Part 12 – The Unfathomable Power of Forgiveness
Ultimately, the story of Philemon is a story of forgiveness. Onesimus has sinned against Philemon by running away and stealing from him, and Paul is insistent that Onesimus go back to Philemon and repent and be reconciled with his master, who is now also a brother in Christ. Forgiveness is mankind's greatest need, and we will never be forgiven or never have our consciences cleared unless the Lord God in His mercy and grace grants us forgiveness through His Son Jesus Christ, who died as our substitute – paying off our debt of sin.
God's Word is resplendent with references concerning the assurance that the believer has concerning the complete forgiveness that comes from the Triune God to the repentant sinner, and all believers need to learn to walk in faith and trust that if the Lord has forgiven us – if the Lord has set us free from the guilt and debt of our sin – then we are truly free and forgiven.
In the case of Paul's Letter to Philemon the issue isn't so much God's forgiveness granted to His children by God's grace and mercy, but rather the natural reaction of the transformed believer to forgive others who have sinned against them. In the flesh it is difficult for some to apologize and ask for forgiveness because the pride of man prevents him/her to even admit that he/she has sinned or was wrong in the first place! Each of us must be humble and recognize how we have sinned against others so our hearts will be humbled in order to be reconciled to them.
I then gave eight reasons why we ought to forgive others:
1. Christ has forgiven us of much, we ought to forgive others
2. The Lord commands us to forgive
3. When we forgive we are like Christ
4. Forgiving others benefits both the offender and offended – and the Lord God is glorifed
5. When we forgive it releases us from our self-imposed prison
6. Forgiveness improves our physical health
7. Forgiveness promotes love and unity
8. Not to justify anyone's sin against us, but when we think of the darkness others are in when they sin against us, it might help us be more empathetic.
Then we looked at five reasons why we ought to forgive ourselves:
1. It's what the Lord wants us to do
2. Satan does not want us to forgive ourselves
3. We will have inner peace and freedom from the bondage of guilt
4. The degree to which you forgive yourself may directly relate to your usefulness (Unforgiveness hinders our ministry opportunities)
5. If we don't forgive ourselves, then we make ourselves out to be wiser and more authoritative than the Lord God Almighty, who has already forgiven us!
Forgiveness is a Jesus thing, and since the Spirit of Christ lives within us – since our life is Christ's life – then forgiveness is the natural response – or ought to be the natural response – to the believer since Christ lives within them.