This is the only part of the Lord’s prayer our Lord enlarges upon. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your father who is in heaven will forgive you.”
It seems to suggest we earn our forgiveness by offering forgiveness to others. Such an interpretation conflicts with the rest of Scripture. If we can earn forgiveness by forgiving others, we would have no need of a Saviour. So how do we explain this.
It is addressed to our Heavenly Father. It is only intended from the lips of the child of God. An outsider has no business praying such a prayer. This is not their starting point.
Jesus said, “I am the Way …. no one comes to the Father but by Me!” Before a person can pray this prayer, they must first repent of their sin, & believe in the LORD JESUS CHRIST, and turn their life entirely over to Christ. He is the Way….! Without this, you are not part of God’s family.
Even though we are children of God through faith in Christ; …..saved; ….our sins are blotted out; ….there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus; – all this is true and constant. It can never be changed; there is nothing in all creation, whether past present or future that can interfere with our salvation, when we have believed in Jesus Christ – no one can pluck us out of His Hand; All this is still true. Yet we are still sinners, and we always need of forgiveness.
Remember this is a family prayer, and the health of any family is to be honest when we fail. And every day we fail. Let me read to you how John puts this….1Joh.1:5-10.
We are children of God, but we are not yet perfected. Our Heavenly Father knows this, and He has made provision for His children to deal with their sins.
This is something very precious. We as believers have something the rest of the world knows nothing about – access to God.
Rom.5:1-2 “we have access to grace”, Joh.10:9 “I am the door… go in & out”, Ac 14:27 “God has opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. Eph 2:18 For through him we have access ..to the Father. Eph 3:12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence. Heb 10:19 “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,” Heb 10:20 “a new and living way.”
This is what we have in common together. We have access? We go “in & out” – Christ is our door. – Why do we need access with boldness & confidence? …. It is because we sin, and our Heavenly Father is Holy. We cannot walk with Him unless we are honest and confess. “God is light, and in Him is no darkness – if we say we have no sin, we lie; we make Him a liar.” Our whole walk with God is totally upset. We are sinners, and we always need forgiveness – “if we confess our sins, He is faithful & just…!”
Faith goes first, and if it is true faith, works will follow. “Forgive us our debts as …!” – “Forgive us, our trespasses, as…!” – “Faith w/o works is dead.” – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no-one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.”
Faith is first, the good works follow. True faith renews the way we think about ourselves. Only the true believer knows something of the enormous debt of sin we are forgiven of. If someone offends us, or hurts us, or even kills us, ….friends that is a tiny little fraction compared to the debt we have be forgiven of.
If we have trouble forgiving others, it can only mean one thing – we have not begun to see our own sin. We have never repented. We have never seen our true need of Christ. We are still trusting in ourselves. Which is why we have trouble forgiving others. So the Lord’s prayer is a constant check and warning to us, as to where our trust & faith is focused – on Christ alone.
If our eyes have been opened to the awful weight of our sin – and we will never see all our sin – the sight of it would kill us. But if we have seen something of the aggravation of sin – sinned against knowledge – privilege – against grace – against kindness – against warnings – against God’s patience – against His gifts & goodness; it is impossible to measure how horrible & aggravated & exacerbated our sins are – but we come to God, our Heavenly Father, and expect Him to forgive us.
But if we have trouble forgiving others there is something wrong. Something amiss. The Bible says “you have crept in unnoticed”; you don’t belong, and one day you will be identified as a goat, or a tare, and the Lord will say – depart from Me, I never knew you.”
So this is a great kindness of God to us; to include such a clause in this family prayer. “Forgive us our debts….!” It serves as a constant reminder for us to walk in the light as He is in the light.” How great is God’s mercy to us. Amen.