"I commend you to God and to the message of His grace, which is able to build you up" (Acts 20:32). The "message of His grace" is primarily about the Lord Jesus Christ, who He is, what He has done, is doing and will do for you. The grace message is that which truly builds up those who have believed in Christ Jesus. It is the message that encourages rather than condemns. It gives hope rather than despair. It grants the freedom to serve Jesus out of love for Him in response to His love for you.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
in Knowing Jesus:
to Rejoice in Him
by Eldon DeBoer
Chapter three of Philippians opens with a command:
“Henceforth*, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.”
This challenge by the Spirit of God from the hand of the Apostle Paul
is built upon the truth of Jesus Christ. The Lord has given us many
good reasons to rejoice. As Paul shares his personal testimony in
Philippians three, it is clearly evident why he rejoiced. He knew
where true inner happiness is found. It is found in knowing Jesus
Christ (3:8). Even though life is oftentimes not what we hoped it
would be or what we expected it to be, we can rejoice in the Lord
because we know Him. (* “Henceforth” is a good translation of the word that is typically translated “Finally” (loipon).)
Jesus said, “I came that they might have life and that they
might have it abundantly” (John 10:10b). What did Jesus
mean by this declaration? What is an abundant life to you? Certainly
it includes happiness, wouldn’t you think?
Blaise Pascal, the accomplished mathematician of yesteryear, had some
insightful thoughts about happiness and rejoicing:
All men seek happiness. This is without
exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to
this end. The cause of some going to war, and
of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with
different views. The will never takes the
least step but to this object. [Happiness] is the motive of every
action of every man, even of those who hang
And yet after such a great number of
years, no one without faith
has reached the point to which all continually look.All complain, princes
and subjects, noblemen and commoners, old and young, strong and weak,
learned and ignorant, healthy and sick, of all
countries, all times, all ages, and all conditions.
A trial so long, so continuous, and so uniform, should certainly
convince us of our inability to reach the good by our own efforts.
But example teaches us little. No resemblance is ever so perfect that
there is not some slight difference; and hence we expect that our hope will not be deceived on
this occasion as before. And thus, while the
present never satisfies us, experience dupes us, and from misfortune
to misfortune leads us to death, their eternal crown.
is it then that this desire and this inability proclaim to us, but
that there was once in man a true happiness of which there now
remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries
to fill from all his surroundings,
seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things
present? But these are all inadequate, because the infinite
abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is
to say, only by God Himself. (Blaise Pascal, 1623–1662, Thoughts.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14, Section VII, Morality and Doctrine,
the SECOND part.—That
man without faith cannot know the true good, nor justice. (Brackets and emphasis added.))
It is only in God that we find joy in a
world filled with sadness and trouble. This is part of the abundant
life that Jesus has promised us.
Definition of Rejoice and Joy
First of all, we will consider how the Greek words translated rejoice
and joy, chairo and chara, bring into view a deep sense
of happiness that only comes from the Lord. The command to rejoice
is not a directive to have fun or experience surface level happiness.
It is much deeper than that.
The Lord frequently commands us to rejoice through the hand of the
Apostle Paul. In addition to Philippians 3:1, the following verses
also present this challenge (all quotations are from the NASB):
Philippians 4:4Rejoice in the
Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
1 Thessalonians 5:16Rejoice always. . .
2 Corinthians 13:11Finally,
brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded,
live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
In this verse we are directed join with others in their joy:
Romans 12:15Rejoice with
those who rejoice, . . .
In addition to the three commands to rejoice in Philippians, Paul
frequently wrote of rejoicing and possessing joy in this very same
1:18What then? Only
that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is
proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,
2:17But even if I am
being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service
of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy (sugchairo)
with you all.
2:18You too, I urge
you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.
2:28Therefore I have
sent him all the more eagerly so that when you see him again you may
rejoice and I may be less concerned about you.
2:29Receive him then
in the Lord with all joy (chara),
and hold men like him in high regard;
4:10But I rejoiced
in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern
for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked
Here are additional verses in which chara, the noun translate
“joy,” is used in Philippians:
1:4. . . always
offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all,
of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your
progress and joy in the faith,
2:2. . . make my
joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love,
united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
[Epaphroditus] then in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him
in high regard;
4:1 Therefore, my
beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way
stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.
As the following reasons to rejoice are presented, keep in mind that
the joy being addressed is adeep sense of happiness that only
comes from the Lord and is only found in Him.
Reason #1: We can
rejoice in the Lord Jesus because we know Him. Philippians 3:7-8
From the perspective of religious Jews, Paul had it made. He had
position, power and prestige among his people. But then he met Jesus
and found out what really mattered in life. Nothing compared to
knowing Jesus Christ. Anything else he considered to be “rubbish.”
He wrote in Philippians 3:7-10,
7. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have
counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
8. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of
the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have
suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order
that I may gain Christ,
9. and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my
own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ,
the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,
10. that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and
the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; . . .
When we have the perspective on life that Paul had, we will have a
When knowing Jesus Christ is our main objective in life, we will
rejoice in Him. In other words, when nothing else matters to us more
than know Jesus Christ, no circumstance in life can take away the joy
we have in Him.
When Paul writes of gaining
Christ he is addressing attention to his
personal relationship with him and the benefits of that relationship
(3:8). In his book The Joy of Living: A
Devotional Study of Philippians, Dr. J Dwight
Pentecost offers this summary of Paul’s letter,
[K]nowing Christ, walking in fellowship with Him, and
being obedient to Him floods the life and heart and mind of the
apostle Paul with an incomparable joy...so that in Christ he has
found perfect rest, satisfaction, and contentment."
Reason #2: There
is cause for rejoicing in knowing that your righteousness comes from
God by faith.
It should be understood that there is joy in knowing that God has
given you His righteousness. You are righteous in Christ Jesus (1
Corinthians 1:30-31). Paul has developed the teaching that God’s
righteousness is received as a gift from Him in greater detail in his
letter to the Romans, chapters three, four and five (see especially
3:21 – 4:9). But here it is clear that Paul is addressing the
righteousness of Christ that he wants to be more and more of a
reality in his experience before his glorification.
Notice the subjunctive moods used in Philippians 3:8-9 where Paul
declares that he “counts” everything in life as
rubbish “in order that [he] may gain Christ,
and may be found in Him . . .”
(NASB). Paul knew that
He had been declared to be right with God by God Himself through
faith in Jesus. He had been justified by God in Christ (Romans 5:1).
But the subjunctives indicate what Paul desires to be true in his
life. He wants what is his position in Christ, justification (Romans
5:1), to be his practice in his walk with Jesus. He wants to have a
righteous way of life. He develops this further when he writes of
his desire to attain to the resurrection of the dead (Philippians
3:11-13). Positionally in Christ he had been raised with Him (cf.
Romans 6:4-5; Ephesians 1:3ff.). But it is the apostle’s desire
that who he is in Christ may become more and more of a reality in his
life as he lives righteously. This is Paul’s main concern in life
for which he presses on (Philippians 3:14).
Just as our righteousness in Christ is given to us from God by faith,
so righteousness in the Christian grace-way of life is also a reality
when we walk by faith. Any righteousness in our life is there
because we are heeding God’s word by faith (cf. Hebrews 11:4).
This experiential righteousness is not performance based. It is not
ours because we are focusing on keeping a set of rules that certainly
are good in themselves. No, this righteousness is by faith as we
keep our eyes on Jesus Christ and make our main concern gaining Him
and knowing Him (cf. 1 John 2:3-6). And this is where joy in the
Lord is found.
The relationship between believing God and being filled with joy is
found in Paul’s wish for believers in Romans 15:13:
Now may the
God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you
may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Back to the Importance of Knowing Christ—and sharing in His
After stating the fact that a righteous life comes from God through
faith (3:9), he once again addresses attention to knowing Christ
(3:10). This is where joy is found.
But what in the world, you may ask, is the “fellowship of
[Christ’s] sufferings” about? What does that mean,
exactly?You may be thinking, yes, I want the “power
of His resurrection” but don’t talk to me about suffering
Paul frequently wrote of the pain he experienced because he was
outspoken about the truth of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 4:11-13; 2
Corinthians 4:7-11; Galatians 5:11; 6:12; 2 Timothy 3:10-12; cf.
Colossians 1:24). We may not face persecution like Paul did, but we
all experience the effects of sin and the curse because we live in
this fallen sinful world. Here is the truth that is taught in the
Bible concerning sharing in the sufferings of Christ that has
application for all believers everywhere:
Whenever we experience the effects of sin and the curse in this
fallen world, we may view it as sharing in the sufferings of Christ
(John 11:34; Romans 8:18-23; 2 Corinthians 4:7-11; cf. Hebrews
Jesus wants you to experience the power of His resurrection, drawing
upon His strength, when you share in His sufferings as you experience
the pain of living in a sinful world. Just as Jesus wept on His way
to the burial place of His friend Lazarus, we may grieve as we
experience the effects of sin in our life.
God calls us to keep on demonstrating that we want to know Jesus
Christ more and more by continuing to trust in Him—no matter what.
This is the Lord’s plan for our life. It is only as we trust Him
to give us the strength to obey His commands that we get to know Him
better and are able to rejoice in Him.
Reason #3: You
rejoice in the Lord because you understand His plan for your life.
Sometimes believers do not rejoice in the Lord because they do not
understand the plan of God for the Christian grace-way of life as
they should. The Lord’s plan for your life here and now is not a
life that is filled with only pleasant experiences. But possibly our
expectations of what God should do or must do in our life are skewed,
as the perspective of this lady reveals.
A woman told [Larry Crabb] with a peaceful smile that she knows God
will bring her deserting husband back to her. When [she was asked to
explain] the reason for the hope within her, she smiled even more
broadly and replied, “He promised me an abundant life” (Larry
Crabb, Shattered Dreams: God’s Unexpected Pathway to Joy, p.
28, brackets added).
Sadly, many believers think that an abundant life must be a life that
is filled with pleasant experiences here and now on earth. And if
life is not pleasant certainly God will or even must change
things for the better.
But as the title of Crabb’s book indicates, Shattered Dreams:
God’s Unexpected Pathway to Joy, a deeper experience of joy
results from experiencing God’s enabling grace to face life as it
is. If our first concern is to know Christ and we appreciate that He
is providentially working in our life, then when our hopes and dreams
do not come true we should continue to keep in mind that we live in a
war zone that involves the decisions that people choose to make.
Does the Lord want a deserting husband to return to his wife? Of
course! And He knows just what it will take in that husband’s life
to bring that about. But the husband may continue to rebel against
the Lord Jesus’ plan for his marriage no matter what He could do in
his life. And Jesus knows all of this. Has God failed the wife?
No, the husband has. But the wife can look to the Lord for help in
the face of her pain. By her painful experience of having a wayward
husband, she is sharing in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings.
But through the pain she can experience Jesus’ joy as He gives her
the grace to keep trusting Him to face life as it is without her
husband. Or the Lord could choose to remove the husband, bringing
about his untimely death.
Are we determined to let no one and nothing stand in the way of
gaining Christ? Do we want to view all of life, including
relationships with others, from the standpoint of carefully
considering how what is happening in our life will help us get
to know Christ better? Our Savior who suffered in our place wants us
to get to know Him better as He views the suffering we experience
because we want to get to know Him better and better.
Our Lord God certainly has given us many good reasons to rejoice.
Even though life is oftentimes not what we hoped it would be or what
we expected it to be, we can have joy in the Lord because knowing Him
is our first concern. We experience the power of Christ’s
resurrection when we have joy as we experience the pain of sharing in
Reason #4: You
will rejoice when your life is productive for the glory of Jesus
Jesus promises you His joy if you love Him. And to love Him is to
obey Him. He declared in John 15:
this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove
to be My disciples.
as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.
you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have
kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love.
things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your
joy may be made full.
Jesus wants you
to experience the fullness of joy that He has.
It is helpful to keep in mind that the occasion in which Jesus
presented the teaching of John 15 took place just prior to His
betrayal and crucifixion. In the immediate context He had spoken of
being troubled (John 13:21; cf. 14:1). Like Christ, we may have His
joy in the midst of difficult and horribly painful times
(cf. 1 Peter 1:6,8; 4:12-13).
Reason #5: You
will rejoice when you stay in the love of Jesus Christ.
There is joy in knowing Jesus Christ and enjoying a loving personal
relationship with Him (Philippians 3:8,10; cf. 1 John 1:1-7).
Reason #6: You
will rejoice when you obey Christ’s commands.
Joy in obedience is the experience of only those who heed the Lord’s
commands out of a heart of gratitude for what He has done for them (1
John 4:17-19; 5:3).
These reasons for joy were also the experience of those who looked to
the Lord in faith in ages past. The Psalm writers of the Old
Testament days knew it well (Psalm 84:1-12; 16:7-11; 89:14-16;
#7 There is cause for rejoicing—there is good reason for a deep
level of joy—in those who are pure in heart by the grace of God.
The pure in heart know that everything is right between
them and God. And they have joy (1 John 1:4-9).
This was true of David after he confessed his sin and cried out to
the Lord to restore to him the joy of being delivered from death, sin
and sin’s consequences (Psalm 51:6-14).
Reason #8 We should rejoice because there is joy in knowing
about the glorious future the Lord has for us. Philippians 3:20-21
When we rejoice in the Lord we may often have to look past the
circumstances of life that we are facing and bring to mind what God
has done for us and what He has in store for us forever with Him.
have been considering thus far is a level of joy that is not
determined by circumstances or the behavior of others. It is the
deepest level of joy found in a trusting, loving and obedient
relationship with Jesus Christ. It is the deep sense of inner
happiness that our Lord God gives to us because we know Him and are
trusting in Him. This is the joy that may be ours at any time, in
any place, in any circumstance. Because of the grace of God we truly
can rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4).
"Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and He will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, He will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it" (Good News Translation; New American Standard Bible).
This verse points out that we all face tests on this fallen sinful planet to one degree or another by way of a
Whatever the intensity of the test, the promise is given that our faithful God will
provide the spiritual strength to endure it and thereby pass the
test, when we keep trusting Him. The "way of escape" may not be out from under the test but always must include renewing our faith and confidence in the Word of God and His promises, knowing that He will provide endurance when we are trusting in Him to do so.
Sometimes we might think that the test is too much. It just seems that there is no hope and we cannot see how God will see us through it. When this is where we are, the key to renewing faith in God is to bring ourselves to the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ and remember what our God did for us there. Bring to mind that He chose to come to this wretched sinful world as a man to serve us. Keep in mind what we are told in Philippians 2:
" . . . Although Christ Jesus existed in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God something to which He would completely hold on to,but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." When we focus on the truth of the depth of God's love for us that He so clearly demonstrated by being united with true humanity so that He could serve us and deliver us from sin and its effects by His suffering and death, this should help us renew our trust in Him to see us through the test we are facing. This one thing we can count on for sure: we are going to be tested. This is a huge part of life as it is on planet earth. But the Lord Jesus will give us the grace to endure the tests, if--and this is a big if--if we keep on placing our confidence in Him and His Spirit and in His Word and not in our strength or ability. May we not be like the children of Israel who failed miserably in doing this (1 Corinthians 10:1ff.). And may we be alert to the deceptive thinking that we can face whatever tests may come in our own strength (10:12).
God calls us to be courageous as we engage ourselves in spiritual warfare. And there is a battle raging for the hearts and souls of everyone around us. And, apart from God providing the grace to win these spiritual battles, we won't win as we should. We won't have the courage to keep on fighting for His honor and glory.
The movie “Courageous” has had a powerful impact on my soul. It presents a tremendous challenge—especially to husbands and fathers. In my humble opinion, everybody ought to see it. Take the time and “just do it”! But it might be too much for some men to take. Especially if they are not willing to take up the challenge to courageously look to the Lord to become the husbands and fathers that God calls them to become.
Dads, there is only one perfect father, the heavenly Father. But He calls us to be like Him (Matthew 5:48). While He certainly knows we cannot be perfectly like Him all the time, He still calls us to be like Him, just the same. And apart from His grace we cannot do this. Apart from His grace we cannot keep on growing in becoming more like Him.
If there is anything that I would have added to the “Courageous” movie, it's the desperate need we have for God's grace to live out the truth. The group of men in the movie—who are all cops by the way—make a solemn resolution to God and before their families to be and become the men God has called them to be. Their vow included this: "I WILL seek to honor God, be faithful to His church, obey His Word, and do His will. I WILL courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life and for His glory. 'As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.'" --Joshua 24:15
The need we all have for God's grace to live out the truth should to be emphasized as it is in the New Testament Scriptures. For apart from a grace emphasis the strong tendency is to attempt to apply the truth in our own strength. Apart from God's grace we will fail. We will fail to live out the truth to the glory of Christ. For apart from Him we can do nothing that has eternal value before God (John 15:5).
When I was still in my teens (I think I was about 15 or 16) my mother shared with me that when she got pregnant with me she was not happy about it. She had four children already and she thought she was a failure as a mom. She certainly did not want a fifth child. But my mom had a tender heart toward the Lord. And she cried out to Him for help. The Lord gave Mom this verse:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9; NASB)
There is a basic truth presented in this verse that each and every one of us need to keep in mind in our quest to heed the command to “be courageous.” The Lord our God is with us! If you have believed in Jesus, He is with you and He will give you His grace that you so desperately need to be strong and courageous. The Lord gave my mom the grace she needed for my benefit and for the benefit of my older brothers and sisters as well. I am so thankful that my parents loved the Lord and wanted what was best for me. And you can count on the Lord to give you the grace you need for the benefit of those you love. You can count on Him for His grace in the spiritual battle for the application of truth in your home and community.
We are all at different stages of growth in our relationship with God. For my children's sake I wish I knew back when they were younger what I know now so that I would have had more insight to apply the truth more meaningfully for their benefit. I was not the father I wish I would have been for their sake. I'm still growing. I'm still growing in the grace and knowledge of my Lord and Savior and, therefore, I was not what I am now (duh?). But by God's grace I can keep on advancing and keep on becoming the man God calls me to be for the sake of my wife and children. And for the sake of those close to me whose lives the Lord gives me the privilege to touch.
“We were made to be courageous!” (check out the Casting Crowns video). May we keep on encouraging each other to keep on looking to the Lord Jesus for His grace to be courageous in the application of truth for His glory and honor.
I appreciate very much your comments and questions (firstname.lastname@example.org).
by Eldon DeBoer Are you held in slavery to a set of rules or things you think you need to do to be accepted by God and enjoy Him forever? Believe Jesus' words! He said that the one who believes in Him has everlasting life ((John 6:47). Just believe in Him and He gives you the free gift of an awesome life with Him forever and an abundant meaningful life now as you continue to walk with Him by faith. The sad commentary on the lives of many believers in Christ Jesus is that while they once understood that they have been delivered from their sins and eternal death by God's grace in Christ Jesus, they now are living their life under the Law. Sadly, many believers become confused about God's grace plan for their life much like the Corinthians to whom Paul wrote long ago. The result is that they do not have the joy of true freedom in Christ but, sadly, they are living a life of slavery to rules and regulations that they think they have to obey in order to know that they are secure in their eternal relationship with Jesus Christ. Just reading through 2 Corinthians 2:14 – 6:2 should cause us to draw these conclusions: > The Law of Moses can only bring death. > The Spirit of God is the One who gives life. > In Christ there is freedom to be transformed into His likeness by His love and grace. Paul puts it this way in 2 Corinthians 3:6:
"[God] has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant (the contract agreement God signed with the blood of His Son) --not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."
What is Paul’s main point? The Law of Moses had its God-given purpose. It brought death and illustrated the reasons for death. It was a message of condemnation (3:9). We have disobeyed God’s Word. We have sinned against God and therefore we die. Left to ourselves we will live in torment and be forever separated from God.
What is it that kills? What is it that can only produce death? It is God's Law that "was engraved in letters on stone" (3:7). Only the Spirit of God is able to make us alive in Christ through faith in Him (2 Corinthians 4:13-16; cf. 3:16). Only through faith in Christ is the veil of the Law taken away with its fading glory (3:14). At the very moment that we believed in Jesus Christ, we died with Him when God identified us with Him in His death (2 Corinthians 5:15; cp. Ephesians 1:13-14). God has reconciled us to Himself by means of Christ’s work in our place (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). Christ Jesus took our sin upon Himself so that we might receive God’s righteousness (5:21). Paul clearly taught that this was appropriated to us not by any works or obedience to God's Law (His rules) but by believing in Jesus Christ. Whenever any human effort or obedience is presented as a requirement for deliverance from sin or maintaining one’s eternal relationship with Christ Jesus, only confusion can result. There is the real danger of the veil remaining over the hearts of believers who once understood the grace message of the gospel but have become confused. Any true transformation into the likeness of Christ Jesus is impossible as long as the believer views his obedience as necessary in order to keep what God says that he already possesses--namely eternal life. The mirror of God’s grace in Christ Jesus is blurred by setting forth any requirement of obedience to the Law or God's rules for maintaining one's eternal relationship with Christ Jesus. The message of grace in Christ is distorted. And consequently believers return to slavery to the Law.
The only way the Spirit of the Lord ministers and gives life is by turning to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith, believing that He and He alone saves and guarantees everlasting life. He can give us life with God forever because of who He is and what He has done for us on the cross of Calvary. Likewise, the Spirit of the Lord is the One who brings about our transformation into the likeness of Christ by His grace as we keep fixing our eyes on Christ Jesus in faith, keeping in mind His love for us as we continue to trust Him for His strength to apply His Word. Is obedience and pleasing the Lord Jesus important? Of course!!! But we experience the freedom of His grace only when we obey Him in gratitude for His love and for the many gifts He has given, not because we fear that if we do not keep obeying Him He will take away what He in fact has freely given us through faith in Him. Jesus Christ made it possible for us to enter heaven by His suffering and death in our place. By believing in Him we receive everlasting life with Him. The wondrous love that Christ Jesus has for us includes our position in Him, giving us resurrection bodies and rewarding us for faithful service. Paul brought this into view in 2 Corinthians 4:14-5:13. Then he explained (the explanatory gar in the Greek text introduces 5:14) to the Corinthians that he and Timothy did what they did because they understood the significance of Jesus Christ's love for them:
2 Corinthians 5:14-16 "For the love of Christ constrains (compels or motivates) us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer." The love that Jesus Christ so clearly demonstrated to us by His suffering and death on the cross provides real substance for the meaning and application of grace in our life. In verse 14 Paul uses the verb sunecho (pres.act.ind.). It is translated “constrains” or “controls” in other English versions. How this verb is used elsewhere helps us understand its meaning. When we comprehend the love Christ has for us, it "hems" us in (Luke 19:43), it "presses" us to act (Philippians 1:23). The grace demonstrated by the love of Jesus Christ has everything do with being properly motivated to please the Lord when we obey His commands. This is how the grace of God revealed by the love of Christ for us instructs and trains us (cf. Titus 2:11-14). The only way the Spirit brings about transformation is by God’s grace in Christ Jesus. It is all His work in us and through us. When this is not the emphasis, when this is not understood and applied, there is a real danger that believers have received the grace of God in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).We should not put up with a message that is a message of death that kills. Study Paul's concern for the believers in Corinth in 2 Corinthians 11:3-4. The false teaching that declares that God's rules must be kept in order to retain one's eternal relationship with Christ is in opposition to the message of grace. This false teaching will keep people in slavery to those rules. How can anyone rejoice in a message of condemnation and death? Yet, many believers today continue to "put up with it easily enough" (2 Corinthians 11:4 in the NIV), as is evident by what is commonly taught and practiced by many.
We are delivered from sin and death and receive eternal life by believing in Jesus Christ. And we are transformed into His likeness by His Spirit as we keep fixing our eyes on Him and His Word with faith in Him to enable us to obey.
"Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:1-18).
We are free to become more like Him only as we obey Him in response to His love and grace.
Don't take my word for it. Carefully study and think through what Paul is teaching, beginning in 2 Corinthians 3. You will probably find that this is not easy reading material. You are in good company. The Apostle Peter admitted that Paul's writings were "hard to understand" (2 Peter 3:15-16) But keep working at it. The reward is fantastic. If you lost sight of it and have become enslaved to a set of rules, you might realize once again the freedom found in God's grace message for your life. If you have questions about any of the above, send me an e-mail (email@example.com) and I'll be pleased to do my best to respond.
Like Paul did for the leaders of Ephesus, I entrust you to God"and the message of His grace which is able to build you up . . ."(Acts 20:32). Only this wonderful message of grace is able to build you up in your relationship with God.
It has been said that our emotions are the responders of our souls. To narrow it down, when we ponder a particular truth, we may have an emotional response within our heart and soul. Should not all believers in Christ Jesus be enthralled by His grace message?
Interestingly enough the word enthralled was formerly used of being held in slavery. It then came to mean to be held “spellbound” (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary). We may become captivated and overwhelmed with emotion when we contemplate the truth of the grace of Christ Jesus. When we know Christ Jesus and the message of His grace we should be enthralled. When we read with understanding verses like 2 Corinthians 8:9, we may become spellbound:
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich”(NASB).
Think of it! In eternity past God the Son chose to set aside the complete expression of His attributes as God when He was united with true humanity in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth so that He could serve us. He “became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” This should enthrall us! Knowing that our great God chose to do this for us should captivate us.
The great God who created all things and is the King of kings became poor for us so that He could serve us. And by serving us in His death He defeated the devil and, therefore, we need no longer fear death (Hebrews 2:14-15). This should enthrall us! Christ Jesus took the sting out of death! (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).
Therefore we serve Him and make Him Lord of our life (1 Peter 3:15), deciding to please Him again and again because of what He has done for us. We “love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). We are enthralled with who He is and what He has done for us and so we keep on choosing to honor Him. While we often fail to do this as we should, by the Lord's grace and by His strength (John 15:5), we can recover and be forgiven (1 John 1:9) and renew our commitment to Him over and over again.
Fix your eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-3) and become more and more enthralled with Him and His grace message
I want to emphasize in this updated article is that forgiving someone
is not a one time, now it's settled forever experience. Many of
us have felt that churning sensation in our stomachs again and again
as we re-live in our heads the hurt and pain we went through at the
hands or words of someone. So we need to look to our Savior for
His grace to forgive again.
before I address forgiving others allow me to make sure we all
understand the forgiveness God extends to each of us through Christ
Jesus for all eternity and how His forgiveness is extended to us in
time from day to day and moment to moment.
God's Grace We Are Forgiven Forever and Forgiven Again. And Again!
are forgiven forever when we first place our faith in Christ Jesus
(Ephesians 1:7). Being forgiven forever is a part of our eternal
standing in Christ. It is a part of being identified with Him in His
death and resurrection (Romans 6:1-5). We are sealed in Christ when
we believe in Him and this is a permanent seal accomplished by the
Spirit of God that includes being forgiven in eternity (Ephesians
is another dimension of being forgiven that should be understood. It
is God forgiving us again and again for sins we continue to commit
that cause us to be in spiritual darkness in our experience with God
here and now. While I am forgiven of all sins in Christ forever, in
order to live in the light and have true fellowship with God from
moment to moment I must confess my sins each and every time the
Spirit makes me aware that I have missed a mark that He has set for
me to live by.
we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1
a glorious truth and encouraging statement of God's grace for
forgiveness. When we fail to live as we should and acknowledge it to
God, He is "faithful and just to forgive us" through
Christ Jesus (cp. 1 John 2:1-2). And He cleanses us "from
all unrighteousness"! We should know we are right with
Him when we confess our sin, even though we have failed Him again by
sinning against Him. This is the grace of God at work! And how
encouraging it is to know this.
truth of God's grace for forgiveness is illustrated in the life of a
prominent leader of old. God was looking for a leader, a king, who
would be a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:22). In other words,
God was looking for a man to lead His people who wanted to be like
Himself more than anything else. You probably know who that man was.
Yes, it was David; a shepherd boy who became king of Israel. Was
David, the man after God's own heart, perfect? Far from it. He
clearly understood how desperately he needed the grace of God in
forgiveness. He emphasized this when he wrote Psalm 32 and Psalm 51
after he recovered from a sin that brought a great deal of pain into
the lives of many people (2 Samuel 11 & 12). Yet, long after
he had died, he was still remembered as someone whose heart was
“devoted” to God (1 Kings 11:4; Acts 13:22). How encouraging it
is to know that God forgives and that we can recover like David did
and be useful to our Lord and Savior once again.
truth that God forgives us again and again because of Jesus Christ's
suffering in our place is a reality that should deeply grip our
hearts when we pause to think about what it means. No matter how
often we fall to a sinful weakness, be it a wrong thought or
behavior, the Lord Jesus forgives us again. And again! And again!!
Through confession we recover from being in spiritual darkness and
re-enter the light and joy of fellowship with God.
. . these things we write to you that your joy may be full. This is
the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God
is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have
fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice
the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have
fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son
cleanses us from all sin” (1
King David, the Apostle Paul wrote of His struggle with sin after
being a believer in Christ for a number of years and how he hated it
(Romans 7:15-24). He found himself thinking and doing what he knew
what was wrong over and over. But when He came to himself by the
ministry of the Spirit in His life, He exclaimed,
wretched man that I am! who will set me free from the body of this
death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans
Christ Jesus “sets us free” again and again from our spiritual
deadness and uselessness to God when we sin as believers. It is
thought that what Paul had in mind by the phrase “the body of this
death” was the practice in his day of chaining a cadaver to a
person who had been guilty of an offense that warranted the death
penalty. Gangrene would set in and the guilty person would experience
a horrible, drawn-out, painful death.
will release us from the horrible influence of our sins? From "the
body of this death?" Who will deliver us from our
spiritual deadness and uselessness to God while we are living in the
dark because of sin? Christ Jesus sets us free from this dead
condition the again and again. He forgives us every time we admit
that we have sinned against Him. And because of our appreciation for
His suffering in our place to provide for this forgiveness, because
of His love and grace, we should cry out to Him for His help to stop
succumbing to the sin. But in our frailty when we fall to that
weakness again, that sin that plagues us, He forgives us again. And
we then can enjoy fellowship with Him once more and live in His light
and the light of His Word, the light of His teachings from the Bible.
of the work of Christ Jesus, God forgives us forever and He forgives
us again and again when we confess our sin, when we simply admit to
Him that we have done wrong. That's grace!!! And just as God
forgives us again and again, He calls us to forgive others.
taught us to forgive again and again.
Lord Jesus addressed the importance of forgiving again and again in
Matthew 18:21-35. He concluded his teaching by emphasizing that
those who choose not to forgive will remain in spiritual torment
until they do forgive (18:34-35). Strong words but so very
true. The passage begins with the familiar question for
Jesus from Peter.
how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to
said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but
uptoseventy times seven.” Peter
probably thought he was being very generous when he asked this
question about forgiveness. Certainly forgiving “up to seven times”
goes beyond what God requires of us. Louis Barbieri, Jr., notes that
“the traditional Rabbinic teaching was that an offended person
needed to forgive a brother only three times” (The Bible
Knowledge Commentary, 62). In what follows in Matthew 18,
Peter’s lack of understanding becomes obvious in the story that
Jesus told about the king and his two servants. Apparently Peter did
not realize the application of God’s forgiveness to forgiving
others. It seems that he did not have much appreciation for the truth
that the Lord had forgiven him a huge debt of sin. He did not apply
the foundational truth that we all need to understand in order to
forgive from the heart.
Jesus told Peter that we should keep on forgiving up to 490 times, he
was not saying that we should keep a ledger of the sins against us.
The expression, “up to seventy times seven,” emphasizes that we
should keep on forgiving and not keep track of the number of times
someone sins against us.
A summary of God’s provisions for maintaining a heart of forgiveness:
1. Remember that in and through Jesus Christ, God has forgiven you a huge debt of sin. Keep in mind that no one can offend you or sin against you to the degree that you have sinned against God (Matthew 18:27).
2. Ponder and dwell on the wondrous love and forgiveness God has granted to you through Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:7; 1 John 1:9-2:2).
Think about the awful cost of your deliverance by the Son of God Himself. Keep your eyes on Jesus (Ephesians 4:29-5:2; Colossians 3:1-16; 1 Peter 1:17-21; Hebrews 12:1-3).
3. Recognize that you cannot maintain a heart of forgiveness and forgive again for the right reasons in your own strength (John 15:5).
4. Keep in mind the Lord’s command to not take your righteous wrath to bed (Ephesians 4:25-27).
5. Be on the alert for signs of sinful anger and bitterness (Matthew 18:35). Remain sensitive to the convicting work of the Spirit from the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 4:30-31; Colossians 3:8-10; Hebrews 12:15).
6. Confess to the Lord the sin of an unforgiving spirit when the Holy Spirit causes you to realize that this is the reason for the emotional torture of bitterness and anger (1 John 1:9; cp. Matthew 6:14-15; Psalm 32:1-6).
7. Cry out to God for the grace to keep on maintaining a heart of forgiveness to forgive again and again so that your life will be a testimony to His love and grace (John 13:35; 2 Peter 3:18; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
taught that refusing to forgive is itself a sin and breaks fellowship
with God (Matthew 6:14-15). When a believer refuses to forgive, God
will not forgive him until it is confessed as sin (1 John 1:9; Psalm
32:1-5). This is forgiveness for fellowship with God in this life.
Every believer remains forgiven in Christ forever whether he or she
forgives or not (Ephesians 1:7). The importance of forgiving others
and the sin of refusing to forgive in Matthew 6 and 18 has to do with
continuing in fellowship in a meaningful relationship with Jesus here
and now in this life.
does it mean to forgive someone?
we forgive someone we put away the person’s sin against us. The
word translated forgive (aphiemi) means to put away. When we
forgive, as far as we are concerned, the person is no longer guilty
of his sin against us. This is what Jesus did when He was being
crucified (Luke 23:34). He put away their sin of crucifying Him and
therefore they would not receive immediate judgment from God for that
Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, He told them, “Loose him
and let him go” (John 11:44, NKJV). “Let . . . go” is the
translation of aphiemi. This provides a fitting
analogy that addresses attention to what we do for people when we
forgive them. When we forgive someone we no longer keep the person in
bondage to the guilt of their sin. As far as we are concerned the
person is not guilty. We let him go and he thereby is set free from
his guilt against us. This does not mean that an individual should
never be held accountable for his sin against us. At times justice
must be applied. This will be addressed at another time.
lack of understanding concerning God’s standards for forgiving one
another is not unusual among believers. Many believers do not
understand the application of this truth. But what is it that
believers need to grasp in order to forgive from the heart? The
parable Jesus told provides the answer.
Forgiveness Flows from Being Forgiven a Huge Debt
this parable the king of the servant who has incurred a huge debt is
God the Father Himself. There are a number of views concerning what a
talent would be worth in today’s currency, but according to one
source the amount equaled about 15 years wages. If you earned an
average of $30,000 a year multiplied times 15, times 10,000, your
debt would be $4,500,000,000. The main point of the Lord’s
illustration is that since God has forgiven us so very much, we are
to forgive others from our hearts. If you appreciate the huge debt of
sin that God has forgiven you, you will keep on forgiving others who
sin against you. This is precisely what the servant did not do. His
lack of appreciation for how much his lord had forgiven him was
expressed in his refusal to forgive a fellow servant of a far lesser
debt of sin. Consequently, he was handed over to the torturers (cp.
sins are ultimately against our holy heavenly Father.
two servants in the story Jesus told are both representative of
believers in Christ Jesus. The wicked servant who refused to forgive
had incurred a debt beyond his ability to repay. When we sin against
our holy God, we should understand that we are unable to pay back the
debt we owe due to our sins. We do not have the ability to repay our
Lord for sins committed against Him. Our sins are too great. All the
Father asks is that we go to him and admit our need of His
forgiveness. God always treats us in grace and forgives us because
our debt has been paid through the suffering and death of Christ
Jesus. The wicked servant had been forgiven by his lord. But when he
refused to forgive a fellow servant, he was turned over to the
torturers because of his sin of refusing to forgive. We should keep
in mind that ultimately our sins are sins against our holy God and
only His forgiveness removes the sin and the guilt. David understood
this and expressed his indebtedness to God. After he had confessed
his sin of adultery against Uriah and Bathsheba, he said to the Lord,
You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight
You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You
was well aware that he was worthy of death. And he knew that God
could take His Spirit from him (Psalm 51:11). (While this cannot
happen to a believer today in the Church Age, it could happen to
believers in the Old Testament. Believers today fully receive the
Spirit when they believe in Jesus and He continues to indwell them no
matter how sinful they might become.) When we sin against the Lord
God we should understand that all sins, whether seemingly significant
or insignificant to us, are offenses against our holy heavenly Father
and are huge in His sight.
some sins cause more damage than others. It could be that the wicked
servant is an illustration of a believer who has received forgiveness
for a sin that has caused a great deal of damage to others. Whatever
the case, the teaching is clear. Believers should maintain forgiving
hearts because the holy God has forgiven them a huge debt of sin.
and offenses against you
someone does something that hurts you, there are times when the
person who has offended you may not even be aware of the hurt that
has been caused. Then, to the other extreme, there are sins that
obviously are motivated by maliciousness. There are offenses that are
perceived to be damaging which may not even be sinful at all.
Sometimes we can be too sensitive about what others do to us.
Whatever the case, when we feel that someone has hurt us, God calls
us to forgive them. When we have disagreements with others or
complaints against others for whatever reason, the Lord says,
as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies,
kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with
one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint
against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must
Lord calls us to forgive as He has forgiven us in Christ.
God has forgiven us a huge debt of sin we are to forgive others. This
is an important part of the Spirit of the Lord’s concern as He
moved the Apostle Paul to write Ephesians. Having proclaimed the
truth of the everlasting spiritual blessing of our forgiveness in
Christ (Ephesians 1:7), Paul emphasizes the importance of forgiving
be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as
God in Christ also forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)
one another is what accompanies being kind and tenderhearted. If
believers prominently keep in mind the forgiveness that was bought
and paid for by Jesus (Ephesians 5:1-2), they should keep on
maintaining a forgiving heart. Notice that Paul points to God’s
forgiveness as the basis for our forgiveness. The word translated
forgive in this passage emphasizes grace in forgiveness (charizomai).
We communicate kindness and tenderheartedness as we keep on forgiving
emotional vulnerability when angry
fact that we should guard against not letting go of justified anger
or righteous wrath before we go to bed is clear from what we are told
in Ephesians 4:26-27:
angry (orgizo) and do not sin': do not
let the sun go down on your wrath(parorgismos) nor
give place to the devil" (note the root
word orge found in parorgismos).
should never go to sleep filled with anger, even though our anger may
be justified because of the hurt and injury that someone caused. May
we look to the Lord for the grace to put our righteous wrath to rest
against those who have sinned against us or, possibly, others as
well. This warning is accompanied by the real danger that even
righteous wrath might turn to bitterness and sinful anger and that
this may be used by the devil and his cohorts to bring us into
understand from personal experience that often our emotions cause us
to lose the ability to think clearly. When sinful emotions take over
we are “in the dark” spiritually. God tells us we should be alert
to this and we must draw upon His grace to overcome these harmful
away the emotions that torture you because you refuse to forgive.
all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away
from you, with all malice. Ephesians 4:31
times, when we are reminded of the hurt that someone caused,
bitterness and sinful anger apparently may overcome us. These
emotions are often the torture that comes to us when we refuse to
forgive. They are a huge part of the torture designed by God to get
our attention. What are we to do about these sinful emotions? We are
told to put them away or put them off (cf. Colossians 3:8). In
Ephesians 4:31 “put away” translates airo which
is also used in another place to explain how Christ Jesus came to
taken away our sins (1 John 3:5).
we do not put away someone’s sin against us by forgiving them, the
Spirit of God is grieved (Ephesians 4:30). The fact that we are
commanded to “put away” these sinful emotions tells us that by
God’s grace, by the ministry of the Spirit through the new man, we
can do something about them. We need not be enslaved to them. With
God’s enabling grace, we can put a stop to these evil feelings.
(pikria, Acts 8:23; Romans 3:14: Hebrews 12:15)) is the
emotion that results when we dwell on how someone has hurt us and
begin to think about revenge. We become self-centered and filled with
self-pity. We can only think about ourselves or how we might
vindicate ourselves. Wrath (thumos, Luke 4:28; Acts
19:28) and anger (orge, 1 Timothy 2:8; James 1:19-20) are
expressed as we “clamor” for attention and speak evil of the
offender. We begin to plan malicious acts against our offenders.
was not true of Stephen (Acts 7). Stephen demonstrated the grace of
God as he was being stoned to death. His final words were words of
forgiveness and love for those who took his life. It seems that this
left a marked impression on a young man named Saul. Saul came to
faith in Jesus as his Messiah and Savior a short time later and
became the Apostle Paul who wrote the letter to the Ephesians. Paul
knew about forgiveness and deeply appreciated the forgiveness of God.
He had experienced the grace of God’s forgiveness. As the “chief
of sinners” who had persecuted believers in Christ, Paul became
well aware of his need for God’s forgiveness (1 Timothy 1:15-16).
do we put away the sinful emotions that torture us?
commands us to put away the sinful emotions that torture us. By the
grace of God through the ministry of the Spirit working through the
new man we can put away our sinful emotions. When the Holy Spirit
convicts you about your sinful emotions confess them as sin. Then
prayerfully consider the question, “Have I committed some sin that
caused these sinful emotions?” Oftentimes it is the sin of refusing
to forgive that has caused these emotions to surface. When the Spirit
brings to your attention that refusing to forgive is the sin that is
at the root of these emotional responses, then that sin must be
confessed as well. Receive the forgiveness granted to you by God
through Christ by admitting you have sinned (1 John 1:7, 9). Then
remind yourself of the huge debt of sin that God has forgiven you in
Christ. Ponder the wonder of His love and grace that He has expressed
these sinful emotions away is not easy (duh!). We may find that it is
very difficult to completely let go of the offense against us. We
forgive and let go and then we pick it up again in our thoughts. We
find ourselves hanging on to it and we rework it in our minds over
and over again. Very soon afterwards we are filled with bitterness
and sinful anger. Hopefully we do not descend to the point of
clamoring for attention by talking about it with others. May we stop
short of seeking revenge. May we not carry out injurious plans for
personal vindication (cf. Romans 12:14-21).
when we confess these sins and receive cleansing from God once again,
we return to the high road of forgiveness in God’s plan for us. Our
thoughts should then turn to Jesus and we should once again ponder
the great debt of sin that we have been forgiven because of Jesus’
sacrifice in our place. Do we deserve to be forgiven? No. Does the
person who has sinned against us deserve to be forgiven. No. Yet,
God’s plan for our lives is that we forgive as He forgave. When we
do forgive because we have been forgiven in Christ and maintain
forgiveness from the heart, God will free us from the emotional
torture of bitterness and anger. When we apply God’s Word by His
Spirit, He gives us peace.
let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were
called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in
you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in
psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your
hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:15-16
and illustrate the grace of God.
illustrate the grace and love of God when we forgive others. This is
crucially important in the ministry of a church. By forgiving one
another and putting up with each other, believers may powerfully
communicate the love and grace of God shown them in Christ Jesus.
chapter break is unfortunate at the close of Ephesians 4 because the
following verses emphasize the importance of being like God in
forgiveness and in the demonstration of love by Jesus Christ’s
be followers of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ
also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a
sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
we maintain hearts of forgiveness we demonstrate to others that we
truly are followers of God. When we keep on forgiving we shine forth
the light of the truth of Christ and are behaving in a way that is
consistent with whom we are in Christ. We have received total and
complete everlasting forgiveness in Christ. We are light in the Lord
(Ephesians 5:8). When we keep on forgiving we are walking as children
of light. We are behaving wisely by the power of the Spirit of God
the grace of God through the ministry of the Spirit through the new
man created in the image of Christ (Colossians 3:10), we may overcome
the emotional torment caused by refusing to forgive. We may express
the love and grace to others that God has given us in Christ Jesus.
warned those who do not forgive from the heart that they would be
turned over to the torturers (Matthew 18:35). The heavenly Father
will bring severe discipline upon those who refuse to forgive
(Hebrews 12:3-15). Often this discipline from the Father includes
May we forgive from the heart because we appreciate that we have been forgiven a huge debt of sin by our holy God and thereby be free of the emotional torture that results from refusing to forgive.
summary of God’s provisions for maintaining a heart of forgiveness:
Remember that in and through Jesus Christ, God has forgiven you a
huge debt of sin. Keep in mind that no one can offend you or sin
against you to the degree that you have sinned against God (Matthew
Ponder and dwell on the wondrous love and forgiveness God has granted
to you through Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:7; 1 John 1:9-2:2).
about the awful cost of your deliverance by the Son of God Himself.
Keep your eyes on Jesus (Ephesians 4:29-5:2; Colossians 3:1-16; 1
Peter 1:17-21; Hebrews 12:1-3).
Recognize that you cannot maintain a heart of forgiveness and forgive
again for the right reasons in your own strength (John 15:5).
Keep in mind the Lord’s command to not take your righteous wrath to
bed (Ephesians 4:25-27).
on the alert for signs of sinful anger and bitterness (Matthew
18:35). Remain sensitive to the convicting work of the Spirit from
the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 4:30-31; Colossians 3:8-10;
Confess to the Lord the sin of an unforgiving spirit when the Holy
Spirit causes you to realize that this is the reason for the
emotional torture of bitterness and anger (1 John 1:9; cp. Matthew
6:14-15; Psalm 32:1-6).
Cry out to God for the grace to keep on maintaining a heart of
forgiveness to forgive again and again so that your life will be a
testimony to His love and grace (John 13:35; 2 Peter 3:18; 2
questions and comments are appreciated ( firstname.lastname@example.org ).