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Catechism Class: LD52, Forgiveness.

23/02/2021

Catechism Class: Forgiveness

Lord’s Day 51 Q125

Text:   Psalm 51:1-7

In this catechism class lesson we shall examine the fifth petition of the Lord’s prayer.  MAKE SURE YOU LISTEN TO THE PODCAST for these notes. The Catechist asks us…

Q126. What is the fifth petition? A. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. That is: For the sake of Christ’s blood, do not impute to us, wretched sinners, any of our transgressions, nor the evil which still clings to us, as we also find this evidence of your grace in us, that we are fully determined wholeheartedly to forgive our neighbour

The ‘Peace Bridge’ in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

So let’s think about forgiveness!   The catechist teaches us three very important principles in his answer, three principles that are implied when we pray this petition…

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST – CLICK THIS LINK.

This podcast is a catechism lesson, based on Lord’s Day 51, – not that you’d think so, for in it Bob talks about the Total Depravity of Mankind, slabbers on about woke youth organisations, gives off about so-called ‘alternative lifestyles’ and why doing what ‘makes you happy’ can lead to the most awful, miserable unhappiness, depression and even suicide.  Not content with that, he then tells Christians not to use ‘the blood of Christ’ as a ‘good luck charm’ and even bellyaches about people who say they forgive unrepentant terrorists!  And he has the cheek to call this a catechism class!  See what you think.

1 We are All Wretched Sinners Psalm 143:2  

Consider the the awfulness of our sinful condition.  We are all wretched sinners. Not just enough to tell us that we are sinners, by nature and practice, but to compound that by referring to our wretchedness.  In reformed theology we sometimes speak of THE TOTAL DEPRAVITY OF MAN.  It’s a theme that runs through the whole Bible, OT and NT. 

  • It is a condition that is common to all of mankind.  Psalm 51:5   
  • It is a condition that affects and ruins every aspect of our life.  When we speak of the Total Depravity of mankind, we are not saying that everyone is as depraved as possible, we are saying that our depravity is such that it affects every part of our life and personality.  Our hearts are wicked, and that inner sickness (sinfulness) works itself out in our will, our mind and our deeds and words.  Titus 1:15   One of the mantras of the modern age is ‘Be yourself, follow your heart, be true to yourself…’.   But our hearts are deeply sinful, and they will lead us astray if we follow our heart’s desires alone.  Jeremiah 17:9   Jesus, in Mark 7:20-23   Don’t follow your heart, for you will not find happiness, you will find guilt and shame and eternal condemnation. 
  • It is a miserable condition.  The catechist speaks of our WRETCHEDNESS.  We are poor, guilty wretched sinners, and we will be deeply unhappy.

So the first step to forgiveness, is to understand and ADMIT that we are sinners, to acknowledge that certain fact before God, to fully appreciated the depth of our sins and the consequences of remaining in a state of unforgiveness.  

2 We Must ASK for Our Sins to be Forgiven.  

It not enough to just believe that I’m a worthless sinner without any further action on our part.  That would certainly lead to despair, and the further we diverge from God’s ideals, from his created order, of things, the more miserable we become, for we were created for the purpose of bringing glory to God.   What will praying for forgiveness involve?   

  • Pleading the blood of Christ. For the sake of Christ’s blood.  Now what does the catechist mean by this phrase, ‘for the sake of Christ’s blood?’   That’s about our sins being blotted out, when Jesus died for us, shed his blood for us, as a sacrificial lamb.   1 Peter 1:18-20…    
  • Laying down all of our sin at the cross. do not impute to us, wretched sinners, any of our transgressionsRomans 8:1  Resting in Christ’s atoning work on the cross. All of those wicked sins which emanate form the heart are forgiven, having been laid upon God’s spotless Son, and we instead are credited with his perfect righteousness.  2 Corinthians 5:21  
  • Continual, lifelong repentance. nor the evil which still clings to us,  Writing to Christians, the apostle John reminds us to confess our sins to God, knowing that Christ pleads for us.1 John 2:1-2   But why would we need to ask God for forgiveness every day?  Aren’t we fully forgiven when we are saved?   Yes, yet we are simultaneously saints, and sinners.  We will not attain perfection in this life.  We prayer for forgiveness every day.

So, our sinner’s prayer is laid out for us by the catechist.  It consists of humbly petitioning God to forgive us, not because we are ‘good people who need some life improvement’ but because we are sinners, for whom Christ has died and shed his precious blood.  We lay that great burden of sin down at the cross, and we come before the Lord, eery day, confessing our sins, as part of our repentant lifestyle.

3 Look for the EVIDENCE of God’s Grace in Uswe also find this evidence of your grace in us, that we are fully determined wholeheartedly to forgive our neighbour. Matthew 18:34-35  

The Lord’s Prayer includes the phrase, ‘forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.’  We have been forgiven a great debt.  What a great sense of relief it brings to the redeemed soul, to know that the burden of sin and condemnation has been lifted off us.  Now, let us examine ourselves, to make sure that God’s free gift of forgiveness has actually taken effect in our lives, that we are truly saved.  But what will be the litmus test that we shall use for this self examination?  It will be our willingness TO FORGIVE OTHERS.  Look at how the catechist words this:- we are fully determined wholeheartedly.  It’s not a halfhearted offer of forgiveness, or a semi-forgiveness, that forgives but won’t forget, but leaves the door open for simmering resentment. We are to offer complete forgiveness, like the forgiveness we have received from our Heavenly Father, in Christ.  A word of caution.  Forgiveness and repentance always go hand in hand.  Read the words of Jesus in Luke 17:3 Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.

So we have considered the fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer.  We are sinners, who need forgiveness, or our sin will overwhelm us and drive us to hopeless despair, so convinced of our sin and humbly repentant of it, we pray for God to forgive us, knowing that when we receive such forgiveness, we will be so grateful, that we will make a similar offer of forgiveness to those who sin against us.

© BobMcEvoy February 2021

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