Note: This is meant as a thought continuing from the entry on "Confession". To read this entire thought as a whole, please read that entry first. Thank you.
“And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” - Matthew 6:12-15
Jesus here uses His model of prayer to teach us that we must forgive as the Father forgives. To do less than this is an affront to a vital aspect of mercy in the nature of God to forgive.
What we must remember is what it means to forgive.
Forgiving implies sin has occurred. One of the most loving things we can do for we who sin is say that sin is sin. If I sin against you you would be rightly loving to call it sin, not a character flaw, indiscretion or dysfunction. Love rejoices in the truth.
Forgiving means I lay aside my right to retaliate. On the cross Jesus asked the Father to not retaliate as the world crucified the Son because of their willful ignorance. When we forgive we promise we will not seek to punish.
Forgiving is a promise to not remind. We are to not come back and say, “Remember what you did to me?” Love keeps no record of wrongs committed (1 Corinthians 13:5). When your child breaks your prized vase, it might be better just to throw it away rather than repair it because it might keep reminding you of what that child did. If you commit adultery with a friend your spouse would be right to demand you end any contact with the friend even if the adultery has ceased. They are probably not wanting a reminder as well as having you subject to further temptation.
Forgiving means the offended will pay for the offense. That usually means by not retaliating. The Father made His appeal to not only not retaliate but also to pay for those who have offended Him by paying with His Son's life. If they confess, agreeing with the Father about what they have done they then have a relationship with the Father as His child. The vase is lost for the sake of the offending child. The spouse stays in marriage with the one repentant of adultery. Since love covers a multitude of sins the forgiver chooses to be patient, kind, believe, etc. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). The forgiver promises to continue be a brother or sister in Christ by being Christ-like (Philemon 1:18).
This can only happen if Christ is in us (Romans 8:9-11; Philippians 4:13; Galatians 2:20). We become the instrument of forgiveness by letting the Lord forgive through us.
The world is incapable of Biblical forgiveness. What they call forgiveness is not what God calls forgiveness.
Jesus said the world will know we are His disciples by the love we have for each other. If love covers so much sin (1 Peter 4:8) that would have to include forgiving each other for the sinful nature that often expresses itself through our failure. We then maintain a unity that Jesus prayed and paid for. We then show the world He came to this earth and died for us all and is risen because He is alive and forgiving through our submission to Him (John 17).
Our example of mercy, because it comes from Jesus, becomes an evangelistic tool.
What we forget is that sin is forgivable, as Jesus so beautifully did on the cross (Luke 23:33-34). What we forget is that confession is a commandment, not a suggestion. In our disobedience we as a church become a poor witness to the world. They look at such the church and say, “Why change? I'm like that now.”
When there is no confession, there is no challenge to be like Christ and forgive. Because neither has happened there is no healing. The church has divided.
If Christ is in us, we can confess because He convicts us. If Christ is in us we can forgive because He forgives through us. Will we let conviction and forgiveness flow through us?
We know that Jesus refers to the church as His bride. What is a divided bride? Amputations happen to take a cancerous part. Has the church amputated itself from the Word of God? That would be an unnecessary surgery. The Great Physician does not perform unnecessary surgeries.
When the Bride appears in heaven for her Groom how will she appear? In a white gown, but covered with bruises and scars from self-mutilation? She will have wounds anyway, from the world. Why add to them?
Read John 17. It is the True Lord's Prayer, praying for unity in the church. Will the Father answer His prayer through us confessing and forgiving another?