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23 January 2012

Forgiveness - 23 January

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal 5:19-21 (ESV)

That’s a clear list of things to avoid! I see a couple of things I need to work on. How about you?

Sometimes we’ve been hurt by a person who commits these sins. We’ve had alcoholic parents, or been raped. Someone has committed incest. Angry and abusive parents or spouse, people who have been involved in witchcraft, or making us watch or participate in seeing movies, plays, or other things that we shouldn’t. You had no control over what someone else did to you. You pay the price today, in the form of unforgiveness – which can lead to you continuing the cycle of abuse and bad behavior.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous ( that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Eph 5:3-10 (ESV)

Paul says that some things shouldn’t even be found among Christians! If you’ve been saved, you should work to avoid all the things that Paul lists here. It’s an ongoing process, and if you need help, you should speak to a pastor (or email me for prayer of course). You can’t change the patterns of behavior overnight. You can’t even change them on your own. You need God’s spirit, and support from brothers or sisters in Christ, to get you away from the things of this world.

Sometimes we think that our generation has new “issues”. We see ourselves as special – the MTV generation, where sex and drugs are right in the open, where lawlessness prevails. It’s pretty obvious from Paul’s writings that the only real difference between them and us is that they didn’t have TV, internet and air conditioning!

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Cor 6:9-11 (ESV)

If you’ve been hurt by someone, and they have not accepted Christ, they will not inherit God’s kingdom. If they have accepted Christ, then He has forgiven them of all they have done to hurt you! You must forgive them as Christ has… and even if they are not Christians yet, it’s your responsibility to forgive them. Perhaps by your act of forgiveness, they will see the love of Christ and come to salvation too!

Today we’ve seen a list of things that keep people from the kingdom of heaven. You’ve probably seen a couple of your sins on that list. We’ve also been reminded that Christ is big enough to forgive even those sins – and that we are washed, sanctified, and justified through Him. We know that we are to follow His example in everything – and this includes forgiving your rapist, or your abuser, or the one who abandoned you or brought you into drugs or witchcraft or …

We must forgive as Christ forgave. We must pray for those who have hurt us. Their sins are keeping them from heaven if they haven’t asked Jesus for forgiveness. We need to pray for those who remain outside the kingdom so they come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Who do you need to pray for – today – to ask God to make a way for their salvation? Who do you need to forgive today – as Christ forgave you?

I’ve got a lot to think and pray about. I have sins that need to be addressed. I plan to spend the next two days mulling over the list Paul gave us, and my responsibility to change and grow THROUGH Christ, and my need to forgive anyone who has abused me. But in some cases, I think that “forgiveness” will be easier than “praying for their salvation”, and that is a problem, too! Aaaaagh! It’s so much more than saying “I forgive”. It’s letting go, just as God let go of my sins. Sigh. So much to think about and pray about.

See you Wednesday.

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