Leaving the Door Open: When Forgiveness Opens the Door

Today’s selected reading continues in the new Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically today’s passage begins with the twenty-first verse of the eighteenth chapter and continues through to the twelfth verse of the nineteenth chapter. “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, until seventy times seven. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, pay me that thou owest. And his fellow servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matthew 18:21-35).

 

            “And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coats of Judaea beyond Jordan; and great multitudes followed him; and healed him there. The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put here away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, have they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it” (Matthew 19:1-12).

 

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find one of the most powerful passages in all of Scripture concerning forgiveness. If there is one thing that makes the language of forgiveness so incredible when you consider the words found in this chapter is how also contained within this chapter is language concerning offense. As you begin reading with and from the twenty-first verse of this chapter you will find Peter coming unto the Lord Jesus and asking him how often his brother sinned against him and he forgive him. What makes this question all the more intriguing is when you consider the fact that the apostle Peter didn’t merely asking Jesus how often his brother sin against him and he forgive him. Instead that which we find the apostle Peter doing is actually placing a number on how many times his brother sinned against him and he forgiven. The apostle Peter would ask the Lord Jesus how often his brother would sin against him and he forgave him and then placed the number at seven times. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if the apostle Peter felt this particular number was generous—and not only generous but also satisfying the Law of Moses. The apostle Peter would have indeed had a reason why he would have used the number seven when asking the Lord Jesus how often he should forgive his brother. There is something truly astonishing when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture for it draws and calls our attention to the reality of how often the apostle Peter believed his brother should sin against him and he forgive him. We must needs recognize and understand the incredible language that is found in this passage of Scripture for it brings us face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding one’s brother sinning against us and our willingness to forgive him.

 

            I sit here today thinking about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the question the apostle Peter asked the Lord Jesus. If you take the time to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will encounter and come face to face with the absolutely tremendous truth surrounding the apostle Peter acknowledging that his brother would indeed sin against him. The words which are found in this passage of Scripture are absolutely incredible when you truly take the time to think about them—particularly in a passage where the Lord Jesus speaks of offenses. What’s more is that within this passage of Scripture—not only do you find the Lord Jesus speaking of offenses but also of being offended. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words within this passage of Scripture it’s that it is indeed true for offenses to come, however, we as the saints of God and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ are faced with the decision whether or not we are going to allow ourselves to become offended with the offender and offended because of the offense. There is a great need within our hearts and minds to recognize and understand the powerful truth that not only can and will offenses come but there are also going to be those who can and will offend us. It was the Lord Jesus who did in fact declare that it is impossible for offenses not to come before then declaring woe unto those by whom the offenses actually came. We must needs pay close attention to the words found in this passage of Scripture as it calls and draws our attention to the wonderful reality of offense coming and the decision we must needs make ourselves whether or not we are going to be offended with the offender and because of the offense.

 

            As I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture I am brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful and awesome truth surrounding offenses and how with every offense we are not only faced with the decision whether or not we are going to allow ourselves to be offended but also whether or not we going to be those who are going to refuse to forgive. This entire chapter calls and draws our attention to the incredible truth surrounding offense come and how with every offense comes a truly unique and challenging decision we must needs make within our hearts and minds. It was the Lord Jesus who did in fact declare that it was impossible but that offenses would and could come. These words of Jesus bring us face to face with the undeniable truth that offenses can and will come. If we are truly willing to be honest with ourselves we must needs admit that there have been times within our lives when we have not only been offended but have also chosen whether or not we are willing to forgive the one who had offended us. I have to admit that even as I am writing these words there is a great choice and decision we must needs make whenever we are indeed faced with offenses—and not only offenses but also with those who can and will offend us. We must needs understand and recognize that with every offense we must deliberately and intentionally choose whether or not we are going to allow ourselves to be offended as well as whether or not we are going to be those who are going to choose to forgive or not to forgive that one who has sinned against us.

 

            If you read the words found within this passage of Scripture you will find it beginning with the disciples of Jesus asking Him who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Upon hearing this particular question the Lord Jesus would call unto Himself a little child and setting the child in the midst of them. Immediately after setting the child in the midst of Himself and the disciples the Lord Jesus would declare unto His disciples that except they be converted and become as little children they would not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Not only this but the Lord Jesus would also declare that whosoever therefore would humble himself as the little child which was present among them—the same would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. The disciples would come to the Lord Jesus and ask Him who was the greatest in the kingdom—a question which should have never been asked by the disciples in the first place. The disciples would indeed ask the Lord Jesus who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven and Jesus would not only set a child before them but would also declare unto them except be converted they would not enter into the kingdom of heaven. The words we find here must needs be considered for they call and draw our attention to yet something else Jesus would declare could and would prevent us from entering into the kingdom of heaven. You will recall in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus declared that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees we would not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Jesus would indeed declare unto His disciples and those hearing and listening to the words He would speak that unless their righteousness exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees they would not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Now the Lord Jesus would declare unto the Lord Jesus that unless His disciples converted and become as little children they would not even enter into the kingdom of heaven.

            We read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and are brought face to face with the incredible truth surrounding this encounter between the Lord Jesus and His disciples. When the Lord Jesus would speak unto His disciples concerning who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven he wouldn’t provide them with a name of anyone who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven. What makes this all the more intriguing when you consider the words found in this passage you will find the Lord Jesus speaking of John the Baptist earlier and declaring how among those born of women there was not one greater than John the Baptist. With this being said, however, the Lord Jesus would also declare unto his disciples that whosoever was the least in the kingdom of heaven would be greater than John the Baptist. The disciples would ask the Lord Jesus who the greatest in the kingdom of heaven was and instead of declaring unto them who the greatest in the kingdom of heaven would indeed be Jesus would set a child among them in their midst and declare unto them that except they be converted and become as little children they would not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Jesus wouldn’t even really speak to who was indeed greatest in the kingdom of heaven and would instead speak unto them of being converted and becoming as little children. The Lord Jesus would emphatically declare unto His disciples that they not only needed to be converted but also needed to become a little children. This would immediately be followed by the Lord declaring unto them that whosoever would humble themselves as the child which was among them in their presence the same would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

 

            YE SHALL NOT ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN! THE SAME IS GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN! The words which you find in this passage of Scripture are incredibly unique and powerful when you take the time to think about them for they call and draw your attention—not only to the truth surrounding those who can and will enter into the kingdom of heaven but also those who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. The disciples would come to Jesus asking who the greatest in the kingdom of heaven was and the Lord Jesus would not only declare unto them except they be converted and become as little children they would not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Jesus would follow this up with the wonderful truth surrounding those who are willing to humble themselves as a little child and would indeed become greatest in the kingdom of heaven. What’s more is that immediately after this the Lord Jesus would declare that whoso would receive one such little child in His name received Him. The language found in this passage of Scripture takes a dramatic and sharp turn when we find Jesus shifting from receiving one of these little children in His name and those who would offend one of these little children in the kingdom of heaven. The Lord Jesus would declare unto those who were present on this particular day that those who offended one of these such little children it would be better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. What makes the words within this passage so incredibly unique is when you consider that immediately after this the Lord Jesus would pronounce woe unto the world because of offenses because it must needs be that offences come. Not only this but Jesus would declare woe unto that man by whom the offense comes.

 

            I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the reality of what the Lord Jesus would declare unto His disciples. The disciples would come unto Jesus asking who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven and Jesus would not only speak unto them concerning being converted and becoming as a little child but He would also call them to humble themselves as the little child which was present among them in their midst. Jesus would declare that whosoever would humble himself as this little child would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven and whose would receive one such little child in His name received Him. What makes the words in this passage so incredibly unique when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the fact that the words and language would transition from who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven to offenses being committed in the earth. Jesus would speak concerning those who would receive one of these little children in His name and would shift it to those who would offense one of these such children. This would immediately be followed by the Lord Jesus speaking of the world and how woe unto the world for and because of offenses. The Lord Jesus would also go on to declare that it were impossible but that offenses would come and then pronounce woe unto that man by whom offences came. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for the language in this passage would shift to offenses—and not only offenses but being offended and making the decision whether or not we can and will forgive those who would sin and trespass against us.

 

            I read the words found in this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding the Lord Jesus’ words. The Lord Jesus would indeed declare unto His disciples that offenses would indeed come and that offenses were unavoidable. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it brings us face to face with the undeniable truth surrounding offenses coming in the midst of the earth and the decision we need to make whether or not we will be offended with the offender and/or whether or not we are willing to forgive the one who has sinned, trespassed against and offended us. The words and language that is found in this passage of Scripture calls and draws our attention to the truly awesome and powerful truth surrounding the disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ and how we handle and treat offenses when they come. That which we find in this passage of Scripture calls and draws our attention to the incredible truth surrounding the Lord Jesus’ words and how He did in fact declare that offenses would come and would be manifested in the earth and how we handle and what we do with those offenses. We as the saints of God must needs recognize and understand whether or not we are going to be those who allow ourselves to be offended when offenses came and/or whether or not we are those who are willing to forgive the ones who have offended us. Jesus made it perfectly and abundantly clear when speaking unto His disciples that offenses can and will come and that we must needs make a decision whether or not we are going to be those who will be offended with the offender and because of the offense. Not only this but we must needs make a decision whether or not we are going to be those who can and will forgive those who have sinned and trespassed against us.

 

            If you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you can and will be brought face to face with the words which we see in verses fifteen through twenty. As you read the words which are found here you will find the Lord Jesus speaking unto His disciples and declaring concerning their brother and their brother trespassing against them. The Lord Jesus provided the instruction and command unto His disciples concerning their brother trespassing against them and how they were to go and tell the brother his fault between the two parties. The Lord Jesus would declare that if the brother heard him when he spoke unto him concerning his offense he had gained his brother. Jesus would go on to follow this up by speaking of their brother and if their brother would not hear them then they were to take with them one or two more that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word would be established. Jesus would take this even further and declare that if their brother would neglect to hear them and the brother brought with them they were to tell it unto the church. If when the brother brought the offense to the church and even in that place they neglected to hear the church this one was to unto them as a heathen man and a publican. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to offenses, to trespasses, to be sinned against and the decision we must needs make within our hearts and our minds.

 

            I read the words found in this passage and I can’t help but be confronted with three distinct realities we must needs recognize when dealing with offenses. When we read the words found in this passage of Scripture we are brought face to face with whether or not we can and will be offended—not only with the offender but also offended by the offense itself. There is a great need within our hearts and our minds to make a conscious and deliberate decision whether or not we are going to be those who will allow ourselves to be offended with that one who has sinned and trespassed against us. One of the greatest things we must needs realize upon reading the words found in this passage of Scripture is whether or not we are willing to live our lives completely and utterly free from being offended—not only offended by the offense itself but offended with the offender themselves. Jesus Himself emphatically declared that it was impossible but that offenses came which means that we must needs make the decision what we are going to do when the offenses come within our lives. One of the greatest truths we have to decide and determine within our hearts and our minds is whether or not we are going to be those who can and will be offended with those who sin and trespass against us. How we treat and handle this is indeed incredibly necessary when we think about those who sin and trespass against us. We as the saints of God and the disciples of Christ must needs be those who ask ourselves whether we are willing to deliver ourselves from being offended—despite the sin and trespasses which are committed against us.

 

            As you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you must allow ourselves to encounter the truth of whether or not you will allow yourself to be offended with the offender and by the offense. The more you read the words found in this passage of Scripture the more you can and will be brought face to face with the amazing truth whether or not we can and will be those who will make the decision to deliver ourselves from being offended for it is only when we are willing to deliver ourselves from being offended that we can allow ourselves to not only seek to be reconciled with the one who has sinned and trespassed against us but also are willing to forgive them. I read the words found in this passage of Scripture and I have to admit that the language contained here calls and draws our attention to how we handle offenses and those who have sinned and trespassed against us. Those who are truly willing to deliver themselves from offense and being offended within their hearts and minds are those who are willing to be reconciled to our brother who has sinned and trespassed against us. What’s more is that not only are we faced with the decision whether or not we are willing to be reconciled with our brother but also whether or not we are willing to forgive our brother who has in fact trespassed against us. What’s more is that when you read these words you must needs admit that you will be brought to face to face with the words which the Lord Jesus spoke in the Sermon on the Mount. Not only this but you must also admit that you will be brought face to face with the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the twelfth chapter of the epistle written unto the Romans as well as the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the sixth chapter of the first epistle written unto the saints which were in Corinth. Consider if you will the following words which are found in each of these passages and how they call and draw our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding that which the Lord Jesus spoke unto His disciples:

 

            “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt no kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That showoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farting” (Matthew 4:21-26).

 

            “ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to g a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:38-48).

 

            “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhore that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:9-21).

 

            “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? No not, one that shall be able to judge  between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:1-11).

 

            It is absolutely necessary we recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found within these passages of Scripture for at the very heart of them is a question which must needs be asked of countless men and women in our generation. The question which must needs be asked is one the apostle Paul asked the Corinthian congregation in the first epistle written unto them and is a question which has been asked countless times of countless individuals since then. In all reality there are two distinct questions the apostle Paul asked the Corinthian congregation when you take the time to read this passage in the sixth chapter of this first epistle. The first question simply asks them why they would not rather take wrong while the second question is why they would not rather suffer themselves to be defrauded. This is perhaps one of the most intriguing and captivating questions we can and should ask ourselves—particularly and especially when it comes to experiencing hurt, offense, wrongdoing and the like. It was Jesus the Christ who emphatically declared that it was impossible but that offenses would come and yet there have been countless men and women throughout the generations who have tried to guard their hearts and themselves from being offended, from being sinned against and being trespassed against. The questions the apostle Paul asks in this particular passage of Scripture are very pointed and powerful when you take the time to think about them for these questions ask the Corinthian why they would not rather take wrong and why they would not rather suffer or allow themselves to be defrauded.

 

            The question the apostle Peter asked of the Lord Jesus on this particular occasion is actually quite astonishing when you think about it—particularly and especially when you consider it in light of the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints. The question the apostle Peter asked the Lord is how often his brother should sin against him and he forgive him. Please do not miss the tremendous importance of the question the apostle Peter asked the Lord for there are a number of different moving parts to it. Within this question the apostle Peter asked the Lord there is ultimately a statement that his brother would indeed sin against him. It is impossible to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the incredible truth that the apostle Peter acknowledged that his brother would indeed sin and trespass against him. What’s more is that when you read the words found in this passage you will not only find the apostle Peter acknowledging that his brother would sin against him but that it was in fact his brother or a brother who would sin against him. This is something we have great need of paying close attention to when considering the words found in this passage of Scripture for it’s one thing for an enemy or an adversary—or one we would deem as such—to sin and trespass against us. There is something to be said about a perceived enemy and adversary who can and would sin against us, however, there is something entirely and altogether different about a brother who would dare sin and trespass against us.

 

            The question the apostle Peter asks of the Lord on this particular occasion is one which must needs strike at the very heart of that which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints. When the apostle Paul wrote these words unto the Corinthian saints he wasn’t speaking of enemies, adversaries or those outside the church who would sin and trespass against those who would read his epistle. The words the apostle Paul wrote in this particular section of the first epistle written unto the Corinthian congregation addresses and speaks to the incredible truth that there would indeed be times when our brother and/or our sister would in fact sin and trespass against someone else within the church. The words and language contained within this passage are such which must be recognized and understood for the apostle Paul recognized and understood the inherent danger within the Corinthian congregation concerning offenses and trespasses. There were those present within this congregation who would experience sin and trespass being committed against them and instead of allowing themselves to suffer wrong and to take it as a true disciple of the Lord Jesus they would take them to court. What’s more is that not only would they take their brother or sister to court but they would take them to court among the Gentiles. There were those in the Corinthian congregation who wouldn’t merely take their wrongs, their trespasses and their offenses unto the church like the Lord Jesus instructed in this passage of Scripture but would instead take them to the courts of the Gentiles. Pause for a moment and consider what this would indeed look like as there were those in the Corinthian congregation who not only would not suffer wrong and not only would not allow themselves to be reconciled to their brother but would actually take them to court among the Gentiles.

 

            I sit here today thinking about the words which are found in the sixth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthians and I can’t help but ask myself the question of whether or not I am willing to suffer and take wrong—and not only suffer and take wrong but perhaps even suffer and take wrong on more than one occasion. If you read and understand the question the apostle Peter asked of the Lord Jesus you will find that he didn’t ask the Lord Jesus how often others should sin against them and he forgive them thus implying multiple people sinning and trespassing against him. The question which the apostle Peter asked on this particular occasion addressed and acknowledged the fact that a brother would and could sin against him. Moreover the question the apostle Peter would ask of the Lord Jesus was such that also acknowledge that his brother or a brother could not only sin and trespass against him but do so multiple times. The question the apostle Peter asked of the Lord Jesus afforded and allowed his brother to sin against him—and not only sin against him but to sin against him seven times. The question the apostle Peter asked of the Lord Jesus was such that acknowledged that his brother would and could sin against him—and not only sin against him but sin against him up to seven times. Oh this is something we dare not and must not misunderstand when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture for the apostle Peter might very well have thought that he was being gracious in affording his brother the opportunity to sin against him seven times.

 

            As I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture I can’t help but be brought face to face with the incredible truth the apostle Peter might very well have thought himself to be gracious in not only allowing his brother to sin against him but to sin against him up to seven times. What’s more is that the question the apostle Peter not only acknowledge it was a brother who would sin against him, and not only that a brother could sin against him, but it would also acknowledge a brother sinning against him seven times. Pause for a moment and ask yourself how you would react and how you would feel if a brother—perhaps even a brother who were close to—sinned and trespassed against you. Remember the old adage “Fool me once shame on you; fool me twice shame on me?” These words carry with them tremendous meaning when you take the time to think about them for how many men and women take the meaning and weight of these words unto themselves when it comes to being sinned and trespassed against? How many men and women might allow and afford a brother or sister to sin against them once and perceive that to be the fault of their brother. If, however, that brother is able to sin and trespass against them a second time the fault is not on their brother or sister but them. This old adage seems to suggest that if another sins against or trespasses against us a second time the fault lies not with them but with us for we allowed it to happen. Take this line of thought and transpose and extrapolate it upon the question the apostle Peter asked of the Lord Jesus. The apostle Peter asked the Lord how often his brother should sin against him and he forgive him—a question that would immediately be followed by the apostle asking if his brother should sin against him seven times and he forgive him seven times.

 

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for there is a tremendous importance that is found within it. The apostle Peter did indeed and did in fact acknowledge this brother would and could sin against him. What the apostle Peter also acknowledges is that his brother could sin against him more than once and on more than one occasion. Not only this but I would even dare say it was possible for a brother to sin against us more than once in the same week—and not even in the same week but perhaps even in the same day and even in the very same hour. This is something we must needs allow ourselves to come to terms with for the apostle Peter didn’t speak to nor did he address someone outside the disciples or those who followed Jesus sinning against him. That which the apostle Peter asked the Lord Jesus was a question surrounding a brother—perhaps one who was akin to him and one whom he regarded and respected—sinning against him. The question the apostle Peter asked on this particular occasion not only acknowledged that a brother could sin against us but also that a brother could sin against us seven times. Pause for a moment and ask yourself if you would allow and even stand for a brother sinning against you more than once. Would you even allow and afford a brother to sin against you more than once—regardless of whether it’s more than once in a day, or more than once in a week, a month or even a year? How many people feel as though a brother sinning against them once in a given year is one too many times in their estimation and opinion.

 

            These words which are found in this passage of Scripture call and draw our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the apostle Peter asking the question how often his brother should sin against him. Not only does the question the apostle Peter asked address how often his brother should sin against him but it also addresses the reality that his brother could sin against him more than once. Perhaps the question we must needs ask ourselves is how and why our brother could sin against us more than once and on more than one occasion. We know and understand that it might be possible for our brother to sin against us on one occasion—and perhaps not merely on one occasion but maybe even on a second occasion. The question then becomes how and why a brother would sin against us more than once—a question of motive and intention for how and why could a brother sin and trespass against us more than once within and throughout the course of our lives. The question the apostle Peter asked of the Lord Jesus is such that acknowledges the tremendous truth that our brother might very well be the one who sins and trespasses against us. What’s more is the question the apostle Peter asked of the Lord Jesus acknowledges the tremendous reality that our brother could indeed sin against us more than once. The apostle Peter’s question seemed to imply that he might be willing to allow his brother to sin against him seven times and seven times he forgave him. With this being said, however, I can’t help but think about this question the apostle Peter asked and what happens on the eighth time. If your brother sinned against you seven times I have to ask what makes you think and even believe they will not and could not sin against you an eighth time. If you brother does indeed and does in fact sin against you seven times and you forgive them each of those seven times you must needs understand that your forgiveness leaves the door open for them to sin against you again.

 

            WHEN FORGIVENESS OPENS THE DOOR! WHEN FORGIVENESS LEAVES THE DOOR OPEN! I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the tremendous reality of how forgiveness does indeed open and leave the door open for another to sin and trespass against us again. The apostle Peter acknowledged the fact that his brother might sin against him and that he would be willing to forgive him. What the apostle Peter’s question also acknowledged is that forgiveness opens and leaves the door open for us to be sinned and trespassed again. This question the apostle Peter asked of the Lord Jesus not only speaks of it being a brother who sinned and trespassed against him, not only speaks to a brother sinning against him seven times, and not even that he might be willing to forgive his brother seven times. The question the apostle Peter asked of the Lord Jesus speaks to the tremendous reality that forgiveness does indeed and does in fact leave the door open for us to be sinned and trespassed against within and throughout the course of our lives. If someone sins against us one time and we forgive them it is indeed the means of being reconciled to them and delivering ourselves from offense through forgiveness, however, our forgiveness more often than not leaves the door open for that same brother to sin against us again.

 

            I am writing these words and I can’t help but be brought face to face with how absolutely incredible and tremendous they truly are. The question the apostle Peter asked of the Lord Jesus didn’t merely address the fact that his brother could and would sin against him seven times but it also addressed the fact that he might be willing to forgive that brother each of those seven times. Where I find this to be truly unique and challenging is when you consider the fact that if your brother has sinned against you seven times—what makes you think they cannot and perhaps even will not sin against you an eighth time. If you brother has already sinned against you seven times then I can’t help but ask how and/or even why you would think that it would not be possible for them to sin against you an eighth time. What’s more is how you will respond and react if that same brother sins against you an eighth time. This brother has already sinned and trespassed against you seven times and you have forgiven them seven times and yet I would dare say that inevitably the time will come when you brother can and will sin against you an eighth time. The great question which must needs be asked when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture is such that draws and calls our attention to the undeniable reality that it’s possible for our brother to sin against us an eighth time and with that eighth time we are faced with the decision whether or not we are willing to forgive them or whether or not our grace, our forgiveness and our compassion is only good up to seven times.

 

            Please don’t miss and lose sight of the importance of what is found within this passage of Scripture for the words we find here call and draw our attention to the incredible reality that it is indeed possible for our brother to sin against us more than once. Not only this but the very question the apostle Peter asked of the Lord Jesus addresses and makes it possible for a brother to sin against us seven times within and throughout the course of our lives. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the undeniable reality that our brother can in fact sin against us more than once. This is something we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to something we more often than not don’t attribute or ascribe to forgiveness—namely that forgiveness does in fact leave the door open for us to be sinned and trespassed against. I have to admit that I have read these passages countless times and throughout the many years I have read them I have never seen or even understood this about forgiveness. We know that forgiveness does indeed deliver us from offense—and not only delivers us from offense but also delivers us from holding a grudge and harboring bitterness toward that one who sinned and trespassed against us. What we must needs recognize and understand, however, is that forgiveness does more than just deliver us from being offended and from holding a grudge. Forgiveness opens and leaves the door open for that brother or that sister to sin and trespass against us. Even the very question the apostle Peter asked the Lord Jesus acknowledges the truth that forgiveness leaves the door open for that same brother to sin and trespass against us.

 

            Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture is whether or not we are willing to leave the door open for our brother to sin and trespass against us again. There is a great need for us to acknowledge and understand that forgiveness does indeed and does in fact leave the door open for our brother and/or our sister to sin against us again. If there is one thing we must needs recognize concerning the Lord’s answer to the apostle Peter’s question is what the Lord takes those seven times he was willing to forgive his brother who sinned against him and flipped it on its head. The apostle Peter thought his brother might sin against him seven times and that he would forgive his brother seven times, however, what we must needs understand is that the Lord Jesus took those seven times and multiplied it times seventy. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it calls and draws our attention to forgiveness—and not only to forgiveness but how forgiveness does indeed and does in fact leave the door open for others to sin and trespass against us. The question the apostle Peter asked of the Lord Jesus suggests and affords the possibility for that same brother to sin against him an eighth time and yet the Lord Jesus would take it beyond an eighth time to a number that might have shocked and surprised the apostle Peter and the other disciples. The other disciples might have agreed with the apostle Peter concerning forgiving their brother seven times, however, Jesus would take those seven times and turn it entirely and altogether on its head as the Lord Jesus would multiply those seven times by seventy.

 

            Pause for a moment and consider the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and the incredible truth surrounding forgiveness. Think about forgiveness and how forgiveness does indeed and does in fact leave the door open for the same one who previously sinned and trespassed against us to do so again. Forgiving our brother who sinned and trespassed against us once leaves the door open for that same brother to sin and trespass against us against. What’s more is that with each subsequent time our brother sins against us—and not only sins against us but our willingness to forgive him each of those seven times—the door is left open for our brother to be able to sin against us again. If there is one thing we must needs understand when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s how the apostle could indeed have guarded and protected himself from his brother sinning against him again. The apostle Peter could have distanced himself from that brother who sinned against him even after he had forgiven him of the trespass committed against him. The apostle Peter could have allowed the brother to sin and trespass against him and even forgiven him of that trespass and as a direct result done everything he could to guard and protect him from being sinned and trespassed against again. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it calls and draws our attention to the undeniable truth surrounding the fact that our brother could indeed sin and trespass against us and we make the conscious and deliberate decision to forgive them. With that being said, however, it is entirely and altogether possible for us to do anything and everything to ensure they are never able to sin and trespass against us again. Oh there is something incredibly unique about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the fact that even when we forgive we are faced with the decision of whether or not we are willing to leave the door open for our brother to sin against us again or whether we can and will try and shut that door.

 

            The more I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that while forgiveness does indeed open and leave open the door for our brother to sin and trespass against us we also have a conscious decision whether or not we are willing to leave the door open. I firmly believe that forgiving our brother who has in fact sinned and trespassed against us can in fact leave the door open for them to sin against us again, however, we must needs acknowledge the tremendous truth surrounding the decision we make within ourselves whether or not we are willing to forgive and then immediately go on the defensive. FORGIVENESS AND DEFENSE! In all reality I would dare say that forgiveness can in fact be accompanied by two distinct actions we can commit within our lives after one has sinned against us and we have forgiven them. Forgiveness can indeed be followed by the offensive as we begin to engage ourselves in behaviors which are contrary to Scripture as we might react in a manner we ought not to. With this being said we must needs recognize that we can also forgive and immediately go on the defensive. Please note that what I mean by forgiving and going on the defensive is how we forgive but then immediately begin to erect walls, and barriers and borders and boundaries around ourselves to ensure that we are not sinned and trespassed against. Oh there is a great need for us to recognize and pay close attention to this and how absolutely incredible it truly is within our lives for us to understand.

 

            The question the apostle Peter asked of the Lord Jesus does in fact speak to the fact that his brother could sin against him seven times and he forgive that brother seven times. What the apostle Peter perhaps did not even think about is that if his brother sinned against him seven times it is very likely they might and very well could sin against him an eighth time. What’s more is the question which the apostle Peter asked of the Lord Jesus suggests that forgiveness can indeed and can in fact leave the door open for that brother to in fact sin and trespass against us again. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding forgiveness and how forgiveness does indeed and does in fact allow and afford our brother the opportunity to sin against us again and again and again. Not only this but the question the apostle Peter asked suggested his brother sin against him seven times and he forgive his brother each of those seven times. The response of Jesus takes this a step further and not only extends and extrapolates the brother sinning and trespassing against Peter but also the forgiveness within the heart and soul of the apostle Peter. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning the response of the Lord Jesus it’s that our brother could indeed and could in fact sin against us up to seventy times seven times and we are to not only take and suffer that wrong but also forgive them each and every one of those times. There is something truly unique and powerful about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for not only does forgiveness leave the door open to be sinned and trespassed against an eighth time but the Lord Jesus Himself opened the door and left it open for multiple times beyond the eighth.

 

As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the question the apostle Peter asked and the response of the Lord Jesus. The apostle Peter asked the Lord Jesus how often his brother could sin against him and he forgive him and then presented up to seven times. What we must needs recognize concerning the words which the apostle Peter asked the Lord is that by very nature his question opens and leaves the door open for an eighth time. The question the apostle Peter asked of the Lord Jesus not only suggests the fact his brother could sin against him an eighth time but also that his willingness to forgive each of those times opens and leaves the door open for that additional offense. If there is one thing the words the Lord Jesus spoke unto the apostle Peter must needs call and draw our attention to it’s that not only is it possible for that eighth time to come but we also must needs not be shocked and/or surprised by that eighth time. What’s more is the response of the Lord Jesus seems to afford our brother and unlimited time of sinning and trespassing against us within and throughout the course of that relationship or even a lifetime. What we must needs understand is that this isn’t entirely about that brother who would sin and trespass against us but rather our willingness to forgive that brother—this despite and regardless of how many times they sin and trespass against us. The question the apostle Peter which the Lord Jesus answered and responded to calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful and tremendous truth surrounding that with each sin, with each wrong and with each trespass we are faced with the decision whether or not we are willing to be those who forgive. Not only must we recognize and understand whether or not we are willing to be those who are willing to forgive but we must also recognize and understand how our forgiveness does in fact open and leave the door open for that brother and/or that sister to sin and trespass against us again. The question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to be those who are willing to forgive others their trespasses against us from the heart—not only that we might deliver ourselves from offense, and not only that we might deliver the offender themselves from being in a prison we create for them within our minds but also that we might recognize how forgiveness does in fact leave the door open to be sinned and trespassed against again and again.

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