The Fantastic Gift of Forgiveness

Just How Great is God’s Forgiveness of Our Sins?

Matthew 18
Audio MP3


Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland

6 June, 2010  AM


I.       Introduction (Acts 13:38,39)


A.    THE greatest thing that could ever happen in ANY person’s life is to be forgiven by God!


1.      People have such a flippant view of their sin, and all its consequences, that forgiveness is the last thing they are worried about.

2.      Oh, they are very concerned when someone wrongs them, and they are very determined to make sure justice prevails

3.      But, when it comes to their own actions and attitudes, they couldn’t be bothered – people just don’t worry about getting right with other people

4.      And it is because people aren’t concerned with getting right with God


B.     The Gospel is all about fixing our relationship with God. That’s what the disciples went all over the world preaching! It’s NOT about health, wealth, success, houses, economies, family, education, accomplishment, or anything else. Because there is NOTHING, I mean NOTHING greater than being absolutely and completely forgiven by God!


II.    Message


A.    The Concept of Sin and Wrong (Isaiah 59:1,2)


1.      We all wrong and hurt people – that’s a given!


a.       We say things that hurt people on purpose

b.      we do things that are selfish only

c.       We don’t do things we should do


2.      We also wrong and hurt God – He is that forgotten Person that needs to be remembered

3.      You see, We have forgotten that we humans are in trouble with God!


a.       Matthew 3:7 “who hath warned you…?”

b.      John 3:36 “The wrath of God abideth…”

c.       Romans 1:18

d.      Revelation 14:10

e.       The hardest part of Christianity today is getting people to admit that they are in trouble with God. That they owe God big time!

f.       The fact that people are finding it harder and harder to forgive today is simply because they know less and less of the forgiveness that THEY need themselves


4.      Why are we in so much trouble with God? Why is wrath coming? Because of sin


a.       If we break a window, we owe it to replace that window

b.      If we steal a game from a shop, we owe it to replace that game in full

c.       If we gather a grocery cart of food, and just walk out of a shop without paying, we OWE it to pay for all that food don’t we?

d.      If we say hurtful things to someone, we owe it to them to make it up to them

e.       It is called being in debt to the person we have wronged!

f.       Jesus said in His example prayer of Matthew 6:12, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” He used the word “debts” – forgive us what we owe YOU as we forgive those who owe US! He was speaking of our transgressions, our sins that we owe fixing up with God!


5.      All have sinned (Rom 3:10) – every last one of us have disobeyed God, and broken God’s laws, and ignored His commandments


a.       Have you ever made something in your life more important than loving and obeying God? You know that you should love God most of all, and always obey Him first?

b.      Have you ever bowed down to a statue, or an idol? Have you? God says it is wrong to bow before any statue!

c.       Have you ever used Gods’ (or Jesus’) name flippantly or disrespectfully?

d.      Have you ever worked on the Sabbath?

e.       Have you ever dishonoured or disobeyed your parents?

f.       Have you ever killed somebody? Have you ever WANTED to kill anybody?

g.      Have you ever committed adultery? Even in your heart?

h.      Have you ever stolen ANYTHING? EVER?

i.        Have you ever told a lie? Can you even COUNT how many times you have lied?

j.        Have you ever coveted something? When were you NOT coveting in this day and age?

k.      There is not one of you, not one person on this planet who has not sinned against God almighty! That has not become indebted to God for some wrong word, or action against Him!


6.      The wages, the results, the consequences of sin is death (Rom 6:23) – serious punishment. Not a slap on the wrist, or a verbal rebuke, but an eternal punishment of death in hell!

7.      Three things show just how serious our sin is:


a.       Life without God in this world


1)      It’s not getting better and better!

2)      And things are the way they are because of SIN, not lack of education, or government programmes, etc!


b.      Hell – it proves just how serious our sins are (Rev 21:8)


1)      We all accept that Hitler should be in hell, and Paedophiles, and mass murderers

2)      But God puts LIARS into hell!


c.       Christ’s death on the cross in our place


1)      Our sin put Jesus on the cross

2)      His death shows just how awful our sins are


B.     The Meaning of Forgiveness


1.      To treat someone as no longer guilty. To pardon. To put away an offense, or a crime and restore peace between two enemies

2.      What it is NOT:


a.       It is NOT arbitrary, or random, but precise and exact

b.      It is not piecemeal. Forgiveness does not cover a majority of a crime, it removes the punishment completely

c.       It is not words you say – like when you were children and your parents made you say, “I’m sorry” and “It’s okay, I forgive you”

d.      It is not Denial – where the offended person just tries to forget something happened.


1)      Forgetting is NOT forgiveness

2)      Forgiveness however, will always enable you to forget!

3)      We might fool ourselves and others into thinking we have "forgiven". But all of the emotions and hurt are still there--only held back by force of will in deliberated denial. But when we see "that person" again and all the bitterness and pain rise up again within us, it only shows we have NOT forgiven them!


3.      It IS from God! Consider God's perspective.


a.       Nothing is hidden from His sight: the evil intent, the hidden lust, the damage done, the choosing of that which is wrong, etc. And yet He is the author and originator of forgiveness.

b.      If we are going to really forgive, we are going to have to do it His way: with our eyes open, not an avoiding a person’s hurt, but a dealing with it squarely, no matter how painful it may be.

c.       If we are ever going to understand forgiveness, we are going to have to see just how much God forgives and how He forgives!


C.    The Danger of Unforgiveness


1.      It will damn you if you do not receive it yourself

2.      It will ruin your life if you do not give it to those who have hurt you!


D.    The Seriousness of Forgiveness


1.      Peter’s Struggle (Matthew 18:21-22)


a.       With forgiving people

b.      Saw what people did against him as SIN

c.       Asked how many times must he forgive them before he would stop and say there was no more forgiveness for them!

d.      Peter offers what he thought was very extreme – “I’ll give them seven times, and any more than that would just be asking me too much!”

e.       Jesus responds and says, “Try forgiving 70 times 7”

f.       I can imagine not only Peter’s mouth, but every disciple’s mouth hit the floor in amazement! How could ANYONE forgive like that?

g.      The answer is by looking at how much we have been forgiven!


2.      Jesus’ Lesson - A King’s Pardon (Mt 18:23-27)


a.       Great Debt (Mt 18:23-24)


1)      Unbelievable Debt


a)      Taking account is calling people in and investigating their handling of money

b)      Like what is happening right now in the Seanad with senators who have been found out about their extravagant expense accounts!

c)      This servant owed the king 10,000 talents

d)     This was an immense sum – like a king’s ransom. Equivalent to €20,000,000

e)      That’s pretty hard to imagine a single person getting into that much debt

f)       We ALL live in such debt today


(i)                 Ireland owes €84B, with our credit card debts out of control

(ii)               Greece owes €350B

(iii)             Spain owes €2T

(iv)             Europe owes over €10T in debts!!!


g)      How did it happen? We live our way, our own lifestyle, no matter the cost, flippant towards repaying those debts, and flippant towards God!


2)      Unable to Pay! (Mt 18:25)


a)      What an understatement!

b)      Just any one of you try and pay back a million euros! Just try! Just and pay back 20 million!

c)      This man had no way to pay such a debt!

d)     OH! He could easily spend himself into debt, but had no way to get out of it

e)      How many of you could spend €1,000 a day? Easily?

f)       How many of you could afford €1,000 a day?

g)      Spend a €1,000 a day, and it would take you 2 ˝ years to spend a million

h)      It would take you 2,740 years until you spent a billion euros

i)        Could any of us ever hope to repay such large sums?

j)        This man could not pay!


3)      Unavoidable Ruin (Mt 18:25)


a)      No bailout

b)      Payment HAD to be paid – oh that people were FORCED to repay their debts, and pay all their bills again!

c)      His debt was going to ruin not only his life, but the lives of his wife and children

d)     Payment was going to be made!


b.      Great Repentance (Mt 18:26)


1)      Notice the worship


a)      Worship occurs when we realise who it is we are facing

b)      No one worships a “god” to whom we owe nothing

c)      But owe how we worship a God to whom we owe everything


2)      This man has a resolve – a determination – “I will take responsibility” for my debts


a)      Good attitude

b)      Willing to take responsibility – OH how we need people to take responsibility for how they are living and the costs of their lifestyles, and the price they must pay to make things right


3)      Repentance is the sincere desire to be forgiven


a)      Not that something be overlooked, but that all debts would be paid


c.       Great Forgiveness (Mt 18:27)


1)      Obviously by now you know that this parable is about us and God

2)      Great compassion towards the servant


a)      Not because of his ability to pay – had no ability

b)      But because the king was moved – something pulled Him towards forgiving the entire debt

c)      Psalm 130:3,4 – thank God for His mercy and compassion!


3)      Complete Forgiveness - The king forgave the entire debt


a)      He didn’t reduce the debt

b)      He didn’t renegotiate the payments

c)      He completely FORGAVE the entire debt

d)     AND the king removed the punishment for getting into such debt

e)      This servant was able to walk away, FREE of all debt – as if he had never been in debt – justified – pardoned! His forgiveness was PERFECT (Ps 103:12; Heb 10:17)

f)       The King, who just moments earlier was the enemy of that servant, was now at peace with him (Rom 5:1; 8:1)


4)      But notice there was forgiveness, but it was not available until the servant was repentant. God is so ready to forgive (Psalm 86:5; Isa 55:7)

5)      Notice also, the KING bore the debt now. The money did not appear from somewhere else. It cost the KING to forgive the servant!!!


a)      The price of perfect forgiveness

b)      The bloody death of His Son (Ephesians 1:7)

c)      The crucifixion (Col 2:13,14)

d)     And His death was enough to pay for the sins of the whole world (1John 2:2)


6)      What kind of a sinner can God forgive? The worst – those that murdered His Son were offered forgiveness!!!


3.      We will Study The Servant’s Failure in the next verses, two weeks from now – after our church’s anniversary next week


a.       But let me say, the way we treat others OUGHT to be the way we have been treated by God

b.      This servant goes and severely punishes another servant who owes him only €1

c.       Though forgiven, the first man does not forgive

d.      And for that attitude, he is tormented for the rest of his life


III. Conclusion/Application


A.    I know people who are living like there is no tomorrow


1.      The fun, the money, the girls, the guys – storing up the wrath of God

2.      Unaware of the coming day of reckoning

3.      Europe has lived that way economically, AND spiritually – and without knowing it, we are paying for it!

4.      The hardest part of my job today is getting people to realise they are indebted to God

5.      Everyone wants counsellors to fix their mates, or for police to catch their enemies

6.      But God wants people to realise just how far away from Him they have gone!


B.     All are in trouble with God (Heb 9:27)

C.     How to Avail of God’s Forgiveness


1.      Take your sin seriously

2.      Confess your sin particularly – see just how much you owe God

3.      Repent of your sin completely – want to be completely forgiven

4.      Accept Forgiveness thankfully. Jesus PAID for it in full!


D.    I don’t meet too many people who believe they are headed for hell. Everybody I know thinks they are going to heaven.

E.     But they are not going to heaven if they are a sinner – not if they owe God for their sins. And no amount of payback is possible for a sinner.

F.      What people need is forgiveness of their sins. Forgiveness not through good works, or through the sacraments, or through absolution, or through denial.

G.    It is only fully paid for by Jesus Christ