Series: 1 Corinthians
Love Is Not Easily Angered and Keeps No Record of Wrongs (1 Corinthians Sermon 50)
May 24, 2020 | Andy Davis
1 Corinthians 13:5
Brotherly Love, Forgiveness
Andy Davis preaches an expository sermon on 1 Corinthians 13:5. The main subject of the sermon is the fact those who love are not easily angered and are forgiving of others' faults.
- SERMON TRANSCRIPT -
Well look in your Bibles with me today as we continue our study in 1 Corinthians 13:5. And as we've walked through 1 Corinthians 13, our goal has been a careful hearing and application of each phrase of this incredibly vital and strategic chapter. We've not hurried through this magnificent chapter and nor will we. We want to take each phrase; we want to understand it. The image that I have of salvation in general, but now when we come to this love chapter is a therapeutic image of salvation. Jesus is the great physician. Jesus is the healer of our sick souls. Jesus himself introduced this therapeutic way of thinking and speaking by the river of miracles that he did, most of which were healings, and also Jesus saying, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I've not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."
And so I think through the Holy Spirit, through the pen of the Apostle Paul, so many centuries ago, he is calling on us who are sin sick to repentance for healing. So listening carefully to each of the phrases in 1 Corinthians 13 is really like laying on the examination table of a skillful doctor who has our best interests at heart. He's asking us a ton of questions. He's poking and prodding our bodies, he's seeing where we twitch and where we flinch and where we jerk back where there's pain, for where there's pain there's likely to be disease or injury. Furthermore, he's running, in our modern age, many high level diagnostic tests, x-rays, and MRIs and blood work. And he's sending these samples and these tests to the laboratory and bringing it back and comparing what he gets from these diagnostics alongside a pattern of health. He's trying to see how we are sick. And health is defined by healthy metrics that are set up by physical science, by medical science, so that would be your body temperature, your blood pressure, your complete blood count, the red blood cells, the white blood cells, the platelets, all of that to see if any of those numbers are elevated, elevated enzyme counts, to see if there's evidence of specific diseases and all of these things are accumulated by the loving and skillful doctor to see where there is disease, where there is injury. So it is I think, with 1 Corinthians 13, our minds, our hearts, our souls, our behaviors, are laid alongside what God calls the healthy norm, the standard, which God has given to the human race for a holy human life, which is the law of God. As Jesus himself defined the law in two great commandments, the first and greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength, that's that vertical love for God. And then the second commandment is like it: love your neighbor as yourself. This is what health is, that horizontal love. And that's what 1 Corinthians 13 addresses, primarily that horizontal love that we have for other people.
Now, the law, “the letter [Paul says] kills, but the Spirit gives life." 2 Corinthians 3:6. The written letter, the law of God engraved in stone, effectively stands over us and kills us. It condemns us; it has the power to send us to hell. The written law alone can never save us. It can never show us mercy. That is not its purpose. The law defines health and disease, by its “you shalls” and “you shall nots” and it declares the justice, the righteous justice of God over every violation. The law is designed, in this sense then, to bring us to desperation, to bring us to a genuine humility, and ultimately, to the cross of Jesus Christ. At the cross of Christ, our Savior died for all of the loveless hearts and loveless acts, loveless motives that have ever been done by our wretchedly loveless human race. They are forgiven through faith and repentance, faith in Jesus Christ. Christ died on the cross for all the ways that we have failed to love, failed vertically to love God, and then horizontally failed to love one another. And we, through faith in Christ are perfectly forgiven. We are completely forgiven; we are eternally forgiven. That's what justification by faith alone is. And we are justified by faith, not by works of the law. So now, having been justified through faith, we stand perfectly forever, eternally forgiven by God, but the Holy Spirit also at that time, at the time of conversion, at the time of justification, works within us a transformation of our hearts. He makes us new creations. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold, the new has come." So this transformation that the Holy Spirit works in genuinely converted people is described in many ways in different Bible verses, Hebrews 8:10, he says, "I'll put my laws in their minds, and I'll write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people." Or, again, beautifully in Ezekiel 36:26-27, he says, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws."
"The law is designed, in this sense then, to bring us to desperation, to bring us to a genuine humility, and ultimately, to the cross of Jesus Christ."
So the indwelling Holy Spirit moves in us to keep God's law perfectly. That's the goal. That is the standard of sanctification, perfect love. Therefore, in powerful tenant, as Jesus, the great physician of our souls, brings us back again and again to this chapter, this careful definition of love, and presses it onto us, and shows us how we deviate from it. Not to shame us, not to condemn us, but that we might be conformed more and more to the perfect love that it describes. So amazingly then, the word of God, the law of God speaks what must be and then makes it so. We think about how it says in John 1:1, "In the beginning is the Word." And then at the beginning of the Bible, God says, "‘Let there be light,’ and there is light." So effectively, God says, "This is love," he gives us a definition, and then says, "Let there be love, and there is love." That's the power of the word of God.
So if for you today, if it feels painful to go over this meticulous description of the law, don't despair. Let Jesus, through the Spirit, poke you and prod you and run his diagnostic tests over you. Let him expose your sins and your failings and your loveless attitudes. Let him show you your loveless behavior patterns. His intention here is not to hurt you; his intention here is to heal you completely from all of them. And just as 1 Corinthians 13 in the end, at the end of the chapter, ends up setting our hearts on eternity, on a time when love will be perfect. When the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. We're going to end up talking about heavenly perfect love. So all of our contemplations of love should bring our minds ahead to a time when in heaven, we will be at last free forever from sin, when love will have been perfected and completed in us. We'll be free from all sin and will love one another perfectly.
So this morning, the specific diseases that the text addresses are these: Sinful anger and sinful record keeping of wrongs. Oh, what great damage, how great the damage has been of these two diseases in human history. How many relationships have ended because of sinful anger? How many divorces have their roots in sinful anger and sinful record keeping? How many crimes have been committed by sinful anger? How many relationships have soured and become bitter and ended because of keeping a record of wrongs? How much damage has been done by judgmental people who simply can't forgive and must bring up the past and walk around every day in bitterness; filled with malice because of something that happened years ago? The word of God, applied by the Spirit of God, paid for that by the blood of the Son of God, has the power to change everything.
So if this morning's sermon makes you twitch, and makes you flinch, and makes you jerk back and start to feel resentful, it just means that you need to hear it, and so do I. So let's let God's law do the perfect work in us to set us free from sin. As James 1:25 says, "The one who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it, he'll be blessed in what he does." So let's gaze this morning into the mirror of God's law, and let's see all of our warts and our blemishes and even our tumors, and our bleeding sores, and let's bring it all under the skillful hands of the great physician, Jesus Christ. Let's let these words transform us and heal us and make us genuinely loving men and women, boys and girls.
I. Love is Not Easily Angered
So look at verse 5. It says, "Love is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs." Let's look at the first part, "Love is not easily angered." What does this word anger mean? Jonathan Edwards defines it in Charity and Its Fruits. Anger itself is, "An earnest and more or less violent opposition of spirit, against any real or supposed evil or in view of any fault or offense of another. An earnest or more or less violent opposition of spirit against any real or supposed evil, or in view of any fault or offense of another." In simple terms, it's a passionately negative response to wrong done that we see in the world, done to us or done to others. Something that we perceive is wrong. Frequently in life, in everyday life and in the scriptures, it's likened to heat, like a fire that burns. Sometimes we use the word kindle, like somebody's anger is kindled like a fire that burns, and like a fire, it can burn low and hot over a long period of time, or it can flare up and become a massive bonfire. You think about Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 3:19 that says, “Nebuchadnezzar was filled with rage and the expression on his face changed towards Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. And he gave orders to heat the furnace seven times more than was customary.” So that was Nebuchadnezzar just losing it, and becoming enraged, and the furnace then pictures what's going on in his mind and heart. It's this rage. The scope of the rage can be almost immeasurable, 2 Chronicles 28:9 speaks of a slaughter, "You have slaughtered them in a rage that reaches to heaven." So that's just the magnitude, the greatness of human rage and where it can reach.
Anger is frequently addressed in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs 29:22 says, "An angry man stirs up dissension and a hot tempered one commits many sins." Or again, Proverbs 16:32, "Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city." Proverbs 22:24-25 says, "Do not make friends with a hot tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared." Or again, Proverbs 29:11 "A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control." I think of a volcano blowing its top. That's the picture of giving full vent to your anger.
Now Paul, here in 1 Corinthians 13:5 says, "Love is not easily angered." That would be sometimes the translation give irritable or easily provoked. The Greek word refers to “a certain sharpness,” the Greek word relates to sharpness. We get the English word paroxysm from it, like a fit of rage. The face you can picture gets red, the breathing elevates, the voice rises, blood vessels start coming out- we can see the trembling and the shaking. And you get the sense here of that kind of rage but added to it easily, so like a hair trigger on all that. This individual goes off at the slightest provocations. And in general, this teaching I think, has to do with sinful anger. Now, Jonathan Edwards, who we've been following all along, and one of the great men in church history had a big family, a number of daughters, and there was one daughter in particular, her name was Emily, and she apparently had a violent temper. She was constantly flying off the handle. Well, a suitor came to Edwards to ask for Emily's hand in marriage and Edwards flat denied it, said no. The man was very dismayed, asked if there was something wrong with him, “Is there something, some fault you're finding in me?” if he was unsuitable. Edwards answered, "No, she is not worthy of you." Well, when the man asked why and was told, he said, with some puzzlement, "Yes, but isn't she a Christian?" And Edwards said, "Yes, but the grace of God may live with some people with whom no one else could ever live." So this is a father who's speaking from years of experience with his daughter. I don't know if they ever did get together. Some of you history buffs can tell me what the end of that story was. But there's that pattern of just being irritable, of flying off in a rage and it just sours married life, it's sours family life. So that's the focus here, irritability, being easily provoked, people who go off quickly, hair triggered, constantly angry, but also those that are consistently angry for no good reason.
Let's talk about what we mean by that, no good reason, because honestly, not all anger is sinful. Actually, Psalm 7:11 says, "God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath every day.” So that actually teaches us that God gets angry every single day with the sins that are happening on planet Earth. At the human level, Paul says in Ephesians 4:26, "Be angry and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger." So clearly, when he says, "Be angry, but do not sin," he does not equate the two. It is possible to be angry and not to sin. Jesus was angry from time to time in his ministry. We can picture him making a whip, carefully making a whip, so he didn't fly off the handle, and then driving out the money changers from the temple, or the time that Jesus healed on the Sabbath, a man with a withered hand and his enemies were there looking at him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath, and they didn't care at all about the man with the withered hand. And Jesus asked them in Mark 3:4-5, “Then Jesus asked them, ‘Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’ But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger, and deeply distressed at they're stubborn hearts.” So that is a righteous, pure holy anger on the part of Jesus.
However. If we are all honest, and I hope we are, we will acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of the times that we get kindled, that we get angry in life, is sinful. One godly brother I was talking to a short time ago said, and I was talking to him about this and he said, "Honestly, my anger is righteous and Christ-like, probably not once in 1000 times." Now there's a humble man, there's an honest man, so he's gonna say 99.9% of his anger is sinful. I don't know if it's that high, but fundamentally, much of our anger is sinful. Paul eliminates varieties of anger in one verse in Ephesians 4:31. There are different types of anger and he says, "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice." Those are all different flavors or heats temperatures of anger.
Well, what anger then is sinful? How shall we define it? And here I'm going to lean on Edwards’ Charity and Its Fruits; again I commend that to you for your study. He says that anger is sinful because of its nature, its occasion, its end or purpose, and its measure. Let's look at each of the four of those, first, sinful because of its nature. Any anger that contains ill will, a poisonous will toward another, or a desire for revenge is sinful. We are never permitted in scripture to harbor malice or bitterness, or ill will toward any human being on Earth, no matter what they have done to us. Leviticus 19:18 says, "Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord." So love even for a persecuting enemy, one that has done incredible harm to you, to your body, or to your loved ones, even death. Love - even for a persecuting enemy, consistent, essentially wanting that person, ultimately, eternally to be blessed by the grace of God, forgiven and spend eternity with you in heaven. That's the nature of the gospel. So if your anger contains any poisonous ill will or a desire for vengeance, for revenge, to get that person back it is ruled out by this chapter. It's ruled out by Christian love.
"Love - even for a persecuting enemy, consistent, essentially wanting that person, ultimately, eternally to be blessed by the grace of God, forgiven and spend eternity with you in heaven. That's the nature of the gospel. "
Secondly: sinful because of its occasion. Anger is sinful if it has no just or scriptural cause. Perhaps that person that you're angry at has literally done nothing wrong at all, sometimes people are just angry people. You think about the guy that comes home from work and kicks the dog. That's the proverbial picture. What did the dog do? Well, maybe much, I don't know. That's another issue. But there are some people, they just come home and they're angry and anybody in their way, they're going to lash out at that person they're going to... They're gonna kick that person; there's an angry outlook in life. Sometimes the action that is triggered... That triggers the sinful action is not sin at all, but it may be an honest mistake. We all make mistakes, an accident, something that's not that person's fault at all, yet the angry person goes off anyway, and that is sinful anger. A very clear category, vertically, is those people that say they're angry at God. And we have a number of counseling booklets that talk about various counseling issues, and one of them is entitled, Angry at God, and there are people like this. But God never does anything wrong ever, and yet people do get angry at God. Think of how angry Jonah was at God for forgiving Nineveh and not judging them.
Also people get sinfully angry at others who are actually doing the right thing, they're doing the righteous thing, especially people that persecute Christians for sharing the Gospel. So all the persecution that happens in reference to Christians that are trying to share the Gospel, spread the Gospel is an example of this. People have... That person's doing nothing wrong, doing everything right. But even within the church or within families, a person may see somebody else in a sinful pattern of behavior, and our church covenant says that we're gonna watch over one another in brotherly love, and you go and try to bring the person to repentance, to try to show them their fall, to try to help them and they lash out. The angry person can effectively shoot the messenger; we all can do that from time to time. Obviously, the greatest example of this is the sinful reaction of the Jewish nation to Jesus, the only pure and perfect person that ever lived. They frequently were enraged and Jesus openly says, “The reason the world hates me is that I testify that what it does is evil." They hated him, therefore, as the scripture says, without a cause, without a cause.
Anger is also sinful when it's caused by a minor trifling thing, a trivial thing, people get angry over every little fault and failure that they see in other people. In this case, the victim of the anger has done something wrong, they have sinned in some way, they have messed up through perhaps carelessness or forgetfulness, or even some willfulness, but the rage monster goes off and the reaction is disproportionate to the sin. And here I wanna speak, especially a word of warning and exhortation to parents, it is very easy for children as they grow to trigger parents into sinful anger, it's a regular pattern, so you can see children as they're playing, as they're running through the house, might bump into something and break it or carelessly spill something that leaves a stain on the carpet. It's very easy in those kinds of every day life parenting situations to discipline in anger. Yeah, the child needs to be disciplined, they need to be trained in order to control their bodies in that environment, but it is vital for parents to go get themselves under control, like that earlier proverb of controlling your anger is better than conquering a city. Just get yourself under control. Think of the glory of God and the benefit of your child, not your own situation. And so parents that parent in anger; that is a very dangerous pattern. Finally in this category, just broadly, whenever our anger is caused or triggered by something in reference to us, and not in reference to God vertically or to others horizontally. If it's all about me and what you've done to my reputation, what you've done to my ego, or what you've done to my convenience, it's almost certainly sinful anger. A lot of sinful anger is caused by selfishness, people that are not angry because God's honor and glory has been impugned, or some other person has been hurt by injustice, that would be a good example of biblical anger.
Now think about David, the example of David. Do you remember before he became king, when he was just a young man, a teenager, he went out filled with the zeal for the glory of God, and fought Goliath and slew him, because he had impugned the glory of God and the armies of Israel. Okay, that's a glorious form of anger of battle, but later in his life, when David was running for his life against Saul and he and his men were frequently fugitives and had a hard time making a living, he found himself in a situation where he looked after a man's sheep, the man's name was Nabal, and they were very kind to the shepherds and shepherdesses and cared for them and were like a wall of protection, and when all of that work was done, David sent some messengers to Nabal to ask for some food and some provisions in response for what he had done. And Nabal responded to the messengers with a very surly rude answer and sent the messengers away empty-handed.
Well, when David heard about this, he said to his men, “Strap on your swords,” and then he swore, “I've wasted my time with this man, and may God deal with me severely if I leave him and any male of his household alive,” and he starts to ride off. But what is the zeal for, there at that moment? Is it not for his own honor, his own reputation? And it's a critical moment in David's life where Abigail comes and stops him, gives provisions and speaks gently to him and warns him not to be avenged on himself. And you see critically how he really stands at a fork in the road there, where he could have become a tyrant ruler eventually as a king, killing people who he didn't like or who insulted his pride, but instead Abigail stepped in and stopped him from sinful anger. Well, this kind of thing, our own zeal for our own situation, zeal for our own glory, our own name, our own reputation, or reference to our own convenience or inconvenience, things that are hindering our lifestyle, probably makes up well over 90%, if not higher of our anger.
Thirdly, sinful anger is sinful because of its end or purpose. Sinful anger is essentially insane; it's essentially irrational. It doesn't think it through, it really doesn't have a purpose, it doesn't have an end thought out, it's a venting of the spleen, the injury of the person that's committed this offense, you want to be avenged on yourself. The person going off in the rage that just violently angry has no plan, they're just... It's like they're drunk almost. Edwards says, "Such anger is the blind passion of beasts rather than the affections of a rational creature." There are other categories, however, of sinful anger in which there is a cold, calculating vengeance that comes on, that's a long, slow burn at that point. There's a plan and it is evil. Again, has to do with vengeance generally.
This can happen even in marriages, sometimes: a sin has been committed by one, even a serious sin, the couple is trying to work through to recover, to give forgiveness, to receive it all that, but sometimes the victim of that first sin can turn the tables and through anger, and as we're just about to talk about keeping a record of wrongs, gains the upper hand in the relationship, the dominant position in the relationship for years to come, perhaps even permanently. That other individual that has sinned is more or less permanently in the doghouse. Permanently walking on eggshells. And so this is nothing other than a filthy, prideful power play, where that person who was sinned against then actually gets the upper whip hand in the relationship and it becomes a weapon of pride, so all of this is an example of sinful anger.
Fourth: sinful because of its measure. Edwards says this in two senses, how great of display of anger and how long it goes on. So first, how great, like we've said, sinful anger pays back exponentially, as we saw in that Chronicles verse, it's a rage that reaches to heaven. And what that does is we're almost making gods of ourselves, “You've sinned against me. You deserve infinite punishment.” That's why God established the eye for eye, tooth-for-tooth rule, because there's a principle of escalation, “You took my eye, I'll take your life, you killed one of our clan, we'll wipe out your entire tribe,” this is what pride does, it escalates. And so God established eye for eye, tooth for tooth, to keep that exponential escalation from going on. Like I said, sinful anger can be like a drug and you get irrationally moved to take vengeance and lose all boundaries. And people get filled with this feeling and then they do things and then later they don't realize even what they've done. And so it reaches a magnitude that's disproportionate. And then also sinful anger is sinful because of how long it's held on to, way too long. And this again is a partner with the other passage or aspect, we're gonna look at in a moment, which is keeping a record of wrongs.
So we can just keep remembering what happened, we can keep not forgiving. There are two really excellent checks in the scripture from keeping anger from going on long. And we already looked at one. That's Ephesians 4:26, it says, "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry." So what that says, "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry." Let me give the other verse two, and let me talk about each of them as helps. Lamentations 3:23, "God's mercies are new every morning." So the first one, "Do not let the sun go down while you're still angry." If something makes you wrong, let's say in your family, in your marriage, your relationship with your kids or parents, something's going on, deal with it quickly. “Settle matters quickly,” Jesus said. Try not to go to bed, still angry about that thing, try to give and receive forgiveness. Talk it through, pray together; get to reconciliation. If you fail to do it that night, as sometimes we do, I love the next verse, Lamentations 3, "God's mercies to me are new every morning," I just feel again and again, the forgiveness of Christ. This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. The day is fresh. It's clean. It's a fresh start. Yesterday's sins are forgiven. Let's start fresh. I think that's vertically. Let's do that horizontally. Yeah, this happened yesterday. Today is a new day. Talk it through, pray about it. Those two verses have helped me again and again to keep sin from spilling out day after day, week after week. Brothers and sisters, this is a vital issue in family life, John McArthur said this about anger, sinful anger. He said, "Telling our wives or husbands that we love them is not very convincing if we continually get upset and angry at what they say and do. Telling our children that we love them is not convincing, if we often yell at them for doing things that irritate us and interfere with our own plans. It does no good to protest, I lose my temper a lot but it's all over in just a few minutes, so is a nuclear bomb. A great deal of damage can be done in a short time. Love takes a person out of himself and centers his attention on the well-being of others." I think that's a great quote.
Well, how does Christian love drive out sinful anger? Well, first and foremost, Christian love goes up vertically; it immerses our hearts in God himself, it is vertical. So we see, therefore, in this sense, all sins committed against us as ultimately committed against God and not ultimately against us, like David said, "Against You, and You only have I sinned," God is the issue. And when you see that, then you're just a servant of God, even though you were the one sinned against, you are a servant of God to minister the grace of the gospel, very helpful to see it that way. Christian love also drives out that settled, dark malignant desire for revenge, that's just such a toxin, a pollutant, that deep settled desire to get vengeance. Christian love also is constitutionally against pride, and pride is at the root of most of our sinful anger. It's against our selfishness. So Christian love has the power to drive out sinful anger.
II. Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs
All right, secondly, love keeps no record of wrongs. Now, there are different translations and different conceptions of this. The KJV, on which Jonathan Edwards’ Charity and Its Fruits was based, looks at it this way: love thinketh no evil. And Edwards goes into this, he talks a lot about judgmentalism, his entire treatment goes in that direction, "Judge not lest you be judged." He describes the different ways people can judge each other and think evil motives of each other and ascribe evil motives to them, and even though they lack information, they can do this judging evil of the spiritual condition of other people. “Well, if they act like this they are probably not Christians.” Or if they weren't... They didn't have your same testimony or they don't talk the way you do as a Christian, they're probably not born again. Or judging evil of the qualities of others, magnifying their bad qualities and minimizing their good qualities, nursing a low opinion of others, that's what he talks about. And judging evil of the actions of others without any evidence at all, just assuming that someone has sinned when all you have is a little bit of the information. Or are sinning privately in their closets, and in just some kind of evil pattern that we don't know anything about, or there's some kind of plot or jumping to the worst conclusions about activities of others, guilt without evidence. That's what Edwards did with all of this, and there's a sort of delight in the dirt and the evil, thinking evil of others. That's the angle that he went.
But I would go with other translations that instead, give us this statement, "Love keeps no record of wrongs." I think all of those themes that Edwards brings up are gonna be better addressed in Verse 7, where it says, "Love believes all things." So we'll actually cover a lot of what Edwards covers there, but let's look at this idea of love keeping no record of wrongs. The Greek word there is logizomai. It's like an accounting term, it's a bookkeeping term, it's a ledger book, and you can imagine a business, which has accounts payable and receivable or receivable, payable, that kind of thing. You get this ledger book. So picture again, our old friend Ebenezer Scrooge, who is there in his counting house with all his gold coins and silver coins, and he's got his books. And those books are careful records of everybody who owes him money: when they borrowed, how much interest they owe, all of that, that ledger book. Obviously, for business, you need good accounting techniques, not saying that, but this is just a metaphor, that approach is devastatingly harmful when it comes to love relationships. When it comes to relationships horizontally with family members, with friends, with co-workers, and with fellow church members, other Christians, it's devastating.
So such a person is meticulously aware all the time of the wrongs done to him or her, they just know it. They know the ways that so and so has done them dirty, and they nurse a grudge. They remember the dates, the circumstances. It could be this way in a marriage or family, like I said a lot of damage is done because of this pattern of keeping a record of wrongs, “You did such and such to me, I still remember that. I'm never gonna be able to forget that,” kind of thing. Bitterly holding on to the past. And we can remember all of the sins and the insults and the things that people promised us that they didn't follow through on, broken promises, the hurtful words, the unkind moment, especially if it's out in public, the very painful things. And within that heart comes, as we've said with anger- these really are partner concepts here, that desire for revenge, “I'm gonna pay you back.”
But let's start with understanding the sweetness of the gospel. Let's just zero in again on justification by faith alone, it says in Romans 4:7-8, "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven and whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will not take into account." Isn't that beautiful? God is not taking into account your sins. It's the same Greek word, logizomai, to reckon to your account, to credit to you. He doesn't credit your sins to your account. He credits the blood of Christ and the righteousness of Christ to you. The blood of Christ paid for your sins. What the law righteously demanded that you be punished, Jesus paid it all. And then his perfect righteousness is credited you by faith, not by works, so you're seen as righteous. So God's ledger book says, over all of your sins and crimes and bad motives and all of that, paid in full. Paid in full. We know when Jesus died in John's Gospel, he said, "It is finished," and the Greek word He used, tetelestai there, the word that's given it, it's a business term, “paid in full,” it is perfected. It's completed. It's done. And so, that's justification. That's the freedom we have in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:19, it says, "God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them." He doesn't count our sins against us, or again, Acts 3:19, "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." That's what we get. Our sins are wiped away, “times of refreshing come from the Lord.”
That's the basis of our horizontal forgiveness of everyone that's ever sinned against us. Here we must remember the parable of the 10,000 talents. You remember how Peter came to Jesus, thinking he was getting extra credit on the test, I guess, or quiz. "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Rabbis, say three times. What do you say we go up to seven times?" And Jesus said, "I tell you not seven times, but seventy times seven times." And then he told the parable of the 10,000 talents of the king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants and one owed him basically, the gross national product of the Roman Empire. And he was not able to pay and the king ordered that he and his wife and all that he had to be sold to repay the debt. The man fell on his knees and begged, "Be patient with me and I'll pay you back." And the king had mercy on him and cancelled all that debt and let him go. But when that man went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him about a third of a year's wages, a hundred denarii, a denarius is a day's wage so that's 100 days of work. It's a significant debt, but it's nothing compared to the vertical debt of 10,000 talents. Well, anyway, this man found this man and demanded the 100 denarii, and the guy fell on his knees before him and said, "Be patient with me, I'll pay it back." But he refused; he was choking the man saying, "Pay me what you owe me." And he had the man thrown in prison. Well, that man, the other servants heard about it, they dragged him back in before the king. He said, "You wicked servant. I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?" And in anger, the judge, the king, threw him into prison until he should pay back the 10,000 talents. Jesus said, "That is how my Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." maybe one of the most forceful of all of Jesus' parables. And what it's saying is, because we have been forgiven an infinite debt by God, we must forgive the finite debt made horizontally toward us. Love, the love of God is an ocean of grace. Our love needs to be like that. Chris Systems put it this way, he said, "A sin committed against the loving heart is like a spark that falls into the sea and is quenched." Your heart needs to be a quenching ocean of love and grace and mercy toward other people around you because you're just humbled and forgiven by what God's done for you. Conversely, someone once said that, “Un-forgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping that someone else dies.” And there's a lot of bitter people that are shriveling and dying because of un-forgiveness.
"Because we have been forgiven an infinite debt by God, we must forgive the finite debt made horizontally toward us."
III. Self Examination, Repentance, Prayer, and Action
All right, application, and the application we're gonna do is self-examination, repentance, prayer, and action. Self-examination, we've looked at two issues: to not be easily angered and keep no record of wrong. So look at your heart. Look at your conscience. Look at your conduct. Look at your patterns, your habit patterns. Are you frequently angry? Does that characterize you? Do you have the kind of easily provoked demeanor that we've been talking about today? Do you have a hair trigger? Or perhaps you're a low simmer all the time, you're just grumpy toward life, nursing grudges secretly, unforgiving to this or that person, looking for a chance in some way, to pay them back, do them some harm, hopefully without being noticed 'cause you know it's not really a Christian thing to do. And when you have been angry, is it not true that the overwhelming majority of your occasions of anger are sinful anger, as we've been saying? Isn't it good to be honest about that? You who are married, has anger polluted your marriage, has it polluted the sweet well of your marriage? Have you expected your spouse to tolerate your personality? Like Edwards talked about, his daughter Emily, tolerate the fact that you're an irritable person and that you fly off this off the handle quickly, that you're thin-skinned. Have you just accepted this about yourself and you expect the people around you to accept it too? You expect your spouse to make allowances for you. Is your marriage characterized by angry conflicts and arguments consistently? You parents, have you been given to disciplining your children in sinful anger? Do your kids see you frequently irritable and angry, walking around the house? Older people, as you've gotten older, have you become more and more irritable as you've gotten older? As your aches and pains have multiplied and other difficulties have come in your life, have you found yourself becoming more and more grumpy and irritable with the people around you? Teenagers, what about you? Do you get angry quickly, do you fly off the handle? Do you blame your hormones, say, "There's nothing I can do; it's just body chemistry. I'm gonna be irritable today, I'm gonna be angry, people just need to deal with it."
What about the issue of keeping a record of wrongs, do you harbor ill will toward people who have sinned against you? Do you, in your demeanor toward them effectively choke them and say, "Pay me what you owe me?" Do you make much of the sins of others toward you, but make little of your sins toward others? Are you bitter? Do you have any un-forgiveness? Is there somebody you haven't forgiven? Think about it, is there someone popping in your mind right now that you say, "You know, I don't think I've forgiven that person," that may well be the Holy Spirit telling you, you've got some work to do in that relationship. As you look inward, ask the Holy Spirit to show you the perfect mirror of God's law. There may be a deeper issue; it could be that you're not a Christian at all. We are aware that there are people watching this livestream that are not members of this church. And maybe even some that are members of this church, but they're really not born again, have you ever come to a genuine faith in Jesus Christ, have you come to the cross, have you realized Jesus died for all of your sinful anger and all of your bitter un-forgiveness and all the other sins that you've ever committed? Jesus was willing to die in your place and give you full forgiveness of sins. Have you ever asked him to be your Lord and Savior? And if you are a Christian, if you see these sin patterns in your life, you need to do the same thing. Bring them to the cross. Seek forgiveness. Crucify those sinful patterns.
Thirdly: prayer. Seek his forgiveness, confess those sins, those sins of anger, confess that un-forgiveness to him. Ask the Holy Spirit to transform you, to work genuine love in you. It is your birthright as a Christian, to be perfected in love, and the more you can do it now, the better life you're gonna live. And finally action, walk in newness of life by the power of the Holy Spirit. Ask loved ones to pray for you, if you know that you're an angry person, they know it too. Be honest with them, say, "I don't wanna be this angry five years from now, would you pray for me." Pray every day. Talk to me about it, I'll talk to you about it. I want to be... To grow in this area, confess un-forgiveness to the Lord and then walk in forgiveness in a newness of life. Close with me in prayer.
Father, we thank you for the time we've had to study your word today. How rich it is, how deep, how powerful God work on us. It's convicting to go over these details, it is, it brings a sense of the sting of conviction, and I pray, O Lord, that you would work a genuine work of repentance in the members of First Baptist Church. I pray that we would not be characterized by angry people. I pray that we would be genuinely loving toward one another. I pray that the marriages in our church would not be characterized by anger and un-forgiveness, but rather by sweet mercy and love and kindness. Lord, I pray for the parenting for the teens, for young ones that are growing up, that they would learn to live a life of love. And Father for those that were lost when they began hearing this message, I pray that now, even now, they would feel a pull in their hearts to come to Christ, and we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.