in Christian ministry. [For the Apostles] the indicatives are more powerful than the imperatives in gospel preaching. So often in our preaching our indicatives are not strong enough, great enough, holy enough, or gracious enough to sustain the power of the imperatives. And so our teaching on holiness becomes a whip or a rod to beat our people’s backs because we’ve looked at the New Testament and that’s all we ourselves have seen.” – Sinclair Ferguson
8. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” – Romans 5:6-10
9. Read Matthew 6:14-15 again.
10. 02. Those who have been forgiven necessarily forgive; those who don’t forgive show that they don’t truly know God’s forgiveness.
11. “Once our eyes have been opened to see the enormity of our offense against God, the injuries which others have done to us appear by comparison extremely trifling.” – John Stott
12. 03. In Christ, our sinful flesh is put to death, and a new power is at work within us, enabling us to experience (and grant) forgiveness.