Forgiveness and the Kingdom of God
“Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants”
Matthew 18:23-35 (prayerfully read the entire parable)
Receiving forgiveness myself while holding unforgiveness for others, is like sitting in a prison cell with the door unlocked, yet unable to leave. Bitterness towards others poisons myself.
Hypocrisy is the bane of religion. It is only as we respond to His conviction that we become free indeed. The natural man despises and refuses to be accountable to God but will gladly receive his own forgiveness; but in failing to forgive others he prevents his own.
“But if ye forgive not men their trespasses,
neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”
James refers to the Law of the New Covenant as the “perfect law of liberty”. There can be no true freedom without laws to govern our unruly and undisciplined self.
“But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed”
To enjoy this “law of liberty” I must abide within its blessings by being a “doer of the work”! The weights of bitterness lose their hold on my heart in the extending of forgiveness to others. It is the law of appropriation and grace. By my participation in His Kingdom, I am afforded the blessings of the Kingdom.
Paul refers to this law in Romans Chapter 8:
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus
hath made me free from the law of sin and death”
As we abide within the wonder of this “law”, we are freed from the natural law of sin and death. There is a compliance to the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus”. James speaks to us of our being “a doer of the work”. Forgiveness is the work and expression of a heart which has readily received of His forgiveness. Through His work of forgiveness to us we become a channel for it into the lives of others. In the cleansing flow of His Life, we are made partakers of His Kingdom.
Forgiveness is not a natural propensity of fallen man. It requires the deep work of Christ within to be freed from the bitterness of self. Doing the work is the key to our own freedom.
“We then, as workers together with Him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain”
2 Corinthians 6:1
The “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” makes us “workers together with Him”! Jesus came to destroy the works of the Devil. In our participation of extending forgiveness we destroy the “works of the Devil” within ourselves and offer freedom to those we forgive.
It is from an unforgiving heart that the evil words of bitterness, malice, guile, and deception flow. God’s Word seeks to warn us of our ways with the intent that we may grow in the “perfect law of liberty”.
“If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain”
The vanity of one’s religion is revealed by an unbridled tongue.
It is a foolish and deadly concept to speak of the Kingdom of God apart from our own accountability to its law of life. Forgiveness requires a deep and powerful ministration of the “law of Life” only available in Christ Jesus our Lord. Our sense of justice must bow to the One who bore all the injustices of this world. It requires a relinquishing of our pain that we may experience the joy of His salvation.
It has been with difficulty that I have found grace to grow in His Life and forgiveness. We are are to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling”. From my own personal experience forgiving others has played a large part in working out His salvation in my life.
With the mirror of His Word we are able to become free from the hypocrisy of self. Hypocrisy is simply speaking one thing but doing another.
“So speak ye, and so do,
as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty”
It is the Law of Liberty that we are accountable to! The Holy Spirit confirms our standing with God in the next verse.
“For he shall have judgment without mercy,
that hath shewed no mercy…”
“It is vain for us to pray while conscious that we have injured another. Let us first make amends to the injured one before we dare approach God at either the private or the public altar.”