Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA Turn in your Bibles to Matthew 6:9-15. We continue our walk through the Lord’s Prayer. It is amazing that when God’s Word is studied and meditated upon it affects the heart. I hope that it has done so for you in regards to prayer. As I stated before, I want us to be a people of prayer, not in a legalism sense, but in a God glorifying and joy filled sense. I want the people of Cornerstone to tap into the grace of God that is available to you if you just pray.
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.
Today I am going to break the sermon down to three points.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.