Over the weeks, as I have thought about prayer and the hindrances that we have in our lives in regards to doing it more often, I am guessing that the biggest issue we have is time. Satan has convinced us that we are too busy for God. Perhaps many of you are saying, “You don’t understand how busy my mornings are, or how many activities my kids are in.”
Listen to what Martin Luther says about prayer, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” All of the “excuses” that run through your mind as to why you don’t pray are in actuality the reasons that you should pray. Being busy is reason to pray. So I encourage you to do so, God will not disappoint. He is better than everything on your list of things to do. So with that said, let us read our text, pray and study God's Word.
- Matthew 6:9-15 – “Pray then like this: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Today I am going to break the sermon down to three points.
- We are all in debt to God
- Forgiveness by God is only through faith in Jesus Christ
- Forgiveness through Christ, produces forgiveness from Christ.
The Greek word for debt in verse 12 is, “opheilēma.” It literally means, that which is owed. So this begs the question, what do we owe to God? There is only one answer to this question. Everything. We owe God everything.
I do not believe that it is an accident that this prayer comes directly after, “Give us this day our daily bread.” As I stated last week, when we pray give us bread, we are saying that God is the giver of bread, and the reality is that God does not only give bread but his is the Sovereign Creator and Sustainer of all things. A verse we looked at last week is Romans 11:36.
- Romans 11:36 – “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
- Hebrews 1:3 – “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”
- Revelation 4:11 – “"Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."
- Romans 1:21-23 – “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.“
Imagine this…you are in need of a car and you come upon a Lamborghini Veneno Roadster. It happens to be the most expensive car on the planet. The price is $4.5 million. Next to this car is a sign that says “Rent by the mile.” You tell they guy you want to rent it, he takes down your information and away you go. You get in this car and you never look back and you have the time of your life. You drive this car everywhere and you are living large. Then one day, completely unexpected, you get a knock on your door, and who is it? A man wearing a black hoodie with a name tag that says “Debt Collector.” He reminds you that the car is not yours and that you entered a rental agreement and you have driven it approximately 78,000 miles sense receiving the keys, and the cost per mile is $100, therefore you owe the owner of the car $7.8 million.
This illustration pales in comparison to the debt we owe God. The price of a human soul is worth way more than $4.5 million. And the Debt Collector comes with a lot more authority and more force behind his demand that any debt collector on Earth. Our debt collector is the Lord, God Almighty, and our debt is failure to honor God, failure to glorify God, failure to hallow his name.
And because our God is an Awesome God, our debt is an awesome debt. It is a debt that no one in this room will ever be able to pay. I don't care what you do, you can never pay your debt you owe to God. There is no such thing as penance.
A penance to pay back your debt to God is like paying off a $7.8 billion dollar debt with pocket lent. It is ludicrous, but this is exactly what some people are attempting to do when they think they can say twenty “Our Fathers”and all the sudden we are square with our Maker. Anyone who teaches you to say the Lord’s Prayer for penance to pay your debt before God is leading you straight into the flames of Hell.
For the only way for us to wipe our records clean is to stand bankrupt before God and plead for His merciful forgiveness, and his merciful forgiveness only comes through Jesus Christ alone. Which leads me to my second point today.
Forgiveness is through Christ Alone
This is what blows my mind about the Lord’s Prayer, it is Jesus who teaches his disciples how to pray to the Father, and it is Jesus himself that holds it all together through his life, death and resurrection.
When we stand before our God and plead for forgiveness, we are spiritually bankrupt. We don't have a penny to our name. We bring nothing to the table, yet our debt still exists. Someone has to pay it. That someone is Jesus Christ. The only thing that can pay for our awesome debt is the precious blood of Jesus Christ. I cannot express this enough, for eternal torment and eternal joy hang in the balance. When we pray, “forgive us our debts” we are not only kneeling before the throne of God, but we are kneeling before the cross of Christ, where all of our debts have been paid in full by the most treasured commodity on the planet, the infinitely valuable blood of Jesus Christ.
- Hebrews 10:12-14 – “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”
Forgiveness through Christ, Produces Forgiveness From Christ.
As I stated earlier, the Greek word for debt is “opheilēma.” The verb form of opheilēma is opheilō, and it is frequently used throughout scripture. The next place it is used in Scripture when starting from Matthew 6 is in Matthew 18. So turn with me now to Matthew 18:23-35.
- Mathew 18:23 – “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, 'Pay what you owe.' 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place.32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."
First, there is a substantial debt owed to the King. Second, the King freely offers forgiveness. Third, the servant does not forgive others. Fourth, the King does not forgive, but puts him in prison.
In regards to the servant where would you point to the breakdown? The breakdown occurs between the offering of forgiveness and the failure to forgive others. So what is the servant's problem? The answer is found in verse 35.
- Matthew 18:35 - “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."
When we are forgiven for our sins, it is because of Jesus Christ. When we receive this gift of forgiveness it is not only that the board is wiped clean. When we believe in Jesus Christ the Spirit of God comes and dwells inside of you. This Spirit of God is a forgiving Spirit, it is a Grace oriented Spirit. When it comes and takes up residence in your heart it bears the fruit of forgiveness in your life. When you accept the forgiveness that comes to you through faith in Christ, you will also forgive as your Father forgives.
If you do not forgive, it is evidence that the Spirit of a forgiving Father does not dwell in you. And if the Spirit of God does not dwell in you, than you are not forgiven, and you must pay every last penny of your spiritual debt, which you can never do. This is why Hell is eternal.
And this is why this prayer is a dangerous prayer. For if you have not forgiven someone, you are in effect praying that God would not forgive you. You are praying for God's wrath to be poured out on your soul until every last penny is paid. Praying these words vainly is very dangerous.
They way to avoid praying for a curse is to first seek the Kingdom of God and plead for forgiveness through Jesus Christ. It is to place your faith in the single sacrifice of Jesus. You must lay down your works based salvation, lay down your penance and your sacraments, and legalism, and stand before God and say, nothing to the throne I bring, simply to the cross I cling. And let Jesus' blood cleanse you from all your sins and make you as white as snow.