Australian Bible Church – May 6, 2007
A CONTINUATION OF THE THRUST
AND BASE OF THE
OF AUSTRALIA ON BIBLICAL LINES …
FAITH AND FORGIVENESS
SOME SCRIPTURAL DIMENSIONS ON FORGIVENESS
DAVID and SHIMEI – an ILLUSTRATION – II SAMUEL 16
This episode occurs when Absolam, David’s pet son, with his vanity and vainglory, given permission too long, attacks his own father and seeks to overcome him, as he invades Jerusalem. David is delivered, and so great is his glory in this deliverance at the wise and longsuffering hand of the Lord, that when he is back in state, he forgives Shimei, with a full heart of gratitude to the Lord. Indeed, David did not even have the mocker killed, a work one of his followers offered to do for him. This occurred even WHILE Shimei was cursing him, as with a sad flock, David left Jerusalem, rather than have civil war in it. That, it is restraint!
PRINCIPLES INVOLVED IN FORGIVENESS
This is a type, an example of the Christian heart in forgiveness. So great is our glorying in the pardon, peace and kindness of the Lord, that it is not really so very hard to forgive those who in the most execrable, heartless and vicious kind of ways, have offended, hurt or assaulted us. This is not at all the same as blindness to danger, or moral indifference: it is all the more worthy and Christian when despite acute sensitivity to the WRONG done to us , BECAUSE it was wrong, we yet forgive.
If the party repeats offence, in
WEAKNESS of heart, slackness of mind, slowness of spirit, and shows real
evidence of REPENTANCE, then we show a wise and patient tolerance in continuing
to forgive. We are not to be sensitive, far less sensationalistic on wrongs
If however the party is repetitive and does NOT repent (Luke 17:4), then this is not the 70 times 7 case (Matthew 18:21ff.) as fully described in the New Testament. In Luke you see ‘if he repent’. This does not mean that we do NOT forgive even in that case (Matthew 6:14-15), and that we DO seek vengeance; for VENGEANCE IS MINE, says the Lord (Romans 12:19), and we are forbidden to take over HIS role. It does however mean that we have no desire to act as final judges for anyone (except to note that without Christ they WILL, like all others, be judged and should be warned), or to bring evil to others for the sake of our wounded spirits.
When the repetitive act is frequent, and the evil is plain, as with a murderous heart or a dishonest spirit, then of course the law takes its course; but NOT because we are going to ‘show’ that wretched fellow. Rather is it that when with much evil, the one sunk in evil and being evil, shows his endless hypocrisy, cunning or deceit, then the hatefulness is such that the end of the Lord’s mission of mercy for that person must come at length (Isaiah 57:15). Then we, hating evil, find it harder and harder even to see the former human being, now more manifest a son of hell, than once appeared (cf. John 6:70, 13:27).
Even then, consider how Christ did NOT, in a dazzling personal display, expose the iniquity of Judas, when at the supper He VERY quietly confirmed that yes, it was this Judas that would betray Him. People in general did not even realise that this had happened, so great was the RESTRAINT of Christ (John 13:28). Nevertheless, in GENERAL terms, He indicated of the one who would betray Him, that better were it for that man that he had never been born (Mark 14:21, on which point see I Peter 4:17, which speaks of judgment beginning at the house of God, and Acts 5:1ff.)!
Christ had in effect given Judas due warning, as seen in John 6:67,70 where He publicly makes it known to His disciples that one of them is a DEVIL! This led to heart-searching at the Last Supper (cf. Matthew 22:22-23, John 13:21). It gave ample scope for thought earlier! Indeed, warning may be fitting for professing Christians, just as we testify to others of the need to repent, and seek Christ (Ezekiel 33; 18; Proverbs 24:11-12; I Thessalonians 5:14).
WARNING AND FORGIVENESS
Fundamental in all this is the fact that there IS a time of judgment, and it WILL come; but we seek to avoid ACTING as if we were that judge. Do not try to take out the splinter in your brother’s eye, while you have a plank in your own, was Christ’s deliciously humorous show-down with pomposity and self-elevation – Matthew 7:1-6! In love HOPE for the one who has fallen. Yet it DOES and must mean that we WARN people of wolves in sheep’s clothing, lest they attack the lambs: but in this case, it is the scripture which judges the one who twists its truth and leaves its graces, as a ‘false prophet’ and so must be exposed (II Timothy 4:14, Acts 20:29-30).
When in this way the very mercy of the Lord is dishonestly twisted, and many are brought to ruin, warning is necessary as you see in the cases of Hymenaeus and his associate, Philetus who are seen exposed in II Timothy 2:17-18, and the principle is given in II Timothy 4:2.
In the spirit of the matter, the idea is to help the sinner find Christ, without specialising on acrimonious criticism. Human beings have enough strange tics and tit-for-tat mentality, which is low and small in spirit, without being encouraged to pursue it (on which see II Corinthians 12!). If however people insist on indulgence in what is legally condemned, the time comes when mercy on this earth, is taken over by law, and they find their just sanctions imposed by those whose business law is.
When even the State becomes immoral and lax, it may be tempting to take over as if a vigilante, and try to SHOW that person; but EVIL is better left to the Lord, when He sees fit to bring it. In the meantime and in the midst of all this, we must seek to PROTECT, as in Dafur, the innocent from their predators. In this, George Bush’s recent insistence is good.
We all have different gifts and we seek to use them as the Lord leads us, not concentrating on the evil, but on the good (I Corinthians 13:6); and if we MUST cover the evil, expose it, so that the truth of the Gospel more brightly appear, or victims be delivered, then so be it (II Timothy 4:2, Proverbs 24:12); but it is not with relish, for love does not rejoice in iniquity, but in the truth.
But perhaps you want to follow the Lord in the very strength of desiring mercy, knowing how you yourself could so readily fall. This is a good Christian spirit. You seek not to ‘rub it in’ if you can well avoid too much exposure when a fault occurs, because you love mercy. If someone is ‘overtaken in a fault’ we seek rather to restore than to trumpet it (Galatians 6:1). You see how different is that sort of incidental seeming affair from determined pursuit of evil!
FAITH AND FORGIVENESS
In fact, since judgment is coming, and wrongs will be righted, every mountain abased and every valley exalted (Isaiah 40), the crooked made straight, it is faith which is willing to rest in the Lord, wrestle to secure godliness as one buffets oneself (I Cor. 9:24-27), and while one is doing what IS one’s own business, seeks godliness in character and goodness in heart. Thus we see also in Galatians 5:22ff., there is just such fruit from the Lord.
To be Christ-like is always an aim as to the quality of spirit one shows (cf. I Corinthians 11:1), and one remembers always that expression from the heart of God… in Micah 7.
“ ‘Do not rejoice over me, my enemy;
When I fall, I will arise;
When I sit in darkness,
Lord will be a light
9 ‘I will bear the indignation of the Lord,
Because I have sinned against Him,
Until He pleads my case
And executes justice for me.
He will bring me forth to the light;
I will see His
10 ‘Then she who is my enemy will see,
And shame will cover her who said to me,
“Where is the Lord your God?”
My eyes will see her;
Now she will be trampled down
Like mud in the
11 “In the day when your walls are to be built,
In that day the decree shall go far and wide.
12 “In that day they shall come to you
From Assyria and the fortified cities,
From the fortress to the River,
From sea to sea,
And mountain to
13 “Yet the land shall be desolate
Because of those who dwell in it,
And for the fruit of their deeds.
14 “Shepherd Your people with Your staff,
The flock of Your heritage,
Who dwell solitarily in a woodland,
In the midst of Carmel;
Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead,
As in days of old.
15 “As in the days when you came out of the land of Egypt,
I will show them wonders.”
‘The nations shall see and be ashamed of all their might;
They shall put their hand over their mouth;
Their ears shall be deaf.
17 ‘They shall lick the dust like a serpent;
They shall crawl from their holes like snakes of the earth.
‘They shall be afraid of the Lord our God,
And shall fear because of You.
18 ‘Who is a God like You,
And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in mercy.
19 ‘He will again have compassion on us,
And will subdue our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins
Into the depths of the sea.
20 ‘You will give truth to Jacob
And mercy to Abraham,
Which You have sworn to our fathers
From days of old.’ ”
There are several sections in this glorious testimony to the mercy of the Lord. Let us pursue them with the text above before us.
First notice the HOPE in the Lord, despite the punishment for their sins. Then see the ADVICE to their enemies, not to GLOAT; for the Lord will deliver them who wait on Him, and here you see a picture of faith as it waits for its deliverance. Then see that in the interim, before the nation does return, there is to be judgment from the Lord, until the time comes when there is a repentant heart in that nation.
Next we see the call for those who DO know the Lord, to look after their people with spiritual grace and solicitude (Micah 7:14). Following this, we find that the Lord WILL act (7:15ff.): we are in this prominent case looking at Israel, the SINNER-type among the nations, who even killed the Lord as Messiah. How strong is His determination! He does not forget any of His promises. Instead, He will bring the nation back to the land promised, despite all their sins, just as among mankind He brings back the failed heart that did not in fact believe, but only had a form of faith, when it actually and at last comes to a living faith in the living God, and KNOWS Him. On this, see Jeremiah 9:23-24 – look this up! for it speaks with apt acuity to the heart.
Lastly we see, that having acted for Israel as at the Exodus, as the Age draws near to its end, the Lord will bring them back to their covenant of love. Indeed, He even makes an explicit parallel in Micah 7:15, to that ancient time. We reflect what this means for times to come! a thunderous event as in Deuteronomy 32:36-43. This time, however, it is IN Christ, the very One whom they killed that the action comes. We see the change of heart in Zechariah 12:10-13:1; and here is shown the MERCY of God.
Mercy! This is always the desired option instead of judgment, and lies at the heart of FORGIVENESS. We seek for mercy likewise for many minor ‘Israels’ who yet linger outside the kingdom, and pray continually, knowing that our prayers are not in vain (cf. Rev. 8:1ff.)
He DELIGHTS in mercy (Micah 7:18), as some delight in scoffing and scorn. Indeed, HE in MERCY will even also SUBDUE their iniquities and cast ALL their sins into “the depths of the sea”! There is the summit of forgiveness and the grace of its wonder. Thus Micah 7:8, to the end of the Chapter, exposes the heart of forgiveness: it even has DESIRE …It stems from God’s lovingkindness, His mercy. This is the quality we should deeply delight in, seeking to follow Him in this, as in brotherly love, we conduct ourselves in the Church of the Lord, the highway of help and the squadron of spiritual serviceability and kindness.