by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
The laws of forgiveness
Some say ... "Doesn't our Lord say, 'If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses' "? Is not that law? Where is grace there? To be told that if we do not forgive, we shall not be forgiven, is not grace. Thus they seem to be able to prove that the Sermon on the Mount does not apply to us.
But if you say that, you will have to take almost the whole of Christianity out of the gospel. Remember also that our Lord taught exactly the same thing in His parable, recorded at the end of Matthew 18, of the steward who committed an offense against his master. This man went to his master and pleaded with him to forgive him, and his master forgave him. But he refused to forgive an underling who was likewise in debt to him, with the result that his master withdrew his forgiveness and punished him. Our Lord comments on this: "So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses."
That is exactly the same teaching. But does it teach that I am forgiven only because I have forgiven? No, the teaching is, and we have to take this teaching seriously, that if I do not forgive, I am not forgiven ...; the man who has seen himself as a guilty, vile sinner before God knows his only hope of heaven is that God has forgiven him freely. The man who truly sees and knows and believes that is one who cannot refuse to forgive another. So the man who does not forgive another does not know forgiveness himself.
If my heart has been broken in the presence of God, I cannot refuse to forgive; and, therefore, I say to any man who is imagining fondly that his sins are to be forgiven by Christ, though he does not forgive anybody else, "Beware, my friend, lest you wake up in eternity and find Him saying to you, 'Depart from me; I never knew you.' '' ...The man who is truly forgiven and knows it is a man who forgives. That is the meaning of the Sermon on the Mount at this point.
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, i, p. 17
“Text reproduced from ‘A First Book of Daily Readings’ by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, published by Epworth Press 1970 & 1977 © Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes. Used with permission.”
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