Maintaining a Good Conscience

The Answer of a Good Conscience

Robert Wurtz II

Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned (1 Timothy 1:5)

Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck (1 Timothy 1:19)

The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:21).

The CONSCIENCE is that unaffiliated member of our being that God has placed within us to speak on His behalf. It measures our behavior and attitude against what we believe to be right and wrong, absolutely. It judges exactly as it sees without any prejudice. Whatever we sincerely believe is true will be the standard the conscience applies.

The conscience is the mechanism of moral judgment that men and women pass on the morality of his/her own actions. It also passes judgment on the purity of our motives. It is the secret testimony of the soul, whereby it approves things that are good, and condemns those that are evil without partiality. Ideally, the will of God is the only rule that should immediately bind the conscience. People can sear their conscience, but they cannot make it call evil good and good evil; nor can they calm it down when it has risen to pass judgment on our behavior and/or attitude.

The Guilty Conscience

The guilty conscience is one that believes the person has acted in disharmony with what the person believes is right or wrong. A guilty conscience is a primary obstacle to people coming to the throne of grace or to do His service (Hebrews 9:9). It shouts guilty! Which tends to cause man to want to run or hide from God. This is what Adam and Eve experienced when God came looking for them. In this way man cannot act contrary to what they believe is God’s will without suffering the pain of conscience. A guilty conscience can seize a person like a claw upon the mind. Many criminals have confessed under duress from their conscience.

The Purging of the Conscience

God designed the conscience within human beings to silence the sense of alarm when the right condition is met. For example, the blood of bulls and of goats could not take away sins- nor did that blood have the power to purge the conscience of its sense of guilt. For ages, people have felt “vexed” when they have done wrong and have struggled to find relief. However, we read in Hebrews 9:14, How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God, and again, Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water (Hebrews 10:22). When the blood of Jesus Christ is applied to us by the Holy Spirit, the conditions are met to silence the sense of alarm coming from within the conscience.

The Evil Conscience

Of an evil conscience there are several kinds. When our conscience has lost its sense of right and wrong (to some degree or another) it could be called a polluted or defiled conscience. The conscience is ‘evil’ when it gives either none or a false testimony as to past or present actions.

When reflecting upon ones own sin and wickedness, if the conscience feels no pain, it is bad (evil), and said to be seared or hardened (1 Timothy 4:2). This is caused by people deliberate ignoring what the conscience is communicating. Couple this with quenching the Holy Spirit and a person is in danger of being hardened beyond hope. Moreover, we may develop a “dull spot” in an area of the conscience that is continually quenched or seared. It is also evil when, during the commission of sin(s), it does not prick us inwardly (in the heart). 

A Good Conscience

A good conscience is one that has been purged by the blood of Christ and is utilizing the laws of God written upon our hearts by the Holy Spirit as a reference point for its moral decisions. Everyone is born with certain ‘default’ laws of righteousness upon our hearts. As we grow in the knowledge of God our conscience is trained with right information and becomes increasingly effective as a guide.

The Weak Conscience

A weak conscience is one in which there are residual rules and regulations of people that have nothing to do with God, but yet are present in the heart and are used by the conscience to make rulings for good or evil. This is seen in great detail in Romans 14. As it is written, accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand (NIV).

This is true in all sorts of disputable matters. The issue is, does the person have a pure biblical justification in their conscience for what they are doing? If so then they are acting in faith. If a person believes that what they are about to do is sin — it is sin unto them (Romans 14:23). Why, because they cannot do it in a pure conscience. They cannot act in faith and whatsoever is not of faith is sin. 

Dealing With a Weak Conscience

This is not to say that God has a different set of rules for everyone because He does not. The issue has to do with our growth and having been built up in the knowledge of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). It takes time for God to erase things like ‘old wives fables’ and ‘legalistic laws’ and add His laws in their place. 

There are times when we are vulnerable to certain sins and the Holy Spirit will convict us to stay away from things that make us fall. We must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and our conscience. When counseling sinners, one must not be advised to transgress their conscience, nor allowed to feel like it’s OK to do so. If a person thinks something they are about to do is a sin — they should not do it.

Evidence of a Seared Conscience

Something worse than an overly-sensitive conscience is a seared conscience. When a person can compromise or sin and feel no pain of conscience (whether in whole or in a particular area), repentance is in order. Once repentance is secured God must reestablish sensitivity in the conscience. To transgress the area again is to re-sear what God has healed. 

The great enemy of our conscience is the ever increasingly wicked world system that is dumbing down the conscience of society. God has placed the Church (true Christians) in society to be a light. When believers conform to this world they have a diminishing light and conscience. Soon they side with evil with no pain of conscience. They can subject themselves to the presence of evil with no problem. This is the great challenge of our times. We must reject this tendency, maintain a good conscience, lest we be as some (who) having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck (1 Timothy 1:19)

Belated Forgiveness (Antonis Longus to Nilus)

Belated Forgiveness
Robert Wurtz II

But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny. (Matthew 5:23-26)

I have chosen to quote this entire passage as I wish to take an unusual angle on these teachings. In the first verse we read, but I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. Some translations omit, ‘without a cause’, but I believe it belongs there. The truth is, there is never a cause to be angry with our brother or sister in a protracted sense as we see playing out in this passage. We ought to forgive and that is true enough. However, a careful reading of the text reveals an element in the process that is all too often perilously overlooked. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Notice how being angry in our first verse leads to name-calling in the next. They start out with the word raca (scoundrel) and end up calling the person a fool (dull and stupid). I submit that why this is happening is that the person offended needs to be reconciled with and to prolong that process only fuels the offended person’s anger and disqualifies the offender from being a worshipper. What says the passage? First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 

Both Parties in Distress

Here we have the offended and the offender. The offended is getting angrier to the point that they have become an adversary. Notice, Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny. This is never more true than with our relationship with God. As a sinner, we are told not to neglect so great of salvation lest we have to pay for every transgression and disobedience we have ever committed. (Hebrews 2) Yet this plays out in all kinds of ways in life. An offender may run from the law, but this only heightens the offense. Once they are caught they typically have even more problems. The solution? Again,

Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 

This means that we need to seek for mercy and not take mercy for granted. Because the truth is, not every one is going to show you mercy. Why? Because no one deserves mercy. Mercy is shown as an act of benevolence. A judge can give you what you deserve and so can people, even at the peril of their own soul. How? We have it here again, And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. The person that is angry and acting out is in danger of God’s judgment. But when a person is severely offended they often don’t care about that at the moment. This is why we are told to be angry and sin not, not to allow the sun to go down on our wrath and give place to the Devil. But before Paul ever spoke those words, Jesus spoke these, Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. The offender always has first responsibility to be reconciled. 

Wrong Attitudes

Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness. (Proverbs 30:20)

One of the prerequisites for forgiveness is acknowledgement. 1 John 1:9 says that if we ‘acknowledge’ our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins. This is shown most clearly in the life of David when he wrote Psalm 51:4 saying, Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. This is also modeled in the confession of the Prodigal Son, And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. (Luke 15:21) Obviously these men thought about what they had done and what they deserved. And coming to repentance there was this understanding and acknowledgement of what had happened. How do we know that David repented of his adultery? He never committed the sin of adultery again. In the words of Jesus, “He went and sinned no more.” (John 8:11)  

This is what elders should look for when a person has fallen in the faith. Do they show signs of really acknowledging what they have done was before the Lord? Moreover, if the adulterous woman in Proverbs 30:20 had reacted as did the Prodigal Son she would repented before God and said to her husband, “I am no longer worthy to be called thy wife.” But instead she obstinately refuses to rightly acknowledge. It would be like the Prodigal Son coming home wiping his mouth as if he deserved to be back in the house because he had offended no one. This wrong attitude is what gives rise to a Matthew 5:23-26. The father longed for the son to come home and watched daily to see him. The only reason the story works is because the son humbled himself and acknowledged his sin.

Belated Reconciliation

Have you ever met a person so difficult that their actions caused people around them to want to quit and give up? Many years ago in grade school there was a boy in the class who was always testing the patience of our teacher. Finally one day he acted out so bad that she just put her head down on the desk and cried. All the students were mortified at the sight  — including the unruly boy. It’s been nearly forty years and I can still see him as He bolted to the desk and began patting her on the head repeating the words, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” I have never forgotten her response. She lifted her head and gave him a death stare that would make a grown man tremble. Through the tears and blood-shot eyes  she growled out the words, “Cody, I don’t want to hear ‘I’m sorry…’ I just want you to stop it.” Forgiveness of behavior came easy for her. She would have gladly forgiven him. But that would not have solved the problem. He wanted forgiveness after he saw how bad his actions had battered her; but all she wanted was the behavior to stop.

There is a tragic ancient story found on an old decayed papyrus fragment, of a prodigal Egyptian boy named Antonis Longus, who had quarreled with his dear widowed mother. They got into a spat, and he ended up leaving home. He then embarked on a life of prodigal living. The mother longed for her son to return home and even went looking for him in strange cities. In ancient times when a person was lost, it was very difficult to find them as one had to almost see   them face to face   in order to identify them. This mother searched and searched for her lost son — longing to reestablish communication. In time, she happened upon a family acquaintance named Postumus that reminded the mother of every last  offense her son had committed. He then included the troubles he had gotten into since their estrangement. The two parted, and she went back home. 

Over the course of time, Postumus happened upon Antonis Longus, the prodigal son. He told him of how he had saw his mother some time ago and had reminded her of how bad a boy he is. Perhaps Postumus rationalized that it is better in these circumstances for the mother to be angry at her son than mourning over him. However, Antonis was crushed by this news and angered by what this man had done. He was moved to know that his dear mother had been looking for him so desperately. 

Postumus had driven an even deeper wedge between Antonis Longus and his mother; almost to the point of hopelessness. It was this occasion that gave rise to his hastily written letter:

“Antonis Longus to Nilus [my] mother many greetings. Continually do I pray that you are in health. […] I wish you would understand that I had no hope that you would go up to the metropolis. And therefore I did not come there. But I was ashamed to come to Caranis, because I walk about in rags. I write [or “have written”] to you that I am naked. I beseech thee, mother, be reconciled to me. Furthermore, I know what I have brought upon myself. I have been chastened in every way. I know that I have sinned. I have heard from Postumus, who met you in the country around Arsinoe and out of season told you everything. Do you not know that I would rather be maimed than know that I still owe a man money? . . . . come thyself! I beseech thee … I beseech thee…”

He says a few more hard to decipher words, and then the the papyrus breaks off. Imagine being the archaeologist that located this fragment after some 2000 years and wondering if Antonis ever found and reconciled with his mother. He had referred to himself using his mother’s childhood endearing name for him “Antonius.” The poor boy was a bad speller, but he used the same construction Jesus used when he said, prōton diallagēthi (get reconciled) in Matthew 5:24. The sentence, “I beseech thee, mother, be reconciled (dialagēti) with me.” The crumbling old paper ends with the words of this woman’s dear son begging her, “I beseech thee… I beseech thee…” In more modern language we would read the words, “Mother, I’m begging you… I’m begging you…!” (Light from the Ancient East, pp 187-192)

Mutual Concession

Our Greek verb for reconciled is unique and is only used once in the New Testament. In the TDNT Kittel informs us that the word denotes mutual concession after mutual hostility. The word carries an expectation that both parties who were angry at each other are to work together until the anger is put away and there is reconciliation. Concession implies yielding to one another in such a way that an agreement can be made. This is a two party process. In the case of Antonis, his mother reached out for him and he reached back out for her. This is instructional. However, the trouble was that Postumus was sowing division and interrupting the process. 

We have no idea if this boy and his mother were ever reconciled. They have long since gone to their reward. What we do know is that if there is breath in our lungs we can make things right between one another. Leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:24 NKJV)  

How To Get Forgiveness From God (Homologeo: confessing or acknowledging our sins)

How To Get Forgiveness From God
Robert Wurtz II

And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. (2 Samuel 12:13)

Our passage is a small, but vital part of the story of king David’s sin in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. He had stayed home when the kings went off to war in the house that Hiram the king of Tyre had built for him. (Ezekiel 28:14-19) He wist not that he was being set up of the enemy. The subtle and seemingly insignificant voices and choices of his life had brought David to a baited-snare prepared by the Devil. He saw Bathsheba, called her to his room, and a terrible series of sins ensued. The sordid details of the events are recorded in 2 Samuel 11:1-17.

Obstacles to Confessing

It is human nature to want to cover our sins. Nobody wants to be embarrassed. In modern times exposing peoples’ sins has become a sport. Hardly a week goes by and someone is in the media caught in sin — with millions of people “piling on.” There is a violence in our age that seeks to destroy people. It’s like a diabolic ground and pound is loosed upon the fallen seeking to beat them to pieces. It is Satan at work. I have always marveled at the way in which people can condemn others knowing they have done similar sins. In fact, I attended a court hearing once in which a young man was being charged with a crime. The judged scolded him and ended his rant with this sobering question, “Do you know what the difference is between you and I? You got caught and I didn’t!” With this attitude prevailing in the land it become more difficult by the day to confess our sins when we have done wrong. The Devil works to make each and every person a prisoner to their own past — yet Christ has come to set the captives free. 

I was at a conference a number of years ago and an opportunity was given to share a confession with the people. In fact, it was streaming live all over the world. Feeling pricked in my heart I went up as I have done many times over my Christian life to acknowledge that I was not as perfect as I sometimes projected by my actions. Some brothers prayed with me and others who did likewise. As is typical of these events, there were some who viewed it as an occasion to criticize and condescend. I was quite upset about it and determined to never be vulnerable like that again. However, over the years I have come to realize that the enemy was trying to use this situation (and others like it) to harden my heart before God. Satan does not like it when we are self-loathing (for lack of a better term) and sensitive before the Lord. He wants us to proudly carry on as if we are perfect before God so that the world “will never see us sweat.” Can you imagine how many people were lined up to throw a stone at king David? They may have had two or three mistresses on the side themselves; but if people were then as they are today they would have stoned him with lipstick on their own collar. 

How could a person be so callous that they would send someone to jail for doing the very thing they did — only they didn’t get caught? This, to me, is one of the many reasons why hell is going to be so hot. Like the man forgiven of a fortune Matthew 26:28 who then went and took his neighbor by the throat over a few coins. “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?” (Romans 2:1–3 KJV) In spite of all of these things we have an obligation to confess our sins before the Lord. If our sin is known publically it should be confessed to the extent that it is known. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
(Proverbs 28:13 KJV)   

Cover Up and Denial 

When the “writing is on the wall” and a person still will not own up to their wrong doing — we call that “denial.” It is an ancient sin traced to Cain and his evasive and contemptuous answers when confronted by God. The Lord knows that this is often a human reaction to sin. Cover-up and then deny. It can last for hours, days, weeks and years. It all depends on when the guilty decide to change their mind about their behavior and justify God instead of themselves. All the evidence in the world cannot secure a confession if the person is not prepared to admit. Many variables weigh in on this stubbornness. We simply don’t want to admit that we could do something so dishonorable. 

Convinced of Sin

Nobody likes to be confronted when they are in error. Herod killed John the Baptist because his wife was furious over John’s preaching. She wanted his head in a charger and Herod gave it to her. Paul told the Roman authorities that the Jews sought to kill him because he called them to repentance (Acts 26:19-21). It is safe to say that nobody wants to be confronted with their sins. 

King David was an unusual case because he held the power to kill his accusers. Shockingly, he had already demonstrated he was willing to kill to cover up his sin (i.e. he had Uriah killed). In fact, Joab knew David so well that he anticipated exactly what he would say to the messenger that gave the details of the losses in battle. He armed the messenger with these words, thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also. To this David was pleased and replied, Thus shalt thou say unto Joab, Let not this thing displease thee, for the sword devoureth one as well as another: make thy battle more strong against the city, and overthrow it: and encourage thou him. Imagine a man that should have been livid at the negligence of one of his leaders actually encouraging him. Joab knew something was up.  

What Did Joab Find? 

It’s hard to imagine how paranoid David had to be. He knew of all people Joab could do simple math. No one is that dumb. And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. How long did this last? No woman would be so shady as to jump right into a marriage before her husband’s bones are even cold in the grave. Some amount of time had to elapse. Even if it were weeks, the clock is ticking and David knows it. He only has roughly nine months before this child is born and he already lost near a month from the time of her cleansing until the discovery of the pregnancy. That means there are eight months before birth at the time of Uriah’s death. 

David had to be sweating bullets. And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son. (2 Samuel 11:26, 27) David has a problem though, this all looks very suspicious. His own conscience would have smitten him to no end, but he is also living with the daily fear of discovery. What did he say later? “For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.” (Psalms 32:4 KJV) That is a verse to a song! Could you imagine singing a hymn about being under conviction of the Holy Spirit? Maybe we should do it. 

Uncommon Courage

There is no telling how long David would have gone if he had not been confronted. Had this thing drawn out for years and years he would have become a spiritual zombie. Struggling day to day to scratch out an existence on this earth. He would have lost his cutting edge. What if he had no Prophet? This is the trouble with error, the enemy often puts people in position to ride out their sin until at last they either lose their mind or destroy themselves. The king seemed to have nobody willing to confront him. Who would do it? A close friend? A family member? Not usually. Friends and family are often anything but confrontational, because they fear the loss of the relationship too much to confront a situation. The Jews have a saying, that one of the causes of the ruin of their nation was, “No man reproved another.” (Adam Clarke) This is the strategy of the enemy. How many people thought, “It’s not my place to ask” or “I can’t talk to him!” People are smart enough to know that confronting a person that is not in a place to hear it will often hate them afterwards. Proverbs tells us:

These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment. He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him: But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them. (Proverbs 24:23-25)  

Relationships have the power to corrupt right judgment. In fact, relationships have the power to corrupt our theology. The time would fail to speak of the times I have seen ministers change their theology to agree with their loved ones’ lifestyle. Nevertheless, a friend or family member may well slip down into hell because of fear of addressing their state. Why? Just to save the relationship. It is one of the most common exchanges for souls; relationships. Standing for truth and what is right takes uncommon courage when there is a high price-tag on the line. Nathan the prophet is said by some to be one of the bravest men in all the Bible. David could have killed him. Yet fearlessly, Nathan, who was just a man went to the king. He was a Prophet, but he was still a man. Notice that he did not bring out all the evidence. He had not obtained the letter from Joab or drew up in black and white the fact that the baby was born full-term and yet it was only a seven plus month pregnancy. He did not use anything that David could have explained away. He went in the power and influence of the Holy Spirit. 

Dealing With Sin Under the New Covenant 

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. This is hard to do, but it is the way of Christ (Robertson) The Rev. version ‘shew’ is better than tell, which implies merely naming the fault; whereas the injunction is, go and prove to him how he has erred. Tell him his fault (ἔλεγξον). The verb means, first, to test, try, search out; therefore, to cross-examine with a view of convincing or refuting; thence to rebuke or chide. (Vincent) It seems counter intuitive to Christian manners, but the same Greek construction is found in Titus 1:13b where we read; Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith. 

This design is that the person would “hear” and “hearken.” This is to agree with what is said. This is the best case scenario; the person acknowledges what they have done and there is reconciliation. We then read, But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. This is God’s way of applying the pressure to the person so that they are brought face to face with the facts in the case. 

Common sense tells us that if a person has to come to this point, they will probably only acknowledge their offense under pressure and the chance of it being genuine is diminished. It is from here a small step to stage three, And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. This is direction also for what would later come to be known as “church discipline.” However, the principals are still in play. If a person transgresses and does not repent — there is a stoppage of the process. There can be no going forward unless this situation is made right. If the person will not “hear” the church (refuses to hear Gk. parakousēi). Many papyri have examples for ignoring, disregarding, hearing without heeding, hearing aside (para-), hearing amiss (Robertson). what should we do?”… let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican (Matthew 18:17).  

Agreeing With God

God’s route of forgiveness has never altered. I see this reality in 1 John 1:9 and have the example of David in the Old Testament. Nathan the prophet confronted David by using a simple story to touch his heart. God met him right where he was. The result? And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. There was a point when David was angry at the outcome of the story, but suddenly hears the voice of God in the mouth of Nathan. His reaction? And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. God’s reaction to David’s acknowledgement,  And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. 

David deserved death, but because he acknowledged his sin, God put away his sin. He would have to face the consequences of his actions, but he was back in a right standing with God. No more running. No more hiding. No more cover-ups, lying, or evading. He confessed; the world knew it; and he could go forward. What a glorious thing! In the writing of Psalm 51 his repentance became as notorious as his sin. As he ran he slowly dried up inside; but he cried out to God and found a faithful God that forgives and puts away sin. God restored the joy of his salvation. Confession; that is, agreeing with what God has said about our sin is the first step back to Him for the sinner or the fallen saint. No matter how difficult it is and no matter how many naysayers line up to throw the first stone, we have to keep our eyes on God. Forget what people think and say. What has God said? If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Amen.

The Prison of Memory

The Prison of Memory
Robert Wurtz II

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12–14 NKJV)

Paul was determined to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of him in the beginning. The Lord met him on the Demascus road and apprehended him for a purpose. He was given a commission. We know from reading the latter portion of 2 Timothy that he will, in fact, finish his course. How did he do it? One of the keys is found in our passage; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. 

It is proper that Christians be careful to reflect on God’s goodness in the past. These things we ought always to remember. There is even a sense in which Paul remembered that he was once “chief of sinners.” Nevertheless, Paul knew that he must not dwell upon the past in such a way that it hindered him, rather than helped him, in his “pressing towards the goal for the prize.” Our failures and sins have been forgiven, so we must not dwell upon them to our hurt. Moreover, the achievements made in service of Christ, by His grace, must not occupy our mind in such a way as to prevent us from fully apprehending what God has designed for us. 

The Prison of Memory

Many people are imprisoned by their past; some literally, and others figuratively. I am inclined to speak to those who are in bondage to memories of past sins. Consider for a moment what it would have been like to be Paul. He had committed horrific sins against people who he thought were enemies. He compelled them to blaspheme Christ, and in some cases, was responsible for killing them. Once his eyes came open, he must have been mortified and vexed. I doubt he slept well for some time. Can you imagine the nightmarish things that would have plagued his mind? Seeing women and children crying and begging you to stop and yet you keep on mercilessly? The memories alone could have locked Paul into a prison for life and thrown away the key. How could he ever get past what he had done? Was there any way to forget?

The most illusive key to getting past our past is allowing others to get past theirs. What good is it to confess our sins to God and then refuse to forgive others? What sense does it make to want our sins forgotten, and yet refuse to allow others to forget their own. Think about it. Many people would like to forget all the bad they have done, but keep bringing up other peoples sins. This is why they are imprisoned to their own sins. Why should I receive peace if I am not willing to allow others to be at peace? I’m convinced that many people could walk out of their prison today if they would repent of their own unforgiveness. One simply cannot receive forgiveness and the peace of mind that comes with it and at the same time withhold it from others. It is impossible.

Another illusion the enemy sets up is the notion that God will forgive everyone elses’ sins except ours. This thinking pattern is clearly a stronghold of the enemy. Have you ever considered that God has the supernatural ability to forget? He can choose never to bring an incident up before His mind again. What did He say? For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:34b, Hebrews 8:12, Hebrews 10:17) He has the ability and is inclined to exercise it, to refuse to be reminded of our sins ever… again. Ponder that for a moment. Moreover, the prophet Isaiah wrote, Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back. (Isaiah 38:17 KJV) It’s as if God launched my sin over His shoulder and walked off, forever. Amen. 

Oh the love that drew salvations plan: 
oh the grace that brought it down to man; 
oh the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary

Mercy there was great and grace was free
Pardon there was multiplied to me
There my burdoned soul found liberty… at Calvary  


Walking Out of the Prison

Some people are put-off from reading the Bible because of fear of what it says. They fear passages that describe sin, so they figure, what I don’t know can’t hurt me. Yet, the Bible is full of grace and truth. God stands willing to forgive and give us the grace to walk out in victory. The Blood of Christ will cleanse our conscience from dead works so that we can come face to face with God again, and serve Him confidently. (Hebrews 9:14) If we will acknowledge our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) Nevertheless, we cannot walk out alone. We must allow others, even our supposed enemies, to walk out with us. We can’t expect to have our sins forgiven and forgotten, and others retained and remembered. Who is it, if anyone, do you refuse to let them forget their past? Who is it, if anyone, do you insist on remembering their sins? We can’t leave them in bondage and go out scot-free. We go out together or not at all. This is the pattern of it.  


Hiding From God

Hiding From God
Robert Wurtz II

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8 NKJV)

Adam and Eve have now realized that the Serpent has deceived them. Their conscience is eating away in their minds, while their heart smites them mercilessly. The sin seemed so simple, but at present the torment won’t go away. Whereas they once looked forward to the sound of God coming to fellowship with them; now they are fleeing in terror from Him. They formerly lived in serene happiness, but that is only a memory. Now their portion is abject misery. What a horrific picture.

It is important to realize that the enemy has not stopped with Adam and Eve. In fact, the Bible is filled with examples of people who succumbed to the lies of the enemy. Not always is this explained as such, but often it is inferred. What is going on? The enemy desires to destroy everyones relationship with God. Nobody is excluded. You may be a young believer or a seasoned Christian; it makes no difference. Satan desires to drive a wedge between you and God through some sin. He has many ways of doing it. He wants to get you so insnared that you will hide from God rather than running to Him.

Can God Forgive Me?

When the Prodigal Son left his father’s house for the big city (as it were), the excitement had a way of dulling his conscience to what he was actually doing. I have been told stories by people who committed terrible sins, that in the moment, didn’t seem so bad to them. However, as soon as the sin was over with their heart smote them and they began to weep. Some are still weeping, and it has been years. They struggle to believe that God will truly forgive them. You will recall that the Prodigal Son shared this mistaken notion about his father,

And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. (Luke 15:17–19 KJV) 

The Prodigal Son was very unassuming. We could consider this narrative simply an expression of his humility. However, I believe there is more here. This man believed that his crimes were so great, that he would be doing well just to get back on his father’s property. Think about it. He thought his father was more like his brother who remained home. His father was nothing like his brother. In fact, his father had been faithfully watching for him. 

And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 

Can you imagine how shocked this young man was to have his father react this way? It is heartbreaking to think that rather than running to God, many run from God. Some do it because they have no intention of repenting of their sins. They are not prodigal’s, they are rebel’s. Nevertheless, there are they who really come to themselves and desire forgiveness; but they struggle wondering how God will react to them. Will God forgive me? Can I ever be saved? 

Hiding Among the Trees

Perhaps you are reading this, and you are wondering, can God forgive me? Is there any hope for me? Maybe you think your sins are too great. You may even attend church, but somehow you can’t come to terms with God’s willingness to forgive, truly. You’re hiding among the trees wondering what God is going to say to you on judgment day. 

I’m not going to load you down with a lot of technical talk about Greek words for mercy and forgiveness. I simply want you to consider the story of the Prodigal Son and how the father reacted to his son coming home. Jesus told this story to put an end to the Devil’s lies once and for all. You can be forgiven. You can be restored. Open your heart to Him. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him […] the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. (Luke 15:22–24 KJV) 

Swept Under The Blood

Swept Under The Blood
Robert Wurtz II

But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. (1 Corinthians 5:11 NKJV)

There is often a flippancy that exists in our times towards the Biblical doctrine of forgiveness that dishonors God and corrupts the churches. In fact, “get it under the blood” has become almost a catch phrase for blanket forgiveness whether genuine repentance is evident or not. At the risk of sacrilege, I wish to combine the phrase with a commonly known idiom in English, “swept under the rug.” In other words, we live in a time when many want to try and hide sin or keep sin secret instead of dealing with it.

Paul reminds us in 1 Cor. 5:11, that some sins cannot simply be “swept under the blood of Christ,” they have to be repented of or there can be no forgiveness. In fact, to drive this point fully home Paul forbids Christians from having social contact with any professed believer that practices such sins. These are:

1. Sexual immorality
2. Covetousness 
3. Idolatry
4. Reviling (abusive slandering)
5. Drunkenness
6. Extorting (taking things that do not belong to you)

We live in a time when people are confused about the difference between sin the fruit and sin the root. Sins (the fruit) can be forgiven, but Sin the dynamic (the root) has to be dealt with by repentance and faith – leading to the New Birth. You simply cannot forgive the root – it has to be changed. When the root changes the fruit will change with it. Perpetual sinning as listed above is evidence of a sinful root. 

Sometimes a professed believer will commit one or more of the sins listed above and a chorus of people will rush to forgive the person without making sure they have stopped the sin. When we don’t join in, we are often labeled as “unforgiving” or some other slanderous adjective. However, obviously this is very serious business or Paul would not have issued this directive. You cant sweep the sins listed above under the blood. They have to be repented of and forsaken or we are not to fellowship with the person. 

A professed believer cannot resume fellowship with Christians so long as they continue in the sins listed above. It is not a matter of forgiving the person, it is a matter of their abandoning the sinful behavior. Some will say that the person ought to be forgiven and that everyone ought to receive them into fellowship; however, only if they have left off the sins listed above. If the same tell-tale signs exist that were present when they were found out, there is no reason to believe their has been change sufficient to suspend 1 Cor. 5:11. Paul goes on to explain why in 1 Cor. 6:9-11.

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9–11 NKJV)

Clearly Paul issued the directive in 1 Cor. 5:11 by inspiration of the Holy Spirit because of the truth revealed in 1 Cor. 6:9-11. If a person continues in these sins they will not inherit the kingdom of God. To continue in fellowship with them is to give your sign of approval of their sinful actions. Can two walk together except they be agreed? If you go on socializing with a person who is unrepentant you risk granting approval to their actions by your mere presence in their life. Paul said, And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. Notice he did not say, and such are some of you. He said, some were some of you. This is the power of the full Gospel. Their sin was not swept under the blood, but they were washed in the blood, sanctified and justified. Their has been a radical change of nature. And for them it is safe to forgive them and restore fellowship because their sinful fruit is no longer growing from a sinful root. 

Again, we live in a time when many want to try and hide sin or keep sin secret instead of dealing with it. This has never been God’s way. It allows the deadly sins listed above to destroy the churches while softly suggesting to the sinner that they are “OK” and have nothing to worry about – when they are in danger of missing the kingdom of God. In that way, reckless forgiveness when their is no repentance makes the one fellowshipping an “enabler.” In other words, your presence gives the person a green light to keep sinning. 

But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. (1 Corinthians 5:11 NKJV)

Living In Denial

Living In Denial
Robert Wurtz II

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah. (Psalms 32:1-4) 

It is interesting to read Psalm 32 and Psalm 51, because both Psalms contain confessions of a great series of sins that David once tried to cover up. In fact, his first attempt was so awful, that it vexes the mind that a human being could be capable of such things. Knowing the wife of Uriah the Hitite was carrying his baby, he ordered Uriah down to his home to lie with his wife. David’s intention was that Bathsheba lead her husband to believe the baby was his. One of the primary reasons for “thou shalt not commit adultery” was made a commandment was to prevent husbands from having to deal with the hellishness of spurious offspring. David figuerd, what Uriah didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him. However, Uriah refused to obey. Even after Davil got him drunk he would not do it. Uriah was a man of great integrity; so David ordered his death.  

The Rev. D.L. Burch often said that some people are apt to read the story of David and Bathseeba and get so angry that they backslide. This is just a way of saying that the sin was bad enough to stumble the people on the receiving end of it. There are few things more vexing than trying to live a lie. We all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; so that is not the issue. The question surrounds covering our sin. It is an ancient practice. Millions upon millions have done it. 

When we come to Christ we are told to acknowledge our sins (1 John 1:9),
but what happens when we continue to live in denial of some serious sin that happened in our past? In a word, “fear.” Fear of discovery that turns into a general fear of almost everything and everyone. Fear leads to anger and hate. This is important to consider. Living a lie has the power to turn us on everyone and everything, including God. Why? People begin to hate the one they fear will discover their secret. Criminals often live in fear that the police will finally find that missing piece of evidence that links them to their crime. So they hate police. This is an oversimplification, but there is truth here. People grow to hate the one they live in fear of discovering and confronting them. Soon, fullblown paranoia sets in. Solomon said that the wicked flee when no one is chasing them. Why? Their conscience won’t let them rest. 

What will people think of me?

“The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” (Proverbs 12:19)

David tried to cover up his sin with Bathsheba. This is what Psalm 32:1-4 is all about. He could not cover it forever. His life became a perpetual misery. He was vexed out day and night. He went so far as to try and get the husband Uriah to have relations with her to blame the sin on the husband. When that did not work he devised a plan to have the man killed. Why would he do it? Because he didn’t want anyone to discover what he had done. He had written many psalms (songs) and was in reputation for being a man of God. Pride rose up and told him he had to save face. He was dying within. The old fellowship with God was not what it was. Him and God had fallen out over this sin and rather than confess he did as the old writer wrote, “he told it like it used to be.” He referred to, and lived in, his past experience in God. Why? He had no fellowship. He also knew that he could not live this lie forever. A lying tongue is but for a moment. He knew that he would have to come clean.

Lies come of age

Lies are born and grow up to be monsters that we cannot control. When a lie is conceived it brings forth as surely as a woman with child. The world would say, “It comes home to roost.” It can take 1, 2, 5, 10 or even 20 years to develop. The longer it is allowed to grow, the harder it will be to deal with in the end. So it is best to deal with the thing by prevention. Don‘t commit a sin that you will have to later try and cover up. Fear of disappointing family and friends will drive you to do unconscionable things if you allow it. Denial is a first human and carnal response. David obviously did not want to disappoint the people, so he covered his sin as long as he possibly could. He was the great king and didn’t want people to think bad of him. It was pride. He tried to shift the blame here and there, all the while Bathsheba was the evidence that he had sinned. He could not deny it in the end; he could only postpone the inevitable.

Tired of running and hiding

It is sad that a good man had to die because of David’s sin. Indeed he was probably better off dead, than to live with knowing that his wife had become pregnant by another man. Understand that Uriah was a casualty of David’s sin. Sin always has consequences. In time the prophet Nathan appeared at his door and confronted him. “Thou art the man…” are the resounding words that echo down through the ages. This is God’s estimate of all of us. “Thou art the man… thou art the woman.” It was time to stop running. 

If we acknowledge… 

Over 20 years ago I was subpoenaed to testify in a federal civil lawsuit related to a former employer. As evidence in the case began to mount, so did the resistance. In time I asked why the parties would not just come clean and admit what they had done. One of the lawyers aids simply looked at me and said, “Robert, it is an age old problem known as denial.” 

I must say that denial is the enemy of forgiveness and restoration. The first step is to humble ourselves and acknowledge the sin. It can seem like the hardest thing we have ever done, but if we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ) David discovered this when he looked at Nathan and stated, “I have sinned against the Lord.” God’s response? And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.” (2 Samuel 12:13b) No waiting. No delay. As soon as he acknowledged what he had done, the lie was over with. What a powerful truth. He had to live with many consequences, but he could go forward now on the right path. If he had continued in denial the lie would have become a monster that totally destroyed him. The same is true of us. It doesn’t have to be that way. We can acknowledge our sins and move forward in God. 



Obstacle to the Outpouring

Obstacle to the Outpouring
Robert Wurtz II

 And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? (Acts 7:26-27)

When God got ready to lead His people out of bondage He raised up a leader that demonstrated the characteristics of a true shepherd First we find Moses protecting the people from the abusive Egyptian that was beating his people and secondly he was calling them together in brotherly love and unity. He showed his character traits in two successive days. Stephen drew upon this event as part of his sermon on salvation history found in Acts 7. Keep in mind that the people he was preaching to was like their father’s; they did always resist the Holy Spirit. Key to this passage is understanding that God not only wants to dwell in His people, but He wants His people to dwell in unity and kindly affection. Christ, as Moses, has delivered His people from Pharaoh (a type of Satan) and Egypt (a type of this world) and expects them to leave off of their strivings with one another and dwell together in love from the heart. Nothing has changed since the time of Moses in this regard. While God is dealing death to the people of God’s enemies the people of God have to be reminded not to deal death and destruction (as it were) to one another.   

One Mind and One Heart

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete, by being of the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. (Philippians 2:1, 2)

In Acts 2 Jesus was sending the Holy Spirit to be poured out upon His people baptizing in the Holy Spirit. This event was preceded by a commonly overlooked reality that we encounter repeatedly throughout the book of Acts. Here we read, These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. (Acts 1:14) This is akin to Paul’s words in Philippians 2:2 where the Holy Spirit has said, make my joy complete, by being of the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. God has spoken repeatedly, and shown us His heart through men like David and Moses throughout the scriptures, that one of His primary concerns is how His people dwell together in unity. The subject is of such seriousness that we dare not overlook it or haphazardly look to it. For David speaking by the Spirit had said, Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! (Psalms 133:1) The key to seeing God pour out His Spirit among His people is for them to lay aside their differences, come together in tender love and affection, and determine to be one one mind and one heart.  
Worshipping in Vain

And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth [it] with good will at your hand. (Malachi 2:13)

There is a prevailing theme throughout the scriptures that is frequently overlooked insomuch that God has to come back and remind us in some of the strongest of terms. Our passage is such an occasion as it played out in Israel. The people were bringing as it were their offering to the Lord, but He was not regarding it. That is to say, He was paying it no attention. Some might ask, “Does God not seek such to worship Him? Does He not inhabit the praises of His people?” The answer is ‘yes’, however there are conditions upon which God will receive any offering that is brought to Him. Offerings under the Aaronic Priesthood had to be without spot or blemish. This was figurative in one sense. There are attitudes and behaviors that spoil an offering before we ever offer it. In the case of Malachi the people were treating their spouses treacherously- even divorcing them as if they were mere animals. God has called men to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, but here is displayed some of the coldest and most callous attitude a human being can exhibit. Do believers not realize that not only will God not receive their praise and worship, but He will also not answer their prayers if they don’t rightly relate to each other? (1 Peter 3:7) This is but an example of how God is watching our attitudes and our treatment of one another when we come to attempt to offer Him prayer, worship and praise. 

Vain Praise

 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. (Matthew 5:22-24)
It is sobering to think that God is more interested with how we treat each other than He is the offerings that we bring Him. Almost as if what we are bringing Him can be unclean- tainted by the foulness of bitterness in relationships between His people. Peradventure some would seek to sing louder or shout higher in an attempt to drown this reality, but God is not hearing it. When His people refuse to make amends, He simply rejects the offering. When the aroma of strife is in the air it is as a noxious fume in the nostrils of God. But what gladness and joy are brought to the very heart of God when men reconcile with one another. Leave there thy gift at the altar and be reconciled with thy brother! Think of how awful men and women have treated each other over the centuries. Even little children were not exempt from the bitterness as people tried to prevent them from coming to Jesus. Such attitudes of heart- such hate and gall, such poison of asps, must never make it’s home in the child of God. 

Swift Repentance

Are you at enmity with your neighbor? God now, quickly down upon your knees and repent before your God. Do you have ought against your brother or sister- don’t delay, be reconciled at once! For why should God be displeased with your voice and reject your tears and prayers? One thing thou lackest if one man has ought against thee. Two things thou lackest if two have ought against thee. what follow to ask God to pour out His Spirit when there is strife and division in the house? How long can we suppose God will overlook the stench of dispisement that exists in the hearts of men? How long will the Lord look on and see discord among His people? And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (Mark 11:25)  

The Folly of Unforgiveness

The Folly of Unforgiveness
Robert Wurtz II

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:32)

Forgiveness is essential for all relationships. Without it, there is no hope for any of us. Paul tells us plainly that we are to kindly and tenderly forgive each other. He reminds us of how Christ has forgiven us and calls us to follow His example. We are to forgive each other because it is the right thing to do and the loving thing to do. This implies not if forgiveness is needed, but when. The need for forgiving each other is a foregone conclusion. We are going to offend each other at times whether we mean to or not. Often offenses are caused by a lack of understanding. A person may say or do something for good reason and with pure motives, but the other person simply does not understand, so they are offended. This is why 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love puts the best construction on events. Love does not look for reasons to be offended. The more loving you are in your approach to people, the less offended you will be. Yet, offenses still come. The only person that doesn’t need forgiveness is God. The rest of us have needed it, do need it or at some point will need it. In scripture offenses are likened to debt. When someone does us wrong they are in a sense indebted to us (and vis versa). When we sin against God we are indebted to Him. This brings us to an important parable given by our Lord. I have quoted it here in its entirety.
Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, “Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. (Matthew 18:22-34 NKJV) 
The context of this parable is important also, because Jesus is discussing with Peter how often he ought to forgive a person. Peter says, “Until seven times?” Seven is the number of perfection and completion, so seven seems reasonable. But Jesus said unto him, I say not unto you, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. That is 490 times. Some translators have rendered the text 77 times. In either case, the bar is set very high. It was a settled rule of Rabbinism that forgiveness should not be extended more than three times. (Vincent) An example is given of a man seeking forgiveness from a rabbi for a single minor offense 13 times and the rabbi refused. (1) So for Peter to up the number from three to seven was over twice the norm. Forgiving people in the way Jesus describes was a novel concept of unparalleled proportions. .
How Much Did We Owe?
Our subject is taken up with a man that has been brought before the King to settle accounts. When it was all added it the man owed a staggering 10,000 talents. You will recall the parable of the man traveling to a far country that delivered one, two and five talents respectively to his three servants. We get the impression that 5 talents is a huge sum of money to invest and it is. In fact, a talent in New Testament times was anywhere from 60 to 130 lbs of silver. Josephus pegs the weight at 100 lbs (2). If we do the math the man owed 10,000 X 100lbs or 1,000,000 lbs of silver. In response to this mammoth sum, the man told the King; Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.” To understand how long it would take to pay this debt we need to know what a worker made in an average day in Judea in that time. You will recall Jesus giving another parable of the generous land owner in Matthew 20 which sets the men’s wages at a denarius a day no matter what time of the day they started working. A denarius in the time of Christ was a days wage and the equivalent to roughly .110 oz silver. This means that the man would need to work roughly 145 days for a pound of silver. Since he owed 1,000,000 pounds of silver it would take him 145,000,000 (145 million) days to earn enough money to pay his debt. If he worked seven days a week it would take him 397,260 years to pay the debt or roughly 65 times recorded human history. Yet the common human response? Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.”
What he was owed 
“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!” So he was owed basically a hundred days wages or 11 oz of silver. Understand that this was a lot of money in the first century. It would be like someone owing you 100 days pay. That is to say, the offense that the man committed against the other man was very great in one sense. However, the amount that he was forgiven of was effectively 145,000,000 denarii (days pay). He owed 1.45 million times as much debt as the man owed him. That is a staggering comparison. In a figure this is God showing us the difference between what we have done to others and other have done to us and what we have done to Him. 
Forgive and forget or forget we were forgiven?
 Notice the attitude of this wicked person, but that servant went out and found one… It’s as if he could not wait to find the guy that owed him to press upon him the controversy he had. He didn’t just ask for the money, but what was worse, he took the man by the throat. That is to say, he was choking the man- saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!” What you owe (ei ti opheileis). Literally, “if you owe anything,” however little. He did not even know how much it was, only that he owed him something. “The ‘if’ is simply the expression of a pitiless logic” (Meyer quoted in Robertson). This is the cruelty of a godless man. He takes no account of how much he was forgiven of as if he should be grateful and emulate the behavior- but rather behaves towards his fellow man the exact opposite of the kindness he received. This seems at first to be outrageous, but think about how people have come to Christ seeking to be forgiven of their sins and would even beg God on their hands and knees to forgive their gargantuan sin debt and then they turn right around and refuse to forgive their neighbor that has sinned against them. This is the thrust of the story. How men can be forgiven of God and then refuse to pass the favor to their fellow man.

Others grieved, perpetrator oblivious
So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved. Notice that those that beheld the situation from afar off had the good sense to see that the man should have shown mercy after he had been forgiven so great of debt. It is common for folk to see others in a situation and say they should forgive, but not see it for themselves. I’m reminded of Nabal in the Old Testament that in a drunken rage mistreated David after he had guarded his property. David was within a hairs-breadth of destroying Nabal and all the men in his household. (1 Samuel 25:10-39) Why? It may be helpful to point out that the word Nabal is Hebrew for fool. Nabal had returned evil for good, and that is exactly what this man had done in the parable. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, “You wicked servant!
The wickedness of unforgiveness 
Jesus calls the man who had done this high-handed dastardly deed wicked. “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?” What this man had done can only be described as criminal unreasonableness. He had willfully operated in gross inequity. This behavior is not to be remedied but punished. He had begged for forgiveness and even suggested he would work the debt off- though it would take nearly a half-million years. The truth is, once he was forgiven the man should have thrown the celebration of the ages and committed himself to a life of serving his King and others, but no; he walked out and wiped his mouth as if he had done no evil. The situation revealed the type of man he was, he was of his father the devil and the lusts of his father he did do. If Satan were king there would be no forgiveness, but a constant throttling and torture every time an offense came. Is there any wonder the day will come when God is going to sweep the creation clean of this wickedness? Who would want to live for eternity around people like the one described in Jesus parable?
Delivered to the tormentors 
There is a point I want to bring out in this parable that often goes unnoticed. Jesus did not suggest the man should be put into therapy for what he had done. We read, And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.If forgiving the man of all of his sins didn’t change him, nothing would. You see, it is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance. What greater good could God do than this? This is very sobering. So often we look around wondering how God is going to reach the hard-hearted that have rejected Him time and time again. Maybe if God sends this destructive force or that one. God does all of these things to bring us to the revelation that He wants to forgive our sins and reconcile with us. The man in the parable wanted his debt forgiven so that he was no longer under its obligation, but that’s all He wanted. he didn’t want a relationship with the King that having forgiven much he should have loved much and he had no love for his neighbor either. I’m afraid that multitudes have no comprehension of the fact that in Christ dying on the cross He had one objective- that in showing us so great of love we would love Him back in return and our neighbor as ourselves. We love Him because He first loved us. It is the reason for the ‘therefore’ of Romans 12:1. 

Forgiveness conditional

We read in Mark 11:25, 26, And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. Here we have it again and very straightforward. It is folly to ignore this passage. The clear implication of the parable is that the man had been forgiven of the debt, but that afterwards there was a rescinding of that forgiveness based on his unwillingness to forgive his fellow servant. The Lord’s prayer follows this theme as well, “forgive us of our debts as we forgive our debtors.” God is determined to forgive us, He cheerfully forgives us, casting our sin behind His back desiring to remember them no more; however, He is also determined that we will pass on the blessing as the only sensical thing to do. To do otherwise is to place our name into the blank in the parable of Jesus. 

(1) Even so, the practice was terribly different. The Talmud relates, without blame, the conduct of a rabbi who would not forgive a very small slight of his dignity, though asked by the offender for thirteen successive years, and that on the day of atonement; the reason being that the offended rabbi had learned by a dream that his offending brother would attain the highest dignity; whereupon he feigned himself irreconcilable, to force the other to migrate from Palestine to Babylon, where, unenvied by him, he might occupy the chief place (Edersheim, Life and Times, Book 4. P.30).

(2) Antiq. 3:144 ¶ ( Over against this table, near the southern wall, was set a candlestick of cast gold, hollow within, being of the weight of one hundred pounds, which the Hebrews call Chinchares; if it be turned into the Greek language, it denotes a talent.      

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