Sabbath, September 5, 2009
”And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32.
1. What is God’s attitude toward those who make confession?
Ezekiel 33:14-16 Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.
Jeremiah 31:34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
Micah 7:19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
“But there is a brighter side to the picture. ‘Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted.’ Let this thought be kept uppermost. In labor for the erring, let every eye be directed to Christ. Let the shepherds have a tender care for the flock of the Lord’s pasture. Let them speak to the erring of the forgiving mercy of the Saviour. Let them encourage the sinner to repent, and believe in Him who can pardon. Let them declare, on the authority of God’s word, ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ 1 John 1:9. All who repent have the assurance….” –The Desire of Ages, p. 806.
2. When the Lord presents Himself to man, what are some of the most frequently recorded and encouraging characteristics that He mentions?
Exodus 34:6, 7 And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
Psalm 86:15 But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.
Psalm 103:8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
(See Nehemiah 14:18.)
“God is Himself the source of all mercy. His name is ’merciful and gracious.’ Exodus 34:6. He does not treat us according to our desert. He does not ask if we are worthy of His love, but He pours upon us the riches of His love, to make us worthy. He is not vindictive. He seeks not to punish, but to redeem. Even the severity which He manifests through His providences is manifested for the salvation of the wayward. He yearns with intense desire to relieve the woes of men and to apply His balsam to their wounds. It is true that God ‘will by no means clear the guilty’ (Exodus 34:7), but He would take away the guilt.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 22.
3. In great contrast to the Lord, what is the human tendency when someone has committed an offense or owes a debt?
Matthew 18:23-30 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
4. If a person thinks he is right and maintains an irreconcilable attitude, what can be the only result before God and men?
Matthew 18:31-35 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
James 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
“‘So likewise,’ said Jesus, ‘shall My Heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” He who refuses to forgive is thereby casting away his own hope of pardon.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 247.
God’s precious provision
5. What is the wonderful divine promise concerning our burdens and sins? What great sacrifice was carried out so there could be forgiveness?
Isaiah 43:25 I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.
2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will Ihear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
1 John 1:8-10 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Acts 10:43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.
“He who would become a child of God must receive the truth that repentance and forgiveness are to be obtained through nothing less than the atonement of Christ. Assured of this the sinner must put forth an effort in harmony with the work done for him, and with unwearied entreaty he must supplicate the throne of grace, that the renovating power of God may come into his soul. Christ pardons none but the penitent, but whom He pardons He first makes penitent. The provision made is complete, and the eternal righteousness of Christ is placed to the account of every believing soul. The costly, spotless robe, woven in the loom of heaven, has been provided for the repenting, believing sinner, and he may say: ‘I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.’ Isaiah 61:10.” –Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 393, 394.
Forgiveness among brethren
6. How did Jesus tell us to treat an erring brother? How many times should we forgive?
Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
Matthew 18:21, 22 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
Luke 17:3, 4 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. nd if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
“If your brethren err, you are to forgive them. When they come to you with confession, you should not say, I do not think they are humble enough. I do not think they feel their confession. What right have you to judge them, as if you could read the heart? The word of God says, ‘If he repent, forgive him. And if he trespasses against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.’ Luke 17:3, 4. And not only seven times, but seventy times seven–just as often as God forgives you.
“We ourselves owe everything to God’s free grace. Grace in the covenant ordained our adoption. Grace in the Saviour effected our redemption, our regeneration, and our exaltation to heirship with Christ. Let this grace be revealed to others.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 249, 250.
7. How should we emulate the Father and express our supreme gratitude for the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ?
James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Matthew 6:12-15 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Luke 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
“Christ is our example…. His mercy was not weakness, but a terrible power to punish sin … yet a power to draw to it the love of humanity. Through Christ Justice is enabled to forgive without sacrificing one jot of its exalted holiness….
“We are to have a spirit of pity, of compassion toward those who have trespassed against us, whether or not they confess their faults. It they fail to repent and make confession, their sins will stand registered in the books above to confront them in the day of judgment; but if they say, ‘I repent,’ then … we are freely to forgive from the heart their trespasses against us.
“True happiness does not consist in the possession of wealth or position, but in the possession of a pure, clean heart, cleansed by obedience to the truth…. To everyone is given the opportunity to carry out the principles of heaven. The forgiving of injuries, not the avenging of them, is an exhibition of that wisdom which is true goodness.” –Sons and Daughters of God, p. 153.
Responsibility for our brother
8. What does the Word tell us is our responsibility when we become aware that a brother or sister is living in sin? Think about how Jesus came to our world!
Leviticus 19:16, 17 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the Lord. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.
Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
“He bids us, in dealing with the tempted and the erring, consider ‘thyself, lest thou also be tempted.’ With a sense of our own infirmities, we shall have compassion for the infirmities of others.” –The Ministry of Healing, p. 166.
“We become overcomers by helping others to overcome.” –Review and Herald, February 25, 1909.
9. What is God willing to forget, and what does He always remember?
Psalm 103:10-14 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
“God will always accept confession if the evil that has been done is repented of. Our heavenly Father makes the declaration, ‘As I live,… I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked should turn from his way and live’ (Ezekiel 33:11). Over every sinner that repents the angels of God rejoice with songs of joy. Not one sinner need be lost. Full and free is the gift of saving grace.” –(Review and Herald, May 31, 1906) In Heavenly Places, p. 50.
Let us remember:Without repentance there is no desire or power to confess
Without confession there is no hope of forgiveness.
Without forgiveness there is no peace or spiritual progress.