Date: May 27, 2012
Speaker: Kirt Wiggins
Category: Pathway (Series) Sermons
Scripture: Colossians 1:21–1:23
Today we are finishing up our series “Reconciled; living at peace with God yourself and others.” **This summer starting new series called authentic faith. Today answer questions that came in during this series. Questions that came in grouped into 5 categories: Take responsibility for your own actions, forgiveness, reconciliation, the relationship between forgiveness and reconciliation, and loving your enemies.
I. Take responsibility for your own sin:
1. What does it mean to leave my gift at the altar? What is the altar?
In Matt 5:23-24, Jesus says, "Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."
The altar was place where objects, sacrifices were brought and offered to supernatural diety. In the present context Jesus talking to Jews primarily, "the altar" refers to the one in the inner court of the Temple in Jerusalem. Jews would bring various kinds of offerings to the temple to present them to God, five types of sacrifices in OT:
burnt offering – voluntary act of worship for unintentional sin
grain offering – voluntary act of worship for recognition of God’s goodness and provisions
fellowship offering – voluntary act of worship thanksgiving and fellowship
sin offering - mandatory offering for specific sins
guilt offering- mandatory atonement for unintentional sin
Jesus is saying to leave your gift at the altar means going to the temple to offer sacrifice. You get there and remember that you sinned against someone. Leave your gift there and go ask for forgiveness and seek to be reconciled. Then come offer your gift.
In the church, the body of Christ, reconciliation must always preceed worship. As long as there is internal sin, outward acts of worship are not acceptable to God.
2. What if I sin in my mind (judging, lust, etc)? Do I need to go to that person I sinned against in person?
James 5:16 says “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” If you sin only in your thoughts mind, then you only need to go to God with those sins and ask for his forgiveness. Have anger in my thoughts toward someone? Confess that to the Lord and ask him to forgive me.
BUT if the sin in your mind/heart affects your attitude, words, actions toward the other person then you need to go and confess that and seek their forgiveness.
Confess public sins publically and confess private sins privately. EG: If you sin against your co-worker, you don’t need to confess that to whole company. But if you sin in meeting, you need to go to people in the meeting and confess your sin and ask for their forgiveness.
II. Forgive those who sin against me:
1. How do I forgive myself?
When you admit you are a sinner and receive God’s saving grace through Jesus Christ, all your sins are forgiven and you receive the gift of eternal life in Jesus. You are new person with new power, new purpose for living. Listen to these passages about how God forgives us.
"If you Oh Lord, kept a record of sins O Lord who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared." (Ps 130:3-4).
"Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." Hebrews 8:12
Are you in Christ? Then all your sins are forgiven. Yet sometimes we still struggle to forgive ourselves.
4. Signs you haven’t forgiven yourself:
1. Continue to feel guilty for sin. You may feel certain way but we don’t live by what we fell but by faith in the truth of God’s word. His word says "As far as the east is from the west so far has he removed our transgressions from us." Ps 103:12.
2. Anger at self. Punish self for something you did. Like penance. I cannot let myself off the hook. Comes from too high a view of self. I should never do something like that. I am too good to do that. You are a sinner saved by grace, and apart from dependence on Jesus, you are not beyond that.
3. Blame yourself and feel shame and condemnation, aka: false guilt. True guilt is conviction of sin that comes from God. This is about specific sin. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and leads us to repentance. But shame and condemnation is not from the Lord. It is self-loathing. You are no good, worthless, failure. This is not from the Lord.
Romans 8:15 “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry abba father.” Romans 8:1 says "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
4. Self-righteousness/self-pity. My sin is too great for God to forgive me. Oh really. c/c in the Bible I read that God the Father saw the blood of Jesus as sufficient to cover all our sins. Yet when you refuse to forgive your own sins then you are saying his blood his death for yours in was not good enough, need something more is needed. In reality that is pride.
1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Confess sin. admit it, agree to what God already knows, turn from it and walk by faith the forgiveness God offers you in Jesus.
2. Is forgiveness like grieving where it isn't a linear process or progression of healing? (i.e. one can move back at times versus forward)
Grieving : denial > guilt > anger > sadness > acceptance. Can move back and forth?
No forgiveness is a choice, a decision of the will. I choose to release your from the debt against me. Feelings follow. Also may need to keep forgiving them. Comes up again I chose to forgive them. This is the process part. Matthew 6:9-15 The Lord’s prayer Ephesians 4:32/Col 3:13
3. If forgiveness means not holding anything against someone, then how can there be real forgiveness if you have forgiven them for the action but still don't trust them? Forgiveness means choosing to give up your right to seek repayment from the one who harmed you and seeking to absorb the debt yourself. Ideally repentance preceeds forgiveness. This is what is described in Luke 17:3-4 "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says I repent, forgive him.”
But if the other person is unwilling to repent, then it is necessary to forgive them even though they have not asked for it. This is why Jesus calls us to pray in the Lord’s prayer that we would forgive others like we’ve been forgiven in Christ. Forgiveness and reconciliation are two steps. Vertical and horizontal. Positional and applied forgiveness.
You can forgive someone who hurt you but not be reconciled. Not until they come and take ownership for their sin and seek forgiveness and desire to make restitution can you be reconciled and begin to rebuild trust.
Until then you choose to maintain a loving merciful attitude toward the offender, you will not dwell on it seek vengeance or retribution in thought word or deed. You will keep your heart open and ready to reconcile.
III. Go and be Reconciled:
1. How do I seek reconciliation without being walked on? Seems to imply forgiveness means allowing pain, abuse, offense to continue just keep taking it and forgiving them. No.
Consider Jesus. He was full of truth and grace. He, out of love, dies for our sins and satisfies the wrath of God so we don’t have to. But then he tells us that we are sinners and need to repent turn from our sin and believe in him to become part of his kingdom.
In the same way, we are to forgive in the same way we have been forgiven. But we also need to speak truthfully, out of love, for the other person and what is best for them. If someone is abusive. Called to forgive them yes, but does not mean you are reconciled with them until they take responsibility for their sin against you and seek forgiveness and repent change behavior. So you can forgive them but does not mean you accept, allow, or approve of them walking all over you. I want to reconcile but until you willing I am not going to sit here and let you say those things to me or hit me or continue to come home drunk or go into rage. So when you are ready to reconcile i.e. take responsibility for your sin you let me know. Then you have to keep your heart open for reconciliation till they come.
2. If Person A hurts Person B and Person C is close to Person B but was uninvolved in the
"incident" but is hurt by it, where/how does reconciliation/forgiveness fall between Person A and Person C? PASS. Great question. Since hypothetical hard to respond b/c could be variety of situations. But If person C is hurt how did they become aware of it? Did person B tell them?
EG: Dad hurts son, mom also finds out. She too is upset. Dad must take responsibility and seek forgiveness and reconciliation with son and mom.
EG: Workplace A is the boss and he says something hurtful to employee and this employee comes to you and complains and you to are upset/hurt. Not right to entertain this but since you did. Need to encourage employee to go back and reconcile. Once does tell you so you too can know how this turned out.
3. What has to happen for it to be considered reconciliation? (Does Person A have to ask Person B for forgiveness and admit wrongdoing for it to be reconciliation?) YES!
4. How do I seek reconciliation with a person in authority over me? Very carefully. The same way you would with anyone. If you have been sinned against by person in authority, after checking your own heart, critical spirit, sin against them, go and seek to be reconciled. When you said this you really hurt me. I would like to ask that you not do that again.
IV. The relationship between forgiveness and reconciliation:
1. What does biblical reconciliation look like? How does it play out when the crisis is ongoing?
Biblical reconciliation mean the debt, sin between two parties has been dealt with and is gone. NO division, separation between the two. The way this happens is the person who is the offender takes responsibility for their sin and seeks forgiveness from the person he/she sinned against. The other person accepts their apology and desire to reconcile and forgives them and they are reconciled.
In the body of Christ, Jesus lays out the process in Matthew 5:23-24 and Matthew 18:15-17. In Matthew 5 he says if you are going to the altar and remember your brother has something against you, leave your gift and go and be reconciled.
Then in Matthew 18:15-17 says, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.” So whether you are the one who sins or is sinned against the responsibility is on you to go and seek reconciliation. TO confess your sin ask for forgiveness and make restitution. IF sinned against to go directly, privately to seek reconciliation. Now if they are unwilling to repent then need to bring in 2-3 others to establish testimony of these objective witnesses. Then if they still refuse to repent to take it to the elders and if they still refuse to repent then to treat them as an outsider.
How does this play out when the crisis is on going? If crisis is on-going then reconciliation has not truly occurred. May have made attempts to reconcile but true reconciliation means sin is dealt with forgiven and relationship restored. But in an on-going crisis may be same issue or multiple sins that must be dealt with and addressed. Luke 17:4 If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says I repent, forgive him.”
2. Can I seek forgiveness and reconciliation if the other party is not interested? or deceased? NO. You cannot be reconciled to a person who is not interested or is dead. It always takes two parties to reconcile. But reconciliation takes both parties the offender and the person offended. If one of these parties involved is not interested in reconciling or has since died then you cannot reconcile. Yes you can forgive. Forgiveness is between you and God.
V. Love your enemy:
1. Is it ok not to like someone? OK not to like what person did/does. But if called to love our enemies. Now If you mean is it ok not to be close friends or best friends, then yes don’t have to be close friends with everyone. But if you mean can I have a bad attitude toward someone else, then no. Called to live at peace with everyone as much as it is possible with you. Have friendly, cheerful, peaceful attitude toward all people. Now some people rub us the wrong way and personality differences, preferences, opinions, need to learn how to live at peace with them.
2. Do I need to seek reconciliation with this type of person? You need to examine your own heart and attitude to see if there is a critical spirit in you and if you have sinned against the other person. If so, you need to go and ask them to forgive you and ask the Lord to give you a heart of kindness and love toward them. May never be friends but must show kindness and love.
3. What do you do when your acts of repaying evil with kindness are seen by the enemy as a person to take advantage of? We are not called to be doormat. Seeking to love and serve your enemy and to not punish them is not the same as allowing them to walk all over you. Abuse you. EG: Robber comes in your house stealing your stuff. Don’t say oh BTW go downstairs and here is the combo to my safe. No call the police. Protect yourself. But listen, not your place to then punish them. This is why we have court system. But not your place to seek vengeance on your own. Make him pay. Sometimes fine line between protection and punishment. But you are called to love them and they may try to take advantage of kindness. Listen: God may want you to continue to love them even though they don’t appreciate it. How does God want me to respond in this circumstance?
Wrap-up: Colossians 1:21-23b “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight without blemish and free from accusation – if you continue in your faith established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.”
Paul spoke to Christ followers reminding them of who they were and who they are today in Christ.
Remember who you were: Once you were Alienated from God, Once you were Enemies of God in your mind, Once your behavior was evil. But now . . . But now he has reconciled you. Remember what Christ did while you were his enemy: Reconciled you by Christ’s death on cross in your place. He took the punishment you deserve. For what purpose? To present you holy without blesmish free from accusation
How is this possible? By faith. Start by repentance and faith and we continue by repentance and faith. If you continue in your faith, we are reconciled to God by faith and we continue to live at peace with God by faith
What kind of faith? Established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.
The way we have been reconciled is the gospel and our faith, our hope, is in the gospel.