Message Scripture: Acts 10:23-48 (KJV)
As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. — Psalm 103:12 (AMP)
Good Afternoon Christlike Ministries NWA Family!
This is the final message in our series on Forgiveness. We have gone through seven long messages on the importance of Forgiveness, and it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t take a moment to talk about the this last point. I knew God saved this message for last on purpose considering the first message I wrote in this series was actually supposed to be the last one…but how many of you know God can write the story the way He wants!?!
So, we come to the end of this series, and for the first time in it we get to the real heart and the real reason we need to learn to forgive the unforgivable.
So, let’s waste no more time and get into this final message as we learn and talk about…
The Truth About Forgiveness:
As I’ve done throughout the series. I found a song to go along with this message while you are reading this message. This song by Sanctus Real is simply called “Forgiven”.
Perhaps the best way to finish a series on Forgiveness is talking about the obvious. The truth is the reason we need to forgive isn’t just because it’s freedom for us, but it’s because we have all been forgiven for the unforgivable. We all stand before God, and we can all be accused of so many things. We can all be just as guilty as the adulterous woman, but the thing about the Cross is it did just more than forgive us…it allows God the ability to send us away like Jesus did without condemnation. Remember, the only One left that was able to stone the woman was Jesus, and He chose to forgive.
That leads me to the main point. We have chosen to hold on to bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness. We have chosen to remain shackled to the things that have happened to us, and it’s once again our choice to hold on to them and remain hindered in what God wants to do in our lives…or we can choose to finally be set free from the prison and shackles that we have put on ourselves.
Let there be no misunderstanding the chains around our hearts aren’t there because someone else put them there. They’re around our hearts because we chose to put them there. The only way for us to be released from them is to choose to lay take them off and lay them at the feet of Jesus. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am tired of being shackled to my past, I’m tired of being my own worst enemy, and I want to learn to forgive like I’ve been forgiven.
As Peter shared the gospel with Cornelius and Cornelius’ relatives and close friends, he referred to God’s forgiveness of sins (see Acts 10:43). At that moment, all the people who heard Peter’s words believed and received the Holy Spirit (see Acts 10:44–47). What is so significant about the forgiveness of sins? It is significant because we have all gone our own way and fallen short of God’s standards (see Psalm 14:3; Romans 3:23). Our sin alienates and disconnects us from God, his love and his care. Our sinful nature puts us in an isolated and hopeless state.
Here is the truth that we’ve been working to get to this entire series, and the truth that we really don’t want to think about. It’s the truth that we have all fallen short of the glory of God, and we have all gone our own way. As I mentioned, every one of us has a list that Jesus could stoop down and write in the ground if He so chose to do so, but He chose the Cross instead.
I touched on this a bit in the last message, and it’s coming back in this one because the truth is that no sin is greater to God than the other. Sin is sin to God whether it’s someone who molested you as a child, someone who drank and drove and killed a loved one, or someone who betrayed you by having an affair outside of your marriage. No matter what the sin is…God sees all sin the same, and all sin was paid for the same way…by the Blood of Jesus who takes away ALL of the sin of the world.
Let me be as frank and clear as I can be. Harboring unforgiveness in our hearts is also a sin. It’s not what happened to you that has you hindered and disconnected from what God wants to do in your life…it is the unforgiveness that you are holding on to that has you disconnected from the Vine.
We need to repent and ask God to forgive US for holding the bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness in our hearts because we ALL know that we have plenty that we have been forgiven of because God chose to forgive us through the Cross and shed Blood of the Lamb.
The unforgiveness in our hearts is what has us isolated and is hindering us from being and getting all that God wants in our lives…and quite frankly all that we want Him to do in our lives.
Forgiveness through Jesus’ death is God’s solution; it rescues us from our hopelessness and restores our connection with God. As the psalmist put it, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has [God] removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). Or as Hebrews puts it, “Their sins and lawless acts [God] will remember no more” (Hebrews 10:17; see also Hebrews 10:22).
We should all be so grateful for the forgiveness that flows from Calvary. It’s here in our message text that we read this all important verse that is often spoken, but rarely understood.
Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: — Acts 10:34 (KJV)
Listen. While we think that God has a special place in hell for murderers, child molesters, rapists, and the like…God looks at every one of those people AND what they have done the same way as He looks at someone who stole a pack of bubble gum or someone who spreads gossip or someone who lies or someone who simply doesn’t do something God told them to do.
God is no respecter of person and He is also doesn’t rank sin. We rank sin. We see those who rape or murder or molest children as the worst of the worst, but God sees all of those people the same way He saw the two thieves next to Him.
Think about the song from the last message. The story of this song is true. Steven Curtis Chapman got the idea for the song by talking to a man on death row who was just as saved as Steven was…and just as saved as you and I are. To God there are two groups of people Jews (the Saved) and Gentiles (the unsaved).
Here is a serious truth that the religious people of the world hate, but it’s the absolute truth. We all know who Jeffery Dahmer was. I’ve heard rumors that before he died he confessed Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. I wasn’t there so I have no idea whether it was done or not…but the one thing the story of the thief on the Cross story tells us is that it doesn’t matter to Jesus what they did…it matters what they believe about Him.
So, if Jeffery Dahmer confessed Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior then he will be in Heaven. If he didn’t then he will be amongst the millions that will be sent to hell for rejecting Jesus.
Here is another point that needs to be spoken, and it’s going to be even more unpopular than the one I just gave. Whatever it was that person did to you…if they have confessed Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior…they are just as saved as you are. God isn’t the respecter of person, God isn’t the condemner of those who have wronged us…we are.
Forgiveness through Jesus’ death is God’s solution; it rescues us from our hopelessness and restores our connection with God.
The key to us being able to forgive those who we feel have done the unforgivable to us is the same key that forgave us when we needed God to forgive us for the unforgivable things we had done. That key is Jesus.
Jesus is also the key that will help you to get over the feeling like you’ll never be able to get past what happened. When you hold on to the bitterness and unforgiveness you are choosing to be tied to what happened.
Listen, I don’t have the time to get into the entire story of what happened to Joyce Meyers, but take the time to learn about her story. Learn about what she went through. She had some terrible things happen to her, and today she’s one of the most powerful women of God.
She would tell you the same thing I’m about to say. You can choose to stay a victim forever…or you can choose to lay everything at the feet of Jesus…and allow Him to free you. She will also tell you that getting past it and over it doesn’t happen over night…but it also won’t happen until you make the steps to get over it.
The first step is realizing that Jesus is the key to your forgiveness and your freedom…and He can also rescue you from the hopelessness. He will also remind you (like He did me) that the way I forgive others is the way He will forgive me.
I can’t tell you what to do. I can’t tell you to lay down your past. All I can do is encourage you to lay it all at the feet of Jesus. It’s not going to be easy, and it may not happen over night…but what I can tell you is that if you never do anything about the bitterness and unforgiveness it won’t go away…and you also won’t be able to do or become all God wants until you are willing to lay that stuff down.
Look, all of this is at Christlike Ministries NWA is happening because I chose to lay everything at Jesus’ feet. Some of the things that were done to me took years to get over, but the things that took the longest for me to get over weren’t the things that someone did to me…it was the things I did to myself. I had to lay all of the hurt, all of the pain, all of the unforgiveness towards myself, and others didn’t go away over night…and some of it I am still getting past…but the key to it all was understanding that Jesus was the only way for me to be free from it all.
He has certainly rescued me from the hopelessness. I know how that hopelessness that you’ll never be able to get past something feels because I’ve felt it…but I also know how it feels to have God help rescue you and restore you.
This needs to be said one more time too, and then it’ll be time to move on to our next point. Forgiving and forgetting doesn’t mean that you have to allow the people(person) who hurt you. No one is saying you have to hang out with that person like nothing happened. Forgiving them isn’t about them…it is about you.
If we ask God to forgive us, he will (see 1 John 1:9). He then sees us as completely new people. We are clean, washed with pure water; whatever we might have done is forgotten and put away “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). Paul said that “there is now no condemnation” for those who have been forgiven and are “in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
Here is the thing, however. God has already forgiven us before we even ask Him. He really does see us as completely new people, but there are things He can’t do without us allowing Him to. That’s part of what this series is all about. I know it’s a long, drawn out way of talking about allowing Him to help you get past our past, but He can’t make us completely new until we are willing to lay everything at His feet…and by everything I mean everything.
Whatever it is that we have done is washed away the moment we ask God to forgive us. As far as the east is from the west. Whatever we have done is forgiven and forgotten because there isn’t anything to hold against us.
We have to get to a place like the Bible talks about in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NKJV) taking no record of the wrongs done unto us. We have to get to a place where we don’t hold on to things that have been done to us. I’m getting closer and closer to being in that place…not because of me…but because I have the love of God shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Ghost. The more God’s love really gets into my heart the more I’m able to love like God wants us to love one another, and unconditional forgiveness is part of that.
Often I have already forgiven and forgotten before it’s even asked for, and I’m thankful that God has helped me get to this place.
The knowledge that we are forgiven and have a clean slate is powerful. We can stand upon that solid ground. We can live from a place of growth instead of brokenness.
Those who have been forgiveness much love much. When I think about all the Lord has forgiven me for I understand that I have no right to hold anything against anyone. When I think about the fact that I stand before God blameless in His sight, and in perfect…right standing with Him. I have that not because of anything I have done, but because of what Jesus did.
I have a clean slate because of Jesus, and because Jesus gave me that clean slate I now have the responsibility of giving those who wrong me the same clean slate I’ve been given. Not because they have earned it or deserve it…but because Jesus gave me the clean slate I have without earning it or deserving it.
If you are a whosoever that’s called upon the name of the Lord you have the same clean slate. You also have the same responsibility now of giving those who wrong you the same clean slate…and you can’t do that by holding on to the past.
You can choose like God did to forgive those who hurt you like He did us…or you can continue to hold the offenses against them while remaining in bandages to what happened yourself.
If, however, you’re like I was to be rescued and set free from the hopelessness…and I can’t think of a better way to close out this message or this series then with this final point…and then praying.
We can ask Jesus for that forgiveness now. If we do not know him, we can ask him to be our Lord. If we turn to him in faith, he will cleanse us and we can walk in a guilt-free state. It is a strong state indeed.
Father God, thank You for walking us through this series. There are many who are reading these messages, Lord God that are held captive to their past, they have the hopelessness of not being able to let go of the offenses and forgiving those who cause the offense. I ask, Lord, that You would help each and every one of them. That You would heal the hurt, and that You would speak to their hearts about laying down those things at Your feet. Lord, we ask You to forgive us for holding on to this stuff, and for choosing to be bitter instead of choosing to forgive. We ask You to cleanse and wash our hearts with the blood of Jesus. We ask You to forgive those who hurt us. I ask, Lord for those who don’t know You that they will come to know You, and that You will help them through their situations and circumstances as well. Most of all, Lord…we thank You for what You have done for us through the death, burial, and resurrection of Your Son. We thank You for the healing that flows from the stripes Jesus took upon His body, and the forgiveness that flows from the Blood of Jesus. Wash us, cleanse us, and help us to be, forgive, and love more like You. In Jesus name. Amen & Amen.
Well, friends, we did it. We completed this seven message series on Forgiveness. The next series that we’ll get into will be a revisit of Carols: A Christmas Devotional. It’s a 25 message Christmas Countdown series that we will be starting the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Until then, I believe I’ve found a seven message series that I believe the Lord would like us to do. It is called 7 Days of Thanksgiving. I’m going to start it today, and it will end on Saturday. I am excited to get into this because this will be the first Thanksgiving series I’ve done here on the Christlike Ministries NWA Blog.
Thank you everyone for following along with this series. I’m doing a Thanksgiving series for the Christlike Ministries NWA Facebook Fan Page, and the Christlike Ministries NWA Group Page. If you aren’t a part of either of those pages you can be, and I’d love to connect with you there.
This concludes this message and this series.
Blessings & Grace;
Bryan Kizer – Pastor
Christlike Ministries NWA