What is our faith all about and how we need to put our faith in to practice? The problem that we have in this world is that we have so many so-called Christians. Even in our church we call ourselves 'Christian' because we are baptized, we have the Holy Spirit, and we carry the Bible. But sometimes the way we live, our thoughts, our attitudes, our basic life doesn't reflect. It is contrary to what we say, we are and that's not the way that God wants us to be. God wants us to live a true Christian life. What we say we should do it. Is that easy?
It is not things comes our way, stops us from living the way God have called us to live. 'Cross' has to be an experience to live out every day. It's not some story it has to be an experience of what Jesus did for you and me that is some thing that should keep us alive as Christians, nothing else. The only thing that keeps us alive as a Christian is that, we are saved. We are here today is only by His grace.
And the only thing that is going to keep us going for the rest of our life, is that experience of forgiving, that experience of God taking away all our sin. He cleansed us, purified us, washed us, and renewed us, put a new spirit in us. He gave us a new purpose. He gave us a new life. He gave us a new hope. He gave us a reason to live, one day to go to heaven, being one with him for ever.
That is why we all hold on to our faith. How are we today? We got to think, 'how am I doing some times'. We don't ask this question. When we ask that question we get depressed lot of time. We avoid those questions. Forget about others asking such question, some times we don't ask ourselves such question. Why?
The moment you ask, 'how am I', all the things comes out, all the things that we are struggling, with things that we need to change. Also, all the things that others have to change, all the people in the environment that you face, your family situation, your relationship with your husband, wife and children. It's overwhelming when you have to ask such question to yourself.
But we have to ask this question because God wants to give us solution for those entire questions. That is why there is a hope as a Christian and you can change. Are you enjoying your Christian life? Are you enjoying the fellowship? Do you look forward to be to our church? Or is it just a regular routine that you are used to?
For many years since birth you have to go to church on Sunday you have to go to midweek meetings. You are physically present but your heart and your mind is not there. And why is that? So why are you not enjoying if you are not enjoying the fellowship? What is hurting you? What is bothering you? What comes your way to enjoy the relationship with God and with your brothers and sisters? Or do you feel a wall between you and God? You know what a wall is?
Sometimes when you have problem with husband or wife you feel there is a wall between both of you. I am saying something but he is rebounding back and he is not getting across and you feel there is a wall. And when there is a wall between both of you, you just can't get through. You can't feel close. You can't enjoy your relationship. You can't be united. You can't be happy. Isn't that true, it is still between both of us. When there is a wall the only thing that bonds us is, when you break that wall. So that you can have honest communication, relationship, you can listen to each other so that you can forgive each other.
Is there a wall between you and God? What should be the reason? I believe there are two reasons.
- Sometimes it is our sin. Sin creates a wall and Bible says in Isaiah there is a wall between you and God. What is that wall made of - 'sin'?
- And the other reason there is a wall is, sin of others. When others sin against you, you face a wall between you and the other person and even between you and God.
You got to ask your self what is hindering you. How are you dealing with it? Are you dealing with this wall that you are facing in your life? How serious are you in dealing with this wall? Sometimes we know there is a wall and we keep the wall growing, becoming stronger, putting more bricks, putting more concrete in it so it can never be broken. We just don't take the heart and the seriousness to deal with the wall. We destroy our faith, our precious faith, more precious than the gold. It is much, much precious than all gold put together in the entire world.
You know what are the streets of heaven made of? Gold that's how priceless gold is in heaven means it got no worth. We take pride of the little gold that we wear but in heaven it is footpath means you stamp on it and go. But the Bible says our faith is much more precious than the gold that we all give so much value to. So the good news in the Bible is God always shows a way out whatever trails and struggles we are going through, whatever wall we are facing. The Bible says God will always give you a way out of any struggles, any pain, and any wall that you are facing. That's the promise of God.
So when it is our sin that is blocking our relationship with God and holding us in enjoying our Christian life then we have to deal with that sin. We have to confess our sin. We have to repent of our sin before God. We have to ask forgiveness from God and from others and restore our fellowship with God and others that is what we got to do. If sin is blocking us that is entangled in and we just face the battle every day and you know that is why we have fellowship in the church. The beauty of fellowship and our family group that we are part of it helps us to talk and share our heart with one another and disciple each other, teach each other and instruct each other. Why? Because God knows we on our own cannot deal with the mess in our life. We need some body.
God sends some one to guide us that is why it is so important to be part of a small group and fellowship. We call it a family group, house church or even Bible talk. Why we need to attend? Not just to come and show your face and go, for you to enjoy the fellowship. And you can share honestly with brothers and sisters in the group and we can take help with the sin in our life that is burdening us, that builds the wall.
What about when it is sin of others and that is what we are going to talk about today. That is what affects most of the people. When sin of others, what does it do to you? The number one debate of Satan, the trap of Satan, destroys people's faith in the fellowship; in their life is the sin of others. Why do people leave the church? Think about it, the same reason why people walk out of the marriage. Why do people walk out of marriage? Why do children walk out of the house? Why do people resign from work? Why? Somebody hurt them.
Isn't it that is the number one reason, even in the church! And we think it is a normal thing, we think it is an acceptable thing. Okay just like that it happened in the world it happened in the church. No church is the place where you need to deal with it in a godly way. We can deal with it in the world too because this is part of life. Others will sin against us, why? We are all sinners and we are living together. We are trying to make things work and we are going to hurt one another. We do some thing knowingly or unknowingly, purposely not purposely whatever it may be but we have to face it. We have to learn to deal with it because the number one reason people leave the church, even God because they get offended.
1.Offences will come
1 Jesus said to his disciples: "Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come.
2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.
3 So watch yourselves. "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.
4 If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him."
5 The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!"
He is talking to the believers. Jesus said to his disciples," things that cause people to sin are bound to come, for woe to the person through whom they come it will be better for him to be thrown in to the sea with the mill stone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of this little ones to sin
So watch yourself. If your brother sins rebuke him and if he repents forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day and seven times comes back to you and says I repent forgive him. Paul said to the Lord, 'increase our faith'. You are living in a dream world saying no body is going to offend me, nobody is going to hurt me in the church. You are living in a dream world, why? It is impossible Jesus says you will be offended. Somebody is going to step on our toe someday. If it didn't happen today or yesterday it is going to happen tomorrow. You will be offended. Things like that will come.
And the Greek word for offence or things that cause people to sin is the word called 'scandalon', what is scandalon? Scandalon is basically that part of a trap, in the rat trap there is a little part that is very sensitive. The place you tie the food for the rat to come and eat. It has to be kept open. The rat has to simply touch the sensitive place where the food is attached to the little part that is so sensitive. If you touch it the spring will come off. Then immediately it shuts and it traps the rat. That part of the rat trap that is so sensitive, that gives way to trap the rat is called scandalon.
In different version that little word is translated differently, in other word fall away. Jesus is saying blessed are those who don't fall away on account of me, the word is scandalon. So here basically we are trapped, the way satan traps is through this scandalon, he is just waiting for us to get offended, for us to get hurt, for somebody to hurt us, then what happens we get hurt what you are suppose to do when you are hurt you are suppose to forgive the other person isn't it, so what does the satan say? Don't forgive it is wrong what the other person is done, let the other person better repent and say sorry, ask for forgiveness or pay back for what the other person has done and then I will feel better.
That is how we deal with it, we get bitter and we become unforgiving and when we have this sin of unforgiveness or when we get offended and if we keep that offence in our hearts we develop bad fruits in our Christian life. We are suppose to produce good fruits, the fruit of the spirits love joy peace kindness gentleness etc. but instead of that what becomes our fruit anger rage malice jealousy resentment bitterness quarrel hatred all this had fruit is the result of what? Offence, that somebody hurt me and that is the number one trap of Satan that is why I want to emphasize you will be offended.
Sometimes we walk in side the church saying what a loving church every one is perfect isn't it we feel that way in the beginning. It's like our family, initially all the kids in their family thinks that their mother and father are perfect, then they get little older and become pre teens age oh! My father is not the way I thought he is, my mom is got some problems here, isn't it and that is the truth with every one. Any family, you come to Gods family same thing you think in the beginning every thing is perfect wow!
What an incredible leader I have in the church, look at the brothers and sisters they so loving they call me every day they always reach out to me. It is just like dating; you are getting to know about your wife or husband that's how you feel wow! what a perfect human being, after getting married then you think oh! My God there is some major problems here that is natural. You are living in a dream world; if you are totally in love with somebody you will think that she or he is totally perfect.
The one who is experienced in marriage will think wait for few more months after marriage then you will figure it out. Why? We think its not going to happen to me and so we are not prepared spiritually as we become Christians and live out a Christian how am I going to face this offence? And when offences come people are just blown away and many of them leave. I can't bare this, I thought all are perfect and you are a perfect church and you all are super loving and kind.
Now all of them become very busy and have things to do and taking care of your family and taking care of your children and don't attend my call and you don't do this and you don't do that you don't follow up and we just get all mixed up and you don't realize that you got offended and you think how dare that they offend me. So you feel you have right to do what ever you want, to walk out of the relationship, to walk out of the friend ship, walk out of the marriage and even walk out of the church and even sometimes walk out of God.
You think God has offended me He has not answered my prayers He has not loved me. I really prayed to him saying if you are really God give me this job, if you are really God you should pull me out of this sin. if you are really God you have to rescue me from this terrible situation I am in and the terrible storm I am in. God I am sorry to say that you didn't answer my prayers and I don't believe that you are there so I am walking out, this is the number one problem and reason by people leave God and they don't hold on to their faith and they fall and satan has found a best way to trap us all. The Bible says very clearly brothers and sisters you will be offended, Jesus is talking to his own disciples, suppose a person offence you seven times in a day and seven times he comes and tells you I repent what you should do forgive now in this case the person is repenting seven times.
It's good if somebody is repenting seven times, but would you have that much patience to endure seven times offence, seven times in a day if the person comes and says sorry, would that make you happy? May be not, you will be saying like you should have repented the first time why you are repeating but Jesus is making some thing very clear here. So we have to learn to deal with it in a very godly way.
There are two categories of offended people.
- First category are those have being treated unjustly, truly being treated unjustly.
- The second categories are the people who believe that they are being treated unjustly they are not being treated unjustly but they just feel I have being treated unjustly. Because they judge by assumption and appearance, somebody take offend you also take offence oh! Did they treat you like that; you are just waiting for some body else to get offended for you to get offended.
Somebody is getting offended why are you offended, that's our human sinful nature we just go on with the tide if everybody in the church is offended I am also offended if every body is hurting and throwing stones on the leaders, I should also throw stones on the leaders, if everybody is accusing we also should join the party of accusation. No…no…no wait a minute this is about your heart and my heart, and these are the two kinds of people.
So what we do when we feel like we are offended? You blame, we point a finger and accuse and then we condemn. Who does according to the Bible- Satan, Satan is an accuser and he is the one who condemns, what did Jesus come for, John 3 for god so loved the world that he send his one and only son to do what? To save the world not to condemn the world, Jesus never came to condemn us, he came to save and how come as Christians we are condemning each other.
Some of us we think that's how we are called to do- no, we are called to imitate Jesus we are called to forgive just like he forgave us He calls us to forgive some of us feel I have the right to condemn because some body offended somebody hurt me. Some body has to pay the price no…no…Jesus paid the price and Jesus came to save the world He did not come to accuse and point the finger at you, he came to lift that accusing finger and to give you a new life that is why Jesus came.
Church is not perfect brothers and sisters if you think that church is perfect you need to read the Bible you forgot what the Bible says. Bible says every, Bible says every church is imperfect that is why letters were written to the churches, if you read the letters what does the letters contain all the problems in the church, every letter Corinthian letter Roman Ephesians Galatians personal letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon all dealing with mess.
Somehow we think our church should be perfect it will never be perfect you know who will be perfect only Jesus, the only thing that is going to remain perfect all our life is Jesus because the Bible says that Jesus is the same yesterday today and for ever. If our foundation is church then you are going to get offended because that is not going to be stable because we are the church, if you and me are not stable as Christians church is not going to be stable but who is stable who is the same Jesus yesterday today and for ever.
Foundation has to be build, our Christian faith has to be built on Christ, and no other foundation is going to going to survive because times are going to come it is going to beat on your house that you are building on. If you are not going to build on the solid foundation the rock Jesus you will fall and guess what foundation is the church is the built on. If the church foundation is not Christ it going to fall if its built on leader if its built on relationship oh we are very loving church no that's not gong to last long when one person become unloving that's all finished.
The church is just you and me not the leadership, we are part of the same church and we have to realize that our foundations has to be Christ, no other foundation we should build it on if you have built it on any other foundation. If you have become Christian for any other reason let me tell you God is going to shake it so that he can test you what you are really built it on.
He is going to fire at you, he is going to make you to walk through fire and find out what are you really made of. If you are made of any other material it is going to get burnt and gone. If your foundation is not the truth of Christ, Christ being the center of your faith life and hope then you and me are going to fail.
2. What you give is what you receive
What you give is what you receive, we live in a culture, we don't mean what we say we say some thing and people take it for granted, your boss is telling you that you will be fired if you come late tomorrow and then you say yah my boss keeps saying this and next day you get letter that you are fired from the job and you say what! I thought he was joking he had a smile on his face when he told me yesterday. That's the problem they just say something they just don't care about it, that is what the world is nobody means what they say, you say, "I will do this for you and we make lot of promises and we don't really keep it." We made lot of promise when we got married but we don't keep many of them and you keep breaking the promises.
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."
Jesus very different, and when you stand praying if hold anything against any one forgive him so that your father in heaven may forgive your sins. Jesus means what he says.
14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
If you forgive men who sin against you your heavenly father will also forgive. But if you do not forgive men their sins your father will not forgive your sin. You see that there is a conditional statement yes there is a condition here only if we forgive other peoples offence then your heavenly father will forgive you. Jesus means what he says, we are the one who take it lightly, think oh He keeps saying many things no Jesus is not another human being.
Jesus is lord that is why we worship him he means what he says, if you don't forgive men when they hurt us He will not forgive us. What did Jesus teach us to pray?
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. The way we should pray is as we forgive our sinners we are also going to forgive we also need your forgiveness that is the prayer Jesus did. There is no other option Jesus is not saying, its okay even if you don't forgive, I understand they really hurt you they really abused you, tortured you, they didn't care for you. They promised you many things but they didn't keep up to it so we have every right to keep up that offence against them.
Jesus is not going to say I understand it's been really hard for you, yes keep that offence in your heart its okay- no, Jesus is not going to say that. Jesus is saying, "what you give is what you are going to receive if you are not going to be forgiving somebody else you don't expect that from God." How many of us want God to forgive us the same way we have forgiven those who have offended us.
Would you like that to happen no, we don't want God to treat us the way we treat other people. We give all excuses saying you don't understand how this person behaved with me it's terrible and we have all records of wrong against the person who hurt us. But God I need your forgiveness God I am a terrible person I need your forgiveness, how dare we ask God.
God is willing to clear all our offences and many more to come in future Jesus cleared them all billions of offences what you have don against God Jesus is willing to clear. But we hold on to some little thing that others do against us and we expect God to forgive you even though you don't want to forgive don't expect that from God what you is what you will receive.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"
Mathew 18 the parable of unmerciful servant, it taught me amazing things of un- forgiveness. Vs 21 peter came to Jesus and asked God how many times I should forgive my brother, peter remembered Jesus telling if some body sins against you seven times forgive him seven times. Peter must have thought Jesus must have got impressed with me I remember the scriptures he taught me, Jesus said no not seven times brother but seventy-seven times or seventy times seven so peter must have been shocked.
To explain about forgiveness Jesus tells a story of an unmerciful servant here was a master, he had two servants and one of the servants owed the other person lot of money approximately five billion dollars worth today. Imagine you owing five billion dollar that's a lot of money, now master is expecting to pay back. That's what God expects God will judge us and he wants us to pay back but we go to him and say God we cannot pay back there is so much of debts there is no way I can pay back, please have mercy on me.
Vs27 the master had pity on him and cancelled the debt that is forgiveness. Forgiveness is canceling all the debt, what is debt means? You owe me something back, you owe an apology, you owe an understanding of my pain, and you owe an acknowledgment of what you have done to me. That is pay back that is the debt we expect somebody to owe. Till this you expect sorry from the person who treated you bad. When God cleared our debt he expected nothing from us, no other pay back.
When you expect pay back in any form even an acknowledgment of somebody else coming and asking apology- that is not forgiveness. Forgiveness is you cancel all debts just like Jesus did for you and me he cancelled every debts. Do you expect any pay back from them any acknowledgment any sorry any way that they had to clear their debt any way they need to come back and acknowledge and say I realize now or you expect them to go through some suffering that you feel better. If that's how your heart is then you haven't understood forgiveness.
This parable explained what true forgiveness is - canceling of all debts. Can you look at your brother and a sister in your church in your fellowship, family group, your husband or wife and say I cancel all debt? You owe me a lot but I cancel- can you release them, can you release them from the prison of your heart. Forgiveness is nothing you have to pay back every thing is cancelled all debts are canceled and that is where we can truly enjoy our Christian life.
We may struggle to forgive that's why we have fellowship you can talk to brothers and sisters you can talk to the leaders who can guide you through the process of forgiveness. People would have hurt you don't know how to forgive, you don't know how to handle it, that is where through the power of prayer and fellowship we can guide and help each other. That is the Bible and church is all about and, to guide and help out each other to make it heaven one day. We all need to go to heaven but this is where the process helps, we need each other to get there. May God help us to forgive others as God himself has forgiven us.