Robert Jeffress - Receiving God's Gift of Forgiveness - Part 2
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Wouldn't it be nice if life had a rewind button on it for all those times you accidentally lash out at someone in anger or do something you shouldn't have done? Receiving an instant do over would make life a lot easier. Well, unfortunately there's no such thing as a rewind button on life. But God does offer us a powerful way to heal the regrets of our mistakes. My message is titled: Receiving God's Gift of Forgiveness, on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
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 a sin. And what had been done in secret would be shouted from the house tops. That confrontation came one day when the prophet Nathan came to the palace. And he told David, "David king, there has been a great injustice in this kingdom that you as the king need to be made aware of". And David said, "What is it? What injustice has occurred"? Nathan said, "Well, there was a very poor man in our kingdom who had only one possession, a little ewe lamb. And a wealthy man here in the kingdom came and he sees that little lamb, the only possession this poor man had. And the rich man took it for himself and served it up for dinner".
As Nathan told the story, David's anger began to boil and finally he stood up, he couldn't stand it any longer. And he shouted out, "As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die. And he must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion". Mark it down, the angrier some people become about other people's sin, reveals how guilty they are of their own sin. David was outraged at such an injustice could occur. A rich man taking the only lamb a poor man had and said, he said, "I demand to know who is this man". Nathan pointed his bony finger at the king and said, "Thou art the man". At that moment, David knew it had been uncovered. The secret scandal in fact had been something the kingdom had been talking about for the last six months. All was known and now David faced the greatest choice in his life. He could continue if he wanted to, to cover up the sin. It would be harder now. He would have to have Nathan the prophet executed, but he could do that. He could cover over his sin, or he could choose to allow God to cover his sin for him.
And David was tired of the six months of unrelenting guilt. That guilt expressed in the Psalm we read this morning when he said, "Day and night, your heavy hand was on me. My vitality was drained away as the fever heat of the summer". David was exhausted from the unrelenting guilt he felt. He was ready for relief. And so he chose to allow God to cover his sin. The Psalm we read this morning expresses the relief he felt once he had confessed to sin. He said, "How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit"!
Are you tired of running from your past? Are you tired of covering over your sin with lie after lie? Are you tired of feeling distant from God? Forgiveness is possible. Not only does David show us the relief that comes from forgiveness, but he also shows us how to receive that forgiveness from God. And I want you to notice the four principles David utilized to have that relief that comes from God's forgiveness. How do we experience God's forgiveness?
Principle number one, first, honestly evaluate your relationship with God. Forgiveness demands a subject. If we're going to be forgiven, we have to be forgiven of something specifically. And that means we have to ask God to reveal to us in our life, anything that is displeasing to him. In Psalm 139:23-24, David prayed, "Search me. O God, and know my heart: try me and know my anxious thoughts: and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and leave me in the everlasting way". Do you know what David was saying? He was saying, God, I want you to take the searchlight of your Holy Spirit, and I want you to shine it into every corner, every crevice in my heart and see if there is anything that is displeasing to you. Are you willing to do that? Honestly, evaluate your relationship with God.
Number two, acknowledge your failure to God. Turn it over to Psalm 51, this is David's confessional. This is the confession he made when his sin was uncovered. In fact, you'll find at the top of the Psalm, this inscription, a Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had gone into Bathsheba. Here was his confessional. And in verse four, he makes the most unusual statement. He said, "Against thee, and thee only, I have sinned, and done evil in your sight". Now that's an odd thing for David to say. "God, you're the only one I've really sent against". And that's really not true. I mean, think of it. He has sinned against Bathsheba, he sinned against Uriah, he sinned against his army. He sinned against the entire nation of Israel. There were a lot of people he had offended.
David wasn't ignoring that truth, but he said at the top of the list of people I've offended is God. All sin ultimately is sin against God. It's not that we don't need to go to other people and ask forgiveness, we're going to talk about that next week. But we have to first of all start with God. We need to acknowledge our sin to God. And by the way, can I remind you of something? When you finally confess your sin to God, you're not giving him any new information. We think, well, I need to keep that to myself, I sure don't want God to find out about it. Because if I confess this to God, he's going to say, oh no, you did that? I can't believe it. Oh, I wish I hadn't awakened this morning and heard that. Does God do that? No. He's already aware of your sin. What he wants to know is, are you aware of it? And that's what confession is. It saying to God, God, I'm tired of running. I'm tired of rationalizing, I'm tired of arguing with you about it, you're right, I'm wrong. And when we acknowledge our sin to God, he is willing to forgive us, he's not some ogre in heaven who's ready to beat us over the head with a two by four.
And that leads to the third principle. Once we've acknowledged our sin to God, we need to receive God's forgiveness. Look at verse one of Psalm 51. "Be gracious to me, o God, according to thy loving kindness: according to the greatness of thy compassion blot out my transgressions". Now, look at the words that are used to describe God. Underlined in that verse. He is gracious. He's full of loving kindness. He's marked by compassion. Although God hates sin, he loves to forgive sin. And by the way, God's forgiveness isn't like a Walmart sale. For a limited time only, while supplies last. His forgiveness is complete and it's always available if we're willing to ask. In fact, John said it this way in 1 John 1:9. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness".
Now, again, that's a verse many times we'll use in sharing our faith with an unbeliever, but this really isn't a verse for unbelievers. 1 John was written to Christians, to his little children. He's talking about the sins we confess as Christians. He's not talking about that one time, asking of God when we're a non-Christian to declare us not guilty by trusting in Christ as our Savior. He's talking about the sins that we commit after we become a Christian. As we've said before, when we as Christian sin, it's not like God disinherits us or throws us out of his family. We don't need his judicial forgiveness, he's already declared us not guilty the moment we trusted in Christ as our Savior. But what we do need is his parental forgiveness. Because whenever we sin against God, it causes a breach in our relationship. We need his forgiveness. Not so much because God has moved away from us, but because we have moved away from God. Okay, it's an old story, but it illustrates the point. You remember about the couple who was returning home from dinner after their 40th wedding anniversary dinner?
As they were driving home mostly in silence, the wife began to complain. She said, "You know, honey, when we were dating and first married, we would sit so close together in the car, we would snuggle next to one another and now look at us. I'm over here, you're over there". He said, "Dear, I haven't moved". It's the same way in our relationship with God. It's not so much after we become a Christian and sin that God moves away from us, we move away from him. And that's why it's important that we acknowledge our sin, confess our sin and receive God's forgiveness because guilt can produce separation. I will never forget, it's almost like it were yesterday. I remember the first time I got a report card in the first grade. I was so anxious to see how I'd done, and I opened up the report card. And over on the left-hand side was my grades for different classes, geography and math and whatever. And it was mostly A's and a few B's. And then I looked on the other side of the report card and there are things like citizenship and punctuality and getting along with the students. There was a grade associated with that. And they were all S's.
Now, being in the first grade, I didn't understand that s stood for satisfactory. Instead, here's how my little mind worked. I thought, if a is the best you can do and b is the next best, and f is enough to fail you, oh my, s is enough to imprison you. I went into a panic. And so I hid my report card from my parents for three days. I was scared to death at what they would say when I opened up that report card. Now, the fact is, they weren't angry with me, I had nothing to really feel guilty about. But that guilt I felt kept me separated from my parents. It's the same way in our relationship with God, our Heavenly Father. Whenever we feel guilty, we keep our distance from God. But if we are willing to confess our sin, he is more than willing to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Step number four, once you have received God's forgiveness, refuse to allow Satan to paralyze you with guilt. Once you've received forgiveness, don't think it's over. Because you'll feel that relief that David experienced, you'll be ready to start walking in a new direction in your relationship with God when suddenly, Satan will grab you by the nape of the neck and he'll say, wait, just a moment. Where do you think you're going? Don't you remember what you did? And he'll recall in your mind, memory scenes from your past and some of the terrible things you have done. He'll say, how do you think God will ever ever use you again after you've done that? That's what Satan does. Remember Revelation 12:10? "He is the accuser of the brethren who accuses the brethren day and night before God". And that's why it is so important that we refuse to allow Satan to make us feel guilty. How do you do that? By understanding what God has actually done for you when he has forgiven you, David expressed it this way in verse nine of Psalm 51. He said, "Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all of my inequities".
Whenever you confess your sins to God, he not only crosses through it with a line, he blots it out. He erases it completely. The apostle Paul used a different metaphor to describe how God forgives our sin completely. It's found in Colossians two, and this is so rich. In this final moment, I want you to turn over to Colossians two for just a moment, verses 13 and 14. If you ever struggle with guilt over your past, I hope you will remember these two verses. "And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, having forgiven us all our transgressions". Circle that word, all. He doesn't forgive you of the easy sins, the small sins, he is willing to forgive you of all of your transgressions. Well, how could a holy God do that? Can God just overlook our sin? No. Look at what he does. "Having canceled out the certificate of debt consistent of decrees against us, which were hostile to us". The word, the Greek word translated certificate of debt is cheirographon, cheirographon. Cheirographon, the best way to describe it in Paul's day was an IOU that a debtor held.
Let's say, for example, that I went to Ben, and I said, Ben, I need to borrow $25.000. And Ben would say, okay, you need to write out a cheirographon, a certificate of debt. And if we were in Paul's day I would write, "I Robert Jeffress, owe Ben Lamborn $25.000". And he would hold on to that certificate of debt until it had been repaid. Now, that's the imagery Paul was using here. He is saying, we all owe a debt to God for our sin. Sin creates an obligation. Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death". Every time you think a wrong thought, every time you break one of God's commands, every time you don't fulfill your ultimate obligation to God, the debt keeps increasing and increasing and increasing. That is the certificate of debt we owe.
You say, how could we ever repay it? We can't repay it. In fact, that is why the majority of people in the world will be spending eternity in hell because they have a debt that has not been paid off to God. The soul that sins shall die. It's talking about eternal death. So, when I become a Christian, what happens? Does God rip up the IOU? No. A holy God can't do that. This is real sin that has a real obligation that must really be paid. So what does God do with this endless certificate of debt I owe him? Notice what it says here, "He took our certificate of debt and he did what? He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross". He nailed it to the cross. Somebody had to pay your debt and my debt. And the one who paid it was Jesus Christ. Jesus paid it all, the group sang this morning, all to him I owe.
Somebody asked me this week, "Pastor, of all of Christ's sayings on the cross, which is your favorite one"? I didn't have to hesitate for a second, in a nanosecond I said, "Oh, that's easy. It's John 19:30, when Jesus said, with hands out stretched, 'it is finished'", tetelestai. Paid in full. Whenever you are reminded of those sins, you have committed in the past, remember that phrase, paid in full. Jesus, paid it all. His payment is final, it's complete and the best part is, it is forever. Now I have some good news and some bad news for you. The good news is, God is willing to forgive if we're willing to ask. When he forgives us, he forgives us completely and freely, that's the good news. The bad news, other people aren't like God. And sometimes receiving their forgiveness is not nearly as easy, but it's just as crucial if we're going to have that clear conscience Paul talks about. And so next week, we're going to talk about, the right way to ask forgiveness from those we've wronged.