Repentance Precedes Forgiveness
Repentance precedes forgiveness, for if we have not truly repented of our ungodliness, we will not receive the Lords forgiveness.
A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church
14 September 2014
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Repentance precedes forgiveness, for if we have not truly repented of our ungodliness, and received the Lords forgiveness, and forgiven ourselves, we can never truly love one another or really forgive them.
We have heard people say that they thank an animal for giving his or her life, and even thank God, so they could eat their flesh, but that is extremely hypocritical, for they think that such actions justify their behavior, when they do not.
The animals never “gave” their lives; they wanted to live just as much as we do. Their lives were taken by force.
Such people deny the fact that God created the animals to be our companions, and not our food, and thus they see no need to repent of their sins.
These people lack unlimited love and the ability to truly forgive others.
Peter and Jesus talk about these things as recorded in Matthew 18:21-35…
- Then Peter came and said to Him [Jesus], “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
Peter thought he was being very forgiving, but notice that he puts a limit on his forgiveness.
As with unlimited love, forgiveness should also be unlimited.
Peter was still learning, just like we are, and he didn’t quite understand that complete repentance precedes forgiveness if it is going to be unlimited.
- Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
In other words, our forgiveness must be unlimited, just like our love.
Then Jesus tells a parable.
- “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a certain king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.
- “And when he had begun to settle them, there was brought to him one who owed him ten thousand talents.
This is a huge sum of money; more money than any servant or slave could possibly pay back.
- “But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made.
- “The slave therefore falling down, prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will repay you everything.’
- “And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.
This is true forgiveness, much in the same way that the Lord forgives us; but how did the slave receive such forgiveness?
- “But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’
- “So his fellow slave fell down and began to entreat him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’
This is exactly what the original slave did and was forgiven.
- “He was unwilling however, but went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.
There is no way a person in prison could pay back a debt; in fact, it costs money to keep a person in prison.
But this is an excellent example of why repentance precedes forgiveness, for in this case the first slave was not truly sorry for what he had done, and thus he was unable to truly see his own failures and sins; thus, he could not truly forgive his fellow slave.
- “So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened.
- “Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me.
- ‘Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you?’
- “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.
This is Jesus’ way of giving an example of being sent to hell.
- “So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”
This is a very stern message.
It is also why repentance precedes forgiveness, for if it doesn’t, we will continue to have these kinds of problems.
Paul goes into another example of how repentance precedes forgiveness in Romans 14:1-12, but this example is a little more complicated, because it neglects the connection between the suffering of animals and true repentance.
- Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.
The whole point of this discussion is about the then ongoing dispute between the Jewish Christians, who did not eat meat sacrificed to idols, and the Gentile Christians who ate the meat.
It is also important for us to consider the fact that Paul also ate animal flesh, even though he was a Jewish Christian.
From these writings it appears that Paul considered himself to be strong in the faith because he ate meat sacrificed to idols, because he knows they are not gods, but at the same time he recognizes that they represent demons, which adds to the confusion of Paul’s comments.
- One man has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.
Think about this in terms of what Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:3…
- “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
We strongly believe that the ones who don’t eat meat are much closer to the kingdom of heaven, if they do it for reasons of compassion, as we are told in Matthew 5:4-9…
- “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
- “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
- “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
- “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
- “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
- “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
These beatitudes sure sound like they are describing people who don’t eat meat for reasons of compassion, and there seems to be no way of reconciling those flesh eating attitudes with the attributes set forth in these verses.
Keep these things in mind as we go on.
- Let not him who eats regard with contempt him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats, for God has accepted him.
This is true, because we are to love people into the kingdom of heaven, but in the process we are not to compromise ourselves to partake in the ways of the world, for judgement belongs to the Lord.
- Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and stand he will, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
And Paul goes on…
- One man regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind.
The problem here is that most people seem to think that if people justify worldly ways of living in their own minds, that it’s acceptable to God; but the Bible doesn’t say that.
Only those things that are in the heavenly will of God are acceptable to God.
The ways of the world only honor the devil, and we are to reject such things.
When people are truly born again, they should recognize these things.
- He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.
This does not mean that the eating of flesh makes it acceptable to God in His heavenly will.
- For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself;
- for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
This still means that we must be living in the heavenly will of God and not in the ways of the world.
If our true repentance precedes forgiveness, then we will separate ourselves from the ways of the world with all its pain, suffering, bloodshed, and death, and begin to live as peacemaking children of God who follow His heavenly will.
- For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
- But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.
We should be recognizing the worldly ways of those around us with sorrow and without contempt or judgement; we are to love them into the kingdom of God.
- For it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall give praise to God.”
- So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.
This applies to both those who live in the heavenly will of God and help free creation from its present corruption, as well as those who continue to live in the worldly ways around us and add to the corruption.
We can only repent of the ways of the world if repentance precedes forgiveness, otherwise we continue to try to justify the corrupted and ungodly ways of the world.
We are to follow the heavenly will of God and help bring it to earth as it is in heaven.
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