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2021 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Receiving God's Gift of Forgiveness - Part 1

Robert Jeffress - Receiving God's Gift of Forgiveness - Part 1


Robert Jeffress - Receiving God's Gift of Forgiveness - Part 1
Robert Jeffress - Receiving God's Gift of Forgiveness - Part 1
TOPICS: When Forgiveness Doesn't Make Sense, Forgiveness

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Over the past few weeks, we've been talking about what it means to forgive someone who has hurt us deeply. But what if you were the one who created the problem? What if you are the person who needs to be forgiven? Well, your first step is allowing God to wrap his arms around you with his amazing grace. My message is titled: Receiving God's Gift of Forgiveness, on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

I remember years ago, counseling with a man who had become involved in an extra marital affair with a coworker. As a result, he ended up losing his job, his marriage, his children, his reputation. And I'll never forget what he said to me. He said, "Pastor, I would give anything, if I could rewind the last six months of my life and start over". Have you ever had that feeling before? If only you could go back and retrieve that word that was spoken in anger. If only you could go back and say no to that unwise decision, or say yes to that forfeited opportunity, or salvage that now broken relationship, if only. Unfortunately, life doesn't have a rewind button on it. Have you discovered that? But God does have a way for us to deal with the mistakes and the hurts of the past. It's a process called forgiveness.

In these series when forgiveness doesn't make sense, we've basically been focusing on granting forgiveness to other people who have wronged us. And we've talked about what forgiveness is and isn't. And we've talked about four misconceptions about forgiveness that keep us from forgiving many times. But throughout this series, we've also said that we're to forgive others in the same way that God forgives us. And it's really impossible to give away something you haven't received yourself. And that's why no discussion of forgiveness is complete until we first of all, talk about receiving forgiveness. Receiving forgiveness from God and from other people as well. Because again, you'll find it impossible to give away something that you've never experienced. And so that's what we're going to do today and next week.

Today, we're going to talk about how to receive forgiveness from God, and the next week, how to receive forgiveness from others that we have wronged. You know, guilt is one of the most debilitating emotions anyone can ever experience. It wreaks havoc in our lives, upon our relationship with other people, and certainly our relationship with God. And certainly some of the guilt we feel is what I like to call misplaced guilt. That is, we feel guilty for the wrong reasons. I don't like to use false guilt, because there is no such thing as false guilt. Guilt is a very real emotion, though sometimes it's misplaced. For example, here's an African bush mother who has just given birth to identical twins, and her custom in her village calls for her to throw those set of identical twins to the jackals to be eaten alive. And yet she can't bring herself to do that. As a mother, she feels guilty. It's a real guilt she feels for keeping an unrealistic and wrong standard.

You say, well, that's ridiculous, I'd never feel guilty for something like that. And yet we all have things we feel guilty for. And when we don't keep some unrealistic standard, perhaps that the Christian community is imposed. We hear it said that, you know, you can't have an effective prayer life unless you spend two or three hours praying every day. And so we feel guilty for our lack of an effective prayer life. Or we hear it said that mothers and wives should never work outside the home, but maybe because of some economic need, or just the need for self-fulfillment, you as a mom, you as a wife are working outside the home and you feel guilty about it. Or we hear it said that Christians should never go into debt for any reason, and so we feel guilty when we go into debt. Many times there's an unrealistic standard for which we feel guilty. But I usually don't spend a lot of time talking about illegitimate guilt, because the main reason we feel guilty is because in fact, we are guilty.

The story he's told of a London Playwrights, who as a joke, sent 20 anonymous notes to 20 of London's most famous citizens. And the notes said all the same thing, "All has been discovered, leave town immediately". The result, all 20 citizens left London immediately. I mean, we all have things in our life we feel guilty about. Things that we hope no one uncovers. And what's the problem with that kind of guilt? Well, first of all, it certainly hurts us. I heard one psychiatrist say, "That 70% of today's patients in mental wards could be released immediately, if they knew how to find forgiveness". Forgiveness is a very debilitating personal emotion. But the main problem with guilt is what it does in our relationship. First of all, it destroys our relationships with other people. Guilt is like a barrier that keeps us away from other people.

Have you ever had this experience? You're in a circle with some friends, gossiping about another person when suddenly that person appears out of nowhere. You stop your conversation, but how likely are you to invite them to come and be a part of the group? Not likely at all, you feel uncomfortable. How likely are you for example, to attend a family gathering, when you know, one of your relatives there is going to be there to whom you owe money that you've never repaid? How many times are you likely to pick up a telephone and call a friend or an associate with whom you've just had a knockdown argument? There is something about guilt that separates us from other people. But guilt also destroys our relationship with God. Guilt causes us to run away from God. That's why Isaiah the prophet said, in Isaiah 59:2, "Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God".

Many people use this verse in talking to non-Christians. In fact, I've seen some evangelism pracs that use this verse about sin. Your sin has made a separation from you and God. And that's true. That's true for non-Christians, but that's also true for Christians as well. In fact, this is what Isaiah was referring to. He wasn't talking to unbelievers, he was talking to God's redeemed, the people of Israel. And he said, even though you are the covenant children of God, your continued sin has produced a separation between you and your God. Do you remember the passage we looked at a few weeks ago in 1 Timothy 1, Paul was talking about living the Christian life. And he said in verse 18, "Fight the good fight". Verse 19, "Keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith".

If you want to win in the Christian life, there are two essentials, faith, believing that God will do what he's promised to do. "Without faith it's impossible to please God," the Bible says. Faith is necessary, but so is a good conscience, it's just as important as faith. Without a good conscience, your faith will shipwreck upon the rocks. It will be destroyed. What is a good conscience? Do you remember the definition? A good conscience is knowing that neither God nor anyone else can accuse us of a wrong we have not attempted to make right. Let me say it again. A good conscience is the assurance that neither God nor anyone else can accuse us of a wrong we've not attempted to make right. Can you honestly say that? Can you say there's not one thing in my life God could accuse me of, that I've not made right. Can you honestly say there's nobody in your life, a family member, a friend, somebody from your past who could ever accuse you of something you've not attempted to make right? That's what a good conscience is all about. Let me ask you a question this morning. Are you suffering from a guilty conscience? Is there something in your life right now, or something in your past that is causing you to keep your distance from God?

The thought of fellowshipping with God is distasteful to you. You're uncomfortable in the presence of God. So you've been keeping your distance from God. Here's the good news, forgiveness is possible. It is possible to restore that broken relationship with God, no matter what you've done. And if you have trouble believing that, if you really don't believe that, I want you to consider the story we're going to look at today. I call it, a case study in forgiveness. And it's the sorted story of king David. And it's found in 2 Samuel 11. 2 Samuel 11, we read in the opening verses about the sin that became an open scandal in Israel. Remember the setting for 2 Samuel 11, David was at the zenith of his political career. He was the most successful, certainly of all of Israel's three kings, in the United Kingdom. And Israel was that its economic and political zenith as well.

Look at beginning with verse one of 2 Samuel 11. "Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all of Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem". Underline that, this is key to the story. "Now, when the evening came, David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king's house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful in appearance. So David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, 'is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite'? So David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, he lay with her, and when she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house. And the woman, that is Bathsheba, conceived, and she sent and told David, and said, 'I am pregnant'".

The opening verse tells us that it was the spring time. The time after the second rains, when generally the Israelites would go into battle against their many enemies. And certainly the king, the leader would go out with them. But this time David said, "No, I don't think so this time. After all, I'm the big dog in the kingdom. I've served by time dragging around this heavy armor in the hot Palestinian sun. I don't have to do that any longer. I'll let the little guys do the work. I've earned the right to stay home and relax". The men, I want you to listen up to me for just a moment here. Because this is so important for you to understand. There is never a time in your life when you are more vulnerable to the temptations of Satan than after you've experienced great success, and when you were involved with too much leisure time.

There's nothing wrong with relaxing. God didn't make us to work 24/7. He wants us to relax. But I want to tell you something I'm seeing more and more of every day. And that is man who by the time they get to about 55 or 60, they start thinking about retirement. And this whole notion of retirement that has infected our society is something that is absolutely lethal to your spiritual and moral health. And here's our idea of retirement, and that is, you know, we work for about 35 or 40 years and we accumulate a big pile of money, a gazillion dollars, so that we can spend the final 25 or 30 years of our life doing absolutely nothing, but entertaining ourselves. God never meant for us to live that way. You know what happens when we do that? First of all, we spend the first years, the 35 years of our life working harder than we ought to. Not having time for family, not having the ability to serve God in the church, not letting go of any of our money to invest in God's kingdom, because we're after all, we got to get this big pile, that they keep telling us about we've got to have, so that we can spend 25 years without doing anything productive and living off of our savings. That was never God's plan.

The idea of retirement was born in yesteryear. Yeah, you would retire when you were 62, 63 64, because life expectancy was 67. But in today's world, where life expectancy is so much greater, we need to keep working. God wants us to keep working. God wants us to be productive. He doesn't want us waking up every day, and the only thought is, gee, what am I going to entertain myself with today? Maybe I need to go out and chase that little white ball around the green some more. That's not God's plan. Now, you may have a change in your career. You may be able to give yourself completely to non compensated work in God's kingdom. But God never meant for us to retire from doing something productive. Now, I'm seeing this happen over and over again. Somebody builds a successful career, they build a successful business, and they sell it for millions of dollars, and they think, well, what am I going to do now? Well, I'll just enjoy myself. That's when you become vulnerable to a self-centered life that leads to moral and spiritual failure.

That's what happened to David. David should have been out working. He should have been out with his men in battle, but David became a victim of God's universal principle. It's found in Galatians 6:7, "Whatever a man sows, this will he also reap". For David, his sowing resulted in Bathsheba's pregnancy. And so when Bathsheba delivered the news to David, said to him, "I've just taken my home pregnancy test, and guess what David? You're going to be a father". David went into a full-scale panic. He thought I'm going to lose everything. I can't have this. What am I going to do? And so he did what most people do, he tried to cover over his sin. And he came up with an elaborate scheme. He knew that Bathsheba's husband, Uriah, was out in battle, so he sent a note to him. "Uriah," he said, "Uriah, you have been doing such a great job for our country, I want you to come back home. I booked a room for you and Bathsheba at the four seasons in Jerusalem. I want you all to spend the night together. I've even ordered up champagne and strawberries for you to partake of, and just have a great evening together. You deserve that after what you've done".

Well, that's not exactly how it happened, but it's close enough to it. Oh, Uriah did come home, but instead of sleeping with his wife, as most normal men would have done, Uriah refused to sleep with Bathsheba. You see, David thought, if I can get Uriah home to sleep with Bathsheba, then we can say the child really belongs to Uriah. You know, why Uriah refused to sleep with his wife? Not because he didn't want to. He said, "How could I afford myself this pleasure, when my men are still in battle fighting"? Uriah had more character than the commander-in-chief did. And so when that plan didn't work, David had to resort to plan B.

Look at verse 14. "Now it came about in the morning that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. And he had written in the letter saying, 'place Uriah in the front line of the fiercest battle and then withdraw from him, so that he might be struck down and die'. And when the wife of Uriah heard, that is Bathsheba, that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. And when the time of mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house and she became his wife, and then she bore him a son. But the thing that David has done was evil in the sight of the Lord".

Do you see what happened? David had Uriah killed. He said, "Joab, commander of the troops, you put Uriah on the front line, then had everybody else withdraw, and Uriah will die, problem over". So that's exactly what happened. Uriah was killed, then David was free to take Bathsheba to be his own wife. And what happened after that? Nothing. Days went by, weeks went by, no judgment, no lightning bolt from heaven. As the weeks turned into months, David began to think to himself, what a clever guy I am. No wonder they made me king. Who could have come up with a better plan to this? And nothing has happened to me. Maybe I truly am exempt from God's standards. Maybe God doesn't care about my sin. Maybe God doesn't even exist at all.

You see David made a mistake that many of us make when we're involved in sin, and that is, confusing God's patience with God's tolerance for sin. We think because the lightning bolt doesn't hit the moment we sin, well, maybe God really doesn't care. Maybe he's changed his opinion on this matter. Maybe he doesn't exist. And that's why David's son, Solomon, wrote these insightful words in Ecclesiastes 8:11, "Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore, the hearts of the sons of men among them are given to fully do what is evil". That's why he's talking about. Solomon was saying, because people don't get punished immediately, many times, they continue to do more and more evil. Don't ever make the mistake of confusing God's patience with God's tolerance of sin.

I think about a Christian leader I know, who got involved in a compromising relationship with another woman. And as the relationship continued, nothing happened to him, and it embolden in him, emboldened him to continue that relationship and to go deeper into that relationship. Nobody knew it, or so he thought. What he didn't know was his board had hired a private investigator, and they were tracking his every move, recording the times that he met with this woman. They had already appointed the day that they were going to confront him, and relieve him of his job. But they were giving him one last chance to repent and admit his sin. He never did, and he lost his position. You see, some of you right now are involved in secrets, and you think nobody knows what you're doing, that may be true, it may not be true. But God knows what you're doing. And that's why the writer here says, in that last verse, of verse 27, the last phrase, "But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord". God saw what David was doing. He was giving David a chance to repent. But he had recorded a date on the calendar, when David would be confronted with his sin. And what had been done in secret would be shouted from the house tops.
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