Stunned? Every believer in Jesus ought to be stunned. There may be some Christians ready to pick a theological fight with me on this, but I can assure you of this: I am right. This isn’t my opinion; it’s taught in the Bible! Let me give you the chapter and verse where this is found.
The place to look is Matthew 6 beginning at verse 9. There Jesus begins to teach a crowd how to pray and he includes what we call ‘The Lord’s Prayer.’ The particular verse we need to pay particular attention to is verse 12. There we read, 12 ‘Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.’ The word which condemns many Christians to hell is the tiny little word “as.” It’s only two letters in length but its meaning is huge. That little word is known as a ‘simile.’ It’s a comparison word. What we are actually praying is this, ‘God, forgive us our sins, in the same way that we forgive the sins of those who sin against us.’
Is anyone nervous? If any of us are refusing to forgive someone who’s sinned against us, then our eternal destiny is not going to be heaven no matter how great our faith in Jesus may be. The sad fact is that there are many Christians who refuse to forgive. Their claim is that the offense is simply too great. I am certainly not saying that some wrongs are truly terrible, but the nature or the atrociousness of the sin let’s no one off the hook. We are to forgive, period.
Don’t believe me? Then let’s read on. Jesus didn’t stop with the words, ‘Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us’. He went on to explain what he meant. Here is his explanation: 14 ‘Yes, if you forgive others for the things they do wrong, then your Father in heaven will also forgive you for the things you do wrong. 15 But if you don’t forgive the wrongs of others, then your Father in heaven will not forgive the wrong things you do.’
Jesus couldn’t have been any clearer than this. But, you may ask, ‘Why would he expect us to forgive the sins of others? Doesn’t he know that we’re mere mortals?’ Yes, our heavenly Father knows exactly who we are, but since He has forgiven all of our sins, He expects us to do the same. If we don’t, the consequences will be terrifyingly severe.
Let me take this one step further and include here the testimony of a man who died and learned this truth the hard way. You can find this testimony in its entirety on the internet.
“Nigerian pastor Daniel Ekechukwu physically died [as the result of a car accident] in the late evening of Friday, November 30th, 2001, was dead for at least 42 hours, visited heaven and hell during the time of his physical death, and was raised from the dead between 3:50 P.M. and 5:15 P.M. on Sunday, December 2nd, 2001 in the basement of the Grace of God Mission, located in Onitsha, Nigeria.”
Here is a very brief portion of his testimony.
The angel told Daniel in heaven: “Jesus has finished his work. The mansions are ready, but the saints are not ready.”
“We are now going to visit Hell.”
[In hell the angel said], “Daniel, if the book of your life was to be closed today, this would be your portion.”
“No, I’m a pastor; I’m a child of God. I’m born again – and I’ve preached all over….”
“Enough, Daniel, on your way to the first hospital, you were asking God to forgive you, but you would not forgive your wife. And your sins have not been forgiven. It is a matter of reaping what you’ve sown. You cannot sow unforgiveness to your wife and reap forgiveness from God.”
We cannot sow unforgiveness with anyone and reap forgiveness from God.
Thankfully, God had mercy on this man and he was raised to life to preach to others what he had learned.
Do we have sins we have not forgiven? Now is the time to do the forgiving God expects of us. Let’s wipe whatever accounts we may be keeping against others and from now on keep the slate clean with speedy forgiveness.
Kathleen G. Kasper
Living Word Fellowship